From top to bottom in the AFC North, the wide receiver position is loaded with stars.

Names like Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in Cincinnati, Amari Cooper in Cleveland, and George Pickens in Pittsburgh, not to mention a budding star in Baltimore’s Zay Flowers, has the AFC North looking very, very strong moving forward from a name recognition standpoint.

New faces were added to the division at the position, too, including Jerry Jeudy in Cleveland, Devontez Walker in Baltimore, Roman Wilson in Pittsburgh and Jermaine Burton in Cincinnati.

The position group is rather strong in the division. But how does it shake out top to bottom?

Let’s take a look in this edition of Ranking The Rooms: AFC North WRs.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals will hold this mantle for at least another year with Tee Higgins set to return on the franchise tag. Higgins requested a trade this offseason without a new long-term contract, but the Bengals aren’t budging, so he’s going to be back.

That’s great news for Cincinnati as Higgins pairs with Ja’Marr Chase to form arguably the best 1-2 punch at receiver in the NFL. Even with star quarterback Joe Burrow missing significant time last season, Chase had a huge second season in the NFL. He hauled in 100 receptions for 1,216 yards and seven touchdowns, which was a career-high in receptions.

He’s a great route runner, is good after the catch and can really take the top off defenses. Higgins is more of the power forward, the guy that can go up over defenders and win contested catches, giving the Bengals a dynamic pairing.

Even with losing veteran Tyler Boyd in free agency, the Bengals remain stacked at receiver. Cincinnati drafted Alabama’s Jermaine Burton in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, giving the Bengals another dynamic weapon. Burton has some character concerns, but if the Bengals can keep him in line, that’s a potential future No. 2 opposite Chase.

Cincinnati can also call on the likes of Andrei Iosivas, Trenton Irwin and Charlie Jones at the position. Top to bottom, the Bengals have great wide receivers for Burrow to work with.

2. Cleveland Browns

Adding Jeudy via trade this offseason really strengthens the Browns’ room. Though Jeudy hasn’t fully lived up to his potential in the NFL, he remains one of the best route runners and separators in football. Now paired with Deshaun Watson, the Browns are banking on Jeudy reaching his potential.

The good news is he doesn’t have to be a No. 1 WR in Cleveland. That title belongs to Amari Cooper, who remains a savant as a route runner and continues to produce at a high level entering Year 11 in the NFL.

Last season for Cleveland, Cooper hauled in 72 passes for 1,250 yards and five touchdowns, doing most of his damage while the Browns had serious issues at quarterback due to injuries and poor play until Joe Flacco settled things down. He might not be the player he once was in 2019 and 2020 with the Dallas Cowboys, but Cooper remains a real problem for defenses.

Cleveland also has Elijah Moore in the WR room as a strong WR3 out of the slot. He is another strong route runner who understands how to create separation and has the speed to run away from defenders in space. He had a career high 59 receptions for 640 yards and two touchdowns last season. Those numbers might drop with Jeudy in the fold, but the Browns’ wide receiver room is looking rather strong.

Behind the starting trio, the Browns have young pieces in David Bell, Cedric Tillman, Michael Woods II, James Proche and rookie draft pick Jamari Thrash. That’s quite a talented group to have as depth, though all four names won’t stick behind the starting three.

Bell and Tillman are the big, physical weapons that the Browns coveted last year in the offense. Woods and Thrash profile as the speedy, strong route runners who can make plays after the catch. Depth looks good here.

3. Baltimore Ravens

Losing Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency hurts the depth chart a bit, but overall the Ravens are in good shape, thanks to the development of Zay Flowers. As a rookie, Flowers burst onto the scene, hauling in 77 receptions for 858 yards and five touchdowns. He was a dynamic weapon with the football, and the future looks very bright for the former Boston College star.

Flowers profiles as the No. 1 for the Ravens, and Rashod Bateman is a solid No. 2. The Ravens re-signed Bateman to a two-year deal this offseason. Bateman had just 32 receptions for 367 yards and a touchdown last season, but he played 16 games for the first time in his career and appeared to take substantial steps forward.

He’ll have a big role this year for the Ravens.

Behind Flowers and Bateman, there are some questions for the Ravens.

Nelson Agholor provides dependable veteran depth, but he doesn’t exactly move the needle all that much at this point in his career. Drafting Devontez Walker out of North Carolina was a great move for the Ravens, who landed another big, fast, physical receiver for Lamar Jackson to work with. There are some concerns with his hands overall, but all the tools are there for Walker to eventually be a No. 2-type in Baltimore.

Th Ravens also brought in rookie Tayvion Robinson out of Kentucky, and signed veteran Deonte Hardy in free agency, giving them some juice at receiver, not to mention veteran Tylan Wallace, who has been very steady on special teams.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Trading Diontae Johnson this offseason and not adequately replacing him really hurts the Steelers. He was an elite route runner and was slippery after the catch. The Steelers don’t have a true X receiver now.

The hope is that George Pickens takes a major leap in Year 3 to true stardom. He played very well last season, putting up a career-high 63 receptions for 1,140 yards and five touchdowns. Late in the season he really took over as the true No. 1 in Pittsburgh and was a big-play weapon, putting together some impressive performances in December and January to help the Steelers reach the playoffs.

He’s had some attitude issues, but he’s still young and maturing, and seems to have turned a corner last season.

The Steelers added Michigan’s Roman Wilson in the draft, giving Pittsburgh a tough, dependable receiver in the mold of Hines Ward, but there are questions as to whether the third-round pick is a slot receiver or can play on the outside. He’ll block his tail off though, and that will endear him to teammates and fans.

Behind those two, there are more questions than answers.

The Steelers added Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins and Scotty Miller in free agency, taking a flyer on cheap veteran receivers. Jefferson might be the best of the bunch, which is saying something. It sure would be nice if he could get back to his 2021 playing level, a year in which he hauled in 50 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns as the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl, but that might be a stretch at this point.

Watkins and Miller are deep ball threats, but they feel redundant to Calvin Austin III, who enters Year 3 looking to put it all together at receiver. Marquez Callaway is an intriguing depth option for the Steelers, but “intriguing candidates” about sums up where the Steelers sit currently at receiver.

It’s not looking all that good, folks.

2023 AFC North WR rankings: 

No. 1 – Cincinnati Bengals

No. 2 – Cleveland Browns

No. 3 – Pittsburgh Steelers

No. 4 – Baltimore Ravens


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