Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace has stocked the roster nicely with depth everywhere opening up camp to some serious competition. That will leave Pace and John Fox some tough choices when it’s time to make cuts. This is true no more so than at wide receiver. There will be some tough cuts that will have to be made. There’ll also have to be some tough on the field choices once the roster is set as well.
One move the Bears could make that could potentially make these decisions easier is to move Eddie Royal back to his more natural flanker (or at Z) position. That’s where he had his best production during his career. Royal is not your prototypical slot guy. He isn’t a stiff out there, but he does not have the quick twitch muscles to get separation inside nor the size to shield his body away from defenders when he comes across the middle.
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Those duties should be dutifully filled by both Marc Mariani and Bears rookie Daniel Braverman. Both these individuals fit the prototype at the slot position. There are some that say it will be either Braverman or Mariani, but it can’t be both. I disagree. Not only is there a chance that both could make the roster, but both will make the roster. Chicago will carry at least six wide receivers, and possibly even up to seven on their 53-man roster.
Anyone who saw the impact Mariani had on the offense last season and the chemistry he had with quarterback Jay Cutler will see why it’s unlikely Chicago parts with him. It’s also equally unlikely that the Bears cut Braverman- a rookie with special abilities. Plus, both players add the extra value as returners on special teams.
This does not mean that Eddie Royal will be the odd man out. He and Jay have a great chemistry together and Chicago needs a backup flanker behind Kevin White as Marquess Wilson will likely back up Alshon Jeffery at split end (or the X). Wilson and White are the only other players with the size to play that position should anything happen to Jeffery, but in the case that Jeffery is hurt and White plays the X, Royal would be needed at flanker.
Joshua Bellamy, Cameron Meredith, Deonte Thompson will have an interesting competition among themselves to make the team. While Darrin Peterson, Derek Keaton, and Kieren Duncan will compete to grab a spot towards the bottom of the roster or practice squad. Each player brings some form of redeemable skill to the Bears.
The Bears have a young, talented rebuilt defense and what appears to be a special teams unit on the rise as well. It remains to be seen if this group of playmakers can keep pace with those units and help this team reach the playoffs. However, when you see it on paper, the offense does look exciting. That unit would be led by Cutler and what could become a very special group of wide receivers.