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Ranking The Rooms: AFC North Wide Receivers

I might not have a more difficult time ranking 1-3 in the Ranking the Rooms: AFC North series than I will today with the WRs. I say 1-3 because I know for sure who comes in at No. 4.

The rest of the division though…there’s some big names and some big-time talent. This one was very hard to put together. Please drop a line in the comments and let me know how I did.

Away we go.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

I said this about a month ago on Twitter, so I have to stick with it. When healthy, I can’t see any WR group challenging this top spot in terms of talent. Problem is, AJ Green and John Ross III have struggled to stay healthy these last two years.

Since this list is about what’s on paper right now (or on screen, whichever you prefer), I’m leaning Bengals.

I still think Green is a top flight WR when on the field, and for all the negativity around Ross III, all he does is find the end zone (Ross III scores once every 5.7 touches).

Behind those two, Tyler Boyd continues to be slept on as a top 25 WR in football. He’s a great route runner, has tremendous hands and is as consistent as they come on a bad team. He’ll have fun catches passes over the middle from Joe Burrow.

Auden Tate is the big, physical possession receiver who can really take over a game on the boundary, while I really like the addition of deep threat Tee Higgins in the draft. This is a really deep group. The only real question is health. If they stay healthy in 2020, look out.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sure, JuJu Smith-Schuster had an underwhelming first year as a No. 1 option in Pittsburgh, but it’s not like he had a good QB throwing him the football. I think he’ll have a huge bounce back season in 2020 with Ben Roethlisberger healthy.

Alongside Smith-Schuster, I truly believe Diontae Johnson has star potential and is going to have a breakout 2020. He flashes Antonio Brown-like traits on the field and flew under the radar in a loaded 2019 draft class.

James Washington had a quietly strong year in 2019 as a deep threat and should continue to develop with Roethlisberger back, giving the Steelers a guy who can keep defenses honest over the top.

As far as Chase Claypool goes in 2020, I think he’ll be a red zone threat and not much more due to the pandemic and how it’s affected rookies adjusting to the league so far. That said, I think he has a high ceiling moving forward and should be fun to watch in black and gold.

The fight for WR5 will come down to Ryan Switzer and Deon Cain. I like Cain’s ceiling and contributions more than Switzer, but I think Switzer is a lock for the roster with Roethlisberger back. He has a lot to prove in 2020 and should have a good bounce back year with 7 under center.

3. Cleveland Browns

A room with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 3 in this list? Yep.

The Browns fall from No. 1 last year to No. 3 this year. I just don’t like the makeup of this room, in terms of fit on the field.

Landry continues to be a steady presence on the inside for Baker Mayfield, but Beckham Jr. demands the football too much and doesn’t seem to always be engaged snap to snap. Plus, I think he’s lost a step on the field.

Behind those two, Donovan Peoples-Jones is a guy I think is going to really surprise folks this year. He’s a solid punt returner and could be a real solid No. 3 option to the top two.

After that, I just don’t know about this group at all. Rashard Higgins has a ton of talent and potential, but he struggles with health and seems to be an afterthought. I loved Taywan Taylor coming out of Western Kentucky, but he hasn’t put it together on the field.

KhaDarel Hodge had some run last year and performed in bunches. He showed good rapport with Mayfield, so maybe that continues into 2020. The depth is a real concern overall in Cleveland at WR.

4. Baltimore Ravens

Top to bottom, this group is a whole bunch of “meh” on paper, at least right now.

Marquise Brown is uber talented, but he’s rail thin, fragile and just doesn’t seem like a great fit in Baltimore’s run-first offense. Maybe Year 2 is a big breakout for him, but I just can’t see it right now.

Myles Boykin really underwhelmed in his first season where he wasn’t really able to open up vertically. He didn’t really separate well in his first season.

I like Willie Snead IV overall, but he was up and down in 2019 as a slot option, which led to the Ravens attacking the draft for slot weapons in Devin Duvernay and James Proche.

Those two have the potential to be darn good for the Ravens with Lamar Jackson, but I just can’t see huge impacts in 2020.

Third-year pro Jaleel Scott is a sleeper to watch in Baltimore for me. He’s 6’5” and is a gazelle.

2019 WR rooms rankings:

  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Baltimore Ravens

 

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