Ranking The Rooms: AFC North WRs

As the offseason in the NFL moves along, so too do I in my Ranking the Rooms: AFC North series here for Steelers Depot.

Last week, I ranked the QBs and the RBs within the AFC North, and today I’ll get into the position group that is arguably the deepest and strongest in the vaunted AFC North, that being the wide receivers.

Big, star-power names like Odell Beckham Jr., Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Amari Cooper, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens lead the way in the AFC North overall, but it’s the depth throughout the division’s four teams that make the wide receiver rooms one of the deepest and strongest in the division.

Let’s dive in.


Another year, another top ranking for the Cincinnati Bengals here in this exercise. Three years in a row for Cincinnati having the best WR room in the division.

A room featuring stars in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, not to mention a dependable veteran in Tyler Boyd is easily the top wide receiver room in the AFC North. Chase is a true nightmare for opposing defenses. He’s a great route runner with elite-level game-breaking speed. He can simply take over games, and has done just that in his first two seasons in the league. Chase is easily one of the top five receivers in football.

Higgins is another high-level receiver who is the big, physical threat opposite him, one that has good speed and consistently wins 50/50 balls in the air. He reminds me so much of a young Plaxico Burress with his ability to work vertically and win in the air with impressive body control. Boyd is the consummate professional for the Bengals. Tough as nails over the middle and impressively reliable, all Boyd does is produce when called upon. Though his numbers have dipped in recent seasons, he remains a high-level slot receiver.

The Bengals did a great job of addressing depth in the offseason at the receiver position, adding Charlie Jones and Andre Iosivas in the draft, giving quarterback Joe Burrow even more weapons to work with. Jones is that tough, dependable slot option, while Iosivas is an absurd athlete who just needs to be developed.

Names like Trenton Irwin, Stanley Morgan and Trent Taylor remain and will likely fight for one of the last spots on the roster at the receiver position. All three have NFL experience, giving the Bengals a deep room. Undrafted free agents Mac Hippenhammer and Hedrick Jackson and first-year pro Kwame Lassiter II will battle for a practice squad spot.


Quietly, Cleveland has put together quite the wide receiver room in the last few seasons.

One year after trading for veteran Amari Cooper to give the Browns that true No. 1 WR, Cleveland traded for Elijah Moore from the New York Jets, giving him a change of scenery, and added Cedric Tillman out of Tennessee in the draft, adding those two to with a room featuring Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Bell.

Cooper put together a full season in Cleveland and put up some strong stats despite being without quarterback Deshaun Watson for the first 11 games. In his first season in Cleveland, Cooper hauled in 78 passes for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns, performing like a true No. 1 receiver. With a second season with Watson, those numbers should improve.

Behind Cooper, Peoples-Jones had a strong third season, finishing with 61 catches for 839 yard sand three touchdowns. He was the big-play threat the Browns needed, and he even added some splash in the punt return game, returning a punt 76 yards for a score last season. Entering Year 4, the future is very bright for the former Michigan product.

Landing Moore from the Jets for a second-round pick feels like a major steal for the Browns. Moore is a dynamic slot option, one who is still refining his craft as a route runner. However, he took a step back in 2022 after a strong rookie season. He was rarely targeted and used incorrectly in New York in Year 2, leading to his trade request, which the Jets clearly ultimately approved. Now in the slot again and a seemingly strong fit in Cleveland, Moore gives the Browns a high-end option in the slot.

Selecting Tillman in the third round was another steal for the Browns. He’s a height/weight/speed guy who is a monster downfield. Pairing him with Peoples-Jones gives the Browns two impressive downfield options in the passing game.

Along with Cooper, Peoples-Jones, Moore and Tillman, Cleveland boasts some intriguing depth with second-year pro David Bell as another big, physical slot option, along with speedster Anthony Schwartz still in the fold. Veterans Marquise Goodwin and Jake Grant Sr. are aiming to stick on the roster as well, giving Cleveland much-needed speed and versatility in the room, while Michael Woods II, Isaiah Weston, Mike Harley Jr., Jaelon Darden and Daylen Baldwin are seemingly vying for spots on the practice squad.


