The 8 Best And 7 Worst Wide Receivers In New England Patriots History
What’s the one thing, the one name, that comes to everyone’s mind when they think of the Patriots? Tom Brady. Obviously. He’s been the heart and soul of the team for years. Since Brady was drafted in 2000, the Pats have won five Super Bowl championships. Five! Before Brady they had none.
But obviously one man alone doesn’t make a team. Nor does he win Super Bowls alone. A quarterback needs his wide receivers.
The argument can be made that wide receivers need good quarterbacks in order to excel. And since nobody can argue that Brady is anything BUT the most incredible QB of all time, you’d expect his receivers to be brilliant by association. The eight great names on this list won’t surprise you at all, even though some didn’t play with Brady, they made significant contributions to the franchise.
But, as the seven “worst” on this list can prove, not all wide receivers become legends after playing with one. The nature versus nurture theory applies here in a big way; if a player doesn’t have the natural ability, the dedication, the right coaching staff, and the support of his team, family, and friends, he’s not going to amount to much. And even if a player had all of these things and shows incredible promise during his high school and college years, the pressures of professional life can be unexpected and overwhelming.
On the flip side, the competition and challenges presented in the NFL can spur an athlete to apply themselves and play like they never have before. Eight on this list did just that, whereas the following seven – to put it lightly – left a little to be desired.
15. BEST: TERRY GLENN
Then came the pros! He played for the Patriots from 1996 until 2001, and with 90 receptions in that first year he broke the record for rookies. No doubt thanks to his impact on the team’s performance, Glenn and the Pats competed in Super Bowl XXXI, but sadly lost to Green Bay (a team he would later play for later). In 1999 he ran 1,147 receiving yards, and when his life chapter with the Patriots concluded in 2001, he left with a jaw-dropping 329 receptions and 22 touchdowns.
Fun fact: he may have only played four games in 2001, but one of those happened to be the game where he caught the very first touchdown pass thrown by Tom Brady.
14. WORST: BETHEL JOHNSON
In high school, Johnson and his team made it to the Class 4A championship game where he made 44 receptions for 979 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns – and they won. Upon graduation from Texas A&M University, he had 117 receptions for 1,740 yards and 11 touchdowns. And when he was chosen by the Pats as their 45th draft pick in 2003, great things were expected!
He didn’t take well to pro football, though. Johnson only played four years in the NFL and the Pats were unfortunately stuck with him for three of those. Okay, so he did show some promise as a kick returner; in his rookie season his average yards per return was 28. After that, though, he really didn’t make any offensive contributions. In his three years with New England, he made zero touchdowns. Heck, he had zero touchdowns in his whole four years as a pro!
This guy obviously peaked in college.
13. BEST: TROY BROWN
Brown played for the Patriots for 14 years. That’s a long time at any job, let alone one as physical as football receiving! His best years were 2001 and 2002 when he made 101 and 97 receptions. Add to that the 1,199 and 890 receiving yards he ran those years and that is one impressive football player. Add this to his legendary punt return during the 2001 AFC Championship, and it’s no wonder he made it into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
12. WORST: CHAD JACKSON
At the University of Florida, he started in 11 and played in all 12 football games that season. He received an All-SEC selection, an honourable mention All-American, and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2005. Since he decided to leave college early, he must have felt his kind of talent was wasted if not playing pro.
But… he only “played” two seasons for the Patriots. It’s hard to call it playing though, since he barely participated. Thanks to an injury to his hamstring, Jackson was forced to sit out the whole 2006 preseason. After playing only a few games during the season, he suffered a groin injury and missed several more games. In all, he only made 13 receptions during 12 games that year. In 2007 the Pats had an influx of amazing, high profile players, and Jackson was overshadowed, just a tad. He only played two games that season.
Tom Brady may have had an unbelievably successful 2007 season, but Jackson sure didn’t.
11. BEST: WES WELKER
The Daily Oklahoman named him the high school All-State Player of the Year and USA Today dubbed him Oklahoma State Player of the Year during his time at Heritage Hall High School. After that he moved on to play for the Texas Tech University’s Red Raiders. Despite winning the Mosi Tatupu Award (for best Special Teams player in college football), setting the NCAA record with eight touchdowns returning punts in his career, and being named to the All-Decade Team by Sports Illustrated, somehow Welker wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
But who cares if he wasn’t drafted? He sure didn’t let that hold him back! He played for six different teams in nine years, and his time with the Patriots was truly great. The Pats had an insane 75 touchdowns during the 2007 season, and it was Welker who caught the very first one, in his very first week on the team. Talk about starting off on the right foot! He holds the NFL record for consecutive games with receptions, thanks to the fact that he caught at least one pass in every game he EVER played with New England. He also broke the Pats’ record for receptions, coming in at 672 during his seasons with the them.
He’s played in five Pro Bowl games, all as a Patriot. He was named First Team All-Pro twice. And he’s played in three Super Bowl championships, two of which were with the Pats. Really, there are too many highlights to list them all here. Suffice to say, he’s a wonder in cleats.