The Chicago Bears recently decided it was best to let wide receiver Alshon Jeffery hit the free agent market, rather than slap a $17.5 million franchise tag on him.
With Jeffery’s return to Chicago doubtful, the Bears now have another need on their off-season list.
Kevin White is entering his third season but has only played in four games for the Bears thus far. As such, it's unclear what to expect from the former seventh overall pick.
The emergence of Cameron Meredith gives the Bears a solid No. 2 receiver but now Chicago must try and find another wideout to boost the passing attack.
It's highly unlikely the Bears will draft a wide receiver with the third overall pick this year, so the second and third rounds might be the best opportunity to grab an impact pass catcher.
Here are some receivers the Bears should look at during Saturday's on-field workouts.
John Ross, Washington
Ross is an interesting prospect out of Washington. He had a monster season in 2016, recording 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. His speed is atop the list in this class and makes him an instant vertical threat for teams. Chicago could go with Ross on the outside, giving them a legit deep threat right away. But there are some injury concerns. Ross will participate in most drills at the combine but is expected to have surgery to repair a torn labrum ahead of the draft. Chicago could have an interesting decision to make if Ross is still there in the second round.
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Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
Westbrook is another receiver with big-play ability on the outside, which should intrigue the Bears. He finished 2016 with 80 receptions for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Sooners. He's also a threat in the return game as well and could find some time on special teams, a place of need for the Bears. While Westbrook has shown he can stretch the field and beat corners, there are some off-the-field concerns that will certainly be addressed at the combine. His arrests in 2012 and 2013 will be brought up in team interviews and could impact his stock.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
Smith-Schuster lacks blazing speed but he has the physical makeup to be a quality flanker in the NFL. His ability to make plays while in coverage should appeal to the Bears, who are in search of another physical receiver. The former Trojan will have a few things to prove at the combine, especially in terms of getting off the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t have the speed NFL teams love, so a nice showing at the combine could improve his stock. Smith-Schuster should be available in the second round if the Bears like what they see from him on Saturday.
Zay Jones, East Carolina
While Corey Davis and Mike Williams are the top two receivers in the class, with each expected to be selected in the top half of the first round, Jones might be the best of the next tier. He had a stellar career at ECU, setting an NCAA record with 158 catches in 2016. Jones wasn’t a highly recruited player out of high school but worked hard and developed into one of the best receivers in college football last season. He has the frame to be a productive pass catcher at the next level and can even be utilized as a returner on special teams. Jones will need to show some more at the combine, including getting out of his breaks when route running and his release at the line of scrimmage.
Mack Hollins, North Carolina
If the Bears think they can win with Meredith and White as their top two pass catchers, that would leave space for a vertical threat like Hollins. The former Tar Hell could provide some value for the Bears on Day 3 of the draft. Hollins had 30 receptions, 745 yards and 8 TDs his junior season but broke his collarbone in 2016 and missed six games. Hollins' size (6-4, 210) is what stands out right away but it's his ability to rack up yards after catch that teams will fall in love with. He needs to improve his route running, getting sharper out of his break, which will be a focus Bears scouts during the combine.