Chicago Bears' 5 Best Draft Options to Replace Brandon Marshall
Just three years after giving up two third-round picks to the Miami Dolphins for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Chicago Bears officially traded Marshall and a seventh-round pick to the New York Jets this past Tuesday for a fifth-round pick, via ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Actual trade compensation in Brandon Marshall trade: Jets get Chicago’s 7th-round pick plus Marshall for NY's 5th-round pick, per NFL source— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2015
In Marshall's three seasons in Chicago he hauled in 279 catches for 3,524 yards with 31 touchdowns. He struggled with injuries last season but still caught 61 passes for 721 yards with eight touchdowns.
Despite his productivity, he started to wear out his welcome in Chicago, and new general manager Ryan Pace decided it was best to move on from him.
“He’s a good football player,” Pace said, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago. “Going forward, we felt this was the best for us. Quite frankly, it’s the best situation for him, too. So that’s where we’re at.”
With Marshall out of the picture, the Bears acted quickly and signed veteran receiver Eddie Royal to a three-year deal on Wednesday.
Royal has hauled in 338 catches for 3,750 yards with 25 touchdowns in his seven-year career, but he is more of a slot guy who will likely be the team's No. 3 receiver.
While the team could look to free agency to add someone who can complement both Alshon Jeffery and Royal, they may have better options available in the draft.
Here are the Chicago Bears' five best draft options to replace Brandon Marshall.
Kevin White, West Virginia
After the Bears signed Pernell McPhee on Wednesday to help bolster the defensive side of the football, the team now has options when it selects seventh overall in this year's draft.
The Bears likely were a shoe-in to take one of the many talented pass-rushers who will be available in this year's draft, but now they may be more willing to take a wide receiver when their first selection comes up in late April.
One option for the Bears with the No. 7 pick could be West Virginia's Kevin White.
After hauling in just 35 catches for 507 yards and five touchdowns in 2013, White burst onto the scene last season for the Mountaineers, catching 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Marshall was more of a possession receiver with the Bears, and with a similar receiver already on the roster in Jeffery, White could add the speed threat the team has lacked since the days of Johnny Knox.
White showed off his speed at the NFL Scouting Combine last month by running a 4.35 40-yard dash, but he is more than just a speed guy who can take the top off a defense.
At 6'3" and 215 pounds, White has good size and is unafraid to go up and grab the football. He has quick feet and good acceleration, but only ran a handful of different of routes while at West Virginia and will need to polish his route running at the next level.
West Virginia's Air Raid offense typically allows for guys to put up big numbers as receivers because of increased opportunities, but NFL.com's Lance Zierlein thinks White is more than just a product of West Virginia's offense, writing:
He's not just a product of West Virginia's system -- he's talented. White showed off 23 reps on the bench press and a blazing 4.35 40 at the combine, proving he has the top-end speed to go with the size and strength. White came into West Virginia with very limited confidence, according to team insiders, but when he left, he had realized his rare talent. White lacks the polish of Amari Cooper, but some teams already believe he has the best upside of any wide receiver in this draft.
Even though he needs to improve his route running, White's speed and big-play potential would make him a perfect fit alongside Jeffery and Royal in Chicago's new offense.
Amari Cooper, Alabama
If the Bears are looking for a more polished receiver, Alabama's Amari Cooper could be their guy.
"I think I proved that I was a polished receiver," Cooper said after Alabama's pro day earlier this week, via Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com. "I felt like my routes could've been a little more crisp, but it doesn't always happen how you plan for it to happen."
Cooper hauled in 124 catches for 1,727 yards with 16 touchdowns last season and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
He is not a speedy receiver, but he is a good route runner who consistently beats his man with good technique. He does a nice job of working back to the football and has experience lining up on the inside and the outside.
"He's got great quickness, great speed. He's got really good size, very good hands and he's got some running ability after the catch," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, via Ostendorf. "I think if you're looking at critical factors at his position, that covers about everything that's important to most people."
Former NFL general manager and current Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage compared Cooper to former Indianapolis Colts star Marvin Harrison.
"Amari is super athletic, very fluid and highly skilled as a route runner and hands catcher," Savage said, via Zierlein. "Because of his reserved demeanor and similar ability, I compared him to Marvin Harrison during the season."
