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Player Spotlight: Wide Receiver Johnny Knox

The Bears passed on wide receiver in the draft maybe with the thought in mind that they already had young talent on the roster they are currently developing in Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, and Devin Hester. Of the 3, Johnny Knox has broken apart of the pact as the most talented receiver in the group. His speed and quickness makes him a tough cover for almost any DB if you can't successfully jam him at the line of scrimmage. He combines that speed and quickness with good hands and has a knack for getting open when Jay Cutler is flushed out the pocket. His main strength is finding the opening spot in the zone and when he has space to run it usually turns into a big play. While Knox might be the most talented receiver on the team, at the same time he's the most criticize receiver. Some of it is deserve and most of it is kind of ridiculous. Yes Knox needs to improve on getting inside position on slant routes, learn how to beat the jam, and to not round off his routes to where the DB is let back into the play. The ridiculous stuff  is some fans expecting Knox to make Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall plays when his game is more similar to DeSean Jackson (not as polished as Jackson though).

Usually you see the receivers make that jump in their 3rd year which is why Knox is featured in today's Player Spotlight.

Who is Johnny Knox?

The 6-0 190 pound former Abilene Christian receiver was the 140 pick of the 5th round in the 2009 NFL Draft. In training camp, Knox flashed potential but his first two preseason games performances almost landed him on the practice squad. His two strong performances in the final preseason games solidified his spot on final 53 and earned him playing time over 2009 3rd round draft pick Juaquan Iglesias. Devin Aromashodu's injury to start the 2009 season open the door for Knox and from that point on he never looked back. Knox finished the 2009 season with 45 receptions 527 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Bears #3 receiver. He also finish the season with 32 kick returns for 927 yards 1 touchdowns and a 29.0 kick return average earning him a pro bowl appearance. The more eye opening thing about Knox is what he's done in his second season in a new system. A 2nd year receiver from a small school playing in a complicated system like the Martz/Coryell scheme you expected Knox to take a step back, but it turned out that Knox was good fit for what Martz wanted from a receiver in his system. Knox compiled 51 receptions for 960 receiving yards, 18.8 yards per catch, and 5 touchdowns.

Realistic Expectations

I expect Knox to further establish himself in camp as one of Cutler main targets on the team in that flanker position. Knox probably has come across the criticism by former players like Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, and Michael Irvin about his route running so I expect to see Knox come into the season with much improvement technique wise on his route running. The Bears might bring in a veteran wide out whenever Free Agency rolls around which should only help Knox and the rest of the receivers on the practice and game field. Adding that establish veteran will open up more opportunities for Knox to make plays, and when you combine that with this being his 2nd year in Martz system, 1,000+ receiving yards season don't seem too far fetched.