Devin Aromashodu Could Help the Chicago Bears in 2013
Aromashodu became a household name amongst Bears fans by the end of the 2009 season. He finished the year catching 22 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns in their last four games.
He was considered a favorite of quarterback Jay Cutler and abused Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield for seven catches, 150 yards and the game-winning touchdown in their Week 16 matchup that season.
Very little of that game looked like a fluke. He showed the ability to get open and make difficult catches.
To the right, you see a prime example of that. As Cutler moved out of the pocket, he got open in the middle of the field before catching an off-target pass to set the Bears up for their first touchdown of that game.
He also showed a feel for the passing game and how to help his quarterback out. Here you see him in trouble, break off his route and get open for a first down.
When the Bears needed big plays in that game, he made them. It was the only game he averaged over 10 yards per catch, but that could have been more of a factor of the Bears' broken offense that year.
It looked like the Bears had found a star. Since then, however, he's done very little.
He caught a total of 10 passes the next season and totaled 47 in three seasons.
It was commonly thought that he was not a fit for Mike Martz's offense in 2010 as he went unused.
The Vikings were clearly still impressed from their game in 2009 and brought him in. In two years there, he caught just 37 passes and one touchdown, despite being targeted 96 times, according to ESPN.
Part of the problem the Vikings had with him was that they were trying to make him into a deep receiver, despite little evidence that he could do that.
The game-winning touchdown he caught against them in 2009 was his only reception more than 20 yards down the field, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). However, the Vikings seemed convinced he was their replacement for Sidney Rice—who left as a free agent to Seattle—as they threw him 24 passes beyond 20 yards, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He caught four of those passes, as only six were deemed catchable.
Deep passes accounted for 30.8 percent of the balls thrown his way, the seventh highest mark of any player with more than 50 overall targets, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
With a quarterback who has a hard time getting the ball down the field in Christian Ponder, Aromashodu didn't play much this past season. He caught just 11 passes. Ten of those, however, went for first downs.
Despite his lack of production in Minnesota, he seemed to have a fan in veteran receivers coach George Stewart.
Prior to last season, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the Vikings chose to bring him back due to a "glowing endorsement from Stewart."
It's entirely possible the Vikings' play callers miscast Aromashodu and he's capable of much more. It's also possible his four-game surge was a fluke and more a result of the Bears' not having anyone else to throw to.
Although it's rare, it's possible for receivers to go long periods of time before finding the right fit. Perhaps Aromashodu is an example of that. There doesn't appear to be conclusive evidence one way or the other.
While it's exciting to think about the young up-and-comers, outside of the Bears' top three receivers—Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett—they don't have anyone who has shown they can make plays in the NFL. A big advantage Aromashodu has on his competition.
This is not to suggest he will become a star like many thought after 2009. However, it's not unrealistic to think he can be a contributor—especially if Jeffery and Bennett struggle with injuries again this year.
He has had a hard time finding the right fit for his skill set, but the Bears are giving him a chance to show 2009 was not a fluke. After training camp we'll finally have a definite answer on who Devin Aromashodu is.
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