These rankings could go in a whole bunch of directions. Just to clarify, I’ll be approaching this list under the (maybe unfair) assumption that Mitch Trubisky makes the “Jared Goff jump.”
The “Jared Goff jump” is, of course, when you go from a coach who doesn’t know about things like schemes, which plays to challenge or how to take a chance in a football game. It can also mean improving by leaps and bounds from your rookie season, though I prefer the prior description.
But, hey, at least I have the option of writing this article. If I were to have done this last year I probably would’ve put Markus Wheaton in the top-three and that would’ve been it for my sports writing career.
Instead, Ryan Pace and co. have gone ahead and added Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Trey Burton as well as some lesser-known fliers like Bennie Fowler, Marlon Brown and Javon Wims.
Obviously it’s important to note that receivers and tight ends won’t be the only ones catching balls. The Bears still have a rocket in Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard who may or may not catch a ball or two.
With all that being said, here it goes:
1. ALLEN ROBINSON – 1,062 yards
The ACL doesn’t scare me. Maybe it’s because of the way similarly-aged Keenan Allen (1,393 yards) played coming off the injury last year, but I don’t think it will be an issue for the soon-to-be 25-year-old. Besides, he’s had all the time in the world to recover after going down in week one.
Presumably the “do-it-all” receiver in Matt Nagy’s offense, A-Rob will be lining up all over the place. I’m confident that Mitch will be able to “keep that s*** in bounds” to the tune of 1,100+ yards for Robinson.
2. TAYLOR GABRIEL – 801 yards *would be a career high*
This is probably a bit of a surprise. I love Taylor Gabriel and may have been more excited when the Bears signed him than Robinson. Having been stuck in 1) Cleveland and 2) behind Julio Jones for his whole career, he hasn’t gotten to show how good he is.
It’s easy to say he’s a slot guy at 5’8″ but in reality, he was deployed there for just eight of his 51 targets in 2017. You’ll see him there at times for the Bears, but he’ll also catch screens, take a few handoffs and best of all, stretch the field.
To put it simply: Gabriel is one of the top-10 fastest players in the NFL. Trubisky ranked No. 11 in deep-ball completion rate last year. You do the math.
Also, a fun fact: Gabriel hails from Abilene Christian University who has produced ten NFL players in the 2000’s. Four of those ten have been members of the Chicago Bears: Gabriel, Johnny Knox, Danieal Manning and Aston Whiteside.
3. TREY BURTON – 643 yards
Oh, how quick and easy it has been to forget about 2016 second-round pick Adam Shaheen. I’m not dismissing him as he enters just his second year in the NFL, I’m just pointing out how Burton’s arrival pushed Shaheen to the back of many people’s mind.
Rightfully so, however, as Burton should be presented a great opportunity in Chicago. The former undrafted free agent will play the “U” role in Matt Nagy’s offense (thanks, Dan Durkin of The Athletic); the same role that helped Travis Kelce rack up 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns last year. Is he Kelce? No. So don’t go ahead and assume he’s going to be pushing 1,000 yards.
700 or so, though? That makes a little more sense. As a crisp route runner and big-bodied target, he and Mitch should be hooking up plenty in the short-intermediate portion of the field.
4. ANTHONY MILLER – 621 yards
I’m a big fan of the NFL Draft, and I knew at least a little about the majority of players projected to go in the first two rounds. To be entirely honest, I didn’t know much of anything about Anthony Miller.
What I have learned about Miller thus far is he brings a hell of an attitude into Chicago. “I’m gonna prove everybody who passed me up wrong,” he told The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain. “The Bears are gonna get all I got. They’re going to get the Memphis Grind. I don’t think they’ve seen that yet. But I’m going to introduce them to it.”
There’s potential for more than 584 yards but I’m…cautiously optimistic about rookie wide receivers on the Bears.
5. TARIK COHEN – 487 yards
In a season where John Fox forgot Tarik Cohen existed for about a five-game stretch, he still accumulated 353 yards through the air. Move him to a system that should feature him a lot? That’s a nice little change of scenery.
I see Gabriel being more of the Tyreek Hill of the offense, but god knows Cohen can do many of the same things.
If you’ve read anything about Nagy’s offense, he loves those R.P.O.’s. Cohen lived off of them at North Carolina AT&T, and let’s hope he starts living off them in Chicago.
SIDE NOTE: the last time four players had 600+ receiving yards on the Bears? With Marc Trestman back in 2014.