Despite adding two high-profile free agent pass-catchers in free agency, wide receiver has re-emerged as a need for the Chicago Bears, thanks – primarily, but not exclusively – to the loss of Cameron Meredith. And while neither Matt Nagy nor Ryan Pace will tip their hand with regards to the direction of their draft plans, all signs are pointing toward the team selecting a receiver at some point in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The latest rumblings came from the first-year head coach, who acknowledged the group could use an upgrade: “The depth right now could improve – that’s the obvious answer,” Nagy said, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “But again, you have guys in this room, you say today there are guys who are there and you don’t want to slight them. You have to give them every opportunity.”
In addition to Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, the Bears have handful of receivers who will get a chance to earn a spot in the pass-catching rotation. That group includes Kevin White, Joshua Bellamy, Tanner Gentry, DeMarcus Ayers, Bennie Fowler, and Mekale McKay. As you know by now, it doesn’t include Meredith, whose departure from the team has opened up a need at the position that wasn’t necessarily there before the team decided not to match the offer sheet he signed with the New Orleans Saints.
Could help be on the way in a name that is all too familiar in these parts?
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweets that Alabama wide receiver visited the Bears on Tuesday. Regarded by many as the best and most polished receiver in his class, Ridley will merit plenty attention on draft day. And while the Bears aren’t likely to snag him early (i.e. with their regularly assigned first-round pick), he could be in play should the Bears trade out of pick No. 8.
This marks Ridley’s second known meeting with the team. He also visited the Bears during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where he shared his belief that he could be an immediate playmaker. While at the Combine, Hall of Fame receiver and NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin came away impressed with Ridley’s performance during position skills – so much so, even Irvin was imagining what Ridley would look like on the Bears.
Ridley could conceivably land as high as 13th to Washington or fall as far as 31st to New England. But with the NFL Draft just eight days away, I would expect more possibilities to pop up regarding Ridley’s future.