NFL Draft 2013: Slot Receiver Becoming a Problem for the Chicago Bears

By Dominique Blanton

When the Chicago Bears acquired Brandon Marshall through trade and Alshon Jeffery through the draft, the growing assumption amongst Bears fans were that the Bears offense would be an explosive one. With Marshall and Jeffery on the field, the other complementary WRs were supposed to blossom.

Those complementary parts consist of wide receiver’s Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, and tight end Kellen Davis. Hester was billed as the teams down field threat and play-maker, but got his starting job taken away from Jeffery in three weeks. Bennett has produced in the past as the team’s number one option, but so far this season is finding a hard time adjusting to not only being the team’s number one primary receiver, but also the team’s second primary receiver.

It has gotten so bad, to the point that a rookie in Jeffery will be heavily counted on when he returns to the lineup, to balance the passing attack. It’s safe to say that General Manager Phil Emery dream of having a high power passing attack is about a year away.

The team lacks a downfield threat at the position. Marshall, Jeffery, and Bennett are more possession WRs, while Hester is best getting the ball in space and getting big yards after the catch. The Bears are missing Johnny Knox in this aspect, because he has been the team’s best deep threat the past few years.

While it’s not a pressing concern for the Bears compared to some positions, it’s a need to keep an eye on in the offseason.

Ideal Prospect for the Bears: Stedman Bailey West Virginia

At 5-10 193 pounds, Bailey is a big play threat for the Mountaineers. Bailey has 61 receptions for 830 yards and 15 touchdowns; he’s on pace to shatter his numbers from last year, where he complied 72 catches for 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He’s not only a deep threat, as he also does his damage in the intermediate parts of the field. Bailey has the ability to be an electrifying player in the slot, so if Bennett keeps underperforming at the position the Bears could possibly upgrade two weaknesses with one player.

A combination of Marshall, Jeffery, and Bailey would potentially give the Bears one of their most explosive groups of WRs in franchise history.

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