After having an "off-year" in 2010 following knee surgery, the New England Patriots' unguardable receiver is back and better than ever. He leads the league in every relevant receiving category, and is tied for second among wideouts in receiving touchdowns.
Now, is he a lucky sonofabitch for having Tom Brady as his quarterback?
Absolutely he is. However, that shouldn't take away from the magnificence that Welker brings to the field every Sunday. He literally cannot be stopped.
Once Welker lines up in the slot, it's over. Linebackers are too slow, and cornerbacks and safeties have trouble maneuvering their way through the mass of bodies that are present in the middle of the field. Oh yeah, and Welker is pretty smart too.
He'll go underneath a few times in a row, and then right when you think you have him figured out? He'll stutter-step and just blow right past you down the field.
Since Welker's first year with Brady in 2007—when No. 83 caught 112 passes—the tough-as-nails receiver has only gotten better. He's expanded his arsenal, if you will. Along with the short slants, the screens, the ins and the outs, Welker has added a dominant up-the-seam pattern and the aforementioned stutter-step move.
He is no longer just that little guy in the middle of the field catching the ball three yards from the line of scrimmage. He's also that little guy catching passes down the field and along the sidelines.
Is any receiver in the NFL more automatic than Welker?
Some people would argue that Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings are all superior receivers.
CJ is so big and strong that you might as well put up seven points anytime the Detroit Lions are in the red zone. Fitzgerald and (Andre) Johnson are so dominant physically that they face double, or even triple teams when they are on the field. Jennings is so fast that he can turn a simple 10-yard slant into an 80-yard touchdown pass without breaking a sweat.
Welker? He has none of those attributes. He just finds a way to get open. Wide open. And on those rare occasions that he can't get open? Brady will just throw a laser his way and let him figure out a way to catch it, which he always does.
There is no one in the NFL who does more with less than Welker.
Can you imagine how good he would be if he were a few inches taller? A few strides faster? If he never had knee surgery?
The sky is the limit for Tom Brady's favorite target.
For now however, Wes Welker will stick to being the most talented and underrated wide receiver in the NFL.