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With the Bears season on the brink of being over at 5-7, it’s time to turn our focus to next year and what prospects might be available to fix our beloved Bears. With the draft being in Chicago this year, the draft is even more exciting than most years for Bears fans. Even if the Bears manage to win out and sneak into the playoffs, they still have plenty of holes on both sides of the ball and need to build some quality young depth. I will be breaking down prospects at every position with some focus on players I think the Bears could target. At some positions that aren’t as glaring of a need for the Bears like RB (unless they trade Forte) and maybe guard, I will focus less on the players projected to go early and focus more the mid-round prospects who the Bears presumably could target.
If you are sick of watching the Bears, there is some really exciting football being played on Saturdays this season and these lists will identify some players to keep an eye on during the last few weeks of the college football season and the initial college football playoff.
Position Summary: Assuming the Bears don’t rebuild (please do!) they are probably set at their first 3 WRs stops with Marshall, Jeffrey, and Wilson but they have little to no depth behind those three. If they do end up attempting a rebuild (again, please!) they could probably get a 3rd-4th round pick for Marshall. Even if they keep their current core together, Marshall is getting old (30) and has clearly lost a step or two on the field already. I’ve broke the receiver prospect into two parts. The first part for tall Marshall types as either an immediate replacement due to a Marshall trade or as an eventual replacement.
The second part of the WR breakdown is for the short, quick receivers that the Bears don’t have on their roster right now but could really use if they are going to continue this farce of a short pass offense. Part 2 of the breakdown will also consider WRs who could have an impact on the kick and punt return game which has been a disaster all season.
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* These aren’t ordered rankings, just WRs I think could end up on the Bears depending on how the offseason shakes out.
1.) Jaelen Strong, JR Arizona St
Attributes – 6’4, 212, 4.55
Bears spin – Reminds me more of a young Brandon Marshall more than any other receiver in this draft so it’s only fitting that the Bears would draft him as Marshall’s eventual (or immediate) replacement.
Scouting report – Strong’s resemblance to Marshall really is uncanny (on-field only). Strong has the speed to get open but even when he’s technically covered, he’s still open due to his large catch radius, soft hands, and the ability to use his body to shield defenders. Strong showed his toughness this week laying out for a catch on a deep ball and then catching a TD pass with extension of a separated shoulder. Living a few blocks from ASU’s stadium I have watched Strong quite a bit over the last two sasons and I would be happy with the Bears drafting him regardless if they need a WR or not. Strong is going to be a solid NFL receiver and has the strength and intangibles to make an impact right away.
NFL Comparison – Brandon Marshall
Projection – Early 2nd round
2.) Devonte Parker, SR Louisville
Attributes – 6’3, 209, 4.58
Bears spin – Similar to the Bears current WRs in that he has great size and hands, but struggled to separate from corners due to a lack of straight-line speed. Parker is shifty after the catch and could be used as Jeffery is now on quick screen passes, reverses and the occasional deep ball.
Scouting report – Parker has better hands than either Marshall or Jeffrey and could end up being a more consistent target on the back shoulder routes and end zone fades that the Bears run with moderate efficiency. Parker doesn’t have the quick twitch moves to get open easily but like Marshall and Jeffery, Parler doesn’t necessarily need to be open to catch the ball. Parker would give the Bears another red zone weapon if something were to happen to Marshall or Jeffrey. It would probably take an early 2nd round pick to get Parker so I can’t see the Bears drafting him unless they were moving on from Marshall.
NFL comparison – Keenan Allen
Projection – 2nd round
3,) Sammy Coates, JR Auburn
Attributes – 6’2, 205, 4.36
Bears spin – Is too raw to step in and start off the bat, but has elite upside and some offseason training with Marshall and Jeffrey could speed up Coates development and have him being a major part of the offense by 2016.
Scouting report – Coates has the physical attributes to be a beast on the field, but is still too raw as a route-runner with suspect hands to be much more than a occasional contributor as a rookie. Coates has similar physical attributes and flaws as Colts rookie Donte Moncrief who showed flashes of dominance this year but for the most part needs plenty of technique work before he can contribute consistently. Coates would be an instant upgrade over the bums the Bears have rolled out this season as 4th WRs (Bellamy, Wilson, Williams) and his development timeline should coincide almost perfectly with Marshall’s decline.
NFL comparison – Donte Moncrief
Projection – 3rd round