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Welker ranked at No. 50 by peers

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  June 6, 2011 08:00 AM

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Last night, the NFL Network's Top 100 players of 2010 - as chosen by the players themselves - unveiled the men ranked from Nos. 50 to 41.

And right off the top was a familiar face: Wes Welker.

The Patriots' receiver came in at 50th, the second of five New England players in the top 100, following Jerod Mayo at No. 62.

Welker was presented by current Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey, who was his offensive coordinator when he was with the Dolphins.

Off the top Gailey says of Welker, "He makes plays on the football field. Yeah, he's got a lot of the intangible things that we like, but the bottom line is: he's a playmaker.

"There's guys faster than him, there's guys bigger than him; he's fought his way to get where he is. he's worked his way to get where he is."

In the piece, Welker is called "a little-known utility player in Miami who somehow always managed to get under the skin of the Patriots," traded to the Dolphins' rival in 2007 for second- and seventh-round draft picks.

Gailey continues that Welker is mostly considered an underneath threat, but then details the many ways in which the veteran gets the ball in the Pats' offense.

"He has this great understanding of the game and of route-running and where the holes are in the defense and how to get a guy off-balance and create just enough opening for Tom (Brady) to get him the ball," Gailey said. "That little motion stuff he does, it allows him to set a guy up and keep a guy off-balance, and if he gets a half-step, that's all he needs."

One factoid from the segment: Welker is the only player in league history with three seasons of at least 110 receptions.

"Yards after catch are probably one of the most under-appreciated stats in the NFL," Gailey said. "He can break a tackle, run through a tackle, make somebody miss...sometimes you say, now how did he outrun that guy to the corner after he caught that ball? You don't know how he did it, but he did."

The piece wrapped with Gailey making an interesting point: that the highly productive college wideout who wasn't drafted and didn't become a star until he got to his third NFL team is now just the type of player many teams are looking for.

"With the developemnt of Wes and what he's done in the short area, inside, especially third down," he said, "He's the guy that everybody compares the next guy to: can he be the next Wes Welker?"

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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