Ranking Steelers' top WR compared to the best the AFC North has to offer

The AFC North is home to a ton of talented pass catchers, including George Pickens. Where does he rank compared to his division peers?
George Pickens
George Pickens / Jane Gershovich/GettyImages

From top to bottom, there may not be a more deep division than the AFC North. That includes the wide receiver position, which features a lot of high-end talent.

The Steelers have been blessed to have some fantastic wide receivers wear the black and gold in the past and the team is hoping that George Pickens can be the next great Steeler receiver. But for the 2024 season, how does he compare to the other WR1s in the division?

Similar to my quarterback and running back rankings, I'll just be ranking the top player in the room, not the room as a whole. Without further ado, let's get started.

4. Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens

After being the Ravens first-round pick in 2023, Flowers jumped onto the scene with a really solid rookie season. He had 77 receptions for 858 yards and 5 touchdowns in 16 games played. The young receiver out of Boston College is known for his speed but brings solid route-running and good hands to the table as well.

Flowers will be the WR1 in a receiving room that's struggled to take form in recent years. It's been one of the biggest flaws on one of the best rosters in the league and Flowers is looking to help change that.

The one thing holding Flowers back on this list is the system he plays in. As long as Lamar Jackson is the quarterback in Baltimore, the run game will always be prioritized and that will hurt wide receiver numbers who play in that system. Flowers is an impressive talent with lots of upside, but the system in Baltimore could prevent him from reaching his potential.

3. George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

This was a really difficult decision to make and I almost put Pickens at two on this list, but I need to see one more season first from the young receiver out of Georgia.

Pickens has found a way to succeed over his first two seasons in Pittsburgh despite being the recipient of really bad quarterback play. During the 2023 season, Pickens caught balls from 3 different quarterbacks and still managed to have 63 receptions for 1140 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Pickens's length and athleticism, along with underrated speed make him a nightmare matchup for most defensive backs in the league. His catch radius is among the best in the league and almost no ball is uncatchable when thrown his way.

In order to take the leap into stardom, Pickens will need to diversify his route tree and become a little bit more consistent. Improved quarterback play should help that immensely. He has all the talent in the world and I think he'll put that on full display with a monster 2024 season.

2. Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns

If you look up consistency in the dictionary, a picture of Amari Cooper will probably pop up.

Across his nine seasons in the NFL, Cooper has had 7 1000 yard seasons and only missed 5 games. With the Browns last year, Cooper amassed 72 receptions for 1250 yards and 5 touchdowns across 15 games. Despite mediocre quarterback play and not many other weapons in the wide receiver room, Cooper still managed to put up a great season.

While Cooper may not jump off the screen when watching his film, it's his consistency that sets him apart in this league. Even as he gets older, his route-running and hands shouldn't fail him this season and I expect Cooper to have another 1000-yard season in Cleveland. However, I think Pickens could pass him on next year's list if he ascends to the next level.

1. Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Number one on this year's list is the same as last year's list. Ja'Marr Chase is a superstar in this league and will only get better, which is scary for the rest of the division.

Last season, Chase snagged a career-high 100 receptions for 1216 yards and 7 touchdowns. That was despite star quarterback Joe Burrow missing a chunk of time with an injury. In a wide receiver room that also features Tee Higgins, Chase has consistently shown to be one of the top wide receivers in the entire league due to a rare combination of speed, route-running, and great hands.

The scariest part for the rest of the league is the fact that Chase is still only 24 years old, meaning he's got his best football ahead of him. In an offense that loves to get the ball to its playmakers, Chase should continue to see a large volume of targets and continue to produce at a high level. Assuming good health, he'll be at the top of this list for a while.