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MAJOR TOM

Jan. 25, 2016
Jan. 25, 2016

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Jan. 25, 2016

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MAJOR TOM

By GREG A. BEDARD

The five pass catchers who have best meshed with BRADY (and the Patriots' scheme) over the past decade

This is an article from the Jan. 25, 2016 issue

1 WES WELKER

2007-12: 672 REC, 37 TDS

He was only 5'9", but he was fearless over the middle, making him the master of the choice route. "To run across the middle at full speed while looking at the QB ... that's a very rare gift," Brady has said of his old pal.

2 KEVIN FAULK

1999-2011: 431 REC, 15 TDS

The Tom Brady of running backs, he read pressures and coverages like his QB, with whom he was always in sync in terms of picking up blitzes and running choice routes out of the backfield.

3 ROB GRONKOWSKI

2010-PRESENT: 380 REC, 65 TDS

Not exactly a rocket scientist in cleats, but he's floored coaches with his instincts against coverages. "He understood leverage immediately," says O'Brien. "He knew, This guy's outside me, I'm going to lean into him."

4 RANDY MOSS

2007-10: 259 REC, 50 TDS

The Patriots have never had an X receiver master route conversions like the future Hall of Famer. Brady and his coaches raved that the mercurial Moss had one of the highest football IQs ever and was a terrific practice player.

5 JULIAN EDELMAN

2009-PRESENT: 327 REC, 21 TDS

It took him four years to get a shot in this O—by the time he's done, he'll climb this list. Edelman is the best athlete Brady has had in the slot: His ability to cut on a dime and maintain speed makes his choice routes very tough to defend.

PHOTOCHARLES KRUPA/APPHOTOJIM MCISAAC/GETTY IMAGESPHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDPHOTOBRETT CARLSEN/GETTY IMAGESPHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED