5 Chicago Bears Players Poised for a Breakout Campaign in 2014
Every season we see a a few players who seem to come out of nowhere to have great years and be solid contributors to the team. Who can forget what Alshon Jeffery and Kyle Long meant to the team last year?
This year we have identified five players poised for a breakout season. A now slim and trim Shea McClellin makes the list as well as a rookie. To find out who the five players are just click through to begin.
Wide Receiver Marquess Wilson
Is it possible for the Bears to have yet another stud receiver on their roster? Marquess Wilson has all the makings of a very special slot receiver.
At 6'3'', Wilson is similar in height to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. He's not as strong as them though, but can use those long arms to create separation off the line of scrimmage.
Last season was basically a redshirt season for Wilson. He had only two catches in 10 games. Going into 2014, Wilson has the inside track to be the third receiver. His size, athleticism and ability could be a potential nightmare for the rest of the league.
Most defenses are going to have to pay a ton of attention to Marshall and Jeffery. Factor in Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte and that leaves a smaller safety or nickel corner one-on-one against Wilson.
Wilson can feast on nickel coverage. He set a single-season reception record back at Washington State with 82 catches. Despite his short time in college, Wilson still managed to set the school's all-time receiving yardage record.
During this offseason, Wilson has been working out with Marshall and Jeffery. The most important takeaways from his time with two Pro Bowl receivers are the little things like footwork, hand placement, body control and putting his foot in the ground to make big cuts.
The sky is the limit for Wilson. He could be a player who has around 40 catches and five touchdowns in this high-powered offense.
Outside Linebacker Shea McClellin
Shea McClellin is not a defensive end in the NFL. He may not be an outside linebacker either. There shouldn't be any labels placed on McClellin. He's a football player with amazing athleticism who should be used in a variety of different ways.
If you want to put a label or position on McClellin, then lets call him the joker. He's a wild card who the Bears should line up at outside linebacker, inside linebacker and defensive end. Allow him to rush the quarterback, drop back in coverage and hang with some of the league's most versatile tight ends.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is going to give opposing offenses multiple looks this season. McClellin is a big part of this as he is the only player on defense the other team won't know where he's lining up at or what he will do after the snap.
McClellin won't dominate in any one area. Don't look for him to have 15 sacks in a season. Instead, how's six sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles sound? He is a jack-of-all-trades defender who could be a vital piece in this defense succeeding.
Outside Linebacker Jon Bostic
Yes, it is very possible for both McClellin and Jon Bostic to be breakout stars. If McClellin is going to be moving around, then you need a guy like Bostic to be consistent at one spot.
Bostic will line up with D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs primarily on first and second down. Playing with two savvy veterans will enhance Bostic's play and increase his confidence.
Last season Bostic struggled in play recognition and lane discipline. He's been taken off middle linebacker duties and put in a spot where he can do what he does best.
Attacking the football and making bone-crushing hits is where Bostic succeeds. It's going to be very difficult for running backs and quarterbacks to find the edge against this speedy linebacker.
When Bostic hits people, he has the ability to make game-changing plays. A couple of jarring blows from Bostic will wear down a running back resulting in a fumble or two.
Look for Bostic to help the Bears bring back their stout run defense and be a turnover machine.
Punter Pat O'Donnell
Who is the rookie who can make the biggest impact in 2014? Well, it's the punter, of course.
Pat O'Donnell is not your average punter. At 6'4'', 220 pounds, he put up 23 reps on the bench press at the scouting combine. That's better than 19 running backs, all 37 wide receivers and 21 defensive linemen including No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
The Bears went out and got pass-rushers in the offseason. The best way to allow them to do their work is pin an opposing offense deep and put pressure on a quarterback and offensive line.
Field position has become all too important in the NFL. When you give quality offenses a short field, it can be the difference in them getting a touchdown over a field goal. Those crucial points always come into play in a long season.
Imagine O'Donnell pinning teams deep, Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston getting after the quarterback and Jay Cutler's offense getting back on the field right around their own 40-yard line. Now how do you feel about a punter being a breakout star?
Right Tackle Jordan Mills
Think about what Jordan Mills did last season. He went from being a fifth-round pick from Louisiana Tech to starting all 16 games at right tackle for the Bears.
Mills had his share of ups and downs and ultimately suffered a foot injury that caused him to miss most of the final game of the season. He has had surgery on the foot and is expected to make a full recovery come the start of training camp.
Now, Mills gets to come back knowing he's the starter this year. He has a year under his belt and can look to the left of him on the line and see his best buddy Kyle Long.
What can't be understated is how good a person and hard worker Mills is. The 2014 Brian Piccolo Award winner has the love and respect of his teammates after just one season. Mills is not a rookie anymore, expect him to play with a lot more confidence.
The experience last season coupled with Mills' ability to learn and work hard will give him the edge needed to be a good starting tackle in this league. He will start strong and be consistent all year long. It's not necessarily a sexy pick or position but he's a very important piece in this offense.