Brandon Aiyuk Labeled Ideal Receiver for Bears

Gene Chamberlain

Matt Bowen's work with ESPN Matchups, his commentary on Chicago sports radio and his presence on social media long ago put him in the consciousness of Bears fans.

The Glen Ellyn native has also been a successful high school assistant coach at Immaculate Conception in the western suburbs.

In a year when good receivers seem to be growing on trees, Bowen has reached up and plucked one for the Bears, but it's a pick now who might now raise some eyebrows.

In an ESPN.com article on the ideal wide receiver draft pick for every team, the former NFL safety pinpointed Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk as the ideal guy for the Bears.

There's a problem, though.

Aiyuk's stock seemed to be rising in many of the recent mock drafts but he still looked like an early second-round pick who might go just before the Bears make their first pick at No. 43.

Now, it's a real question where he might go.

Bowen wrote: "...the Bears need a receiver with run-after-the-catch ability in Matt Nagy's offense. And you see that all over the tape with Aiyuk. He can accelerate with ease to skate past defensive backs in the open field, and his buildup of speed as a route runner creates separation to the ball. He has strong hands at the point of attack."

The problem is, Aiyuk on Tuesday underwent core muscle surgery, according to a report by Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.

The core muscle issue has plagued Aiyuk for a long period of time and apparently he has decided on the surgery because offseason work is delayed by the coronavirus. He missed the Senior Bowl due to injury, although he was able to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine later.

Whether the Bears would be as interested in a receiver with core muscle issues after what they've gone through with tight end Trey Burton remains to be seen. Burton had a groin injury and surgery and then this offseason underwent a hip surgery designed to fix the groin issue.

The circumstances surrounding the surgery have to become more clear first.

The Bears need a speed receiver to take the place of Taylor Gabriel in the offense, and currently have to choose between Javon Wims and Riley Ridley. The two former Georgia receivers are more known for route running and being able to go vertical for catches, and not for speed.

Aiyuk had 65 catches for 1,192 yards last year, averaging 18.3 yards a catch. He had eight touchdown catches. He also returned punts and kickoffs and averaged 16.1 yards a punt return and 31.9 yards on kick returns.

Aiyuk's speed wasn't entirely apparent at the combine, possibly due to the injury condition. He ran 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but the problem didn't seem to bother him in the vertical leap. He jumped 40 inches. He also did a 128-inch broad jump.

It's a situation to watch with interest as the first round moves into the second round of the NFL Draft.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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Gene Chamberlain

Gene Chamberlain