I'm not alone in the thought that we have one of the most promising young wide receiver groups in the league, but as many will point out none of our wide receivers are an established star wide receiver in the league. That should all change in 2010 as we not only have a big armed, pro bowl caliber quarterback, but we will have a new OC known for his prolific passing offenses. Let's all take a look at the pros and cons of each wide receiver below the fold, and I'll even throw in my personal odds of it happening.
Devin Hester - 5 ft 11 in - 190lbs - Odds of having a breakout year 2-1 - Odds of a breakout year at WR 20-1
I look for this to be a fantastic year for Devin Hester, he'll be returning to a ST unit that has developed back to what it was on his initial tear through the league giving him the blocking he needs for his style of returning. The only problem with this is returning back to ST duties full times and being relegated to sometimes slot receiver is going to make any attempted breakout at WR extremely hard to find. I fully expect for him to have a few really nice plays on offense, including a TD or two, but that's all I'd expect from anytime this year on offense. Then again, I think few of us will mind if he returns to the form that brought fear to the league only a few years ago.
Devin Aromashodu - 6 ft 2 in - 201lbs - Odds of having a breakout year at WR 5-1
What a story would it be for this guy to languish on the Colts practice squad, do a bit of bouncing around looking for a place to land, come in and earn a shot for some real playing time, and then the next year see his name in lights? It might sound like a feel good movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr, but it could come true next year. A taller target with apparently good hands this guy made a huge impression with Cutler last year, and will be looking to build on it with a full year starting. His experience in the league, even as a practice squad guy, could prove invaluable when it comes to digesting the large Martz playbook.
Johnny Knox - 6ft even - 185lbs - Odds of having a breakout year at WR 4-1
This is a clear case of addition by subtraction for one Johnny Knox. While some people may be extremely displeased with Hester taking a smaller role with the offense, Fort Knox should be running all the way to the bank. This turn of developments leaves him as the go-to speed receiver for a team that liked airing it out a few times a game last year, and again is installing a more pass happy offense. It also doesn't hurt things that he seemed to be a popular target at times for Cutler, especially on those deep routes. All of this combined with his rookie season under his belt makes Knox a prime candidate for having an "out of the blue" huge year.
Earl Bennett - 6ft even - 204lbs - Odds of having a breakout year at WR 4-1
The Vandy Connection may be one of the most fascinating things to watch on the entire team come next season. The Martz offense is usually predicated on extremely accurate and crisp route running along with at the line adjustments, and it just so happens that Earl Bennett was lauded out of college specifically for his excellent route running, ability to put his body between the defender and the ball, great hands, and ability to fight out some tough yards after the catch. This was on top of his excellent intelligence and character known as both a very good football mind, and a team leader on and off the field. This makes this young man, going into his third season, prime to explode in an offense that is seemingly tailor made for his specific skill set. Combine all of this with the prior experience that Jay has throwing to him and it's not out of the realm of possibility to see Bennett in the top 10 in the league next year in receptions.
Juaquin Iglesias - 6ft 1in - 205 lbs - Odds of having a breakout year at WR 30-1
First I should say that I have nothing against this guy at all, I think he will turn out to be a decent slot receiver in the league. However much to the detriment of him having a breakout year next year, he'll be lucky to be listed as the 5th WR after Devin Hester, and possibly the third slot receiver if you place him after both Bennett and Hester. As to the player himself, he has very similar play to Bennett, but is known a bit more for his quickness than the crispness of his routes, and also not known as much for fighting for those extra yards, although he is definitely willing to go over the middle. He has a more agile frame than Bennett, so he could see some play on deeper routes, but it's extremely unlikely that he'll make any impact next year unless he either blows the team away in camp, or hits the field due to injury.
Rashied Davis - 5ft 9in - 187 lbs - Odds of having a breakout year at WR 10000 - 1
This is simply an exercise in being thorough, as Rashied Davis is almost strictly depth and special teams at this point in his career. A shorter receiver with sometimes questionable hands he'd likely be fourth at slot receiver, his primary positive attribute being his elusiveness and burst quickness. However, it remains to be seen exactly how much of that is actually left at age 30.
So with my odds out there I'd not be surprised to see all three receivers have really great years, but if I had to put my money on one single receiver taking a huge leap forward it'd be Bennett. This just seems to be the perfect situation for the young guy. What does everyone else think?