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What can we expect from Taylor Gabriel?

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Part 4 in our Exclusive Q&A with Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders centers on Chicago Bears’ wide out Taylor Gabriel.

Photo by Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. of Serena Vitellaro Photography

We’ve yet to see wide receiver Taylor Gabriel suit up in any of the three preseason games the Chicago Bears have played in. We could finally get a glimpse of the 5’8” speedster on Saturday afternoon against the Kansas City Chiefs. Last night at the Varsity Bears event at Vernon Hills High School, Gabriel was back practicing and catching long passes from Mitchell Trubisky.

The early part of training camp saw Gabriel lining up all over the offense as their Zebra receiver. Once healthy, the Bears will have him outside, in the slot, and also as ball carrier on end arounds and jet sweeps.

He’s one of the fastest players in the NFL, but through his four previous years in the NFL, he never really had what one would call a break out season.

SB Nation’s team sites recently had the chance to shoot a few questions over to Football Outsiders, and Assistant Editor Scott Kacsmar was the FO staffer that is helping us out this week.

In case you missed the previous three questions, here they are.

  1. What are some Andy Reid tendencies that we might see Matt Nagy bring with him to Chicago?
  2. Cody Withehair had a rough year in 2017 after playing superbly as a rookie, do you expect him to bounce back at center this season?
  3. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman anchors the middle of the Bears’ D, but is often underappreciated due to the nature of his position. How important is he to their success in 2018?

And here’s the latest question posed to FO.

Taylor Gabriel as been an explosive presence at training camp so far, but his career high is only 36 receptions, which he recorded as a rookie in 2014. Is this about what we should expect as his ceiling, or is the best of Gabriel yet to come?

Football Outsiders - Wide receivers are notoriously tricky to predict when changing teams. I think Gabriel is more of a role player than true No. 2 wideout, but Nagy really has a ton of options in the slot with this offense. Gabriel could easily fill the role that Albert Wilson did in Kansas City with catching lots of screens and slants. He could also go to rookie wideout Anthony Miller or tight end Trey Burton for those plays. The Bears have way more receiving options than they did a year ago, so that’s a big reason why our projection for Gabriel is right in the neighborhood of what he did in Atlanta a year ago (33 catches for 378 yards and a touchdown). The idea is that he can fill those 50 or so targets more efficiently to keep the chains moving than someone like Josh Bellamy did a year ago.

For more of FO’s unique analysis be sure to pick up their annual Football Outsiders Almanac right here.