AFC East's best: No. 15 Wes Welker

July, 4, 2011
7/04/11
10:06
AM ET
The countdown of my top 25 AFC East players continues, one weekday at a time ...

Welker
Welker
About the choice: Wes Welker's production dropped considerably last year, and ESPN Stats & Information chalked up an NFL-worst 11 dropped passes. Some might contend Welker still should rate higher on this list because he was coming off reconstructive knee surgery from the end of the 2009 season. But he played on opening day and caught eight passes. Welker finished with 86 receptions (tied for sixth in the NFL) for 846 yards and seven touchdowns. He failed to reach triple-digit receptions for the first time since 2006, but still led the Patriots in receptions for the fourth straight season, a franchise first. His numbers don't match Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson, who came it at No. 19, but Welker remained a critical component -- maybe the most critical not named Tom Brady -- of the league's most potent offense. Since Welker joined the team in 2007, he leads the league with 432 catches.

Key fact: Welker had 11 games of double-digit receptions from 2007 through 2009. He didn't catch more than eight passes in any game last year.

Hint about No. 14: He made his first Pro Bowl roster last season.

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