Bears Depth Chart: Wide Receiver

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Position Battles (Starters):

There isn’t a battle for the starting wide receiver positions. If healthy, Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are the Bears starting 1-2 combo. When on the field last season, Jeffery was one of the best receivers in the NFL. His per game stats stack up well to the best and highest paid players in the game. Jeffery has the size, speed, ability to win jump balls, and talent to be one of the best red zone weapons in the league.

He should be motivated since he’s technically a free agent after the season and coming off a year where he only started eight games. At 26 years old, Jeffery is in the prime of his career, playing for his first massive contract, in an offense he knows, and has a QB who feeds him the ball probably more than he should. The sky is the limit for Jeffery this year and only his soft tissue and mental fortitude can hold him back.

Kevin White will be starting his second season on the Bears roster, but his first on the field across from Jeffery. At 6’3, 216 pounds with 4.35 speed, a 36″ vertical, the strength to bench 225 pounds 23 times, and the explosiveness to make things happen after the catch, White should be a match-up nightmare for #2 corners across the league.

White still needs to earn Jay Cutler’s trust, but there is no one on the roster with anywhere close to White’s combination of athleticism or ability to make things happen after the catch. The Bears are going to give White every chance to prove he was worth the #7 overall pick in the new regime’s first draft and he has the talent and opportunity facing mostly single-coverage to have a monster “rookie” season.

Jeffery and White are going to be the Bears starters in week one (barring injury, knock on wood) and have the potential to be the best receiving duo in the NFL. Of course injury or Jay Cutler’s erratic right arm could make them just mediocre, but the potential for greatness is there which should open things up for the rest of the offense, specifically the slot receiver position.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

So who starts in the slot? If you follow the money ($5M this year) it’s Eddie Royal, but as I already mentioned, he’s hurt again (concussion). Royal only played in nine games last year, but somehow it felt like about half that many. At 30 years old, Royal may be done as a viable starter, but he did catch 91 passes from Cutler back in 2008 and maybe the natural chemistry the two had in Cutler’s rookie year will resurface? I’m not betting on it.

The Bears will most likely start the season with Jeffery, White, and Royal as the top three wide receivers, but if Royal misses the majority of training camp with injuries then the Bears may have a position battle on their hands for the starting slot role. It’s too early in training camp to determine who the favorite for the job would be, but with more teams utilizing big receivers in the slot it could be any of the Bears depth receivers.

I’ll cover them in detail in the next section, but I would put Marc Mariani, Josh Bellamy, and rookie Daniel Braverman as the most likely candidates to push Royal for his job. If Royal stays healthy the job is his, but what are the odds of Royal staying healthy all season?

Next: Positon Battles (Back-ups)