CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin will be going position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2014 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store.
Bears pre-draft situation
Dispatching Brandon Marshall may have been a step toward upgrading the internal culture but it also eliminated the more than six pass receptions and 78 yards he averaged for the offense through his 45 Chicago Bear games. And no one contributed more to the offense than Marshall’s 31 touchdowns over the past three seasons.
Coach John Fox and coordinator Adam Gase are expected to tilt the offense toward more balance and running the football. But no offense gets better when it lose one of its elite impact players, and that’s where the Bears stand sans Marshall.
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Alshon Jeffery averaged 87 receptions over the past two years and more than 1,200 yards. One question, however, is how much Jeffery benefitted from Marshall operating opposite him, because Marshall unquestionably required game-planning by defenses. Martellus Bennett has developed into a top-shelf option at tight end.
The Bears do not, however, have either a simple replacement for Marshall’s production or a receiver with the speed to challenge deep and require a secondary to honor the deeper regions of the field.
Marquess Wilson’s return from a shoulder injury in training camp was much anticipated. But Wilson started the final six games, three as a No. 3 receiver and three in place of Marshall, and produced just 17 total catches. And seven of those came in the game-15 loss to Detroit.
Wilson is a candidate for more playing time. But he is 6-4 and hardly the prototypical No. 3, more fast than quick, and not in the mold of someone who can work the slot as well as the edges.
Bears draft priority: High
Any roster with that has Bennett, Jeffery and Eddie Royal would seem to be well fixed for receivers. And the Bears are. To a point.
But Jeffery is entering the final year of his contract and Royal, who could work as a starter in base packages, is really a No. 3 receiver at this point in his career. The Bears are in need of speed on the outside. The last time they had the No. 7 pick of a draft, they used it for exactly that: wideout Curtis Conway.
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Royal filled one need but deep speed is still a need. The 2015 draft is deep at receiver, and with their earlier free-agency additions on defense, the Bears have positioned themselves to have the option of best-available. At No. 7, and with a void after Marshall’s release, wide receiver moves at or near the top of the Bears’ shopping list.
Keep an eye on ...
Amari Cooper, Alabama: At 6-1, 211, a proven producer in a top (SEC) conference and with polished skills. Played for Bears WR coach Mike Groh at Alabama.
DeVante Parker, Louisville: One big (6-3) reason for Teddy Bridgewater success but Parker posted by ’14 season after Bridgewater went to Vikings.
Breshad Perriman, Central Florida: May be the gem of round 2, at 6-2 and with sub-4.4 speed.
Kevin White, West Virginia: Flashed last season (109-1,447-10), has speed (4.35 “40”) but not a deep resume.