Our AFC West position-by-position rankings continue. We are looking at the receivers today.
It’s an interesting group. The unit is very young in the division. This list is sure to change dramatically in the next couple of years as it moves away from the Brandon Marshall era. I’m only listing players I think can make an impact this season.
1. Vincent Jackson, San Diego: Jackson is by far the best in this class and is a superstar in the making. He’s big, fast, he works hard and he has great hands. He has it all.
2. Malcom Floyd, San Diego: There is a big drop off from Jackson to Floyd, but the Chargers are very excited about him. He’s tall, athletic and has a chance to break out in 2010.
3. Chris Chambers, Kansas City: He revitalized his career after the Chiefs claimed him off waivers from the Chargers last season. He is Matt Cassel’s favorite target and is still a solid playmaker.
4. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City: Bowe is very talented. But he has to show more consistency after a bad 2009 season. If he gets his head straight, he can be a standout.
5. Chaz Schilens, Oakland: All Schilens needs is to stay healthy. He has terrific talent. but has yet to really show it. He can jump up this list next year.
6. Jabar Gaffney, Denver: Gaffney is an underrated player. He’s a perfect fit for Josh McDaniels’ offense. He’ll be replaced on this list by some of the younger players as soon as next year, but he is a solid player this season.
7. Eddie Royal, Denver: This is a big year for Royal. He had a disastrous second season after starring as a rookie. He had 91 catches in 2008 and just 37 last season. He has played well at this level but needs to show he can do it again.
8. Louis Murphy, Oakland: Murphy has great potential. He was solid as a rookie but will need to catch the ball with more consistency. Still, I think he is a riser.
9. Legedu Naanee, San Diego: Naanee is a good player. He’s a very nice No. 3 option and is very versatile.
10. Demaryius Thomas, Denver: He’s a top-rated rookie. Denver expects a lot from him and he will get a chance to shine very quickly.
11. Dexter McCluster, Kansas City: I’m excited to see how the Chiefs use this small, but speedy slot receiver. I think the sky is the limit.
12. Eric Decker, Denver: If he can come back quickly from a foot injury, Decker could have a quick impact. He is a very intriguing prospect with great hands.
13. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland: Heyward-Bey doesn’t have good hands at all and that’s why he is behind three rookies on this list. He was horrible during his first year and still didn’t fix his catchings issues at last week’s minicamp. He has potential with great speed, but a receiver is nothing without reliable hands. He has a lot of work to do.