It’s been a few weeks since the Chicago Bears have traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets. Now with time passing, there are a few question marks on how the Bears can replace Marshall’s production.
With Marshall gone, in steps Alshon Jeffery to take over the number one receiver spot in Chicago. In three seasons with the Bears, Jeffery has 198 receptions for 2,921 yards and 20 touchdowns. He had a career year in 2013 with 89 receptions and 1,421 receiving yards playing alongside Marshall in Marc Trestman’s system. Now that Marshall is gone, Jeffery will be the primary focus for opposing defenses.
Can he handle it? He’s proved he is ready to take over the job in Chicago but the Bears still have a big need in their offense. Now the question looms, who can the Bears get to replace Marshall’s production?
Let’s look at some options.
Via the NFL Draft
Kevin White, West Virginia
White has shot up draft boards after an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He also had a nice performance at his Pro Day where the Bears ran him through some drills. He’s an interesting option for the Bears if he’s there at 7.
But that’s the biggest question. Will White be there at 7? It’s not looking likely, but if he is the Bears should probably pull the trigger and snag the 6-foot-3, 209 pound receiver.
White ran a 4.35 40-yard-dash at the Combine and was easily the best wide receiver there. He’s even drawing comparisons to Terrell Owens.
If White is off the board at number seven, the Bears could look at Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The 6-foot-1, 203 pound Cooper was the pre-combine favorite listed as the top receiver available. That changed however with White’s stellar performance at the combine.
But Cooper is no slouch. The receiver out of Alabama still has value and should be a serious consideration for the Bears at number seven. Cooper won’t ‘wow’ you with his speed or size, but he is as complete of a receiver as anyone in this draft. Coopers ability to win the ball downfield and presence in short and midrange areas of the passing game make him an excellent candidate for the Bears
The big physical receiver out of Arizona State could be a steal for the Bears if he falls in the second round. Most mocks have Strong as a late first round pick or early second round pick. Strong would be certainly worth the pick in the second round.
Strong had a great year at Arizona State despite not starting every game and finishing with 10 touchdowns and 1,165 yards receiving. The physical receiver would be a nice compliment to Alshon Jeffery.
The only situation I can see the Bears taking Parker in the first round is if they trade down. Parker likely isn’t worth the reach at number seven, with most mocks having him go mid to late first round. Parker’s size ables him to use it to his advantage and grab anything thrown his way.
Parker showed off his athleticism at the Combine, allowing him to climb up a few draft boards. If the Bears want to take a shot at Parker, it would be best if he fell to them in the second round.
On the roster
With Marshall gone, it’s Jeffery’s turn to shine in Chicago. The 3-year receiver has shown flashes that he’s ready to take the next step for the Bears. We already discussed his numbers the past few seasons, but getting a receiver to compliment Jeffery is the focus of the Bears. We are confident Jeffery can crack 100 receptions this year but he needs someone opposite of him to help carry the load.
The Bears brought in the veteran receiver mainly to work in the slot in Chicago’s offense. Royal played with quarterback Jay Cutler in 2008 and put up some career numbers in receptions and yards. Royal’s role in this offense is out of the slot, giving the Bears a versatile target in that position. Royal won’t match Marshall’s production and that’s okay, he’s not expected too. He’s expected to do his job and help contribute to the offense, opening up things in the passing game.
Last season was supposed to be Wilson’s breakout year but injuries plagued any chance of that. After showing signs of promise in 2013, the Bears hope they caught lightning in a bottle with the former 7th-round pick. This season has to be the one that Wilson breaks out in, otherwise the Bears could be in trouble and Wilson will be replaced.
Don’t expect Wilson to put up mind-boggling numbers, but if the Bears don’t go after a WR in the draft then Wilson likely will get the number two spot.
The wide receiver free agent class wasn’t strong this season but what’s left of it may have some value to the Bears. Former 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree could be an interesting for the Bears. Crabtree’s size is something the Bears could use as well as his hands. Putting Crabtree outside of Jeffery could work out well for the Bears. Will they take that chance though?
I don’t see the Bears signing either Greg Jennings or Miles Austin, seeing that both receivers are aging and that’s not the route Chicago wants to go. Both Austin and Jennings struggled with their new teams the past few seasons and are definitiley out of their prime.
Then there’s Denarius Moore.
Moore had three productive years in Oakland, which is tough to do these days, but struggled in 2014. His speed is what’s most interesting however. Putting Moore’s speed in this offense would stretch the defense and benefit receivers like Jeffery, Royal and Wilson. The 26-year-old’s speed alone is something that should interest the Bears and makes Moore a solid candidate for the Bears.