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The Bears Have an Opportunity to Inject Size and Speed Into Their Roster Late in the Draft

The overall depth and top-end talent of receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft will result in talented players falling to later picks.
Photo: Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

This year’s wide receiver draft class is absolutely stacked. NFL analysts describe the class like an ice cream shop, every flavor is available. Players like CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs III headline the class. One is a burner, one a polished route runner, and one an athletic freak that can go up and get the ball. These players will be drafted well before the Bears select at pick number 43, but the overall depth and top-end talent of the draft will result in talented players falling to later picks.

6-foot-4, 238 lb Chase Claypool running a 4.42 40-yard dash and knocking every other test out of the park may have pushed him into that top tier of receivers. The list goes on beyond him as well. Unless there is the biggest run on wide receivers in the last decade, there will be a first-round talent available for the Bears at pick 43 or even 50. If that’s the case, they made select a wide receiver with the 50th overall pick. If not, there will still be solid wideout options at the end of the draft. With the recent release of Taylor Gabriel, the Bears will need to inject some speed into the lineup. A few options are highlighted below.

Quez Watkins – Southern Mississippi – 6’0″ 185 lbs

4.35 40-yard dash – 5.95 prospect gradePhoto: Southern Miss Athletics

4.35 40-yard dash – 5.95 prospect grade
Photo: Southern Miss Athletics

Watkins averaged 18.1 yards per reception in 2019. He is an explosive vertical threat. His 5.95 prospect grade would make him a draftable player who should make a 53-man roster. He may need some time to develop into a full-time starter, but he should be able to contribute as a deep threat and on special teams in 2020. His testing should have pushed him up on draft boards, but he should be available on day three of the draft regardless.

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Antonio Gibson – Memphis – 6’0″ 228 lbs

4.39 40-yard dash – 6.0 prospect gradePhoto: Joe Murphy/Getty Images

4.39 40-yard dash – 6.0 prospect grade
Photo: Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Deebo Samuel‘s emergence last year will help push a player like Gibson way up the draft board. He would make an immediate impact on special teams, as he has return ability. In 2019, he averaged 19.2 yards per reception and 11.2 yards per carry. He was used in multiple positions and has a versatile skill set. Even though his combine showing increased his draft stock, he still doesn’t have much tape out. He didn’t emerge until last year, but he made a huge impact with 12 total touchdowns. If he falls far enough, expect the Bears to trade up for him. He fits the offense, and Anthony Miller would love to have a fellow Tiger on the roster.

John Hightower – Boise State – 6’1″ 189 lbs

4.41 40-yard dash – 5.45 draft gradePhoto: John Locher/AP

4.41 40-yard dash – 5.45 draft grade
Photo: John Locher/AP

Hightower is a vertical threat that has the ability to bait defenders and take off on them. He will need some time to develop, and he should be available for the Bears on day three of the draft. He averaged 18.5 yards per reception and logged over 1,000 scrimmage yards on 67 touches. The Boise State product has top-end speed, which is much needed in the Bears’ offense. He isn’t going to come onto the scene like some of these other players, but Mike Furrey could help him become a solid vertical option.

The Bears have met with a few wide receivers so far, but for the most part, they’re studying edge defenders at the combine. Two of the receivers the Bears have met with at the combine are UCF’s Gabriel Davis and Florida’s Van Jefferson. Both players aren’t considered burners, but they are above 6-foot-1 and 200 lbs. They are both anticipated to be day two picks, so there is the possibility of the Bears taking a receiver earlier than some would like to see.