The Chicago Bears wide receiving positions seem to constantly be in flux. This last season however we were finally shown a young class of new wide receivers that could be the future of the organization.
Amongst all of the talent that showed through in this underrated crop of WR there was even a highly rated rookie receiver who we did not see. This slide show is a breakdown of those players roles on an up and coming offense for next season.
Devin burst onto the scene in a big way at the end of 2009 catching 12 balls for 196 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games.
He also managed to record an 8 reception 76 yard game, with one touchdown, against Green Bay.
Devin spent his first couple of seasons as a part of the Indianapolis Colts organization. But after two seasons and seven receptions with the Colts he found himself a Chicago Bear before the beginning of the 2008 season.
The 2008 season he continued to have no luck and was barely active for a 9-7 Bears team that failed to make the playoffs. The off season that followed was to be a big one for Devin. The Bears on April 2 acquired Jay Cutler in a trade with the Denver Broncos. Jay and Devin hit it off throughout training camp and proved they could be a dynamic tandem if given the opportunity. That however didn't stop Ron Turner from keeping Devin on the bench. After a rough middle of the 2009 season Devin was able to receive some playing time. In that playing time he managed to produce one touchdown per every six catches at times filling in for even the starting WR Devin Hester.
Aromashodu has good size at 6'2" and 201 pounds for a wide receiver. He has shown the abilities to jump over a defender to pull down some tough catches as well as the speed to get separation when he sees an opening.
Aromashodu has been a well voiced favorite target of QB Jay Cutler. I would not be surprised at all to see Devin being used as our No. 1 receiver going into next season. He has a unique skill set that allows him to be a mismatch for many of the smaller corner backs in the NFL.
He has the ability to be the deep threat or the short handed possession receiver whichever role Martz would rather use him in. Aromashadu if used properly will have pro bowl potential in a Mike Martz and Jay Cutler led offense.
This season was Earl Bennett's first real season of his NFL career. After spending his rookie season on the bench learning from veterans such as Marty and Brandon Lloydl, Earl was ready to start a career of his own.
In the offseason the Bears reunited Bennett with his former Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler, a move that Bennett was very excited about. Earl won the starting WR job opposite Devin Hester in training camp and was ready to hit the ground running.
Bennett went on to a 54 catch 717 yard 2 touchdown season. A 54 catch season is a good "first" season considering he wasn't on the field his rookie year.
Throughout the season Bennett displayed his good hands and his ability to run underneath routes very well. He may not be able to get the most separation of any receiver in the league but his concentration is phenomenal.
Even with the defender in his face Bennett is still often times able to come down with the ball. However with all of the good that Bennett has displayed this past season.
He was kept on the sidelines his rookie year in part to his inability to digest an NFL sized playbook. With the recent acquisition of Mike Martz and knowing that he runs a complicated system with many different variables this could slow Bennett's field time substantially if he is not able to quickly digest a new system.
Bennett may once again be a year away from displaying the best of his abilities. However if he is able to digest the playbook and understand the systems there is no reason to think that he won't improve on what was a good "first" season.
But in order to receive playing time he will most likely have to beat out speedy youngsters Johnny Knox or Juaquin Iglesias that may be too tall an order for the former Vanderbilt star.
Rashied Davis will be going into his sixth year in the NFL, and although he will likely not be re-signed by the Chicago Bears we will play out the situation as if he were.
At 30 years old Rashied Davis is the oldest receiver in a young Bears set of wide outs. Rashied has played his entire NFL career with the Chicago Bears managing to rack up 79 receptions for 948 yards and 4 touchdowns.
This most recent season however he only managed 5 catches for 35 yards. Rashied also his a valued special teams contributor as he displays he is an all around player of the game having managed 49 tackles in his career with 10 of those tackles coming in 2009.
Rashied is a smaller quick wideout with poor hands. He has spent the bulk of his career riding the Chicago Bears bench only being active so he could compete on special teams.
Like in years past his special teams contributions have been helpful but his taking active roster spots from younger more deserving wideouts has simply gotten in the way.
If used this coming season in Mike Martz's system I would believe that he would have to be competing for a fourth or fifth spot and still keeping a better wide reciever on the bench if he were to win the position battle.
Devin Hester's second year learning the receiver position was slightly better then his first year as a starting wide receiver.
Devin Hester has been in the league for four years now. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears as a return specialist and was used also as a backup corner back in his first season.
He is best known in the league as the dynamic return specialist that he started his NFL career being. The last three seasons however he has been learning the receiver position with mixed results.
Devin Hester can look very good some weeks and very poor the next week. Devin Hester has amazing speed and agility unmatched by nearly anyone else in the NFL. He possesses an amazing ability to make people miss in the open field. He also has average hands for an NFL wide receiver.
On paper Devin Hester could be with his skill set one of the top receivers in the league. However all of that potential has not fully been able to translate to the field. Many players in the history of the NFL have taken some time to transition into a new position. Hines Ward for example has been one of the league's dominant receivers over the last decade and had an equally slow transition after being a receiver for Georgia.
This season however marks the first season that the Chicago Bears have had any stability at the quarterback position since Devin Hester began learning the position. The offseason workouts and the previous season games together should play a key role in the Jay Cutler to Devin Hester connections development. Lovie Smith over the last two seasons has somewhat tried to force Devin into a role where he would have to become a top level receiver in the league.
However going into this year with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz he recognizes Hester's value as a slot receiver in his offense and plans to play him that way.
Mike Martz's arrival should really help Devin Hester take his game to another level. I for see an improved statistical year for Devin coming off of yet another 50 some catch year. Within Martz's offense Devin's skill set should be utilized to a level they have never been at before.
And although he will no longer be one of the top two with Martz's offense being put into place there is plenty of reason to believe he will get lots of playing time.
Joaquin Iglesias was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft by the Chicago Bears. He spent his first NFL season on the bench learning about the NFL game.
In college Joaquin was an excellent route runner with decent speed to get some separation. He also had a good pair of hands which contributed to him being a good all around receiver.
All reports out of Chicago were that he looked great in practices, but we will have to see how well that translates to the field. I would not be surprised to see Joaquin compete for the No. 2 spot.
Judging by his production in college and his skill set all you can assume is that he will be an asset going into the 2010 season, and that he will make an impact in Mike Martz's spread offense. Martz's spread offense should be a good opportunity for Joaquin to display his skills as a pass catcher for the first time at an NFL level.
Johnny Knox exploded onto the scene in 2009 as an underrated pass catching rookie out of Abilene Christian. Knox played the slot position throughout his rookie year. He is a slimmer receiver with good speed.
He displayed that speed time and time again this past season for 45 receptions 527 yards and 5 touchdowns. For not being the heralded receiver in the Bears 2009 draft class he certainly proved to be the better through year one.
All year he displayed game changing speed, good instincts, and a knack for the big play. Knox was able to play in the pro bowl as an alternate due to his phenomenal skills in the return game as well.
Looking ahead Knox is poised to in Martz's system have a phenomenal year. Knox is the perfect fit for Martz's system. His speed, route running, and catching abilities will be well on display in one of the NFL's most prolific styles of offense.
Look for Knox to compete for the one, two, and four positions. Knox should also continue to contribute as a kick returner. Look for him to be a starting pro bowl returner.