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Chicago Bears 2018 Position Battles: Is wide receiver the strongest position on the team?

The wide receivers are up next in our 11-part position by position look at the Chicago Bears’ training camp battles.

Chicago Bears v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

No position on the Chicago Bears underwent as big a change from 2017 to 2018 as their wide receivers. Last year, the wide outs may have been the weakest position group on the team, but this year the potential is there to be their best. Free agency additions and the NFL Draft will assure that Mitchell Trubisky has more weapons to throw to this season as he directs Matt Nagy’s offense.

Even with four new faces in the receiving room, there’s still a chance a holdover can make an impact.

Roster Locks

Free agency pickups Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel are going to be big parts of this offense. Robinson is a lock to start at one spot, and Gabriel, whether he’s starting or not, will be all over this offense. Robinson is the legit number one receiver that any young quarterback needs and Gabriel has the speed to take the top off a defense. These two will compliment each other nicely.

Rookie second round draft pick Anthony Miller was one of the most productive players in college last year as his 18 receiving touchdowns tied for most in the nation. He can line up at any receiving spot and he’ll settle in to a nice role on this team. I think he has a chance to be a really special player.

A good bet to make it

Kevin White is likely on his last chance in the NFL if he’s injured for a fourth consecutive season. He’s been putting in the work, and so far he’s healthy, but he has to prove it to this new regime. I’m sure they’d love him to have an explosive camp and to show why he was the seventh overall draft pick in 2015, but they are prepared in case he can’t.

On the bubble

I think the Bears will carry six wide outs and I think the sixth spot is going to a guy that can play special teams. Now before you get all, ‘OMG not Josh Bellamy again’ on me, keep in mind the Bears signed Bennie Fowler as a free agent this offseason. Fowler played in 49.8% of the special teams snaps for the Broncos last year and he led them in solo special teams tackles. Bellamy did have his best season as a receiver last season with 24 catches for 376 yards, but Fowler had the best season of his career as well with 29 grabs for 350 yard. Fowler is also two years younger than the 29-year old Bellamy, and he’s also $907,000 cheaper that Bellamy. So all things being equal, I think they go younger and cheaper with Bennie.

I think rookie Javon Wims is in a battle for the fifth spot with veteran Marlon Brown. Wims is still a raw prospect and if he struggles at all Brown could capitalize.

The really long shots are Tanner Gentry, DeMarcus Ayers, Matt Fleming, and Garrett Johnson, and these four are likely fighting for a job on the practice squad.

EDIT: Flemming was already released and the Bears added former Arena League player Malachi Jones. Jones is an intriguing athlete, but he’s as much of a long shot as Fleming was.