AFC North position rank: Wide receivers

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
2:04
PM ET
The AFC North blog is continuing its rankings of each position for the next week. This is a projection on how the group will fare this season. It's not an evaluation based on last year. For Wednesday, let's look at the quarterbacks.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers don't have as strong as a wide receiver group as last year now that Mike Wallace is in Miami. That being said, Pittsburgh still has the best receiver combination in the division. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are one of the quickest tandems in the league and fit Todd Haley's short passing attack. Brown should have a career season and Sanders will establish himself as a solid No. 2 receiver. There's a reason New England signed him to an offer sheet. At the No. 3 spot, the Steelers can go with experience (Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress) or youth (rookie third-round pick Markus Wheaton).

2. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green is clearly the best wide receiver in the AFC North. There's no one in his class. He has a shot at catching more than 100 passes for 1,500 yards and double-digit touchdowns. There's less of a concern about the No. 2 wide receiver this year, but the Bengals don't have a proven option either. Mohamed Sanu, a third-round pick from a year ago, caught four touchdowns in three games before getting injured. Still, he had 16 total catches. Cincinnati has potentially better depth than Pittsburgh with Andrew Hawkins and Marvin Jones, who could be the biggest surprise in the Bengals' passing game this year.

3. Baltimore Ravens: As I've written repeatedly, the Ravens are going to regret trading Anquan Boldin. He never had a 1,000-yard season for Baltimore, but he led the team in receiving yards and clutch catches for three seasons. Torrey Smith, who is the second-best receiver in the division, is primed to take over Boldin's No. 1 spot. The question is who steps up at No. 2? Jacoby Jones, who had 51 catches for Houston in 2010 and made big plays in the postseason, can handle that role but it will take him away from being a full-time returner, which is his bigger strength. Unproven draft picks like Tandon Doss and David Reed will also have a shot at making an impact.

4. Cleveland Browns: The Browns feel more comfortable with their receivers after watching what Josh Gordon and Greg Little did last season. But you don't know if Cleveland's top two receivers are going to reach their potential this season because they have a combined three seasons of NFL experience. Gordon flashed big-play ability and Little showed signs of developing into a complementary No. 2 target. The Browns have more established depth than the Ravens after trading for Davone Bess and signing David Nelson. Bess will prove valuable on third down. Travis Benjamin provides speed on the outside. This group will be even better next season.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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