The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching. And it’s a big one for GM Ryan Pace, who enters the final year of the extension he signed in 2018. The same can be said for Head Coach Matt Nagy, the NFL Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2018, who aims to fix an offense that has been spinning its wheels since the start of 2019. Starting today, we’re looking at some of the best prospects at various positions leading up to the Draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.
Need: Higher than Snoop Dogg during a break while shooting a music video directed by Hype Williams.
Currently on the Roster (2020 PFF Grade):
Allen Robinson II (88.3), Darnell Mooney (68.7), Anthony Miller (58.2), Javon Wims (53.5), Riley Ridley (75.0), Marquise Goodwin (N/A), Rodney Adams (N/A), Jester Weah (N/A), Thomas Ives (N/A), Reggie Davis (N/A)
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, The Draft Network, and Pro Football Network 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):
1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (39)
2. DeVonta Smith, Alabama (35)
3. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (34)
4. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota (25)
5. Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU (22)
6. Kadarius Toney, Florida (20)
7. Rondale Moore, Purdue (16)
8. Elijah Moore, Ole Miss (15)
9. Dyami Brown, North Carolina (5)
10. Tutu Atwell, Louisville (3)
Best of the rest: Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC), Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State), Anthony Schwartz (Auburn), D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan), Josh Palmer (Tennessee)
Chicago still seeks receiver help after missing out on free agents Kenny Golladay and Isaiah McKenzie. Thankfully, this draft class is loaded with talent at the position. This is good news, as the Bears are among the thirstiest teams when it comes to needing pass catchers.
The only receivers under contract beyond the 2021 seasons are Darnell Mooney and Riley Ridley. And even if the Bears re-sign Allen Robinson II or give him another year on the Franchise tag, there are still long-term needs throughout the depth chart. Beyond the obvious short-term needs, the lack of depth with upside is a main reason the Bears are often connected to any number of receivers on the mock draft circuit.
Most Likely to be Available When Bears Are on the Clock:
Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle (in some order) will be the first three receivers off the board. Unless, of course, something along the line goes sideways and someone such as Rashod Bateman or Kadarius Toney surprisingly leap-frogs one of the top-3. It would be unexpected, to be sure. But stranger things have happened.
With that in mind, the expectation is that Bateman, Toney, Rondale Moore, Terrance Marshall Jr., or Elijah Moore will be available when the Bears go on the clock at No. 20. In fact, there is a real possibility all of the above could be on the board when it’s Chicago’s time to take a player. In other words, the Bears will have their pick of the litter at a premium position — one which happens to be a position of need and should a priority to fix. Go get ‘em!
• Rondale Moore opened eyes at his Pro Day. Weeks later, he revealed he has had several Zoom calls with the Bears. That’s pretty neat.
• In early March, virtually every mock draft was sending Kadarius Toney Chicago’s way. And honestly, it made me very happy.
• Brad Biggs’ most recent mock draft has the Bears taking Elijah Moore. Biggs views the Ole Miss product as a potentially explosive addition for an offense that needs a spark. We’ll dive more into Moore later.
If I Had to Pick One:
Landing one of the big three — Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle — seems like a pipe dream. Then again, no one thought CeeDee Lamb would fall to the Cowboys at No. 17 last year. So while I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for one of those playmakers to fall into the Bears’ laps, I also won’t rule them out. If any were to fall, I would guess Waddle would be the most likely candidate. Waddle missed most of last season after suffering an injury while returning a kickoff. Should Waddle fall, the Bears would be wise to race and get the pick in.
Ultimately, this is a position group I’d like to see the Bears address with a multi-purpose threat. Bonus points if it’s outside of the first round, where tremendous value can be had. One player I can’t get out of my mind is Amari Rodgers. The Clemson product has big-play ability, shows bursts of speed, can be used in a variety of ways on offense, and can handle return duties. Adding a Swiss-Army knife receiver could maximize drafting someone with “WR” next to his name.