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Cincinnati Bengals: Best Receiving Corps in the AFC North?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Cincinnati Bengals enter the 2013 season as a team on the rise. Their Achilles' heel last season was the lack of explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball. However, that may have severely changed over the offseason.

While teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have declined at the position over the offseason, as well as the Cleveland Browns recent personnel struggles, Cincinnati seems to be the one AFC North team to have become stronger.

Obviously A.J. Green is one of the top wide receivers in the NFL right now. He comes into the new league year having gained muscle mass over the offseason and looks to become even more of a threat in this third year.

Second-year receiver Mohamed Sanu has recovered nicely from the stress fracture that ended his 2012 season early. Sanu figures to be used as a utility player on the Bengals offense this season due to his versatility -- he can line up outside, in the slot, in the backfield and in the wildcat.

Sanu scored four touchdowns in a span of three games last season and should be a major red-zone threat for the Bengals in 2013.

Fellow second-year receiver Marvin Jones also looks to be a large contributor this season as he now has a full year of experience under his belt. He came on very strong at the end of the 2012 season when he began to jell with quarterback Andy Dalton.

The speedy Andrew Hawkins returns to Cincinnati this year and is always dangerous when given the ball in space. Hawkins scored two touchdowns of over 50 yards in Week 2 and Week 3 last season.

Rookie sixth-round selection Cobi Hamilton has been turning heads throughout rookie minicamp and OTAs this year. He has shown great hands, crisp route running and plays larger than his 6'2" frame would indicate.

From there, the Bengals still have reliable Ryan Whalen, veteran slot receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, return specialist Brandon Tate as well as rookies Roy Roundtree and Tyrone Goard in the mix.

The Bengals will have some tough cuts to make when it is time to trim down to the final 53-man roster -- a good problem to have.

This situation of immense depth at the wide receiver position for Cincinnati is not shared by the remaining AFC North teams.

Pittsburgh lost its long-time starter Mike Wallace over the offseason and need immediate production from rookie Markus Wheaton to fill the void.

Baltimore lost their best receiver -- and possibly most valuable offensive player -- Anquan Boldin over the offseason due to a contract dispute. He was not adequately replaced and his absence could cause the Ravens headaches over the season.

Cleveland was beginning to get better at the wide receiver position until a recent two-game suspension of Josh Gordon for violation the league's substance abuse policy.

The Bengals must take full advantage of this situation. They are poised to make a serious run at the AFC North crown this season and the advantage of their current wide receiver position could play a serious role in allowing them to obtain that goal.

Sean O'Donnell is a contributor for Yahoo! Sports and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the co-host of the Bengals Central podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network. You can follow him on Twitter: @SeanODonnellNFL

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