Chicago Bears: Marquess Wilson Shining Without Kevin White


The Chicago Bears drafted wide receiver Marquess Wilson in the seventh round (213th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. Wilson showed nice measurables and athleticism for the position, which had Bears’ fans excited about a possible late round wide receiver steal.

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Wilson entered the league with obvious raw talent for the wide receiver position, but off-the-field and coach-ability concerns caused him to slip far down draft boards. The Bears decided to take a shot on Wilson, and considering he has stayed out of the headlines off-the-field, and has made some impact on-the-field, I would say it is fair to consider the selection a successful one up until this point.

That being said, it is not like he has reached his full potential. Wilson is a talented player who could make a serious impact at the wide receiver position in the NFL.

Under the old regime, the Bears seemed determined to at least give Wilson a shot to prove his talent on the field. With a new brain-trust in town, nothing is guaranteed, especially after the Bears took a wide receiver in the first round (seventh overall) of this spring’s draft. Wilson has nice speed and athleticism, but Kevin White‘s skill-set takes it to a whole different level.

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Kevin White (West Virginia) is selected as the number seven overall pick to the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson still has a chance to make an impact for the Bears this season, but when the selection of White happened, his future with the team immediately became more clouded.

Unfortunately for the Bears, White has yet to participate in any on-field practices during this training camp with a relatively mysterious shin injury. In fact, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN, Bears wide receivers coach Mike Groh is unsure about White performing at all in the preseason.

"“Sure, we’d love to have [White] play in a preseason game,” Groh told reporters on Monday, according to Dickerson. “Obviously, the more he can get out here with Jay [Cutler] and the rest of the offense, the better. But that’s probably not going to be the case.”"

Obviously the White injury is a frustrating situation for the organization and fan base alike. He is the first draft pick of this new regime, and he is supposed to help change the culture around the franchise. That being said, last year’s offensive rookie of the year Odell Beckham sat out the first four games of the season, and he was certainly able to make a huge impact for the entire New York Giants organization.

Just because White is currently struggling with an injury, does not mean that his rookie season will be lost, but it is definitely concerning. However, in absence comes opportunity for another player, and Wilson is making the most out of that opportunity.

Reports of Wilson showing success at training camp have popped up throughout the camp process. On Monday, Wilson had another impressive showing according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. Campbell highlighted Wilson in his top observation from the Bears’ practice session on Monday.

“Third-year wideout Marquess Wilson had the top highlight of practice with a leaping one-handed catch during a live 2-minute drill session,” Campbell wrote. “The 6-foot-4 receiver ran past cornerback Tim Jennings on a deep route down the right sideline, and he showed off his long arms on a ball Jay Cutler had him go up and get at its high point. It was a spectacular grab, evidence why this new regime believes in him the way the old one did.”

“Wilson made his catch at the other end of the same practice field on which he broke his left collarbone a little more than a year ago,” Campbell continued. “There was a mental component to recovering from that injury, which Wilson faced when he returned during the second half of last season. His acrobatic catch was another sign that he’s mentally past the injury and willing to sacrifice his body to make a play.”

As Campbell alludes to, Wilson suffered a major injury last preseason that caused him to miss the first nine games of the season. He was fairly productive down the stretch in his return (17 receptions for 140 yards and one touchdown), but it is not like Wilson set the league on fire. He has much more upside in his 6-foot-4 frame, and the injury to White is giving Wilson his needed chance to show that upside to new head coach John Fox and the rest of the Bears’ coaching staff.

Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson (10) looks to get around Detroit Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis (31) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I cannot imagine what it would take for Wilson to actually keep White out of the lineup once he is healthy. The Bears are obviously going to want to get their recent first round pick on the field and producing.

That being said, Wilson has the talent to make the Bears’ decision extremely difficult. When it comes down to it, if he performs, Fox, Groh and offensive coordinator Adam Gase will find a way to get Wilson on the field no matter what.

The upside has always been there for Wilson, and he seems to be making the absolute most out of this prime opportunity to showcase his skills. With the preseason slate set to begin, Wilson is certainly a player to be watching. He could become a major contributor for the Bears’ offense in 2015.

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