The New England Patriots, led by 6 foot 4 inch quarterback Tom Brady, are currently tied with the New York Jets for the top spot in the AFC East, AFC, and the entire NFL. The 9-2 Patriots recently traded away one of the top receivers of all time, Randy Moss, but that hasn’t slowed them down at all. Within days they added veteran Dion Branch to accompany receptions leader for 2007 and 2009 Wes Welker. With the emergence of young receiver Danny Woodhead they have a good group of passing targets.
A current trend in the NFL is to have large receivers that can jump up, make catches, and break tackles physically. The league’s premier receivers such as Calvin Johnson, Terrell Owens, Dwayne Bowe, Miles Austin, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Marques Colston are all well over the 6 foot barrier. These players all have the ability to make short and deep plays, break tackles, run after the catch, and score touch downs. The Patriots also have the ability to score touchdowns, as seen in the 45-24 routing of the Detroit Lions.
As the tallest of the three receivers Branch is 5 foot 9, Welker and Woodhead are also listed as 5 foot 9 on the Patriots website, but in reality they are probably closer to 5 foot 6 for Woodhead and 5 foot 8 for Welker. Despite this, their height has not restricted them on the field. Branch totalled 113 yards and 2 touchdowns, one of which was a 79 yard score in the second quarter. Welker also had 2 touchdowns with 90 yards receiving, and Woodhead added 32 rushing yards and 13 receiving yards to round out the crew.
If you are wondering how these three men can account for just as much as the groups with receivers over a half foot taller than these players, the answer is simple. These players have the ability get open, run precise routs, and out run their opponents. Also having one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and one of the best coaches to coach the game doesn’t hurt either.