There were two posts over at Windy City Gridiron about a potential sleeper WR and an interview with Bears' receiver coach Darryl Drake. Both relate to one of the big stories in the NFC North for 2009; who is QB Jay Cutler going to throw the ball to?
From the sleeper WR post is a listing of the top three receivers on the Bears' roster:
Devin Hester: 5'11", 190 lbs. All-World speed, and a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Unpolished, but has been reported as developing in great strides this offseason.
Earl Bennett: 6'0", 203 lbs. The Great Unknown. 4.48 40 yard dash speed, and former WR of Cutler at Vanderbilt. Did not learn the offense enough in 2008 to make the starting roster. 0 catches in the NFL.
Rashied Davis: 5'9", 180 lbs. Moving back to the slot, where coaches think he will be more effective. Has been known to drop a pass here and there. See "pinata".
All the receivers listed after Davis is a rookie or a former player on the practice squad. The Bears would be lucky if any of those players are even above average next season. It typically takes a rookie wide receiver at least one season to get used to the NFL because they have probably the steepest learning curve for any position, except quarterback.
The No. 1 receiver is Hester who had 665 yards and 3 TDs last season. Not exactly No. 1 receiver stats, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He started off as a cornerback and has been dealing with his own learning curve. If he's ever going to break out as a receiver, 2009 should be the year.
No matter how skeptical you are of Hester, he looks like a stone, cold lock for greatness compared to the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers.
Bennett, as mentioned before the jump, still has never caught an NFL pass. That doesn't preclude him from success. For example, New Orleans made WR Robert Meachem their 1st round pick in 2007 and he didn't catch a pass that season. In 2008, Meachem was very good when given the chance and caught 12 catches for 289 yards. But he was also only being asked to play the role of the 4th receiver. Bennett will be asked to do a lot more.
Davis might be the most hated player on their team. When asked whether Davis should be the 3rd receiver vs. undrafted free agent WR Eric Peterman, nearly 80% of WCG fans preferred the undrafted rookie.
Now this discussion excludes arguably the Bears' best receivers, TE Greg Olsen and RB Matt Forte. But Olsen is just above average and he's gotta prove himself too. Forte is their best receiver; I've been comparing him to a next generation RB Edger Bennett, not a great rusher but a very good receiver. Despite Forte's effectiveness, he's typically battling a linebacker in coverage and not drawing the secondary's attention away from the wide receivers.
They still have to hope that one of several receivers who have done nothing in the NFL can produce next season. It's gotta be frustrating for Bears' fans; they manage to trade for a great QB but he has few weapons at his disposal.