If Chicago wants to draft a rookie starter at WR, then it better take one by the third round
Chicago needs a new wide receiver.
Fortunately, eight receivers rank among the top 50 prospects in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board.
But what are the Bears’ options if they’re all gone by the time Chicago is on the clock with pick No. 39?
Then it’s time to look at the next wave of receivers.
In that scenario, Chicago should still have a crack at drafting a receiver capable of starting as a rookie, as there are seven more ranked among the top 100 prospects. That list includes Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce (No. 58), Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson (59), Alabama’s John Metchie (63), Purdue’s David Bell (72), Clemson’s Justyn Ross (78), North Dakota State’s Christian Watson (82) and Boise State’s Khalil Shakir (92). In total, the Rigdon big board lists 15 receivers among its top 100 prospects.
So it’s no time to panic if Chicago bypasses a receiver in Round 2.
But if they still don’t draft one by Round 3? Then the pickings get pretty slim.
Starting with Nevada’s Romeo Doubs at No. 111 overall, there are just 13 more receivers ranked among the top 262, which takes you through all seven rounds.
In total, 28 receivers are ranked among the top 262 players, although that number could change after the Combine, pro days and personal workouts.
By comparison, 36 wide receivers were drafted last year, 35 in 2020.
So this draft is more in-line with the 2019 draft, when 28 receivers were selected, including Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, who was the first WR taken with pick No. 25 overall to Baltimore.
The problem for Chicago, though, has been its ability – or inability – to develop one.
The Bears have drafted five wide receivers since 2018, including Dazz Newsome, who was a sixth-round pick this past year out of North Carolina. Newsome caught two passes for 23 yards in three games as a rookie.
Darnell Mooney, the team’s fifth-round pick out of Tulane in 2020, has been the best pick thus far and appears well on his way into developing into a future star. Mooney has 142 receptions for 1,686 yards and 8 touchdowns his first two seasons, including 81 receptions for 1,055 and 4 TDs this past season.
After Mooney, though, the team hasn’t fared as well.
Riley Ridley, drafted in the fourth round out of Georgia in 2019, is out of the league. Anthony Miller, a second-round pick out of Memphis in 2018, had three average years for Chicago, then was traded before this past season started and was recently signed by Pittsburgh to a reserve/future contract. And Georgia’s Javon Wims, taken in the seventh round in 2018, was cut last year by the Bears and recently signed a reserve/future contract with Las Vegas.
If you subtract Newsome from that group – it’s too early to make any judgments on him – then the team is 1-for-4 on drafting receivers the past four years (the team didn’t take a receiver in 2017).
— Bruce Matson (@MetricScout) February 8, 2022