Breaking Down Why Wes Welker Is the NFL's Best Wide Receiver

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIDecember 2, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 27:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots runs for yards after the catch against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

He's not the fastest, he's not the strongest and he's definitely not the tallest—he's far from it. But he's the best, and he has the stats to back it up.

Wes Welker is the NFL's best wide receiver in the game today as he's having a career season with the New England Patriots. In 11 games this season, Welker leads the NFL in receptions (82) as well as in passing yards (1,143) while snagging eight touchdowns on the season.

But how does he do it? How can a 5'9" wide receiver dominate like Welker is doing this season? To sum it up rather easily: He's the best route-runner in the entire league. 

Welker is known for his short-to-intermediate receptions that he reels in as he frequently turns them into a big play with his tremendous ability. 

Back in Week 9 against the New York Giants, there was this specific play that stuck out to me and really made an impression. 

New England came out in a typical spread formation with the tight end Rob Gronkowski in motion across the formation away from Wes Welker in the slot. 

At the snap of the ball, Welker explodes downfield. He then dips his shoulder to force his way inside so that he can gain inside leverage. 

After gaining the inside leverage, he then plants his right foot and makes a crisp cut to gain further separation. 

The result is huge separation from the defensive back as he turns this pitch-and-catch from Brady into a 25-yard gain. 

That is what makes Welker great: his ability to make crisp cuts that allow him to gain the necessary separation. 

Another specific play that comes to mind is from New England's Week 12 battle against the Philadelphia Eagles

The Patriots line up in a single-back formation with a tight end and a wing to the right as Deion Branch and Welker split to the left. 

At the snap of the ball, Welker explodes downfield as if he were running a intermediate-to-deep inside crosser. 

After selling the crosser, Welker bends it back down the field with the safety being sucked into the middle of the field. He then gains major separation, which results in a 41-yard touchdown. 

As you can see, Welker is just the perfect route-runner. He not only as the ability to run crisp, perfect routes, but he has the will to actually outwork the defender—that's something that prima-donna wide receivers like Randy Moss lacked tremendously. 

So far this season, Brady has thrown for an incredible 3,627 passing, with 1,143 of those yards being Welker's. It's not all Brady, in fact most of it's Welker, thanks to his text-book route running. 

To be honest with you, I do not care how tall Larry Fitzgerald is. I do not care how strong Andre Johnson is and I couldn't care less how many passes Calvin Johnson catches with one hand.

The one thing that I know for sure is that Welker is a better receiver than they are, and it starts with the fundamentals and the will to beat the opponent. 

Welker's footwork and route-running is by far the best in the NFL, which allows him to produce at an elite level, making him the best wide receiver that the NFL has to offer. 

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