The One Draft Pick Who Could Rescue Bears Offense
When the Bears lack a consistent quarterback and have no tight ends whose health can be guaranteed, when they have an offensive line capable of unleashing a jailbreak at a moment's notice, drafting a wide receiver with their first pick might seem wasteful.
That's not the case this year.
With one of two second-round draft picks, it's possible the Bears can do something to open up Matt Nagy's offense that no tight end will do, and probably no quarterback in this draft after the first round could do.
They need to draft Jalen Reagor from TCU to do this.
Reagor would be to them what Tyreek Hill is to the Kansas City Chiefs, and suddenly their offense would be able to do some things it hasn't been able to do to date.
If Horned Frogs football is not regular viewing, it's understandable. Reagor is a household word in the Big 12. He is 5-foot-11, 195 pounds and members of TCU's program have said he can run a 4.29-second 40-yard dash.
If you had a dollar for every person coming into the draft who claimed they could run in the 4.2s, you'd have retired by now. Yet, in Reagor's case it might actually wind up being true. They'll find out at the combine.
What is certain is Reagor's speed transfers to the football field, and not every fast player can say this.
Reagor had 148 receptions for 2,248 yards and 22 touchdowns in his three college seasons, averaging 15.2 yards a catch. He also rushed it 35 times for 324 yards. He has punt return experience, as well, and did it in spectacular fashion. Last season he averaged 20.8 yards for 15 returns.
Unlike some other speed receivers below 6 feet in height, Reagor can go up after the ball and grab it. His strength is a major reason for this. He reportedly can squat 625 pounds and does a 380-pound bench press.
The Bears have one receiver problem with all the uncertainty surrounding Taylor Gabriel. He was their lone "speed" receiver and two concussions shelved him, while making him into a possible salary cap cut. They could save around $4.5 by cutting him.
Neither Javon Wims nor Riley Ridley are exceptionally fast, and Anthony Miller is quick but doesn't have deep speed. Allen Robinson can get downfield but is more of a threat on jump balls and can get physical with defensive backs.
Reagor flat out runs past defensive backs.
This trait alone can open up so much for the offense. The Bears in 2018 were last in the NFL in yards after the catch as a team with 1,596. Last year, they gained even fewer yards after the catch, 1,549 (96.8) according to Sportradar, the NFL's official stat partner.
Mitchell Trubisky finished at 6.1 yards per pass attempt, a figure so low it didn't even rank among the top 32 passers.
The Chiefs get yards after the catch and plain old long receptions.
When you can stretch a defense with speed like Hill's, there's plenty of running room for everyone. Even mediocre tight ends like the Bears can look like greater threats if they can operate in open field.
Matt Nagy has had to scheme receivers open for two years. If the Bears draft Jalen Reagor, they won't have to do this.
Another consideration when looking at Reagor is Tarik Cohen becomes a free agent after 2020, and it can be difficult to come to contract terms with someone who plays a hybrid receiver/running back type of position like he does. Cohen is their downfield speed at the moment.
Already in a few web mock drafts, some websites have attached Reagor to the Bears. Walterfootball.com is one of the sites. While it means nothing in terms of who the Bears actually are looking at, it at least shows others think the same thing about their offense and their need to get this particular burner on board.
The trouble is the speed Reagor possesses is no secret, and once he shows athleticism and an ability to snatch the ball at the combine then his stock will rise. There are a few teams at the end of Round 1 or early in Round 2 who could use someone like this. The Packers are one team in need of a better downfield threat.
If the Bears want to put down the accelerator on offense, Reagor can be their answer but they might have to pay extra with draft picks to move up.
It's not like general manager Ryan Pace has ever had a problem with this in the past.