Welker was clearly the No. 1 receiver in division. But now that he’s gone, let’s update the receiver rankings in the AFC East.
2012 stats: 64 receptions, 836 yards, eight touchdowns
Thoughts: Wallace is the best deep threat in the NFL, and he now takes those talents to Miami. Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill has to be excited with the dynamic weapon he’s getting. Wallace by far is the fastest player in the division. He’s a game-breaker who can score at any time. He had eight touchdowns last season, which is five more than all of Miami’s receivers in 2012. Wallace is the No. 1 receiver Miami has been looking for and now the best receiver in the AFC East.
2012 stats: 79 receptions, 1,046 yards, six TDs
Thoughts: Johnson completed his third straight 1,000-yard season in 2012. He’s not a game-changer, but Johnson is fearless and consistently produces. Johnson’s biggest claim to fame is he’s the only receiver in the AFC East who consistently gives New York Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis issues. Johnson averaged just under eight touchdowns the past three seasons.
3. Santonio Holmes, New York Jets
2012 stats: 20 receptions, 272 yards, one TD
Thoughts: Holmes is the wild-card in the division. The former Super Bowl MVP is getting older (29), and it’s unknown how good Holmes will be once he returns from a major foot injury. Before the injury, Holmes was a playmaker who stepped up in big spots. He could make the tough catches over the middle of the field and also the big plays. But Holmes’ last two years with the Jets have been inconsistent. A decline in quarterback play with the Jets also had something to do with it. This season will be big for Holmes to prove that he still has it.
4. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
2012 stats: 63 receptions, 666 yards, three TDs
Thoughts: Amendola comes to the AFC East with big shoes to fill. He replaces Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker, who had five, 100-catch seasons for the Patriots. The slot receiver is an important position in New England’s offense, and Amendola must step up. Durability also is a question. Amendola has missed more games (20) the past two years than he’s played (12). Amendola has the potential to move up in these rankings after this season. But he has a lot to prove.
5. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
2012 stats: 74 receptions, 1,083 yards, one TD
Thoughts: Hartline is a hard-working receiver who gets the most out of his talent. He also has good timing. Hartline had a career year, and his first 1,000-yard season, with Miami in 2012. He parlayed that into a five-year, $30 million contract. Hartline will not have to be a No. 1 receiver now that Wallace is with the Dolphins. This will take a lot of pressure of Hartline, who is a good No. 2 option.