Chicago Bears Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 24: Allen Robinson Chicago Bears
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 24: Allen Robinson Chicago Bears /

With the Chicago Bears officially reporting to training camp in Bourbonnais, Illinois on July 21st, it’s time to begin previewing each of the Bears individual positional groups on the roster. Today, we look at wide receivers.

We’ve already previewed quarterbacks and running backs.

The Chicago Bears had the worst wide receiving corps out of any team in the NFL in 2017. On any other roster in the NFL, many of the guys who started such as Dontrelle Inman, Kendall Wright, and Josh Bellamy would be slot receivers or depth pieces.

Essentially, this had a ripple effect on the Bears whole offense. With a lack of receiving options around him, Mitchell Trubisky was limited in what he could do. While some of the blame does go onto the former coaching staff, injuries to Cameron Meredith and Zach Miller were entirely out of the coaching staffs control.

This offseason, Ryan Pace went all-in during free agency and signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, while drafting Javon Wims and Anthony Miller.

The goal behind such a motive was simple; Find Mitchell Trubisky weapons to help him take the next step and become a true NFL quarterback.

Who’s a lock and who’s not?

Currently, there are 12 wide receivers on the roster. Of the 12, only three look as if they are locks to be on the opening day roster. It’s likely the Bears decide to carry six wide receivers, meaning the competition for the final three spots will be wide open.

The three locks are:

  • Allen Robinson
  • Taylor Gabriel
  • Anthony Miller

The reason these three will make the roster is simple. Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel were brought in as free agents and handed lucrative deals. Meanwhile, the Bears sacrificed a future second-round pick for Anthony Miller.

The final three spots will be a battle between the following players:

  • Demarcus Ayers
  • Josh Bellamy
  • Marlon Brown
  • Matt Fleming
  • Bennie Fowler
  • Tanner Gentry
  • Garrett Johnson
  • Kevin White
  • Javon Wims

Of the nine listed above, only Bellamy, White, and Gentry were on the Chicago Bears roster in 2017. Three (Ayers, Brown, and Fowler) were on different NFL teams but mostly were special teams players. The final three (Johnson, Fleming, and Wims) were all collegiate players.

Who makes the cut?

If one were to begin projecting the Bears wide receiver room, it’s likely that it would include the following names:

  • Allen Robinson
  • Anthony Miller
  • Taylor Gabriel
  • Kevin White
  • Josh Bellamy
  • Javon Wims

Each of these receivers brings something unique to the table.

Allen Robinson is a big, physical target who has 202 career receptions. His best season easily came in 2015, where he averaged 17.5 yards per reception along with 14 touchdowns. He enters the season as the Bears number one receiver and as the only wide receiver on the roster who has Pro Bowl experience. Although his 2017 season was cut short due to injury, if Robinson can return healthy, he can be the game-changer that the Bears offense needs.

In the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Bears sacrificed a 2019 second-round pick to move up and draft Anthony Miller. At the draft, five wide receivers were selected ahead of Miller, but he is someone who should see significant playing in 2018. In 2017, Miller had 1462 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. It’s clear that this is a player that can crack the Bears starting lineup at some point in the season.

Another dimension that Chicago Bears fans should expect to see plenty of in Matt Nagy’s offense is speed. Most thought the Bears were set with speed due to Tarik Cohen, however, Taylor Gabriel’s best attribute is speed as well. In two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Gabriel averaged 8.3 rush yards per attempt.

Bellamy, White, Wims

The final three names listed above are tossups. At this point, they either make the roster or they don’t. Since joining the Bears in 2014, Bellamy has been used mostly as a special teams/situational player. His lone touchdown came last year against the Green Bay Packers at home.

Kevin White is an unfortunate, but complicated story. He’s been injured every year since being drafted and only has 21 career receptions. Most fans appear to have given up on the seventh overall pick, but Matt Nagy has other plans in mind. The Bears already declined White’s fifth-year option meaning he will be a free agent in the Spring of 2019.

Javon Wims is someone who could make the roster, but it’s not clear where he’d fit. For a player that averaged 16 yards per reception at Georgia, he could be a deep threat playing from the slot. While he may not have the skillset needed to push Kevin White, he can push Josh Bellamy.


Wide receiver is the position that received the most attention this offseason. As strong as this group looks on paper, there are still questions that remain. Can Allen Robinson stay healthy? Can Anthony Miller have a smooth transition to the pro game? What exactly should the Bears do with Kevin White?

This is a group that will have to live up to lofty expectations in 2018. If the Bears offense is to reach its full potential, this group will be the key.