April 17, 2024

Bears Analysis

NFL Combine preview: 5 wide receivers for Chicago Bears to keep an eye on

TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston celebrates a touchdown against Texas with wide receiver Taye Barber the 2022 season.

The NFL Combine is less than two weeks away. All 32 NFL teams will converge on Indianapolis with a chance to watch 319 of the top prospects show off their talents.

The Bears, who have the No. 1 draft pick, are in need of more help at the wide receiver position this offseason. If general manager Ryan Poles were to trade the No. 1 pick, he could potentially wind up with a later first-round pick and/or an additional second-round pick. Doing so would give him options if he’s looking for an additional weapon for quarterback Justin Fields.

Even if they stay put at No. 1 overall, the Bears have enough ammo later in the draft to find a day two or day three receiver.

Here’s a look at five wide receivers who the Bears could be taking a closer look at during the combine in a couple weeks.

Josh Downs, North Carolina

Downs (5-10, 175) is a bit undersized but produced prolifically in college, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2021 and 2022. He frequently played as a slot receiver for the Tar Heels and that will probably be where NFL teams utilize his skillset most. He found the end zone 11 times in 11 games last season. He could be available until midway through the second round.

Quentin Johnston, TCU

After wowing for TCU on its run to the championship game, Johnston (6-4, 215) has flown up draft boards in the past year. He could likely be a late first-round pick, which means he’ll only be available to the Bears if they trade down. Johnston totaled 1,069 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Horned Frogs. His combination of size, speed and athleticism will have NFL teams drooling.

Jayden Reed, Michigan State

Reed (5-11, 190), who went to Naperville Central, is most likely a target for the third or fourth round of the draft. He is a versatile receiver who is elusive after the catch and who provides talent as a kick returner and punt returner. He totaled 1,026 receiving yards in 2021 when Michigan State won 11 games, but his production dipped to 636 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games in 2022 for a struggling Spartans team.

Tyler Scott, Cincinnati

Scott (5-11, 185) totaled 899 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games last season for Cincinnati. He was a standout running back and track sprinter in high school, so he certainly has elite speed. His game probably needs some polish, but the potential is there for him to become a productive NFL receiver. Scott is a likely second-round pick who could slip into the third round but probably won’t be available after day two.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Even after missing all but three games in 2022 due to injury, Smith-Njigba (6-1, 200) is still firmly in the first-round discussion. A year earlier, though, he totaled 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games for the Buckeyes. He did much of that while playing from the slot. Smith-Njigba played with Justin Fields in 2020, but was a limited contributor for the offense. The vast majority of his production came in one season, which might be a concern for some.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.