Oakland Raiders receivers Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford, and Darrius Heyward-Bey at 2012 OTA's (photo by Levi Damien)
The AFC West has compiled some pretty formidable wide receiver corps. Based on the receivers in this division, I expect there to be some exciting vertical games in this division. From the always high octane pass offense in San Diego, yards churning West Coast offense in Oakland, to the acrobatic catches in Kansas City, to the addition of Peyton Manning in Denver. The receivers in this division are going to get fat and happy (so to speak).
Because of the overall air assault by these teams it was difficult to choose which receivers would top the division. And also for that reason, it was important to focus more on the receivers themselves as opposed to trying to predict what kind of stats they would have based on their offense or their quarterback. Although, I couldn't eliminate scheme and quarterback altogether.
Here is my AFC West wide receiver corps rankings by team:
With Bowe and Baldwin the Chiefs may just have their starting two wide receivers for a good while. Bowe has proven himself to be a Pro Bowl wide receiver and Baldwin looks like he has all the potential to be there someday himself. Breaston offers a solid third option who has consistently put up good numbers in his career. Dexter McCluster has decent hands as a speedy utility guy.
The deepest receiving corps in the AFC West. There is some nice talent across the board and even some great potential in rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater. The one issue is the lack of a proven starter or star receiver. Heyward-Bey was the leading receiver last season and nearly reached 1000 yards, but he still has not shown any ability to fight for jump balls or run down a deep ball in stride. Those two weaknesses in DHB are strengths in Moore. The sky is the limit for him, especially with the chemistry forming with Carson Palmer. Ford is the most explosive receiver in this division. And working out of the slot in the West Coast offense will have the ball in his hands a lot. It says a lot that Louis Murphy is the fourth option because he is a solid contributor as well.
Thomas and Decker appear to have a great deal of potential and Peyton Manning has a way of making his receivers look even better. Speaking of which, Manning is reunited with his former teammate, Brandon Stokley although he is now 36 years old. Caldwell comes over from the Bengals where he was never much more than average. I expect good numbers from the Broncos receivers as a whole simply because of Manning throwing the passes. But that just means they have a great quarterback, not great receivers.
Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachum, Eddie Royal
With Vincent Jackson gone, the Chargers will be hoping Meachum can take over his duties... he can't. Floyd was always a good second option after Jackson and with the pass happy Chargers, there was enough balls to go around. Royal nearly had a 1000 yard season as a rookie four years ago but hasn't been anywhere near as good since. Roscoe Parrish has always been a complementary performer. The Chargers think they have something special in Vincent Brown but outside of one good game in which he made a jump ball TD catch, there is nothing to suggest he is poised for greatness.