The Chicago Bears have questions scattered across their entire offense. Don’t let anybody fool you. It’s not all about the quarterback. While that position is the most important, there are lingering issues at tight end, offensive line, and wide receiver. That last one is particularly concerning. Allen Robinson is a free agent. Anthony Miller and Javon Wims are possible cut candidates. It feels like the only sure thing they have is Darnell Mooney. Not ideal. So what does this have to do with Josh Imatorbhebhe?
Too early to tell. However, according to Daniel Greenberg of Fansided, the Bears have been in contact with the Illinois wide receiver in recent weeks. A clear signal of their interest in him ahead of the 2021 NFL draft. At first glance, this may not sound exciting. Illinois isn’t a hotbed of pro talent, especially on the offensive side. Since joining the program, Imatorbhebhe has 55 catches for 931 yards and 12 touchdowns in 17 games.
The Chicago Bears have talked to draft prospect Josh Imatorbhebhe, per source.
Imatorbhebhe played at the University of Illinois and is 6-foot-2. He had 9 touchdowns in 2019 and 3 touchdowns in 2020.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) February 22, 2021
Then again it’s not like that was his fault.
With Lovie Smith as the head coach, the development of a proper passing game was going to be a problem. Despite scheme and quarterback issues, Imatorbhebhe led his team in receiving both years he was there. So why would the Bears have interest? The best way to put it is untapped potential. Draft experts would call the kid a “slab of clay” that a good coaching staff could mold into something more.
Watching Imatorbhebhe on film, it’s obvious he needs work. The route running isn’t great and he needs plenty of fundamental adjustments. However, athletically the kid is impressive. Really impressive. He’s 6’2 and has enough vertical speed to keep defenses nervous. What brings it together is his leaping ability. There is video evidence of him actually posting a 47-inch vertical. Which is insane. Having somebody that size who can also jump higher than almost anybody?
It’s a problem.
Josh Imatorbhebhe is the perfect mid-round flier
Somebody with an immense physical upside that can be a go-to weapon in any passing game if the mental side of the equation can catch up to his obvious physical gifts. The Bears know this kid can run and jump. That is already half the battle. It would be their job to figure out if he can maximize those gifts. Learning to use deceptive routes, hand-fighting, and footwork to keep defensive backs off balance.
That is when the athletic talent is at its most dangerous. Josh Imatorbhebhe isn’t there yet. It’s a safe bet somebody will be interested in taking that calculated risk on him at some point in the 4th or 5th rounds this April. Chicago has already had tons of success in that area of the draft before. Mooney is their latest example. Those two could wreak some havoc down the field if the Bears can find a proper quarterback.
Either way, this serves as an uncomfortable reminder.
Changes could be coming to the Bears wide receiver position over the next couple of months. Significant changes. Even if Robinson returns on the franchise tag, there is a strong possibility the bottom half of their depth chart could see significant turnover. Showing interest in Imatorbhebhe might be a sign they’re seeking more explosiveness in their passing attack.