When the Chicago Bears decided to not match the New Orleans Saints offer sheet for wide receiver Cameron Meredith, they created another need heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. Many believed that the team would use one of their six draft picks this year on a wide receiver before declining the offer, but now it seems all but certain.
General manger Ryan Pace and his scouting staff are lucky as this years draft is deep in wide receiver talent, especially in the later rounds. If the Bears decide not to spend a first or second round pick on a receiver, they could opt to do so in rounds three through seven.
Here are some of the names they could be interested during the draft:
Weight: 190 lbs.
40′ time: 4.5
Senior wide receiver Anthony Miller comes from an explosive Memphis offense that scored more than 30 points per game during the 2017 season. Miller led the way with 96 receptions for 1,434 yards and 14 touchdown catches. He excelled at making the big play as he had a reception of over 40 yards in half of his games during the 2017 season. He was also a reliable target as he averaged seven catches per game and had four games in which he caught 10 or more passes.
Miller would be an ideal slot receiver for the Bears as with his small body frame. He doesn’t provide a big catch radius usually desired for wide receivers lined up on the outside.
His high production rate demonstrates his knowledge and ability to master routes and would be a good fit as a fourth or fifth option at wide receiver for the Bears.
40 time: 4.41
One of the more explosive and dynamic receivers in this year’s draft will be Florida’s Antonio Calloway. His speed and quickness make him excellent with run after catch. He averaged 13.4 yards per catch in 2017 and an even more impressive 19.4 yards in 2016. Furthermore, he averaged higher than 10 yards per catch in nine of his 13 games in 2017.
If the Bears were to target Calloway, he would provide a special set of traits at the wide receiver position and would be a candidate for both kickoff and punt return duties at Florida. He most likely would be used primarily on deep passes, jet sweeps, or end around plays to utilize his speed and quickness. His off-field troubles while at Florida may be an issue for the Bears and cause Pace to stay away from him.
School: Oklahoma State University
Weight: 211 lbs.
One of the more accomplished wide receivers in this year’s draft is Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington who won the 2017 Fred Biletnikoff Award for the best college wide receiver. He also has one of the biggest frames for a wide receiver in this year’s draft as he built more like a running back. Washington was OSU’s big play wide receiver as posted 100 yard games nine times last season including a six catch 235 yard game against Baylor.
He would provide the Bears a big bodied, possession wide receiver that would be able to work the middle of the field. With the team having two tall wide receivers to work the outside in Allen Robinson and Kevin White, he would be able to work underneath while Taylor Gabriel would be able to go over the top of defenders.
If the Bears select Washington, head coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich could utilize him out of the backfield strictly from a pass catching role due to his running back frame.
School: Louisiana State University
Weight: 199 lbs.
40 time: 4.34
Chark comes from the SEC where he regularly went up against some of the best schools and defensive talents on a regular basis and still held his own. His best game in 2017 came against Auburn who was ranked number one in the country for most of the year. In that game, he caught five passes for 150 yards including a 39 yard reception. Against Alabama, who featured one of the best defensive backs in Minkah Fitzpatrick, Chark was able to produce averaging 17.7 yards per catch on just three catches.
Although not the best when it comes to routes, Chark would provide the Bears with a big target down the field as he has the best mix of height and speed. It is one thing to have a wide receiver who can stretch the field, but it is an added value when the wide receiver can win contested passes due to their height. As promising as Taylor Gabriel could be as a deep threat, his only advantage is speed, that is what makes Chark an intriguing prospect for the Bears.
Equanimeous St. Brown
School: Notre Dame
40 time: 4.48
Equanimeous St. Brown from Notre Dame will be the biggest wide receiver in this year’s draft. His height makes him an enticing draft prospect because he provide such a big target for quarterbacks.
Furthermore, he has the ability to play both inside and outside and with his tremendous mix of size and speed, St. Brown can prove to be a tough match for slot corners and linebackers. He production numbers were not that great at Notre Dame this season as he only caught 33 passes during the season, but did manage to have his best game against a quality Stanford team in which he caught five passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
St. Brown would provide the Bears with a hybrid wide receiver who could line up in the slot and go over the middle, or be lined up on the outside and be targeted for jump balls.
He is different from the rest of the wide receivers listed as he provides more outside presence rather than in the slot. He would be more of a project/ insurance pick if Kevin White is unable to stay healthy and would enable the team from having to move Gabriel out of the slot.
School: Texas A&M
Weight: 200 lbs.
40 time: 4.47
Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk has been one of the more talked about wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft as his name has been floated as a possible first round pick. He is probably one of the safety wide receiver picks in the draft as he is an ideal fit for a slot receiver role in the NFL. Kirk also provides added value to special teams as he was a returner while at Texas A&M. He had decent production in 2017 has he hauled in 71 catches and caught 10 touchdown passes for the Aggies. His biggest game came on the team’s biggest game of the year in the Belk Bowl as he caught 13 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns catches.
Kirk would probably be the safety pick for the Bears if they were to target him in the draft as he has proven to be consistent catcher. As a fourth option, Nagy and Helfrich could put Kirk in a position to where he could produce the most in a limited role. Although small in height, his frame is big enough to provide quarterback Mitchell Trubisky an underneath and over the middle target.