As I see it, the Bears have two problems at wide receiver: they don’t have a clear No. 1, and they have too many 2s and 3s.
Essentially, Devin Hester is the only receiver who has the potential to be “the guy”, at least at this point in all of their careers.
Marty Booker’s time has come and gone and he’ll likely fill the role that Muhsin Muhammad occupied the past few seasons.
Brandon Lloyd, while emerging as the No. 1 in San Francisco a few years ago, never really had top tier talent.
Earl Bennett could possibly be a solid No. 2 if he continues to develop but he’s likely a career possession receiver.
Mark Bradley entered the league with certain tools that could have made him a No. 1, but, through injuries and his own inadequacies, he’s squandered them away.
Rashied Davis will be a career slot receiver, a role in which he actually excels in and would put up good numbers in a sound offense.
Then there’s Mike Hass, Marcus Monk, Brandon Rideau, and Ryan Grice-Mullen, players who each made it to training camp for their own individual talents but will likely get cut before the season begins. Of course, there’s an off-chance that Bradley re-injures himself and the Bears wipe their hands clean of him and keep Hass or Monk. Plus, it’s likely the Bears would look at bringing back any of these guys for their practice squad.
Now, taking into consideration that none of these guys — with the exception of Hester — will have a chance at being the No. 1 receiver, let’s address the other situation: how does the rest of the corps fall into line, and how do you distribute the passes in an offense that runs the ball off the bus?
Lloyd has been taking reps with the first team, but I honestly believe the best tandem with which to open the season is Hester and Booker. You have to have a veteran presence with big, soft hands to corral passes thrown by either Grossman or Orton. They can’t rely on the tight ends alone. And you can’t dish out $40 million — albeit, a non-guaranteed contract — to Hester and not have him as your opening day starter and only legitimate deep threat.
Rashied Davis coming in on passing downs is the next best option. Earl Bennett and Brandon Lloyd will have to fight for playing time in my eyes, but we’ll see in what direction Lovie Smith and Ron Turner decide to go.
Any way you look at it, the Bears have tough decisions to make at the receiver position.