September 22, 2021

Hub Arkush’s 2021 Bears positional previews: Wide receivers

Throughout the summer we will be running a 12-part series grading each Bears position group on a standard A-F scale, including pluses and minuses based on a bell curve comparing all 32 NFL teams.

Wide receiver will be the most competitive position on the Bears’ roster this summer, and this is the most talented group they’ve had since coach Matt Nagy arrived.

But among the top five right now, Allen Robinson is the only one sure to stick who brings quality size to the position.

Anthony Miller is close to average. Darnell Mooney is undersized at 175 pounds, while Marquise Godwin, Damiere Byrd and Tarik Cohen, who will be graded with the running backs but occasionally will line up at receiver, are all flat-out small.


Too much is being made of A-Rob not getting a long-term deal. It stinks for him, as he has earned a top five to top seven multiyear contract at his position, but he is a high-quality guy. If there’s any player in the league you can trust to not let it affect his play, it’s him. Other than the two balls taken away from him in the end zone last year and less than sprinter’s speed, there are no holes in Robinson’s game. He is as dependable and quality a possession receiver as you’ll find in the game. Grade: A-


Mooney was an absolute draft steal in the fifth round last year, and he became a dependable playmaker by midseason. His rookie season (61 catches, 631 yards, 4 TDs) was super impressive, but there still is work to do to establish himself as a solid No. 2 receiver. He is a legit NFL route runner with good hands and obviously a quick study, but that 10.3 average has to improve by 3 or 4 yards a catch based on his sub-4.4 40-yard dash speed. Grade: B


It’s make-or-break time for Miller, who has flashed brilliance but struggled with concentration and maturity. His 65% catch rate on 98 targets last season actually was a hair better than Mooney’s 62%, with both trailing Robinson’s 68%. But his 9.9-yard average a catch wasn’t close to good enough or his 12.8 and 12.6 his first two seasons. How bad does he want it? Grade: B-


Goodwin is one of the fastest players in the league, and he was brought to Chicago to take the top off defenses. His 16.6-yard career average and 13 TDs on 140 career receptions show he can get the job done, but he’s played 16 games in a season only once and more than 12 only twice since being drafted in the third round in 2013 by the Bills. His one big year came in 2017 (56 catches, 962 yards, 2 TDs), but he then managed only 11 games in 2018, nine in 2019 and opted out last season. Grade: B-


Byrd’s a five-year vet, but his only 16-game season was last year in New England, where he caught 47 passes for 604 yards and one score. He and Goodwin are near clones in size and speed – Goodwin is a quarter-step faster – but he is a poor man’s Goodwin with only a 12.9-yards-a-catch career average. Grade C+


Ridley is the most talented of this bunch but has struggled to claim a jersey on Sundays his first two seasons, let alone see the field. Wims is the best special teamer but rarely a factor as a pass-catcher. Newsome is a likely target for a redshirt/injured reserve rookie season. Grade: C


All but Adams are Allen Robinson’s size if not bigger, with Lacy, Weah and McClain possibly having the best shots at the practice squad. Grade: Incomplete

It’s an interesting group. If Miller and Goodwin play to their ceilings, it could be a very good one. Cohen’s ability to line up in the slot will make the competition for roster spots fierce among Miller, Goodwin, Byrd, Ridley and Newsome, but it’s hard to see Miler and Goodwin not making it unless some team offers the Bears a draft pick for Miller. Overall grade: B

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media