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In my third installment of 2008 season grades I’ll be taking a look at the wide receivers and tight ends.
Randy Moss: B+
Thoughts: After a record breaking 2007 season it was going to be tough for Moss to follow up his performance with anything but a let down statistically. Throw in a brand new quarterback and you have a recipe for disaster. However, despite some uncharacteristic drops (against the Steelers particularly) and some pundits *ahem* Michael Felger *ahem* saying he took some plays off, Moss still had a pretty good season. Along with his 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns Moss came up big in some games, including his miraculous TD catch as time expired against the Jets. He showed that he has a lot left in the tank for 2009.
Wes Welker: A
Thoughts: There is no other grade which would give Welker justice. He’s a rare breed in that every single coach in the NFL would love to have him on their team. Not only does he deliver in receptions (111) and yards (1,165) but is as tough as they come and doesn’t mind going over the middle. After it looked like he slammed into a brick wall when he was knocked out during the Steelers game, he was back the next week and continued to be one of the great steals in the Bill Belichick era. He is an indispensable part of the team headed forward.
Jabar Gaffney: B-
Thoughts: After Moss and Welker the receiving corps becomes very mediocre and though Gaffney did have 38 catches for 468 yards and three TDs, the grade goes down because of his horrific drop against the Colts which in effect kept the Patriots out of the playoffs. He is an average No. 3 receiver who is only in New England still because he knows the system.
Sam Aiken/Kelley Washington: C
Thoughts: Both players aren’t high on the depth chart and only combined for nine catches and 104 yards. Aiken did make some decent grabs and Washington is very important on special teams but both are replaceable on the wide receiver list.
Ben Watson: D+
Thoughts: Sometimes high expectations can hurt a player and that’s definitely the case with Ben Watson. After missing the first two games due to injury Watson played the rest of the season with little success. If you take out an eight catch, 88 yard, 1 TD (and one big fumble) outing against the Jets, Watson stats are startling for a former first round pick (14 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD, including 0 catches in the last three weeks of the season). He doesn’t particularly block well and one would think with the deep threat of Moss and the slot threat in Welker he would be able to take his game to the next level but it just isn’t happening. Like Maroney it seems Watson may have one more year to make his mark or he could be gone.
David Thomas: C-
Thoughts: From what little we saw David Thomas in his first two years the common thinking was that if he could ever stay healthy he could become a big part of the offense. 15 games, 9 catches and 93 yards later (including zero catches after week 9) it seems we were wrong. He still has time to develop but it’s not a good situation when the most memorable play of your young career is a personal foul penalty which took your team from 3rd and 1 in field goal range to 3rd and 16 out of field goal range in a game that eventually led to missing the playoffs. Whoops.
Overall Wide Receiver Grade: B+
Overall Tight End Grade: C-