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Ranking the NFL's best slot receivers


Wes Welker's visit to our Around The League podcast got us thinking: Who is the best slot receiver in the NFL?

I posed this question to Chris Wesseling, who didn't hesitate to rank Percy Harvin No. 1. Dan Hanzus leaned toward Randall Cobb as a long-term solution.

Welker, overlooked by so many teams this offseason, was overlooked by our crew as well. Here's my list:

1. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

He's a little riskier than some others on this list because we haven't seen enough of him for a full season. (Although he racked up 1,312 yards from scrimmage in 2011 and was off to a fantastic start last year.) Harvin is much more than just a slot receiver, which partly is why he ranks No. 1.

2. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

Perhaps Cobb and Harvin wouldn't be as valuable in 2005, but the NFL has changed. Coaches need space players like this who can line up everywhere. Cobb might not be as tough as Harvin, but Cobb is better at making people miss and making plays after the catch. Aaron Rodgers imagines Cobb as a 100-catch guy, and it's hard to disagree.

3. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

He's not exactly an old man at 32. Perhaps he isn't as scheme transcendent as the other receivers on the list, but Welker's short-area quickness and ability to "see the field with the same eyes" as Tom Brady was sensational. I don't buy the argument that his numbers will plummet with the Broncos. Peyton Manning knows how to work with slot receivers.

4. Victor Cruz, New York Giants

Someone on this list had to get pushed down. Cruz helped auger in the era of the slot receiver as a big-time vertical threat. The Giants traditionally do a nice job setting up their guys inside (Steve Smith, anyone?), which partly could be why the Giants are hesitant to pay Cruz huge dollars.

5. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots

He's not Welker 2.0. Amendola is more like a cross between all the guys above, with an underrated ability to get behind defenders. The talent is there for a monster season, but Amendola's durability issues put him lower on the list.

Not mentioned: You arguably could call Reggie Wayne a "slot receiver" at this stage of his career. If he qualified, he'd be on the list above. ... Anquan Boldin had a career-defining playoff run, but he's on the downside of his career. ... Lance Moore and Davone Bess deserve mention as veterans who can get it done. ... Kendall Wright and Tavon Austin could be in the top five next year. ... Marques Colston should probably be on this list at No. 5, but I thought of Moore, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles as other options inside in New Orleans. Colston might be the best of his generation at making contested catches.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.