Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Chicago Bears Can Reverse A Negative Draft Trend By Taking A Wide Receiver With The Ninth Selection

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The Chicago Bears are mapping out their offseason plans for free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft, as they currently hold the first overall and ninth overall selection in the draft. Many NFL analysts believe Chicago will select USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the first overall pick, but there are questions on how the ninth pick will be used. With many believing the Bears should take a wide receiver to pair with the rookie quarterback, it may be in the team’s best interest to do so as a way to reverse a negative trend of drafting wide receivers.

The Bears Have Not Had Great Success Drafting Wide Receivers Early In The Draft

In the last 40 years, the Bears have only drafted a wide receiver three times in the first round of the NFL Draft, with limited success between the three players. The three pass-catchers taken include Curtis Conway in 1993, David Terrell in 2001, and Kevin White in 2015. Neither Conway, Terrell, or White ever made it to the Pro Bowl during their time with Chicago.

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Conway was the most successful of the three wide receivers, as he was the team’s best wide receiver from 1995 to 1998. During his seven-year career with the Bears, the former USC wide receiver had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons while catching 31 touchdowns. Despite his big-play ability, Conway battled consistency and injury issues during his time with the Bears, as he played in 31 games in his final three seasons with the team.

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Like Conway, Terrell battled consistency issues and injuries during his four years with Chicago from 2001 to 2004. Despite having flashes of being a difference-making receiver, the former Michigan Wolverine standout never made any significant contributions when given prominent playing time. In 2004, after the Bears traded Pro Bowl wide receiver Marty Booker to the Miami Dolphins, Terrell became the number one pass-catcher for the offense and failed miserably, dropping numerous passes while only catching one touchdown.

The last time the Bears selected a wide receiver with their first-round pick was in 2015 when they chose White seventh overall. The wide receiver, unfortunately, is seen as one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history, as he was constantly hampered by season-ending injuries. During his four years with the Bears, White only played in 15 games, caught 25 passes, and never recorded a touchdown catch.

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There has been only one successful draft pick at the wide receiver position for the Bears in the past 15 years in Alshon Jeffrey, who was taken in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Jeffery had two consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards receiving and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013. Despite only playing in 20 games total in 2015 and 2016, the former second-round selection still managed to record over 800 receiving yards each season.

Potential Draft Class Allows Bears To Have A Chance To Reverse That Trend

The wide receiver position for the 2024 NFL Draft is expected to be one of the deepest and most talented in recent history. Three pass-catchers are projected as Top-ten talents, as either could be a terrific fit with the Bears and Pro Bowl receiver DJ Moore. Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze all are seen as potential future elite stars at the position and are unlikely to fall in the first round.

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Harrison Jr is seen as arguably the best-receiving prospect in the draft since Hall of Fame pass-catcher Calvin Johnson was selected second overall in 2007 by the Detroit Lions. The Ohio State standout is the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison, who was named to eight consecutive Pro Bowls and had four straight seasons of 1,400 receiving yards or more. Harrison Jr is viewed as a matchup nightmare due to his size-to-speed capability, along with the ability to run any specific route.

Odunze is similar to Harrison Jr, as his deceptive size allowed him to be one of the most productive wide receivers in college football over the past two seasons. He was named an All-American for his 2023 campaign with 13 receiving touchdowns and over 1,428 receiving yards. Odunze has averaged over 73 receptions in his last two seasons at Washington.

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Nabers, although smaller than Harrison Jr and Odunze, is much faster and is seen as potentially the best deep ball wide receiver in the draft. During this past year at LSU, the wide receiver averaged nearly 18 yards per reception while recording 12 touchdown catches. Nabers’ speed could give the Bears a deep threat they have not had in quite a long time.

Although first-round wide receivers have not been kind to the Bears, 2024 may be the best time to take one and reverse the negative trend that has plagued the franchise. If Chicago decides to take a quarterback first overall, it is in their best interest to provide the prospect with as many offensive weapons as possible. The Bears are in a significantly rare opportunity of not just selecting a generational quarterback talent, but a wide receiving talent later on.

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BearDownTX
Feb 16, 2024 1:50 pm

Later in the draft I like Odunze’s teammate in Ja’Lynn Polk, also like Xavier Legette(6’1′ and ran a sub 4.3), Xavier Worthy and his teammate Adonai Mitchell could end up being a steal as well.

Jim Jones
Feb 16, 2024 7:48 am

Actually ManGod I watched a podcast with Jordan Reid where he stated this whole 2 TE set convo is overblown. Waldron was in the 12 only 22% of the time last year. I do agree with him if we had a plan for Bowers like moving him out as a WR it could work, but otherwise it would be redundant.

luapgnik
luapgnik
Feb 16, 2024 7:47 am

After we trade the top pick for an insane haul we’ll be able to draft both Bowers and one of the top receivers. Then we go lines next. Trade the pick Poles.

ManGod
Feb 16, 2024 6:51 am

Take TE Bowers over MJH. The scheme the Bears will use requires 2 TE sets 35-45%of the time, sign G Davis as WR#2, then select a C and S (or sign K Dugger). This draft has numerous DE that make an impact playing opposite M Sweat. WRs and RBs can be found in any of the 4th round down in this draft. There will be several WRs and RBs available in the 4th, 5th rounds capable of producing in NFL in this draft. Harrison feels like a luxury pick, but the greater need is TE giving the Bears a dominate… Read more »

jmscooby
Feb 16, 2024 3:02 am

Why use a top 5 pick on Marvin Harrison’s son, when we can draft Jerry Rice’s son in the late rounds? He also played with Caleb.
Anyone know where Thaddeus Moss is?

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