Who are the wide receivers most likely to be drafted by the Chicago Bears?
As we did with quarterbacks, we have gone through each draft prospect to see which fits are the best for the Chicago Bears. Wide receiver is a need as they are looking for a player to replace Taylor Gabriel. They could let Javon Wims and Riley Ridley compete for the third receiver spot, but that would still mean adding a late-round receiver to compete.
They could also keep those as depth, and draft a receiver early. With plenty of choices, who could they be interested in?
Looking at average mock draft positioning, unless they trade up, they are going to miss out on CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Justin Jefferson, Denzel Mims, Tee Higgins, and Jalen Reagor. Even at their lowest, they do not drop to the Bears in mock drafts, so we will not spend time on them. Who are the other choices, and when would they go?
Top 50 options
These players go around pick 40 at the earliest but have fallen as low as pick 90. Laviska Shenault, Brandon Aiyuk, K.J. Hamler, Chase Claypool, Michael Pittman, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Lynn Bowden, Bryan Edwards, and Devin Duvernay.
Another blog did a great breakdown that looked into the type of receivers that Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy teams draft and created thresholds.
Aiyuk, Claypool, Peoples-Jones, and Duvernay checked every box for a Pace/Nagy receiver. Pittman ran a 4.52, missing the 40 threshold of 4.51. However, at 223 pounds, they may move that threshold by 0.01. These are legitimate options for the Bears top 50 picks.
Shenault, Hamler, Bowden, and Edwards did not hit thresholds because they did not participate in the combine. Shenault has a plethora of injuries from shoulder to lower body. He has an underdeveloped route tree, and while he may have been hurt during his 40, his 4.58 did not hit the Bears time. He is least likely to be drafted. Edwards profiles, most like Allen Robinson, and has a broken foot.
K.J. Hamler and Lynn Bowden are potential options for the Bears. Hamler is a pure speed threat, who has a very similar size to Taylor Gabriel and can be deployed in a variety of ways like Tarik Cohen.
Bowden was a wide receiver and return man, but Kentucky resorted to using him at quarterback. If Bowden gets taken, that is a Matt Nagy creativity pick. Still, the question is whether or not he is a gadget player, and whether or not that is worth a top 50 pick.
Top Options for the second round
Of the four wide receivers who get taken in the Bears range, and checked all of their pre-draft boxes, we have Brandon Aiyuk, Chase Claypool, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Devin Duvernay, and Michael Pittman.
Duvernay may be least likely because he excels best in the slot, but his speed and yards after catch creation cannot be discounted. DPJ is a high-end athlete but has a lot of projection. The Bears take athletes on defense but tend to look to developed players on offense.
Claypool could make sense due to his versatility and the way that Matt Nagy would use him. He is a tight end/wide receiver and could be used in a few ways to fool teams.
Pittman has more deep threat ability than some may think and has the size to match, but Aiyuk may be the best fit. He is a Juco transfer, similar to Anthony Miller and Javon Wims. Aiyuk creates most after the catch, averaging 10.9 yards per reception, according to PFF. But he has the speed, burst and explosion to take the top off down the field. Do not be surprised if the Bears value him highly.
Caught in between
These players go on average in the 100s, but at the same time do not fall below 140. It would be a reach to take them at 50, but a stretch for them to fall anywhere near round five.
Van Jefferson, Antonio Gandy-Golden, Gabriel Davis, KJ Hill, Colin Johnson, James Proche, Isaiah Hodgins
Jefferson, Proche, and Hill are slot players, too similar to Miller. Trading up for them would not make sense. Davis, AGG, Johnson, and Hodgins are too slow for the Bears standards, especially replacing Gabriel. None of these receivers fit.
Here is a list of receivers who checked boxes for the Bears preferred type, and on average, are available in the fifth and sixth round.
John Hightower, Antonio Gibson, Kendrick Rogers, Joe Reed, Jeff Thomas, Isaiah Coulter
Hightower and Gibson are players we highlighted as great fits for the Bears in these rounds. Rodgers is tall, athletic, and stretches the field. However, he is wildly inconsistent and has not topped 400 yards in college. Coulter is a small school player from Rhode Island, a Ryan Pace special. However, he profiles more as a possession receiver than a deep threat.
Joe Reed and Jeff Thomas are interesting fits. Reed is a return man who profiles similar to Cordarelle Patterson. Thomas was a former top recruit who did not live up to it in Miami. Still, he is dynamic with the ball in his hands and has the speed to create down the field.
The following players get drafted in round seven on average and checkboxes for what the Bears look for in receivers.
Tyrie Cleveland, Darnell Mooney, K.J. Osborn, Dezmon Patmon, Freddie Swain, Quez Watkins, Marquez Callaway
Cleveland has special teams value, and is a former top recruit, but started just two games as a Senior at Florida. Swain was his teammate in Florida and failed to live up to his high school hype as well. Cleveland is bigger and slightly faster, but Swain saw the field a bit more.
Callaway has some size and speed and has punt return abilities. His average depth of target was 19.8. He could be a sleeper to be drafted by the Bears late.
Osborn thrived at Buffalo and transferred to Miami. He did not have the same magic in Miami but has the speed to take a chance on late. Patmon is the most likely to be a Bear, though. He checks all of the boxes, was used creatively in a spread offense and has size at 225 pounds to go with 4.48 speed. With special teams value as well, he needs to be watched.
Round 2 Options: Michael Pittman, Brandon Aiyuk, Chase Claypool, K.J. Hamler
Round 5-6 Options: John Hightower, Antonio Gibson, Joe Reed, Jeff Thomas
Round 7 Options: Dezmon Patmon. Darnell Mooney, Quez Watkins, Marquez Callaway