College football Saturday is underway. My alma mater, SIU Carbondale, kicked off Senior Day at 1 p.m. CT in a must-win game for the Salukis’ playoff hopes. Once that game goes in the books, I’ll be turning my attention to potential Chicago Bears draft targets Caleb Williams (playing for USC against UCLA at 2:30 p.m.) and Drake Maye (going for North Carolina against Clemson at the same time). But I’ll also want to keep tabs on wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., whose Ohio State Buckeyes take the field at 3 p.m. CT.
I imagine Bears fans watching college football today will probably be taking copious notes on Williams and Maye today. But what if I told you the team’s biggest draft need isn’t quarterback? Well, I wouldn’t go that far right now. Although, one football pundit did. In piecing together each NFL team’s top priority, ESPN’s Jordan Reid’s assessment of the Bears’ biggest offseason need took me by surprise:
Projected biggest need: Wide receiver
General manager Ryan Poles has a lot of important decisions to make, starting with quarterback. A lot of what happens next hinges on Justin Fields’ performance after he returns from a thumb injury. If he doesn’t show progress, that changes everything. But outside of the still undetermined quarterback situation, wide receiver is probably the team’s top need.
Darnell Mooney is on an expiring contract, so Chicago has to add targets alongside DJ Moore and Cole Kmet. With two picks projected to be high in the draft, Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State) would be a home-run addition for Fields.
The passage above was part of a larger insider piece from ESPN+ featuring analysis from Reid and fellow NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller. So, with that in mind, I didn’t want to offer up too much. Support journalism and good content creators and all that good stuff. But I did want to share Reid’s perspective on the Bears. I’ll admit I was legitimately shocked when I didn’t see quarterback as this team’s projected biggest need. But Reid’s evaluation of the wide receiver position is spot on. Hence, I can’t ignore it as a high-priority need.
Should the Bears consider drafting Marvin Harrison Jr. first overall?
I’m not that far deep in the pre-draft process just yet. After all, we still have seven regular-season games to go in the 2023 season. And I’d prefer to keep more of my focus there — especially this close to game day. But I can’t stop myself or my wandering eye from checking in on what is happening collegiately. Plus, this feels like a good time of year to start rounding up worthwhile draft insight from notable pundits. The more information we have now, the better off we’ll be when the 2024 NFL Draft begins in April.
Still, there was a reason we discussed in Bullets earlier that the idea of taking Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. isn’t as out of pocket as you might otherwise expect. Especially since this is what the Bears wide receiver depth chart featuring players under contract for 2024 looks like:
That’s it. Darnell Mooney and Equanimeous St. Brown are free agents to be. Chase Claypool is in Miami. And the practice squad features just two wide receivers — Collin Johnson and Nsimba Webster. In other words, Chicago’s front office would be wise to consider addressing the position with premium talent this offseason.
If not MHJ, prospects such as Keon Coleman (Florida State), Malik Nabers (LSU), Emeka Egbuka (Ohio State), Rome Odunze (Washington) will round out most pundits’ list of top-5 draft-eligible receivers (after Harrison). Harrison is a unicorn. He might even be the best receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson was taken second overall by the Lions in 2007. But there are a handful of receivers who will get first-round grades. Maybe the Bears snag one of those guys instead.