It's Friday, which means that it's time for another installment of Around the AFC East with The Phinsider, Pats Pulpit and Gang Green Nation. On each Friday of the past three weeks, my fellow divisional bloggers and I have ranked the running backs, linebackers and defensive tackles in the division. Buffalo has yet to take the top spot in any set of rankings from any of the four blogs.
That changes this morning. We're ranking wide receivers today. Read on for my rankings (which i realize I've spoiled), then check out my peers' rankings for a little pre-training camp smack talk.
1. Buffalo Bills: I should make it clear right off the top that, obviously, I'm ranking the receivers irrespective of mitigating circumstances such as quarterback play, line play, etc. Buffalo gets the edge over the loaded Patriots, and clearly, that decision can (and will) be debated either way. I took the Bills because I think that the duo of Terrell Owens and Lee Evans causes more problems for secondaries than the Patriots' top two receivers. Likewise, I believe that Josh Reed has a more clearly-defined niche in this group than do the Patriots' contenders for third receiver. Each team has solid developmental prospects (in Buffalo's case, Steve Johnson and James Hardy), and Roscoe Parrish is good for the occasional nifty play as well. Seriously, folks - Buffalo has enviable depth at receiver, and you can count the number of teams that would pass on this depth on part of one hand.
2. New England Patriots: Folks like to talk about the Fitzgeralds and Johnsons of the world, but I still believe Randy Moss is the best receiver in football. Wes Welker is an outstanding complement. Those two don't need a third receiver to be effective, but Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis give the Patriots two excellent, veteran options that only adds to their luxurious depth. Rookie Brandon Tate has enormous potential, and he could not be in a more ideal situation to learn from some of the league's best players. Tom Brady is a lucky man.
3. Miami Dolphins: Miami and New York are clearly a (several) step(s) below the Bills and Patriots in the receiving department. Between the two, however, I'm giving a clear advantage to Miami purely because of the presence of Ted Ginn. His second year in the league was quite solid, and as the third year is generally the break-out year for receivers, Ginn could very well be in for a big season. Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo are solid enough as possession-type receivers to keep coverages off of Ginn. The Dolphins also have a few nice project-type players (with outstanding size) to work with in rookies Patrick Turner and Brian Hartline, as well as Brandon London.
4. New York Jets: The Jets finally rank last at something! That doesn't mean, however, that I don't think Jerricho Cotchery is a useful player; on the contrary, I think he could play for most teams in some capacity. He has 235 receptions in the last three seasons, and his physical, reliable style will be welcome for rookie QB Mark Sanchez. The problem, however, lies beyond Cotchery. There isn't a clear-cut second receiver; Chansi Stuckey, Brad Smith, David Clowney, Marcus Smith and perhaps even special teams ace Wallace Wright will all get looks in the pre-season. If one doesn't emerge, however, the Jets will have a hard time trying to get Cotchery open - unless TE Dustin Keller can emerge as a viable threat in his second NFL season.