Through two segments of the “Ranking the Rooms: AFC North” series here at Steelers Depot, we’ve yet to have a serious controversy with the lists ranking each team’s standing in the division.
That could change moving forward, but today there shouldn’t be any surprises with the AFC North wide receivers.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
A room with arguably the best receiver in football in Antonio Brown, the return of star No. 2 receiver Martavis Bryant from suspension and the addition of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster through the draft makes this a very scary wide receiver room.
That doesn’t even begin to look at slot receiver Eli Rogers and depth pieces Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Cobi Hamilton and Demarcus Ayers. I know, not all of these guys will make the roster, but that’s an incredibly deep room for the Steelers to work with.
Good luck stopping one of the top guys on a consistent basis, let alone stopping the entire group, especially with Ben Roethlisberger throwing passes once again.
The Steelers have the best receiving corps in the AFC North, and arguably one of the best in the entire NFL.
2. Cincinnati Bengals
Star wideout A.J. Green already gives this room a boost after losing veterans Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones last season to free agency, but the Bengals seem committed to getting Green help over the last two years by adding Tyler Boyd through the draft last year before drafting John Ross No. 9 overall this year.
Not a bad way to restock the receiver room for Cincinnati.
Green is on the same level as Brown in terms of talent, but last season he had a tough time dealing with double and triple teams with a lack of talent around him. That won’t be the case this season.
The addition of Ross allows Boyd to slide back into the slot, where he was dominant during his collegiate career at the University of Pittsburgh. Ross will be the speedy deep threat that will look to take the top off of defenses while providing a run-after-catch threat for the Bengals as well.
Behind the trio, Cincinnati has some intriguing pieces to work with, including veteran Brandon LaFell, second-year wide receiver Cody Core and rookie Josh Malone.
Much like the Steelers, the Bengals have a very deep receiving group just one year after really struggling to put good talent on the field at the position on a consistent basis.
Don’t be surprised if Andy Dalton has a great season this fall.
3. Cleveland Browns
Say what you will about the Browns as a whole, but I am really intrigued with the receiving corps despite letting veteran Terrelle Pryor leave for Washington in free agency.
Signing veteran receiver Kenny Britt away from the Los Angeles Rams this offseason was a great move by the organization, giving whichever quarterback that plays this season a good, consistent presence to rely on out wide.
Second-year receiver Corey Coleman appears poised for a breakout year following an okay rookie season, while second-year guys Rashard Higgins, Jordan Payton and Ricardo Louis should see an increase in targets this season.
There’s no doubt that it’s a group with a lack of experience throughout, minus Britt, but it has plenty of upside, which is more than you can say about the last group in this list.
4. Baltimore Ravens
There’s very little to like about this group, especially after Steve Smith Sr. hung up his cleats this spring.
Third-year wideout Breshad Perriman has yet to put it all together since the Ravens spent a first-round pick on him out of Central Florida in 2015, while veteran Mike Wallace had a decent season last year in his first go-round with the purple and black.
Behind the duo, Baltimore will look to second-year receiver Chris Moore to emerge as the true deep threat that Joe Flacco covets, while third-year receiver Michael Campanaro has to step up and provide Flacco with the possession skills that Smith took with him into retirement.
Vince Mayle, Chris Matthews, Kenny Bell and Keenan Reynolds don’t provide much upside at all, but the one true hope that Baltimore has with this group is the upside of undrafted free agent Quincy Adeboyejo out of Ole Miss.
The speed receiver should have been drafted, but the Ravens did a good job of snatching him up early in the free agency process following the draft. It wouldn’t shock me if he emerges as a possible No. 1 in this group because I just don’t see it with Perriman.
Last Year’s Rankings