Life long fans of the Chicago Bears are used to seeing the offense centered around the tailback position, so it’s weird seeing this version of the team having so many weapons at wide receiver. Chicago is no longer the place receivers go to die, it’s now a go-to destination where receivers go to thrive.
I know the Bears top three at the position aren’t the best trio in the NFL, but they do have the potential to be now that Allen Robinson II is a couple years removed from his ACL tear, and if Anthony Miller develops like we all expect him to develop.
Robinson, who won’t turn 26-years old until next month, has looked good this offseason and is primed for a huge season. “He’s one of the top players I’ve ever coached,” head coach Matt Nagy said at the pre-camp presser. “In regards to being so humble in what he does, so professional in what he does and really good at what he does. It’s exciting as a coach, especially for us as coaches who draw up plays.”
He had a strong finish to the 2018 season with 40 receptions and 612 yards in his last eight games, which included a 10 catch, 143 yard performance in the Wildcard playoff game (a postseason franchise record). Nagy added about Robinson, “I think you saw last year at the end of the season, I know I could see it, is you get a feel of our quarterback, Mitchell (Trubisky), and there was a comfort level there with him (Robinson) and I expect nothing but for that thing to get stronger and stronger.”
The other starter from a year ago, Taylor Gabriel, led the Bears’ wide outs with 67 receptions, and he brings blazing speed to the offense. He’s excited for what the offense can do now that they’re in year two. “We’re not installing,” Gabriel said via the team’s website. “We’re not trying to figure out where we have to line up. Now we’re just figuring out situations. It’s definitely a drastic change. The terminology is expanded. It’s more detailed. We know what Mitch wants. Mitch kind of can feel our speed, the tempo of what we’re doing.”
The third receiver a year ago, Anthony Miller, who played a bunch in the slot last season, could push Gabriel for a starting spot, but I think he’ll get plenty of reps whether he starts or not. He led the team in receiving touchdowns in 2018 with 7.
Cordarrelle Patterson is another lock with his ability to play receiver, return kicks, and play running back. The Patriots even lined him up at tight end a few times a year ago, so expect Nagy, who has already called Paterson’s position the “Trojan,” to take advantage of the 6’2”, 228 pounders versatility.
The Bears drafted Riley Ridley in the fourth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, so I’d say he’s a lock to stick on the 53-man roster. He’s had a tremendous offseason so far, and unless he really tanks training camp you should expect him to be part of the team.
That makes five receivers in my lock category, and considering they carried six a year ago, there could only be one more spot remaining.
A good bet to make it
The Bears thought so much of their seventh-round pick from a year ago, Javon Wims , that they kept him on the roster all year long. He’s an athletic 6’4” and 215 pounds, and he showed good hands in the preseason and in the season finale.
On the bubble
The Bears signed speedster Marvin Hall (5’10”, 190) as a free agent, and he brings plenty of special teams experience with him, but with the other wide outs added this offseason, he’ll need a fantastic camp to stick around.
Undrafted free agent Emanuel Hall is another speedy wide out, but he also has go up and get it size at 6’3”. 195 pounds. He had some off the field issues at Missouri that led to him going undrafted, but make no mistake about it, Emanuel Hall has tremendous upside if he can get things straightened out. He was one of the most coveted UDFAs on the market and he chose Chicago.
Take a gander who’s number one on this list.
Using @903124S' EPA data to create a dataset similar to what we get from nflscrapR, and have now isolated receivers. These are the approx. 40 best receivers from 2018 based on EPA per target (I don't differentiate between RB, TE, or WR yet). pic.twitter.com/0ENeShMYR6— Magnus Bendixen (@BendixenNFL) July 17, 2019
He’s also had some minor injury issues this offseason, so the Bears could be priming him (wink, wink) for a redshirt year.
Tanner Gentry is back for another training camp, but with the Bears’ depth so good this year, he faces an uphill battle to even make the practice squad.
Taquan Mizzell Sr. was converted to wide out after playing running back a year ago, but I don’t see a spot for him on the roster.
Jordan Williams-Lambert has bounced around pro football for a couple years now, and could be a practice squad candidate.
Colgate’s Thomas Ives (6’5”, 215) has some interesting tape, but this is a big jump in talent for the UDFA.
I’d expect the Bears to keep at least one of the aforementioned bubble guys for the practice squad, if not two.
How many wide outs will the Bears open up with on the 53-man roster?
This poll is closed