If the Chicago Bears decide to add a wide receiver in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, they”ll have plenty of options.
When the Chicago Bears let Alshon Jeffery sign with the Philadelphia Eagles during free agency, a huge void was created on their roster. Sure, Jeffery had his flaws, but he was still the Bears most productive receiver the past two seasons. Replacing Jeffery will obviously not be an easy task.
The projected starting wide receivers right now are Kevin White, Cameron Meredith, and Kendall Wright, with Markus Wheaton and Eddie Royal competing for snaps in the slot. This group hardly instills confidence though. White missed a combined 28 games the past two seasons, Meredith might be just a “flash in the pan,” Wright hasn’t been productive for years, while Wheaton and Royal are just “guys” in the slot.
While adding a wide receiver in the draft isn’t a must, Mike Glennon’s chance of success would be higher if the Bears did. Here are some the team’s options:
Williams checks all the boxes when it comes to a prototypical go-to receiver. He has size, strong hands, a huge catch radius and an excellent vertical. Williams would become Glennon’s new best friend, as the ball just needs to be in Williams’ vicinity for it to be caught. Williams’ straight-line speed isn’t the best, but it’s just good enough for him to be a potential top-10 pick.
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
While lacking elite size and speed, Davis routinely beats defenders with his route running and smarts. It’s the little things like body position and awareness that sets Davis apart from other receivers in this year’s draft. Davis’ level of competition wasn’t overwhelming in college, but his high floor and extremely high ceiling make him also a potential top-10 pick.
John Ross, Washington
If you blink, you might miss Ross streaking down the field. Blessed with blazing speed, Ross set the Scouting Combine record with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash. However, it’s not just his speed that makes him dangerous. Ross has good hands, runs good routes and routinely makes defenders miss when the ball is in his hands. His size (5-11) and injury history (in both knees) are Ross’ biggest flaws, but he appears to still be a first-round lock.
Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
Another fast prospect, Westbrook uses his incredible burst and route running to give cornerbacks fits. Westbrook has sure hands, terrific head fakes, and generates yards after the catch routinely. His NFL position might ultimately be in the slot, but Westbrook should be off the board pretty early in the second round.
Jones won’t blow anyone away, but he’s as steady and reliable as they come. Only 17 drops on over 462 targets in his collegiate career, Jones does his work underneath and rarely speeds past defenders. His play style might not be highlight-worthy, but Jones can be a very useful player in the NFL. Expect him to come off the board in the second round.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
A little over a year ago, Smith-Schuster was considered to be the best wide receiver in this year’s draft. However, after a disappointing 2016 season at USC, Smith-Schuster now finds himself looking up at several other receiver prospects. His speed isn’t great, but once the ball is in his hands, Smith-Schuster is tough to bring down. A physical player in the mold of Anquan Boldin, Smith-Schuster could be a fringe second- or third-round pick.
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
Kupp doesn’t have elite size, but his route running and high football IQ make him an intriguing prospect. Projected as a slot receiver in the NFL, Kupp finds a way to separate from defenders and find the open space in coverage. Kupp didn’t face the best competition at Eastern Washington, but he’s a quarterback-friendly target who should be gone by the third round.
Hollins isn’t a household name, but he could be a possibility for the Bears as a project. While raw, Hollins has the elite size (6-4) and straight-line speed that coaches crave. His limited route tree and inconsistent production at North Carolina are concerns, but with proper coaching, Hollins has the potential to be a solid starter down the road. Also a special teams standout, Hollins needs some time to develop, but he’s a very intriguing option. He should be a fourth- or even fifth-round pick.