April 29, 2006.
It’s the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. You, Jerry Angelo, have decided to rely on your beloved quarterback; Rex Grossman. One who attains such a large amount of talent, similar to the player that’s on your mind at the moment. You find out you’re on the clock and immediately, your mind is racing with potential picks. Then, you think how Devin Hester, the corner from Miami with brilliant speed and agility, could add an extra boost to your already-stout special teams.
After a few moments in your thought process, you pencil in your soon-to-be second round draft pick on the draft card. You take a deep breath and envision what could be.
Training Camp, 2007.
After being astounded by Devin Hester’s performance of a six kick return season in 2006, you start to think, yet again: what could be…
“Devin Hester…the second-year-pro from Miami- going deep – TOUCHDOWN, Chicago Bears! Hester, in his first season as a wide out, has caught another TD catch today!” Rings in your ears. You just love how your cornerback from Miami stepped up to the plate and delivered in his first full season.
You pull the trigger.
Hester has always been criticized, along with Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith, for his wide reciever play. I’ve always been a supporter of Hester, since my first year of football in 2006. Watching his lightning quick speed and the awe of him maintaining such agility in and out of his cuts was a highlight reel memory within itself.
In 2007, Hester was converted to a receiver after that amazing season. He only caught 20 passes for 299 yards, since he wasn’t ever a starter in the offense. Still, he shattered his own record of kick returns with 7 and still attracted double coverage when playing receiver.
Seemed like a pretty decent move for Angelo, right?
Well, it didn’t last for long. Soon, the Bears got rid of their number 1, 2, and 3 receivers in Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian, and Mark Bradley. The pressure was put on Hester to produce, and quick.
I’m not the one to make excuses for performance, but he went from a corner to a wide out. Some say, like I used to, “well, it should be easy. He knows how receivers run routes and how corners cover since he was a corner.” I say it’s easier said opposed to done.
Having to learn an offensive playbook and change your sight to an offensive standpoint may be a tough transition. In my opinion, Hester handled it well for such a young guy. He was never elite, nor will he ever be, but he was a very good deep threat. Also, like I stated before, he attracted double coverage and alarmed defenses. Although this has cooled down drastically, you have to wonder if his offensive presence could freak the defense out yet again.
I can’t exactly pinpoint his mind to an educational standpoint, but there’s no doubt he made a solid transition. Take into consideration he can still learn as it is. But, I have to take into consideration he hasn’t exactly been an amazing target.
Devin Hester compiled 57 receptions for 757 yards and a triple in the touchdown column last year, playing in 13 games while starting 12. Not too bad, but not great either. Even though he was out for the last few games, he didn’t look like a monster out there.
With Lovie standing by him as our number one- and I have no problem with that -you have to think if he does start, he could do much better. Will he be Cutler’s number 1 target? I don’t know. I do know that Martz wants Knox + Devin #2 as our first couple starters. All we can do is hope that Martz and Lovie agree on something.
The only bit of advice I could give to Hester is to:
1, start working harder than ever. While you’re still young, you aren’t getting younger. Injuries may become more of a factor, as I’m sure you know after last season. You need to learn every aspect of your position and study it.
2, get more acquainted with your quarterback: Jay Cutler. For all I know, they could be out chillin’ as we speak, but you always see Greg Olsen and Earl Bennett out with our favorite cannon.
And, 3, appeal yourself to Mike Martz. The “offensive guru” has already found who he likes. You gotta come into camp swinging, or you’ll be back to returner…which is what he wants.
Will Devin Hester be our number 1 wide receiver in 2010? To be honest, I think Lovie Smith will want him to be…but I also think that Martz will have no starter. It may be just a revolving door of wide receivers in-and-out of the game. But, we can always think what could be…