A look at the state of the Bears’ wide receivers as the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaches.
The Good: The story of the 2013 season from an offensive positional standpoint — obviously, the success of the entire offense was the main theme — was the emergence of Alshon Jeffery as a legitimate No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL. In fact, Jeffery played so well that he has some wondering if No. 1 Brandon Marshall is expendable when his contract runs out. Jeffery and Marshall are so good that many analysts rank the duo as the top wide receiver tandem in the NFL. I wholeheartedly agree. I would personally keep these two guys together for as long as possible because having great receivers makes life difficult on opposing defenses. Marshall even hinted he’d take less money to stay with the Bears. With Cutler’s rifle arm and the large catch radius of both Marshall and Jeffery, there’s no reason to believe the offense will lose any explosion from last year. The Bears are hoping second-year pro Marquess Wilson can make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 like Jeffery did. While I don’t expect him to have as big a year as Jeffery did this past season, I do think Wilson’s speed can help stretch the field and he could benefit from the extra attention defenses pay toward Marshall and Jeffery.
The Bad: The Bears had to part ways with dependable veteran Earl Bennett because of salary cap issues. While Bennett was never spectacular, he had one of the most reliable sets of hands on the team and Cutler — who was a teammate with Bennett at Vanderbilt — trusted Bennett in crucial situations, such as third downs. After Marshall and Jeffery, the depth at the wide receiver position gets a little thin. There are high hopes for Wilson, but he’s still an unknown at this point. The team signed veteran Josh Morgan on Monday but he’s had only a modest career. I’d feel a lot better if they brought in some help at the position in the event of an injury, but they neither have a lot of cap space to bring in a big name nor is it that critical a need at this point given all the woes they have on defense.