After the trade of Marshall to the Jets was first announced late last week, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller explained why he initially had Cooper going to the Bears in one of his mock drafts earlier this year:
So this was why I had Amari Cooper to the Bears in my mock draft. Need an option opposite Alshon.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 6, 2015
He is similar to Marshall because he can fight for the football and tries to pick up yards after the catch, but he had no character issues and would come at a much cheaper price.
Breshad Perriman, UCF
If White and Cooper are both off the board at No. 7—or if the team opts to use its first pick on the defensive side of the football—the Bears could find viable receiving options in the second or third rounds.
If the Bears want another big-bodied receiver like Marshall, they could find his replacement in Breshad Perriman.
Just like Marshall, Perriman excelled at the University of Central Florida. During his three years at UCF, Perriman hauled in 115 catches for 2,243 yards with 16 touchdowns.
He did not run at the combine due to an injury, but he plays fast and is a physical receiver. He has good leaping ability and does a nice job of attacking the football at its highest point. He needs to improve his concentration when on the field and has struggled with catching the football in the past.
He has been climbing up draft boards after a strong 2014 season, but if he runs a strong 40 during his pro day, he may end up out of reach for the Bears in the second round.
If he is still available in the second round, his upside may be too difficult to pass up. While he has his flaws and will need to improve his route running at the next level, the Bears took Jeffery in the second round in 2012 when he had many of the same flaws and wide receivers coach Mike Groh was able to get the most out of him.
Perriman likely would not make the same immediate impact White or Cooper would, but he has a chance to develop into a very good NFL wide receiver if given the opportunity to grow.
Phillip Dorsett, Miami
If the Bears are looking for pure speed to line up opposite of Jeffery, Miami's Phillip Dorsett is one of the fastest wide receivers in this year's draft.
Dorsett ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine and has the ability to make big plays down the field. He averaged 24.2 yards per catch last season and finished with 871 receiving yards on 36 catches with 10 touchdowns.
He relies more on speed than technique to beat defenders and will need to improve his route running at the next level. His speed will allow him to beat most cornerbacks off the line of scrimmage, but he will need to prove he can consistently create separation in the middle of the field if he wants to be relied upon as more than just a deep threat.
The Chicago Tribune's Matt Bowen thinks Dorsett would be a good fit in Chicago, writing:
At the Senior Bowl, Dorsett flashed with the immediate acceleration he displayed coming out of his breaks. He is an electric talent who can produce after the catch or run the go route to get up on a cornerback's cushion. Dorsett doesn't have elite size at 5-10, 185 pounds and needs to develop his route running. He's a little raw. But man, this guy can fly. And the Bears need to add some game-breaking speed that creates opportunities for explosive plays. Dorsett projects as second-round pick.
If the Bears want to pair Jeffery with a receiver who possesses a completely different skill set than his, Dorsett is a perfect match. He can line up on the outside as a deep-threat option, or he can be used in the slot with Royal on the outside.
If the Bears are committed to finding a pure speed receiver to add to their offense, Dorsett looks to be the best option in this year's draft.
Sammie Coates, Auburn
Another receiver with plenty of upside the Bears could consider is Auburn's Sammie Coates.
After catching 42 passes for 902 yards with seven touchdowns in 2013, Coates only hauled in 34 catches for 741 yards and four touchdowns last season.
He is a raw but has the size (6'1", 212 pounds) and speed (4.43 40-yard dash) NFL teams covet. He plays physical at times and creates separation from defenders, but he has struggled throughout his career with drops.
Separation is important for wide receivers, but ability to catch is still most important. Sammie Coates is great at one, not the other— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 12, 2015
"A big knock on Coates coming into the combine was his inconsistent hands, and that is a knock that remains," NFL.com's Mike Huguenin wrote. "He just did not look natural, or even comfortable, in the receiving drills."
Despite his deficiencies, he still has plenty of upside.
"Coates must be coached to trust his quarterback and run through his deep routes in order to reach his potential," Zierlein wrote. "He has early round traits and late-round receiving skills right now, but the upside will be hard to pass on and could pay off in a big way. He will be tethered to the JUGS machine in rookie camp."
If he shows he is willing to improve his game, Coates has all the potential in the world. He may still be a bit of a risk in the second round, but if he is still available in the third, he would be a no-brainer for the Bears.
Matt Eurich is a Chicago Bears Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.