The Chicago Bears’ offseason of talent acquisition has one more – very important step: The 2018 NFL Draft.
After GM Ryan Pace made moves to add Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Aaron Lynch, and others in free agency, the organization’s focus shifts to adding more young talent to the roster through the draft.
Despite an active free agency period, the Bears still have many needs. We’re going to look at some of the best prospects at various positions of interest leading up to the draft.
Today: Wide receiver
Currently on the Roster (2017 Pro Football Focus Grade):
- Allen Robinson (71.7)
- Taylor Gabriel (65.9)
- Joshua Bellamy (54.7)
- Bennie Fowler (47.9)
- Kevin White (47.5)
- Tanner Gentry (45.6)
- Did not play in 2017: Marlon Brown, DeMarcus Ayers
Pro Football Focus’ Top-5 Prospects:
- Michael Gallup, Colorado State
- Calvin Ridley, Alabama
- James Washington, Oklahoma State
- Courtland Sutton, SMU
- D.J. Moore, Maryland
Best of the Rest: Cedrick Wilson, Boise State; Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame; Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State; Anthony Miller, Memphis; Christian Kirk, Texas A&M; Dante Pettis, Washington; Trey Quinn, SMU; DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State; Deon Cain, Clemson; Allen Lazard, Iowa State; Auden Tate, Florida State; D.J. Chark, LSU; Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State
The Bears fixed the top of the depth chart with a free agent spending spree that landed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. But after allowing Cameron Meredith to walk away as a restricted free agent, depth is still necessary. Chicago could aim to find a slot receiver to slide into Meredith’s role or a big-bodied go-up-and-get-it (GUAGI!) pass-catcher who could excel in a red zone package as a rookie and grow into a larger role as the years go on.
Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:
Because there are no sure-fire top-10 receiver prospects, the Bears would have their pick of the litter if they were to decide to go against conventional wisdom and pick one with the eighth pick. However, it doesn’t appear as if the team will go in that direction. Depending on how things shake out in Round 1, receivers like Courtland Sutton, D.J. Moore, and Christian Kirk could be available when the Bears go on the clock with pick No. 39 in the second round.
The Bears Have Reportedly Met With…
Equaimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame; Deon Cain, Clemson, Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana; Andre Levrone, Virginia; Elijah Marks, Northern Arizona; DeMornay Pierson-El, Nebraska, Calvin Ridley, Alabama; BRandon Shed, Hobart; Courtland Sutton, SMU; Jonah Trinnaman, BYU.
If I Had to Pick One:
LSU has a thing for producing quality NFL receivers despite having a bunch of issues at quarterback. With that in mind, D.J. Chark looks like someone who could fit the Bears’ mold. Chark checks in at 6-3 and 199 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The combination of size and speed suggests there is a bunch of upside here if he goes to the right offense.
Should the Bears choose to wait it out, Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr. (a player the Bears have already met with and worked out) has ideal size, good hands, excellent body control, and showed up with a big performance against the vaunted Ohio State Buckeyes defense. Big-time players who have a knack for showing up in big games are often my favorite prospects.