Continuing our 2012 AFC position-by-position rankings, here are the receivers. It’s a young, fairly unproven group that lost top players Vincent Jackson and Brandon Lloyd in the past year:
1. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City: With Jackson gone, Bowe, who received the franchise tag by the Chiefs this offseason, is the clear top receiver in the division.
2. Malcom Floyd, San Diego: Floyd is good, but he probably wouldn’t be ranked this high in most divisions. If he can stay healthy, he can be a star.
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland: I have a lot of respect for Heyward-Bey for taking a big step during the 2011 season. He still is not perfect and he has to prove he can be a consistent player, but he has a chance.
4. Demaryius Thomas, Denver: I bet Thomas will be ranked at least No. 2 on this list next year. The sky is the limit.
5. Eric Decker, Denver: Peyton Manning is already talking him up. You know what that means -- lots of catches.
6. Denarius Moore, Oakland: Moore showed flashes as a rookie and he has star potential. He will be given a chance to shine.
7. Robert Meachem, San Diego: Meachem is not as good as Jackson was, but he fits the Chargers’ vertical offense and he will make his presence felt.
8. Jon Baldwin, Kansas City: Baldwin has large potential and he easily could be in the top three on this list next year. He has to show he’s ready for the challenge.
9. Jacoby Ford, Oakland: I’m a big Ford fan, but his health and the presence of Heyward-Bey and Moore may make him a third option.
10. Vincent Brown, San Diego: The Chargers love this kid. Expect nice, big numbers this year.
11. Steve Breaston, Kansas City: He’s a solid, steady receiver who can help his team win.
12. Andre Caldwell, Denver: He will be interesting to watch. The Broncos think this free-agent pickup could make his presence felt.
13. Louis Murphy, Oakland: Murphy can’t stay healthy and other receivers may have bypassed him. But he’s a pro who knows how to come up with the big catch.
14. Eddie Royal, San Diego: The former Denver receiver will be given a chance to shine in the Chargers’ rotation.
15. Devon Wylie, Kansas City: This is a projection pick. The Chiefs love him and think he can come in and make some catches as a fourth-round pick