Michael Irvin: Wes Welker Is Best Wide Receiver in Football
Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin is the latest NFL analyst to enter the “best receiver in football” debate. Todd Haley and Jason Garrett both have Calvin Johnson at the top of the list, as does Andre Johnson. Rob Ryan ranks Miles Austin and Dez Bryant towards the top. But Michael Irvin? Well the former Cowboys star is going in a different direction.
“If you ask ‘Who is the best receiver in the league?’ I say it’s Wes Welker,” Irvin asserted during a guest spot on Jim Rome Is Burning. “His versatility makes him one of the best. Period. And we don’t want to hear that, because he’s not a 6’4″ 230 pound Andre Johnson, or Brandon Marshall, or Calvin Johnson. He goes inside and he plays outside. Man, I love Wes Welker.”
It’s not just Welker’s spectacular start to the season that impresses Irvin, it’s also his ability to recover from a major knee injury suffered in 2009.
“I had a knee injury that almost ended my career. I went into depression,” Irvin admitted. “I couldn’t come out of that thing. [Welker] snaps right back.”
Welker leads the NFL with 40 catches and 616 receiving yards through four games. He’s blowing away the field in both categories, but Irvin should know better than to fall into this trap.
Having the best stats in the league through four games does not make Welker the best receiver in football. Welker is excellent at what he does, and he has a special connection with his quarterback, but his success is more circumstantial than it is indicative of overall talent.
To me, the best receiver in football is the one who could go to any of the 32 teams in the league and improve the team more than any other receiver. Stick Welker on a team with Daunte Culpepper, Jon Kitna, and Dan Orlovsky as his quarterbacks, and I doubt he puts up 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Wes Welker is a talented receiver who’s extremely valuable to the Patriots, and highly productive, but he’s not the best in the league. Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald are probably the top three, with Calvin at the top of my list.