It’s time for the next step of the Chicago Bears’ offseason of talent acquisition: The 2020 NFL Draft. We’re going to look at some of the best prospects at various positions of interest leading up to the draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.
Today’s position: Wide receivers
Currently on the Roster (2019 Pro Football Focus Grade):
- Allen Robinson II (80.8)
- Anthony Miller (66.0)
- Riley Ridley (63.8
- Cordarrelle Patterson (54.7)
- Javon Wims (52.0)
- Thomas Ives
- Alex Wsley
- Reggie Davis
BN’s Composite Ranking
Ranking prospects is difficult, in part, because no one publication has the same set of fundamentals or preferences. In an attempt to work through that noise, we’re using a composite ranking based on opinions from PFF, ESPN, CBS Sports, and Walter Football and adapting them to a points scale. The best of the top-10 prospects gets 10 points, the 10th ranked prospect gets 1, and prospects outside the top-10 get 0. From there, the prospects are ranked by total points.
Here’s how the receivers stack up (points in parenthesis):
- Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (tied) (38)
- CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (tied) (38)
- Henry Ruggs III, Alabama (32)
- Justin Jefferson, LSU (23)
- Tee Higgins, Clemson (22)
- Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State (16)
- Jalen Reagor, TCU (15)
- Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado (13)
- Michael Pittman Jr., Southern California (10)
- Denzel Mims, Baylor (7)
Best of the rest: Chase Claypool (Notre Dame), Gabriel Davis (UCF), KJ Hamler (Penn State), Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty), Van Jefferson (Florida), Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky)
Allen Robinson II is locked in at WR1, but the rest of the group leaves much to be desired. Anthony Miller has loads of upside and potential, but will enter the 2020 season recovering from a second shoulder surgery in as many offseasons (same shoulder). Javon Wims has been OK in spurts, while Riley Ridley did not get enough playing time for me to conjure up any feelings about his future one way or another.
With Taylor Gabriel being released earlier in the offseason, there is a significant need at the receiver position. Even if Gabriel was back (and healthy), the Bears would still be in a spot where they need to add speed at the receiver spot in this draft. Luckily, this class of prospects is deep.
Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:
The top four (Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs, Jefferson) figure to be long gone by the time the Bears go on the clock. But Clemson’s Tee Higgins — the No. 5 prospect per our composite grades — is projected to go in the second round (52nd pick) of Dane Brugler’s latest mock draft at The Athletic. Getting a top-5 prospect at a valuable position in the middle of Round 2 feels like quite the value.
Here are some other receivers projected to go after pick No. 43 in Round 2: Michael Pittman Jr. (USC), Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado), Jalen Reagor (TCU), KJ Hamler (Penn State), Chase Claypool (Notre Dame).
So, yeah, there is no shortage of receiver talent to be had in the first two rounds.
The Bears Have Reportedly Met With…
- Gabriel Davis, UCF (Scouting Combine)
- Van Jefferson, Florida (Scouting Combine)
- Jauan Jennings, Tennessee (Senior Bowl)
- Joe Reed, Virginia (East-West Shrine Game)
- Binjimen Victor, Ohio State (East-West Shrine Game)
If I Had to Pick One:
Laviska Shenault Jr. should be locked into a first-round pick, based solely on talent and collegiate production. Shenaullt has shown a solid route tree and an ability to get open, while also being able to catch passes in traffic, elude defenders, and make plays while catching passes from Steven Montez. That’s impressive, especially when considering that Montez one of the most underwhelming quarterbacks in this draft class.
If all things were equal, Shenault wouldn’t even be on our radar. But all things aren’t equal. Injuries caused a drop in production in 2019, then kept him from performing at peak levels at the Combine. In a league where availability is often viewed as the best “ability,” Shenault’s inability to be healthy recently is a red flag.
Where some teams might see it as problematic to draft a receiver with injury concerns, others could see an opportunity. If medical red flags allow a top-tier pass catcher to fall in the laps of a second-round team in search of big-play talent from a pass-catcher, a team like the Bears should do their due diligence. Otherwise, a speedster such as Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Reagor, or KJ Hamler are options who don’t have the sane amount of medical red tape to clear on draft weekend.