Wes Welker Club: 2010 NFL Wide Receivers Catching 100 Passes
Any wide receiver will tell you, "I want the ball."
It doesn't matter who else is on the team or what happens on the play, they should have gotten it.
But for a handful of lucky receivers every year there is no room for complaint.
Some of these receivers might not put up the most gaudy touchdown and yardage numbers, but they are consistent in what they do.
Only 66 times in NFL history has a player eclipsed the 100 reception mark. Most, however, have occurred since 1990.
Nowadays, these players have more balls thrown their way than well, never mind.
There will be all smiles from these gridiron heroes this year...
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
A member of the 100 reception club three previous times, Andre Johnson is ready to make it four.
At age 29, he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Johnson finally got a full season with Matt Schaub under his belt and the two proved to be quite dangerous. The catches were always there, but the yards exploded.
This helped prove no matter where the ball is on the field, Johnson finds a way to bring it in.
The Texans offense should have more weapons to help ease some pressure off of Johnson. A healthy Owen Daniels and rookie tight end Garrett Graham will help cover the middle.
Add in an improved rushing attack and Johnson may be more wide open than ever.
Johnson was the most targeted man in football last year and that shouldn't change this time around.
Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Last season, Dallas Clark and his teammate Reggie Wayne shared the 100 catch glory together.
This season, both will do it again.
The durable tight end had by far the best year of his career. With the departure of Marvin Harrison, he became more of a hybrid receiver than ever.
Peyton Manning continues to be the best quarterback in the NFL and can fit the ball in anywhere. Clark has increasingly become one of his favorite targets.
This year, Clark should be the favorite.
Reggie Wayne will remain a target as will developing WRs like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. This will allow pressure to remain off Clark as the middle remains open.
Clark was targeted 132 times last season, the least of anyone eclipsing the 100 reception mark in the past five years and perhaps of all time. (Target numbers are unavailable from certain eras)
His targets should increase even more this season and the conversion rate with him and Manning won't disappear.
Much like Clark, Wayne will continue to be targeted heavily. The two of them are the main targets for Peyton.
Wayne proved he can more than handle number one receiver duties last season.
Until a knee injury began slowing him up in the second half of the season, Wayne was unstoppable.
He has incredible hands, perfect timing with Manning and is the perfect possession receiver.
Wayne doesn't need to go deep to make a big play. He'll take what the defense gives him and go from there.
His 149 targets were a career high and if he can remain at full speed that number should eclipse 150.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Jason Witten has more competition for receptions than ever.
But, for him, it might not be such a bad thing.
Roy Williams, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant should part the Red Sea and allow Witten to grab a bevy of balls over the middle.
Witten has already proven to be Tony Romo's safety valve over time. He can stretch the field, catch the short ball or hit the sidelines.
Witten works hard on every play and has perfected his route running.
He is too quick for a linebacker, too physical for a cornerback or safety, and allows Romo to do his job without saying word.
Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Can't name a club without including the man himself.
Wes Welker is coming off an injury, but that won't stop him.
He played only 14 games last season, but in the first 11 he played he already hit the 100 reception mark.
His uncanny ability to run short quick routes make him a candidate for a fourth straight year.
He has become the favorite target not only of Tom Brady, but the New England Patriots offense as a whole.
His cutting ability, quickness, and durability are all being called into question because of his ACL and MCL tears.
He will most likely play the full season, but could start off a bit slow.
The Patriots, however, have their bye in week five. By week six, Welker should be back to full strength and driving defenses crazy once again.
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens
A change of scenery, a new quarterback, a new system.
These will be some of the obstacles thrown the way of Anquan Boldin in 2010.
Now, however, Boldin is the hands down number one receiver in an offense that proved it can throw the ball.
Boldin will be complimented by the solid Derrick Mason and speedy Donte Stallworth. He also has Todd Heap and rookie tight end Dennis Pitta to help ease some pressure.
Not to mention star running back Ray Rice to force defenses to stack the box.
Boldin has proven he is sure-handed, properly runs routes and is willing to play through pain.
In the new offense Boldin and quarterback Joe Flacco know how important the other will be.
While it will be a more balanced attack than Boldin is used to, Joe Flacco still threw 499 passes last year.
The team will not waste their new weapon and Boldin will surprise the league with 100 catches.
Devin Hester, Chicago Bears
Devin Hester is about to have a career year.
Being the number one receiver in a Mike Martz offense has some perks.
Add in gun-slinging quarterback Jay Cutler and there are going to be a lot of balls thrown his way.
Hester worked with Issac Bruce in the offseason to prepare for what lies ahead.
Hester had a career high 57 catches last season in 13 games played. So how can he add 43 more catches?
Look for Hester to be utilized heavily on crossing routes that allow him to use his full abilities. His hands have improved each year and his returning duties have begun to diminish.
If Mike Furrey can catch 98 balls for Mike Martz's offense, Hester can do the same.
They might not win games with Hester catching the ball so much, but he'll be a happy camper with the ball thrown his way.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Fitz has lingered around the 100 reception mark most his career. He has achieved the feat twice.
With a new quarterback and less receiver help, Fitz will end up short like he has the past couple years.
He is still an elite receiver, but he must redevelop chemistry with at least one new quarterback. He will see more double teams than in the past. Fitzgerald's team should feature a more balanced running attack as well.
Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins
A new team, a new coach, a new quarterback.
Marshall finds himself with a fresh start. But, from a receiving standpoint he doesn't need it.
Like Wes Welker, Marshall is coming off a third straight 100 catch season.
He is a physical beast who toys with cornerbacks when the ball is tossed his way.
Marshall, however, comes from more pass happy offenses. The Miami offense will sling the ball downfield, but remain heavily attached to their running game.
He will work hard to learn new routes and gain timing, but Chad Henne is still largely unproven.
Look for a slight Brandon Marshall dip below 100 receptions this year, but to still remain one of the top receivers in the game.
Steve Smith, New York Giants
The "other" Steve Smith broke out last year with an incredible season. He grabbed 50 more balls than the year before for a total of 107.
Now, teams will be looking for him.
He is the type of possession receiver who can run short routes to perfection. He became an outlet for Eli Manning every week.
With the New York Giants running game struggling, Smith's utilization became very important.
Smith will be the top receiver for the Giants, but look for a drop off in total receptions. Another year for Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham will give Manning some additional weapons.
Smith should be good for around 90 catches, but the Giants team as a whole should improve with developing and healthier weapons.