Let’s look at a receiver from each four AFC West receivers who are currently in the spotlight and what to expect:
Denver, Eric Decker
Why the interest: New Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has said Decker is the leader of the Denver receivers. He is a third-year player.
What to expect in 2012: Decker has a chance to break out and be a receiver who can catch 70-80 passes. Manning makes his receivers better and Decker is a smart player who can get open and earn Manning’s trust.
What’s his career ceiling? I think Decker can be a good player with or without Manning, but if he plays with Manning for three or four years, I think we can see Decker vie for the Pro Bowl and rack up receptions.
Kansas City, Jonathan Baldwin
Why the interest: The No. 26 overall pick in 2011 has looked good this offseason and he is the Chiefs’ top receiver with franchised receiver Dwayne Bowe staying away from offseason workouts.
What to expect in 2012: I fully expect Bowe to be with the team, but I think we can see Baldwin develop into a No. 2 receiver. If he can stay healthy, I think Baldwin can make a big impact. He has big skills.
What’s his career ceiling? I think he has No. 1 receiver talent and he can be that player whether or not Bowe is in Kansas City’s long-term plans. Staying focused is Baldwin’s biggest challenge.
Oakland, Juron Criner
Why the interest: The fifth-round pick has stood out in OTAs with many circus catches.
What to expect in 2012: It would be foolish to pencil in a fifth-round pick to be an immediate contributor solely based on OTA play (it’s a glorified passing camp). However, it would be equally foolish to discount Criner. He has skills. He wasn’t drafted highly because he doesn’t have great speed. But he is a polished receiver. I could see him making some plays as a rookie.
What’s his career ceiling? One teammate thinks Criner has Larry Fitzgerald ability. He has been that impressive. I think Criner has a chance to be a standout player in this league in he stays the course and continues to work at his game.
San Diego, Vincent Brown
Why the interest: San Diego coaches love how the 2011 third-round pick ended last season and are big believers in him.
What to expect in 2012: I think he can be a solid No. 3 receiver. I wouldn’t be shocked if he develops into a main part of the San Diego offense.
What’s his career ceiling? I think he can be a terrific player for the long-term. He has a lot of skills. This is a player to watch.