Bears Insider 2023 Draft Preview: Wide Receivers

We all want the Bears to improve the wide receiver room, but it just isn’t a priority this year. Ryan Poles acquired D.J. Moore from the Panthers to give Chicago its first legitimate WR1 in a few years. Everybody else slides down, and because of that, the current group looks pretty tight. Darnell Mooney is the No. 2 receiver, Chase Claypool replaces Byron Pringle, and Equanimeous St. Brown stays at WR4. Velus Jones and the recently re-signed Dante Pettis are the fifth and sixth options.

However, Bears fans want a Davante Adams or Justin Jefferson type, though it seems doubtful Poles would sacrifice other needs to get one of the top pass-catchers. And by the way, none compare to the two All-Pros. The class is deep as heck but lacks true top-end talent.

This just isn’t the year to throw caution to the wind. Poles wants playmakers, but he’ll likely look to the end of the draft and undrafted free agency to find competition for the current receiver rotation.

First Round Prospects

  1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba – A possession slot receiver who lacks the shake to separate underneath and the speed to run past defenses.
  2. Zay Flowers – A slot target with a high motor and immense confidence. Flowers is slightly undersized but showcases above-average acceleration and an attacking demeanor.
  3. Jordan Addison – Can play on the outside or inside with the speed and agility to work confidently on all three levels of the field. His stock has dropped in recent weeks, and he is going to provide a lot of value if he’s selected at No. 30 or later.
  4. Quentin Johnston – A big-bodied, big-play threat with good hands and excellent tracking ability. If he had better initial acceleration he’d be the top receiver in this draft.

Second and Third Round Prospects

  1. Jonathan Mingo – A big, strong receiver with a chip on his shoulder and the physical toughness to outperform his speed limitations. He’s a perfect scheme fit as a slot receiver in Chicago’s three-receiver sets.
  2. Jayden Reed – Another slot receiver who can also play on the outside. Per Mel Kiper Jr. “Reed’s ability to accelerate off the line, beat press coverage, and generate separation with savvy and quickness are what jump out on tape.”
  3. Jalin Hyatt – A long, slender wideout with deep speed who unfortunately struggles with inconsistency on contested catches. Hyatt will never be more than a WR2 for most teams.
  4. Cedric Tillman – A big target with long arms and excellent hands, Tillman has exceptional leaping ability combined with a very good lower-body explosion. Could be a second-round steal for one lucky ball club.
  5. Michael Wilson – He’s quick, but his arms are just a little too short for the pro game. He ranks this high because he is one of the best in this class at making contested catches.
  6. Marvin Mims Jr. – A long-striding wideout who ran a limited route tree at Oklahoma, but he has the athletic qualities to expand on it at the next level.
  7. Josh Downs – A slightly-statured pass-catcher with elite separation skills, but one who lacks the second gear to regularly take the tops off of the coverage.
  8. Rashee Rice – Needs to be more consistent to succeed at the next level, but has enough top-end speed to intrigue most scouts.
  9. Tyler Scott – One of the most dangerous receivers in the class, a true big-play threat, but one who needs more consistency catching the ball. I fear Bears fans would completely overhype Scott, which is odd, because few liked Christian Watson last year, and he’s much better.
  10. A.T. Perry – A downfield threat with excellent size and good hands, but one who gets tackled a little too easily.

Bears Needs

The Bears could use a slot receiver, and there isn’t a better one available in this draft than Smith-Njigba. He’s probably not an option for Chicago unless Poles trades down and can pick up an extra second-round pick. Flowers is underrated but could potentially go higher than JSN. Mingo is my favorite, by the way. However, the Bears have too many needs to draft a wide receiver in rounds 1 or 2. They could probably get Scott or Reed in the third or fourth round.

If they’re looking for a WR5 or WR6 just to finish the room, the draft is plenty deep with those types of players.

Best Fits for the Bears

I don’t expect the Bears to address wide receiver until Day 3 unless Ryan Poles does Justin Fields a solid and selects Smith-Njigba. Puka Nacua of Brigham Young is a very intriguing late-round/UDFA option. Still, I’d love to see them get Mingo. His stock is rising too quickly, however.

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