The AFC West is set up to be dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs for years to come (presumably). However, the division is not a guarantee for the Chiefs as the other three teams are attempting to assemble a strong squad to challenge them. Let’s take a look at the four teams’ wide receiver groups and rank them accordingly.
1st, Kansas City Chiefs
(Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Travis Kelce)
This one should be obvious, unfortunately. The Chiefs are notorious for assembling a “track team” when it comes to their receivers. Tyreek Hill has his ongoing reputation as one of the, if not the fastest, receivers in the league and top-five talent at that. The only starter they lost in the offseason was Sammy Watkins who ventured over to the Ravens. Watkins was not a huge loss as he started in only nine games, logging two touchdowns and a mere 421 yards.
The one knock on this group is their second-best “receiver,” which is tight end, Travis Kelce. The skill gap between Hill and Hardman is significant in my opinion and the Chiefs should be looking for a true WR2 to back up Hill. Regardless, this receiving corps is a nightmare to prepare for. Producing a secondary that can keep up with the speed of Hill, Hardman, and company is no easy task. Also having Patrick Mahomes under center makes this group that much more dangerous.
One name to watch throughout training camp is Antonio Callaway. You might remember him from the Cleveland Browns’ “Hard Knocks” season. Callaway was a talented fourth-round pick by the Browns at one point, back in 2018. Sadly, a series of suspensions and injuries sent him packing to various teams (XFL, Dolphins, now Chiefs).
If Andy Reid can turn Callaway into the talent Hue Jackson dreamed of, this could be another great move for the Chiefs.
Overall Grade: A-
Where do the Raiders rank?
2nd, Las Vegas Raiders
(John Brown, Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, Willie Snead, Darren Waller)
This is a tough one to grade. My one complaint about this receiving corps is the lack of a true number one receiver. The Raiders lucked out on their one-year deal with Nelson Agholor, but he made his way to the Patriots in free agency.
Specifically, I think every NFL team needs a big-bodied receiver on the outside. The tallest receiver on this list (Waller is a tight end, technically) is a tie between Snead and Ruggs, both at 5-foot-11. No one is over six feet tall. But what the Raiders did hit on is speed and dependency. While Renfrow and Snead aren’t exactly speedsters, Ruggs and John “Smoke” Brown more than make up for that.
Veterans like Brown and Snead also bring experience to the group which will rub off on Renfrow and Ruggs, hopefully contributing to their own progression. The way the league is set up, however, speed truly kills. This group will have upside if it can stay healthy and if Derek Carr can have another competent season.
Overall Grade: B+
3rd, Los Angeles Chargers
(Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyron Johnson, Jalen Guyton, Josh Palmer, Jared Cook)
The word that comes to mind with the Chargers receiving group is “proven“. It’s well known throughout the league that Keenan Allen is a proven baller and true’ number one’ while Mike Williams is the accomplished deep threat that can still raise eyebrows.
What was discussed earlier in the article was that the rest of the league is trying to match the Chiefs as far as speed goes. What is missing with the Chargers is speed. Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton surprisingly stepped up to the challenge last year but it was obvious the Chargers needed to address receiver again this year in the draft. In response, they drafted Josh Palmer out of Tennesee. Palmer on paper has never compiled more than 500 yards and ran mostly vertical routes. Palmer also isn’t a speedster per se, as he hasn’t surpassed 4.5 during his recorded 40s. The Chargers top the Broncos due to their proven track record of success in their top two receivers, who aren’t rookies by any means, and they have a star in the making with quarterback Justin Herbert.
Overall Grade: B
4th, Denver Broncos
(Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant)
The Denver Broncos wide receivers group checks all the boxes for your ideal pass-catching ensemble. They have their big-bodied receiver in Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton, who’s coming off an injury, complimented with another outside threat in route specialist Jerry Jeudy and the reliable Tim Patrick. The group finishes off with their speed threat, KJ Hamler, who isn’t coming off the most productive season.
Anyone reading this could argue this group belongs in the second spot with so many potentially deadly receivers. There are two critical factors causing the Broncos receiver group to be ranked so poorly; players coming back from injuries or dealing with current issues, and their quarterback. The receiving corps can be as stacked as possible but without a quality quarterback, it’s null and void. The Denver quarterback situation in particular (Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater) isn’t exactly making the rest of the West lose any sleep. If the team wants their receiver group to move up, they’ll need to address that position.
Overall Grade: B-
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*Top Photo: John Locher/Associated Press