Though there seems to be some negativity surrounding Diontae Johnson after some struggles last season coupled with not scoring a touchdown, the Steelers’ receiver remains a star-level weapon in the passing game. He’s one of the best separators in football, makes defenders miss at a high rate after the catch and is clearly the WR1 in Pittsburgh, from a workload perspective.

That much cannot be denied.

Second-year wide receiver George Pickens took the league by storm in 2022 and quickly passed Chase Claypool on the depth chart, leading to the Steelers trading him to Chicago for a draft pick. Pickens is that big, physical receiver who wins at a high rate in contested-catch situations. Much like Higgins in Cincinnati, Pickens has that Plaxico Burress-like ability to win in the air while working vertically, something the Steelers have lacked in the last decade or so. He appears poised for a big second season in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh added veteran Allen Robinson II via trade with the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, shoring up the depth chart at receiver, giving the Steelers an ideal WR3 for Johnson and Pickens. Robinson can play in the slot or out wide, remains a high-end route runner and can really help develop Pickens’ game overall. He’s coming off of a down season in Los Angeles, but a fresh start in Pittsburgh and back in an ideal role should help him immensely.

Behind the trio of Johnson, Pickens and Robinson, second-year receiver Calvin Austin III is a relative unknown after missing his entire rookie season. He remains an ideal fit in offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system out of the slot, but we’ll see how quickly he can adjust to the pro game after missing so much time.

Veterans Myles Boykin, Cody White, Gunner Olszewski and Anthony Miller will battle for final spots on the roster at the position. All four bring some special teams value, with Boykin and White in kick and punt coverage, and Olszewski and Miller in the return game. None of them really move the needle as true receivers however, though Pittsburgh has been very clearly intrigued by Boykin’s size and speed.

Dez Fitzpatrick, Dan Chisena, Ja’Marcus Bradley, UDFA Jordan Byrd and XFL signee Hakeem Butler will battle for a practice squad spot at this point. Butler and Fitzpatrick offer the most intrigue of that group, with both having NFL experience as receivers.


After signing star quarterback Lamar Jackson to a massive contract extension, Baltimore moved rather quickly to try and rebuild the wide receiver room, adding Odell Beckham Jr. on a one-year deal to try and appease Jackson shortly before he signed his new deal.

The last time Beckham was on an NFL field, he was dominating in the Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals, but then tore his ACL for a second time and missed the entire 2022 season. So, it’s been awhile for Beckham. Now, he’s coming off of a second knee injury and is 30 years old. How will he look in 2023?

He remains a big name, and he is still immensely talented, but there has to be questions about his overall speed and explosiveness. We’ll see on the field this season.

Along with the addition of Beckham, the Ravens drafted Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, adding a dynamic weapon to the room overall. Flowers might be slightly undersized, but he’s a nightmare with the ball in his hands. That’s  exactly what the Ravens are aiming for after the catch in the new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Beckham and Flowers join former first-round pick Rashod Bateman in Baltimore. Bateman has struggled to stay healthy and has just 61 catches for 800 yards and three scores in his first two seasons. If he can stay healthy, he’s a legitimate No. 1-type WR.

Behind the trio of Beckham, Flowers and Bateman, Baltimore has some interesting depth.

Tylan Wallace, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II return. Duvernay is that gadget-type weapon who had a strong 2022 season with an increased workload, finishing with 37 receptions for 407 yards and three scores. Wallace saw action in just nine games and was primarily a special teams piece, while Proche had his struggles on offense and on special teams.

Baltimore added eighth-year NFL veteran Mike Thomas and ninth-year veteran Nelson Agholor to the room. That should shore up the depth behind the big-name trio at the top of the depth chart, while a name like Andy Isabella aims to carve out a role again in the slot for Baltimore.

The Ravens also have Shemar Bridges, Tarik Black, and undrafted free agents Dontay Demus Jr. and Sean Ryan battling it out for practice squad spots.

While the Ravens did a nice job overhauling the wide receiver room, there are still far too many questions than answers at the position for Baltimore.

2022 AFC North WR rankings: 

No. 1 – Cincinnati Bengals

No. 2 – Pittsburgh Steelers

No. 3 – Cleveland Browns

No. 4 – Baltimore Ravens

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