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Picks to Improve: WR Alshon Jeffery

The Bears' passing game is expected to take a step forward with the addition of offensive mind Marc Trestman and a solidified offensive line. How much does Alshon Jeffery stand to gain from that improvement?

Leon Halip

Past Performance:

2012: 10 games, 6 starts - 48 targets, 24 receptions, 367 yards, 3 touchdowns, 17 first downs

Jeffery's 2012 was a mixed bag of results. He had some solid play and flashed the ability that made the Bears spend a fifth-round pick to jump up in the second round to grab him (such as when I wrote after the Jaguars game that he'd taken over the #2 receiver role before he got hurt), but he also had some "WTF" moments such as, oh, the three-Offensive-Pass-Interference-Game for one.

The second-round rookie missed time with a knee surgery and a hand injury suffered in the Jaguars game, but prior to that caught a pass in every game and led all rookies in receiving (also until Justin Blackmon remembered he was supposed to be Justin Blackmon). Was Jeffery productive? Oh yeah. Could he have been more so? Oh hell yes.

What's New?

As with Shea McClellin, more opportunity, though Jeffery had already started to take hold of a starting role. Step one is learning what he can and can't get away with at the NFL level - the Green Bay game was a harsh awakening to that, but watching Brandon Marshall should give him some pointers for year two.

But if that's step one, one-A has to be having more time and more offensive throws in his direction. Marshall's still the undisputed number one of this offense and will be as long as he's in town, but Jeffery's going to get his over the course of the year as well. 48 targets was fourth on the team behind Marshall (194!!), Matt Forte (60!!) and Earl Bennett (49), which should tell you about the state of the Bears' offense last year.

With the improvement in the offensive line and that had Jeffery not been injured for six games those target totals would have been second on the team, Jeffery should get more throws in his direction in year two.

The 2013 Season

Trestman's offense will make sure more throws get around to whoever gets open wherever they line up. The offensive line should give Jay Cutler more time to find open targets when Marshall is actually covered. Jeffery should be able to get open more in year two.

The one question I have is if the Bears have a legit receiver corps yet. The answer is, well, I'm not sure. Marshall and Jeffery are a very nice one-two combo (Marshall's a one-two all by himself sometimes), but behind that, there's still no "speed" threat to "stretch the field." Do the Bears need that, though? It helps, but the point is more "Catch ball, move ball downfield." You want the big, streaking-downfield, 60-yards-in-the-air throw, but if a ten-yard catch and move gets that accomplished, that works too - and it's not like anybody's slow on the roster.

The Way-Too-Early 16-Game Prediction In May: 90 Targets, 48 receptions, 600 yards, 7 touchdowns