NFL context: Patriots & receivers

June, 23, 2010
6/23/10
9:05
AM ET
Third in an ongoing series looking at each position on the Patriots roster and how it is viewed when compared to the rest of the NFL:

Starters: Randy Moss, Wes Welker

Backups: Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, Torry Holt, Taylor Price, Sam Aiken, Matthew Slater, David Patten, Darnell Jenkins, Buddy Farnham

NFL chatter: Moss is still a feared receiver that most defenses must alter their game-plan around, while Welker is arguably the toughest matchup in the slot of any receiver in the NFL. Because a big part of Welker's game is sharp cuts and quick change of direction, there is a question as to how effective he will be coming off surgery to repair a torn left ACL. Edelman shows promise, with one scout saying that his big challenge will be to show he can absorb a pounding and make it through a 16-game schedule.

Overall depth chart: Moss and a healthy Welker is as good a 1-2 combination as there is in the NFL, with Edelman (37 receptions as a rookie) primed to take another step. After those three, there are some questions as to how things will shake out. The Patriots would like to see 2009 third-round draft choice Brandon Tate or 2010 third-rounder Taylor Price emerge, and have veteran Torry Holt (51 catches in 2009) as a top insurance policy.

Final analysis: Welker's recovery creates some uncertainty (my opinion is that he will start the year on the physically unable to perform list). Still, this is a top 5 group in the NFL.

Other positions: Quarterbacks; Running backs

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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