Welker, remember, wasn’t drafted in 2004. Despite a fine career at Texas Tech, a large population of NFL teams weren’t ready to make the switch to a spread offense, which greatly reduced the need for slot receivers.
The position has been glamorized by Welker’s success since 2007 with the Patriots, and the rest of the league’s offenses have continued to evolve with elements of the spread. Granted, it’s not a direct correlation, as the spread offense hasn’t exploded due to Welker. But teams have seen how valuable Welker has been, and they’ve actively tried to find a slot receiver of their own.
Ebert, the Patriots’ seventh-round pick, will face constant comparisons to Welker, particularly now that the two share a locker room. Ebert has shown his own ability to pace an offense, catching 137 passes for 2,013 yards and 19 touchdowns over the last two seasons at Northwestern.
So, with all of that in mind, Ebert is pretty excited to learn from someone of Welker’s magnitude.
“Wes is one of the best, if not the best [slot receiver], ever,” Ebert said. “It’s great to have him lead the way, learning from him, taking as much as I can from him.”
It’s going to be a while before Ebert and Welker work directly together. Ebert is at Gillette Stadium for the team’s rookie camp this weekend, and Welker hasn’t reported to New England this offseason because he’s unhappy with his contract situation. And after rookie camp, Ebert will return to Northwestern until June to finish his degree, and he won’t be able to rejoin the Patriots until his senior class graduates.
Until then, Ebert is just planning to be a good soldier who will be a smart rookie and do what he’s told, whether it’s in the slot, out wide or taking out the trash.
“I’ll be whatever they want me to be,” Ebert said. “I’m not going to give myself a position. I’ll play whatever helps the team the best.”