SL "Wild Wild" Wes Welker SL "Wild Wild" Wes Welker is, without peer, the greatest Slot End in the Game...perhaps of All Time. I prayed for us to get him when he came loose in 2007...and when we signed'm, I was in Rapture, Laddies. I knew he was about to explode into Excellence, and I said so. But, no: No way did I have any idea he'd be this great. Mind you... I'm not a big fan of the Slot End position, as I would generally rather only see Glamor Positions be manned by guys who are exceptional at at least two things, in order to confuse and befuddle the Enemy ~ and Slot Ends are generally Pass Receiving Specialists whose presence offers us far fewer options than a Tight End, Wing Back, or Flex End. Now, here's some REAL Crazy Talk: I suspect that Tom Brady's Addiction to Wes Welker's receiving Prowess has stunted Brady's growth...and transformed him into a far more narrowly focused QuarterBack than he was, before 2007. Indeed, the collapse of the number of players with 10 Receptions began in 2007, the year Welker arrived. You can hardly blame Brady: Welker is magnificent. But Brady had to make do, before 2007. Every week, he had to adapt, improvise, and overcome. He had to Use The Whole Pig. And that made him unpredictable to the Enemy. He hasn't been doing that since 2007. And he has become ~ comparatively ~ predictable. Hasn't he?? Of course: the Problem isn't Wes Welker, is it?? We can't exactly ask him to be less awesome, now can we?? Get Off The Crack, Tom!! People Love you!! FL Brandon Lloyd FL Brandon Lloyd was this year's Split End Dream Come True for me. Considering how notoriously, excruciatingly difficult it is for Wide Outs to master our complicated Scheme ~ what with all the PreSnap and PostSnap Adjustments ~ finding a pretty young guy who has not only boasted recent great success under Coach McDaniels but who also actually lobbied to get here is simply an astonishing piece of Great Luck!! What this Offense has been missing, above all, the last two years, has been a legitimate, High Caliber Split End or Flanker with the Power, the Strength, the Athleticism, and ~ above all ~ the Processing Speed and a developed Mastery of our daunting Scheme...to stretch the field horizontally, even against the best Defenses in the land in the Dead of Winter...and open up the Middle. This has of course allowed D's to clog the middle and stuff our Offense. But, now...we've got'm!! And now that they've got some room to breathe, out there, Kong, Aaron The Navigator, "Wild" Wes Welker ~ those dangerous, deadly MidField Warriors ~ may very well be about to wreak havoc on an unprecedented level!! WR Julian Edelman I think that WR Julian Edelman will be a sweet surprise, this year ~ though not to'is legions of staunch supporters. He's generally been referred to as a Slot End, and that is his best position, but I can see him developing as an emerging Flanker, too...And he damned well better, because Mad Bill has cut our Receiver depth to the bone!! WR Greg Salas I think that WR Greg Salas is going to surprise a lot of people. His Launch Velocity sucks, which is why he's played primarily Slot End, despite his size. But he is an extraordinary Route Runner. And his Processing Speed is phenomenal. He commands exceptional Fluidity and a sharp Ricochet when navigating his Routes, and his Savvy and Instincts are outstanding: He can really sell well, and he is a delightfully brutal beast, fearless and ferocious over the Middle. And I'm highly excited about his Yac Attack: He can really work the field, and his combination of Field Vision and brutal, bludgeoning physicality make him extremely difficult to bring down. Perhaps most important of all, though: He already made gigantic strides in Coach McDaniel's System...as a Rookie. Need I remind you: In most Systems, it usually takes Wide Outs two or three years. Even the great ones. I stand corrected: I think Mark Salas is going to shock a lot of people with his success this year. And I think he's going to do it lined up at Flanker as well as a Slot End ~ perhaps even as Split End, before too long: He's big enough, strong enough, smart enough, and rough enough. Lousy Launch Velocity is somewhat of an hindrance, but Technique is more important, getting off the Line, and a kid with his Repertoire of Assets, if he gets the right coaching ~ and he's certainly come to the right place ~ I would have to think could develop into a solid Split End, albeit as a Chain Moving Possession Receiver...and that, Ladies and Laddies, is music to my eyes. Positional Prospectus 1 ~ Well!! I have long advocated reducing the Split End Department ~ meaning all Wide Receivers ~ to 4, but with 3 guys who's first job is Slot End ~ a position I proposed eventually eliminating all together ~ it's gotten a bit thin!! Put another way: Our Split End Department's Depth of Talent is horrifyingly thin!! 2 ~ I hope to God that Deion Branch or Jabar Gaffney somehow make their way back home, after Mad Bill's unfathomable decision to cut them. I'm simply not buying that they've suddenly aged, overnight. And their expertise and savvy in our extraordinarily complex system ~ thus their ability to spread the field horizontally, opening up the middle for Kong, Aaron The Navigator, & "Wild" Wes Welker ~ are priceless, if we want to win The Big Games. The Future 1 ~ Considering how infamously difficult and complex our System is, I think it behooves the Patriots to develop Special Teams, going forward, with a particular emphasis on Split Ends, not only to account for an high Casualty Rate, but also to try to ensure that at least we're getting some Return on Investment while giving the young guys a fighting chance to master our Schematics. To Mad Bill's immense credit, it seems he's been doing so. 2 ~ There's really only two kinds of Split End I think we should pursue, really: Guys like Marvin Jones ~ #166 in the 2012 Draft ~ who clearly command exceptional Navigational skills and Discipline ~ preferably tall, strong, and athletic Split Ends, as opposed to Flankers or Slot Ends ~ are one type I really like. 3 ~ And the other are raw, undeveloped guys with phenomenal athletic skills and upside who we can pick up late or as UFA's ~ Dale Moss and Junior Hemingway were my two favorites from the 2012 Draft. 4 ~ Above all, though: I think we should continue to go cheap: Even under the best of circumstances, Wide Outs usually take a few years to get up to full speed, by which time they're knocking on Free Agency's door...And our System jacks up the Wide Out Casualty Rate to epidemic levels, making the Picks highly costly, indeed. And considering that so many of the ones who do the things that count in The Dark Depths of Winter ~ the guys who block, who focus on catching the ball, and who're willing to go over the Middle to Move The Chains ~ are often the same guys who're still available on Day 3 or UFA, spending light and scooping up UFA's makes all the more sense!!