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X-Men Found Throughout This Draft Class

Outside receivers are plentiful if Bears look to replace Allen Robinson, although they're not quite at the level of the 2020 crop.

In these final few days before Allen Robinson gets stuck with a franchise tag, it's likely the Bears have something in mind for the wide receiver position in this draft.

A U of I source said they have spoken with leaping wonder Josh Imatorbhebhe, the Illini receiver, early in the draft process and Bear Report's Zack Pearson has listed Tylan Wallace of Oklahoma State as a player the Bears spoke with at the Senior Bowl. Each is a different type of receiver.

The Bears could improve at the slot receiver spot by upgrading over Anthony Miller or add someone on the outside if Robinson were to leave or be traded. Also, Javon Wims and Riley Ridley have been around a few years now without ascending the receiver ladder so it could be time to move in another direction.

It's not a year for drafting receivers like last year, but how many years like that are there anyway? There were seven selected in Round 1 and six in Round 2. Then Darnell Mooney got drafted in Round 5 and had more receptions than all but four of those 13 receivers taken in the first two rounds.

So, receivers can be found later in the draft and early and the Bears will be looking in both places once they have solved their quarterback issue.

FanNation's NFL Draft Bible breaks down its receiver groupings into the outside receivers and the slots, so we'll do the same here and start with the X-receiver types who could go outside and try to replace Robinson.

Alabama's DeVonta Smith and LSU's Ja'Marr Chase are consensus top receiver picks for the top half of the draft and the Bears are not moving up there for a receiver. They have a quarterback to catch if they're doing this.

However, any number of the other receivers could fall to them.

Terrace Marshall, LSU

The third receiver behind Justin Jefferson and JaMarr Chase in an offense that won the 2019 national title, he is 6-3, 200 pounds. The experience of being behind both Jefferson and Chase is going to benefit him because it allowed him to gain experience doing exactly what many X-receivers do at the NFL level and that's move around and go in the slot on occasion. Scouts see a receiver with excellent strength, good speed and an ability to go vertical. He made 106 receptions for 1,594 yards and a whopping 23 TDs for the Tigers. Graded the fourth-best outside receiver by both NFL Draft Bible and Mel Kiper Jr., and he has a first-round grade by NFL Draft Bible.

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

A 6-2, 210-pounder who possesses skills to go all over the field, scouts also see him as an excellent route runner in the mold of Robinson. Watching his speed in pro day measurements could be critical because he has shown an ability to take passes the distance the way a Z-receiver might. He made 147 total catches for 2,395 yards with 19 TDs, a gaudy 16.3-yard average per catch. NFL Draft Bible rates him the third X-receiver overall and he's eighth on Kiper's overall list of receivers slot or outside.

Nico Collins, Michigan

The first test of the opt-out effect at this position, he had a tremendous career going through three years with the Wolverines with 78 catches for 1,388 yards, 13 TDs and a robust 17.8-yard average per catch. At 6-4, 215 he has the physical tools and scouts want to see something in his 40 time. Did the opt-out leave him behind some others? The draft will tell but it's possible it deprived him of the time he needed to become a better route runner like Bateman is. He's 10th overall on Kiper's list of overall receivers and fifth on NFL Draft Bible's X-receiver list and carries a first-round grade from NFL Draft Bible.

Dyami Brown, North Carolina

A big-play threat, although not quite the size at 6-1, 195 of other top players at this position. His speed appears to be such that he can turn the skinny post into a long TD and can beat cornerbacks for the deep ball like a Z-receiver might do. He's probably in need of some development because the Tar Heels don't run the most sophisticated offense. Check his 40 times to see if he's moving up the charts. Several scouting report note how he blocks tenaciously even though he's not the size of some other top X-receivers. He made 123 catches for 2,306 yards and 21 TDs with an outstanding 18.6-yard average. Ranked seventh on NFL Draft Bible's list of X-receivers, he was given a third-round grade by them.

Trevon Grimes, Florida

Proven, dependable 6-4, 218-pound receiver who could be at the X or the Z spot and has a good ability to help as a run blocker as well. He has the needed 50-50 ball ability and is a real red zone threat who can use his height well. A long strider, he is deceivingly fast. The Ohio State transfer made 100 catches for 1,464 yards and 14 TDs as one of Kyle Trask's big weapons.  Graded a fourth-rounder and the eighth-best outside receiver overall by NFL Draft Bible.

Josh Imatorbhebhe, Illinois

At 6-2, 220, he could have one the highest ceilings of any outside receiver in this draft. The reason is he has a leaping ability rarely seen. Pronounced EE-MAT-OR-BAY-BAY, this USC transfer had a vertical leap of 47.1 inches. This was several years ago when he didn't carry about 15 to 20 extra pounds, and scouts are eagerly anticipating something special from him at a pro day in this regard. He transferred to Illinois after only two games for USC and sat out 2018, then had 17 more college games with 57 catches for 942 yards and 12 TDs. So he has a lot to prove about his skills as a player. He was given a fourth-round grade as the ninth-best outside receiver by NFL Draft Bible.

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Austin Watkins, UAB

The 6-1 1/2, 207-pound cousin of Chiefs X-receiver Sammy Watkins, he opted out late in the season after getting in seven games in 2020 and has been impressive but isn't quite the top-end speed threat his cousin is. Pro Football Network regards him as a fourth- or fifth-round type who could be a secondary receiver in the NFL while NFL Draft Bible gives him a third-round grade and makes him the draft's sixth-best outside receiver after a career with 98 receptions, 1,642 yards and nine TDs. He has much to prove because he was a JUCO player who played at a mid-level college.

Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville

One of the draft's best at fighting for the ball in jump ball and contested-catch situations, but he hasn't been exposed to a sophisticated passing attack. He has good size and athletic ability at 6-2, 210 so he could develop into an X-receiver threat. Despite lack of route tree experience, he was highly productive as a receiver and seems a natural with 154 catches for 2,589 yards and 21 TDs with a 16.8-yard average. A red-shirt senior, he was given the 10th best tag for outside receivers and a fourth-round grade from NFL Draft Bible.

Sage Surrat, Wake Forest

Another top jump-ball receiver who makes the contested catch look easy at 6-2 1/2, 215. A sharp-minded athlete, he committed to Harvard for business but then changed his mind because of the chance for big-time football. The 40 times will be watched with him because scouts insist he didn't display the extra gear and had to fight for his receptions, although some game film study suggests otherwise. A 2020 opt-out also clouds where he'll wind up being drafted. He made 107 catches with 1,582 yards and 15 TDs in two Wake Forest seasons. NFL Draft Bible gives him a fourth-round grade and calls him the 11th best outside receiver prospect.

Tamorrion Terry, Florida State

An opt out who first did give scouts enough of a 2020 season to make a solid assessment with six games. He has a unique height/explosiveness combo and made 118 catches for 2,221 yards with 18 TDs in 31 games. Scouts are curious about his 40 time because his burst seems to be football speed, not necessarily pure straight-on speed, but he flashes the skill to shed a tackler and take it to the house. He definitely needs to learn more about route running and has had too many dropped passes so his focus must improve. It's led to a sixth-round grade from NFL Draft Bible.

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