It hurts me to write on Tennessee Titans after the tragic beatdown they placed on my Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the 2020 playoffs. However, the fact that they are a force to be reckoned with is obvious. My focus turns to how people are caught up on loudmouth receivers that are not in the league or anywhere else. What teams need to focus on is A.J. Brown. With DeAndre Hopkins now in the NFC, he could stand to be one of the most dangerous all-around WRs in the conference.
I am not saying people are sleeping on A.J., but let’s take a look at what the rest of the conference has to offer receiver-wise.
New England Patriots
Who is their number one again? 32-year-old Julian Edelman? Based on Cam Newton being “humbled” as the new guy in Foxboro, I have left a surprise at the bottom of this article about who may be the number 1 guy in New England.
New York Jets
I see lots of speed but no true number one. They drafted Denzel Mims, but Jamison Crowder looks like the true “1” until unseated. Yes, I know Breshad Perriman is there, but I would need to see more before putting him as a number one receiver.
DeVante Parker: Here is a legit talent with a new QB. I am curious to see what he and Tua Tagovailoa can accomplish together. 1200+ yards with Ryan Fitzpatrick was great to see in 2019. Will Preston Williams and Allen Hurns eat into his workload?
Stephon Diggs: Riddle me this: can he grind without Thielen on the other side? Josh Allen showed promise in 2019, but I believe there will be growing pains between the two before Steve Urkel turns back into Stephon (I really hope yall caught that.)
Hollywood Brown put in work last and this current offseason, but I believe this offense still “TRUZZ” in and runs through their TEs. I would love to see him put on a clinic in 2020, though. Miles Boykin won’t be the number one but don’t sleep on him either.
With Ben Roethlisberger back, will JuJu Smith-Schuster return to form? Is Dionte Johnson the next great homegrown WR coming out of Pitt? Too many questions to crown either of these guys.
A.J. Green is returning from injury, but what can the team expect of him with a new signal-caller? Tyler Boyd reached the 1K-yd mark for the second straight year season, but with Tee Higgins in the fold now, will his workload decrease? I guess that boils down to who has better chemistry with Burrow. Boyd will still get his work out of the slot, but how much?
Two monster receivers here, and that is why I said Brown would be one of the most dangerous in the AFC. However, with Baker Mayfield losing more daddies every year than a kid with a promiscuous Mom. Will we ever see his rookie year form again? Odell Beckham Jr. Still managed over 1,000 yards this past season, as did Jarvis Landry. But hip surgery is a tricky thing and could make life a bit more difficult for circus-show Beckham.
Kansas City Chiefs
There are burners all through this squad, but Tyreek Hill is the clear cut number one WR in this camp. The question remains, can Tyreek stay healthy? He missed a couple of games and didn’t reach the 1K-yard mark this past season, but he did show up when it counted. When you look at Tyreek, outside of fly routes, posts, screens, and flat routes, can he run the full route tree? To argue myself, does he have to with that supporting cast?
Las Vegas Raiders
Henry Ruggs will be a dangerous rookie, and Tyrell Williams is a solid WR, but Derek Carr is about consistent as Philip Rivers in the 4th Quarter. Ya, I said it. Plus, we saw Darren Waller break out this past season at TE after drug and injury issues. Will Vegas carry the torch on feeding the offense through is TE?
Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen could be considered a Top 5 in the conference. However, with his injury history, Tyrod Taylor, and possibly a rookie QB in Justin Hebert to gel with during the season, can he produce the same as he did with Philip Rivers? I see some dropoff from his 1199-yards from 2019.
Drew Lock is throwing the ball. I’m sorry, but I am not a fan of any John Elway grown QBs. Courtland Sutton has the talent to emerge an AFC Bully, especially with such a talented rookie counterpart at his side in Jerry Jeudy. But can Lock get them the ball? I get that the guy did well against teams like the Raiders and the Lions. Check the tape on Lock against the Chiefs. I believe that gives you a fair look at what to expect in 2020 out of a guy who has only played five games. Anyway, this is about receivers. Should he and Jeudy find chemistry, I think Jeudy could be rookie of the year.
Brandon Cooks and Will Fuller are both premiere burners, but can they run the full route tree? Can Fuller stay healthy? Can Cooks stay out of concussion protocol?
According to ESPN, Texans’ Coach Bill O’Brien had this to say on the matter.
“Yes, he’s had concussions, but he’s only missed two games since 2015,” O’Brien said, understating the issue, especially since one of Cooks’ five documented concussions occurred in the Super Bowl. “All that was taken into account when we worked with Sean McVay on the trade.”
I fully expect Gardner “Uncle Rico” Minchew to fully rely on DJ Chark as his number one guy in 2020, but will it be on a top-5 WR level? That depends on the signal-caller gaining more chemistry with him. Rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. has to eat as well over there.
Philip Rivers has a new cast of wideouts to throw to, and it’s very unclear who will be that guy for him. It would be easy to say T.Y. Hilton but look at the past with Philip. He likes his tall outside guys. Besides T.Y. is 30 now. Father time is undefeated. Look for Michael Pittman Jr. to emerge as the number one over there.
It is clear who is the number one WR here. Corey Davis has articles coming out about how the Titans still like him. However, they also declined his 5th-year option. Kalif Raymond is a one-trick-pony, and Adam Humphries has talent but is just not a “one”. A.J. Brown was my favorite receiver to come out of the 2019 NFL Draft because of his ability to do so much after the catch and the use of his body to box out DBs for the rock. He showed this in his rookie campaign, and I believe he will take the AFC by storm, come his sophomore campaign.
One last treat
My list may differ from yours, but here are my 2020 regular season Top-10 AFC WRs. Let’s talk about it. Keep in mind this is a projection of what I believe is to come, not what currently is. Hold your cabbages.
- A.J. Brown
- Hollywood Brown
- Tyreek Hill
- Dionte Johnson
- Jarvis Landry
- Stephon Diggs
- Jerry Jeudy
- Keenan Allen
- DeVante Parker
- Damiere Byrd (Think about who is throwing the ball to him. Think Ted Ginn 2015)
Sleeper: D.J. Chark