Projected Roles & Stats for Bears Rookies (Part 2)
Seventh Round (#230 overall) – WR Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
During the draft I keep a list of the best available players for the Bears and Braverman was in my top three by the Bears second pick in round four. I wasn’t the only one who had Braverman that high, as both Pro Football Focus and NFL.com had him graded as a fourth round talent.
It was a surprise that the second leading receiver in college football last season (109 catches) lasted until almost the end of the draft, but his small frame (5’10, 177 pounds) clearly worried teams. With the recent success of smaller receivers like Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, and Randall Cobb and the proliferation of three-four receiver sets, I thought a player with Braverman’s elite production would have been drafted higher.
Not only did Braverman catch 109 passes last season, but also had 1,367 yard and 13 touchdowns. His routes out of the slot were so precise that he was uncoverable by MAC corners. Granted it will be more difficult to get open at the NFL level, but Braverman lit up an Ohio St defense that had six players drafted in the first three rounds for 10 catches, 124 yards, and a touchdown. He proved that he could open against NFL quality corners and has a shot to earn playing time with the Bears as a rookie.
The Bears made a significant investment in slot receiver Eddie Royal last year and he was basically worthless, missing seven games and catching only 37 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown. In Royal’s absence kick-returner Marc Mariani stepped up and made some clutch 3rd down catches during the 2nd-half of the season, but is better suited as a back-up. In summary the Bears don’t have a quality, reliable slot receiver, which opens the door for Braverman to earn some offensive snaps as a rookie.
His size is a limitation, but he’s an elite route-runner, has excellent hands (11 drops in 198 chances), above-average quickness (6.88 3-cone), and can make people miss after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, Braverman made 24 people miss after the catch which was 2nd in college football. He was near the top five in almost every important receiving stat last season, including first overall in yards per route run (3.27).
I’m clearly high on Braverman’s potential as a slot receiver for the Bears and besides his lack of size their isn’t any reason not to be. He was a mid-round talent who the Bears got great value on in the 7th round and has a wide open path to playing time this season.
Projected Role: Primary slot-receiver by week nine
Projected Stats: 41 catches, 545 yards, 4 touchdowns
Next: Undrafted Free Agents