The start of training camp is now just days away for teams across the NFL, with preseason and the regular season not far down the line. While there are some potential acquisitions that could still take place, most major moves have already transpired in free agency and the draft.
Therefore, we have a good idea of what the AFC North teams’ rosters will look like in 2022. Let’s break down where each position group stacks up within the division, continuing with the wide receivers.
Projected starters: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd
Depth: Mike Thomas, Stanley Morgan, Trent Taylor
The Bengals not only have the best wide receiver trio in the division, but maybe in the entire NFL. Last season, as a rookie, Ja’Marr Chase quickly established himself as one of the league’s most talented wideouts. He put together a first-year campaign of nearly 1,500 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns with 81 receptions.
As the No. 2 and No. 3 targets in the offense, respectively, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd were effective themselves. Higgins had over 1,000 receiving yards in his sophomore season while Boyd caught 67 of his 94 targets, again proving himself to be a reliable slot target.
Cincinnati doesn’t have the most inspiring depth behind these three, but their top-heavy talent is good enough to where it doesn’t matter much.
Projected starters: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens
Depth: Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Anthony Miller
The Steelers let JuJu Smith-Schuster walk in free agency and replaced him with a pair of draft picks in George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. They also added Miles Boykin and Anthony Miller in free agency, completing a quiet overhaul of their wide receiver core.
More importantly, though, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are entering their fourth and third career seasons, respectively. Johnson caught 107 passes with over 1,000 receiving yards in 2021. Claypool could be due to take a step forward after a lateral sophomore campaign.
Pickens and Austin III seem primed to be ready to contribute from Day 1, giving the Steelers a nice combination of depth, athleticism and versatility with this group.
Projected starters: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell
Depth: Anthony Schwartz, Jakeem Grant Sr.
The Browns’ receiver depth chart looked an awful lot different at this time last year, when Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashard Higgins made up the top three spots. The team parted ways with “OBJ” last season and let Landry and Higgins walk in free agency.
To compensate, they traded for Amari Cooper earlier this offseason and drafted David Bell out of Purdue. Cooper is an established No. 1-quality wideout and will have to shoulder a big burden as the lone veteran in this room. Bell was a third-round pick but is likely to see a lot of snaps as a slot target.
Donovan Peoples-Jones could be primed for a big jump in his third season, while speedsters Anthony Schwartz and Jakeem Grant Sr. are nice options to have to round out the group.
Projected starters: Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche
Depth: Tylan Wallace, Jaylon Moore, Binjimen Victor
The Ravens may rank No. 3 on this list had they not traded their No. 1 wideout of the past few seasons, Marquise Brown, to the Cardinals this offseason. Absent Brown, the Ravens have not yet added another receiver to the mix — although a move for a veteran could be coming before the season.
As things currently stand, every one of the team’s wide receivers is on their rookie contract. The sophomore development of Rashod Bateman will determine how far this group can go, as the Ravens are banking on him making a big leap in the No. 1 role. Bateman showed flashes during his rookie season after returning from an early-season injury.
Behind him, Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace compose a young but unproven collection of targets. If at least one of them makes a significant jump, the Ravens will be in much better shape.
What are your thoughts on this order? Share your own below and join in on the conversation in the comments!