Just how good are the Bears wide receivers?

  • Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson brings in a ball during training camp. The narrative is wide receiver is Bears most improved position group. But are they as good and as deep as advertised?

    Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson brings in a ball during training camp. The narrative is wide receiver is Bears most improved position group. But are they as good and as deep as advertised? Associated Press

Updated 8/2/2019 6:32 PM

BOURBONNAIS -- People have been talking nonstop about the Chicago Bears wide receiver group ever since Marvin Hall was signed as a free agent, Riley Ridley surprisingly, some thought shockingly, fell to them in the fourth round of last April's NFL draft and Emanuel Hall was somehow available as a priority free agent.

Asked recently for his assessment of his pass catchers, Bears coach Matt Nagy said, "I think that we have some of the best depth at wide receiver that we've had in a long time, I know with the teams I've been on.


"The more depth we can have creates competition, the better we are."

There is no question that Allen Robinson is a legit number one after his first year with the Bears and in particular the show he put on in the wild card loss to the Eagles. He should be even better this year, two full years removed from a torn ACL.

On the other end of the depth chart free -gent acquisition Cordarrelle Patterson has never become the pass catcher he was projected as when the Vikings drafted him at the back of the first round. But as a deep threat and special weapon he's as good as you'll find in the league, and in addition to new prospects Ridley and Emanuel Hall, there is last year's seventh round pick, Javon Wims.

Nagy said of Wims, "I think he's finding out who he is and we're finding out where he fits in the offense. But I like his size, I like what he does as a route runner. It's what we saw at Georgia."

Then there's Tarik Cohen, a running back who will line up as and make many of his biggest plays from a wide receiver spot.

Of course all of that is very exciting and creates a real dilemma for Ryan Pace, who I'm sure would like to carry no more than six receivers but may have to carry seven and still has more than that to choose from.

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But it also begs the question still -- are the Bears good enough at the numbers two and three spots?

Those answers have to come from Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel respectively.

Fortunately to date both of them are having excellent camps as well, and Miller was really tearing it up early on.

Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich believes Miller has become a much more complete player in his second year in the league.

"I think he's really committed to being a technician -- and not just, 'I'm faster than you,' or 'I can win on the top of the route and go up and get it' or just out-speed somebody or out-quick somebody," Helfrich said. "He's taken to coaching much more, right now it feels like and dare I say it, he's starting to mature. That would be a good thing."

Miller himself seconds that idea.

"Yeah, I agree," he said. "I'm just focusing on really learning the game as much as I can so when I go on the field I just have a lot of knowledge so I can create as many opportunities as I can for myself."


Gabriel isn't in a hurry to cede the number two wideout role to anyone and believes the competition is good for everybody.

"It should always be a competition between wide receivers," Gabriel said. "If you're the best wide receiver in the league or the worst wide receiver in the league, there should always be competition at wide receiver. It's going good. Competition is always good.

"Everybody wants to make that big play. Everybody wants to be seen. Everybody wants to be that guy."

It's early in camp, but so far this group has been as advertised, although there is one competition Gabriel isn't anxious to settle yet.

It is accepted by most that Gabriel and Cohen are the two fastest guys on the team but when I asked Gabriel if there's any chance we'll get a match race to prove who's number one before the end of camp he told me, "There's really no point of us racing. You know who would win. You're a smart guy."

Not only are they good, they're having a lot of fun and their future does look bright.

• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at harkush@profootballweekly.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.


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