The Bears made two big moves this offseason to address their wide receiver issues. First, they traded two third-round picks to Miami in exchange for Brandon Marshall. Then, they used their second-round pick on South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, turning one of their biggest weaknesses into a great strength heading into 2012.
Being the first true No. 1 receiver the Bears have had in a long time, Marshall will play an important role off the field as well as on it. He will be the leader of the wideouts and looked up to by rookie Alshon Jeffery.
Here are four ways Marshall can help Jeffery with the 2012 season fast approaching.
Sure, role model isn't a phrase that comes to mind when Brandon Marshall is mentioned. But his experiences are as good an example as any in showing how public an NFL player's life is.
Marshall's first six years in the league have been marred by his constant legal troubles. He has been involved in club fights, domestic disputes and has been arrested several times. It came out last year that he had been dealing with borderline personality disorder and was seeking help.
Jeffery hasn't had any legal incidents in his young career, but he was ejected for fighting at the Capital One Bowl and has had reported weight issues while at South Carolina.
Marshall has seemingly got his life back on track, and at the very least, can show Jeffery what publicity does about every minor detail of a player's life.
The Chicago Bears have had problems with their lack of receivers ever since Jay Cutler came over from the Broncos. They featured small, quick wideouts such as Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, but lacked big targets with talent.
Had the Bears not traded for Marshall, Jeffery would have taken on the role of savior to the passing offense. Instead, Marshall gets the high expectations while the rookie can develop through training camp and preseason as the No. 4 receiver.
There are still high expectations for the second round pick out of South Carolina, but allowing him to learn and adjust instead of jumping right into the mix will pay huge dividends both this year and beyond.
At 28 years old, Marshall is the veteran leader of a young receiving core. It is his job to take guys like Jeffery under his wing and give them advice on and off the field. From what Marshall said at training camp, Jeffery has already made huge strides as a Bear.
To be honest with you guys, during OTAs, I thought he was going to need some time, a lot of time. But I don’t know if he was just nervous. Some guys they know how to work, where it’s a little bit in the offseason, a little more in mini-camp, then camp comes full speed, and it’s like, ‘Wow.’ That’s what I’m seeing out of him. He’s impressing right now a lot of people.
When Marshall came into the league as a Bronco in 2006, long-time NFL veteran Rod Smith was the teacher and mentor. This time, Marshall will be on the other side, showing Jeffery everything he knows.
The Chicago Bears may be the best fit for Alshon Jeffery because of his similar size and ability to Marshall. Jeffery is about an inch shorter and 15 pounds lighter, but he still has a big frame and great hands like his older counterpart.
For big men, they both possess impressive speed and athleticism. Jeffery was clocked at 4.48 and 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, while Marshall ran a 4.52 during the combine in 2006.
Marshall can mold Jeffery into the receiver he is today, and if both can make an impact this season, Jay Cutler will have a field day every time the Bears control the ball. It sure beats trying to throw to Roy Williams.