BOSTON (CBS) — What will the Patriots do with Wes Welker? Opinions on the matter are not hard to find in New England, where fans have seen the slot receiver defy every convention by averaging 112 receptions and more than 1,200 yards per season, while missing just three regular-season games since 2007.

While it’s unknown whether the Patriots will sign Welker, place the franchise tag on him or let him go to the open market, opinions among those who are so close to the situation can often be affected by knowing too much about the subject at hand. And in those instances, it can be helpful to consider the thoughts of objective outsiders.

One such group is Pro Football Focus, a website dedicated to providing deep stats and grading every single player in the league on every play, and PFF’s Sam Monson rated the free-agent wide receiver class.

Greg Jennings was listed as the No. 1 available wideout on the market, but No. 2 was Welker.

“On underneath routes and working across the middle, Welker might be legitimately uncoverable — too fast for linebackers and too quick for defensive backs to stick with him,” Monson wrote. “If you want to use Welker as an underneath threat, there may be nobody better, but even split wide last year he caught 32 of 44 passes for 11.4 yards and remained efficient.”

Despite the No. 2 ranking (and the +15 grade, tops on the entire list), it wasn’t all praise for Welker.

“The down side to Welker is that he is now 31 (and will be 32 when the 2013 season starts), and despite what announcers will have you believe, he does drop more passes than you would like, even for a high-volume receiver. Last season he led the NFL with 15 drops in the regular season, and his drop percentage of 11.28 was 58th,” Monson wrote, adding that Welker’s value may be highest in New England.

The rest of the list, in order, was Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, Danny Amendola, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Domenik Hixon, Randy Moss and Johnny Knox.

It’s certainly not the defining list that should dictate exactly how the Patriots act on Welker, but it is interesting to see Welker’s value listed higher than so many big names.

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