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Diva

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  April 25, 2012 01:14 PM

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...that's the word former Patriots linebacker and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest used to describe the attitude of Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. Slapped with the franchise tag by the Patriots, Welker implied Tuesday he would not be attending the team's mandatory mini-camp in June if he didn't have a new long-term contract. Part of McGinest's rationale was that Welker's earning power and production -- really one and the same -- are the product of playing for the Patriots and playing with Tom Brady. Since joining the Patriots in 2007, Welker leads the NFL in receptions (554) and is fourth in receiving yards (6,105). It's fair to debate how much of his success and value as a slot receiver is tied to being Brady's favorite target in a pass-happy offense. (By the way, Willie, Welker did catch 111 balls in 2008, when Brady was out for the year.) It's not fair to denigrate Welker's attitude, work ethic or commitment. Grossly underpaid almost since the moment he joined the Patriots, Welker has desired and deserved this new contract since 2009. However, he has not once withheld his services or publicly lashed out at the Patriots, traditionally the only ploys that get the team's attention. He returned from a torn ACL in seven months in 2010, when he could have babied the injury to protect his value. Last year, in training camp he said he felt the best he had in his career and backed it up by setting a franchise record for receiving yards (1,569). Welker is the antithesis of a diva wide receiver. He is a player who is understated, underpaid and has over-performed.
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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news

Dearth

...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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