Since Ryan Poles took over as the Bears’ general manager in Jan. 2022, their wide receiver room has done a complete 180.
Of the 12 wide receivers currently on Chicago’s roster, Darnell Mooney and Nsimba Webster are the only two who were contracted by the team when Poles took over. The group had some growing pains in 2022, but with DJ Moore and a healthy Chase Claypool in the fold, the Bears’ passing attack has the potential to take a big step in 2023.
The trio of Moore, Mooney and Claypool seems to be a massive upgrade on paper over what the Bears had this time last year, when the likes of Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown were listed as starting wide receivers. With their investment at the position — as well as bringing inn young depth like Tyler Scott and Velus Jones Jr. — it begs the question: where does Chicago’s WR trio rank?
For the sake of this argument, I’m only including NFC teams, seeing as though they pose more immediate threats to the Bears. I might do the same concept against AFC teams in the future if enough interest is displayed, but for now, let’s stick to in-conference opposition.
I’ll be going team by team in the NFC and determining whether the Bears have the better wide receiver trio. Of course, this exercise is quite subjective, so feel free to let me know if you disagree with anything. That said, let’s dig in.
Note: Each team’s top three receivers were chosen from Ourlads’ depth charts.
Definitely better than
Giants: Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell
This may very well be the worst wide receiver trio in the NFL, let alone the NFC. Campbell is coming off of a career-best season, as is Hodgins, but the lack of high-end production anywhere leads the Giants’ trio far below Chicago’s.
Packers: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed
Watson and Doubs both put together solid rookie seasons — with the former especially displaying flashes of brilliance late in the year — but neither have the proven success of any of the Bears’ starters three receivers. Reed’s inclusion helps a bit, but the second-rounder likely isn’t enough of a needle-mover based off of collegiate evaluations.
Lions: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Marvin Jones Jr.
St. Brown is a very talented receiver, and one could easily argue he’s better than any of the weapons the Bears have on their roster. That said, with Jones on the downswing of his career and Reynolds putting up mediocre numbers, Detroit’s trio as a whole isn’t as good as Chicago’s.
Falcons: Drake London, Mack Hollins, Scottie Miller
London and Hollins provide a big-bodied duo at WR, and London carries star potential down the stretch. That said, Hollins and Miller have been most No. 3-level receivers in the NFL at best up to this point.
Panthers: Terrace Marshall Jr., DJ Chark, Adam Thielen
Thielen is the best receiver of the bunch, and even as he prepares to turn 33 in August, he’s still a solid contributor. That said, Marshall hasn’t proven himself as a starting-caliber contributor in the NFL, and Chark has yet to regain his 2019 form.
Cardinals: Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch
Health will be the key for this group, as Moore played in just 8 games last year, and Brown also missed 5 games in 2022. They have speed galore and more upside than many give them credit for, but the Bears’ receivers have more proven production to this point.
Definitely worse than
Eagles: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Olamide Zaccheaus
While Zaccheaus is a pretty decent WR3, the stars of the show here are Brown and Smith, who make up one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL today. After combining for 183 catches, 2,692 yards and 18 receiving touchdowns last year, the Eagles’ star tandem puts their wide receiver room firmly ahead of Chicago’s.
Buccaneers: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage
The Buccaneers might struggle in 2023 without Tom Brady, but their wide receiver room is still one of the better units in the game. Evans is the definition of consistency with 9 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, while Godwin has topped the millennium mark three times in the last four years. Gage is a respectable WR3, as well.
49ers: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings
Though Jennings hasn’t broken out as a consistent year-to-year producer yet, the tandem of Deebo and Aiyuk is one of the most talented wide receiver duos in the NFL. When both are healthy, one could make the argument they’re both top 15 at their position.
Seahawks: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Metcalf and Lockett both topped 1,000 receiving yards in 2022, and the Seahawks’ receiver room got even better when they brought in my WR1 in JSN in the first round of the 2023 draft. Bringing one of the better receiving duos in the NFL together with arguably the most pro-ready receiver in this rookie class gives Seattle a dangerous trio.
Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Brandin Cooks
Lamb has gotten better every year he’s been in the NFL and has truly come into his own as a bonafide WR1. Gallup has struggled with injuries, while Cooks’ best days seem to be behind him. This feels like the biggest toss-up of the bunch when compared to what the Bears have at wide receiver, but with Claypool’s question-marks, Dallas gets the slight edge for me.
Commanders: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel
McLaurin is a fantastic talent who doesn’t get enough love. Through four seasons, he has 299 receptions and 4,281 yards, despite Washington’s less-than-ideal circumstances at quarterback. Dotson caught 7 touchdowns on 35 catches in a shortened rookie year, while Samuel bounced back in 2022 to prove himself as the versatile gadget weapon he was in Carolina. I’d give the Bears the advantage here, but the Commanders have a sneaky good wide receiver room that needs more respect.
Vikings: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn
Jefferson led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 yards last year, and he has caught 25 touchdown passes in his three years with the Vikings. Addison is a precise route runner and a good athlete who won the Biletnikoff Award in 2021, while Osborn is an underrated complementary piece who has put up 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two years. Addison is an unproven commodity at the NFL level, but I’ll bet on the group with arguably the best receiver in the entire league here.
Saints: Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Rashid Shaheed
After a strong rookie year with 72 receptions, 1,042 yards and 4 touchdowns, Olave seems to be on track to develop into one of the NFL’s best young wide receivers. Thomas has played in just 10 games in the last three seasons, but his last healthy season saw him break the single-season reception record. Though the hope for an Olave-Thomas duo remains for the Saints, it’s unlikely Thomas will come back to form after a flurry of serious injuries.
Rams: Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek
Kupp had a phenomenal 2021 and was on pace for a stellar 2022 season before getting hurt. Don’t let recency bias fool you; he’s still one of the best weapons in the game. That said, Jefferson is coming off of a down year with injury issues, and Skowronek is a passable WR3 to this point. Kupp’s presence helps the Rams tremendously, but as for the entire trio, I think I’d rather take the group the Bears have.