Alabama's Calvin Ridley strong candidate to solve Bears' WR woes

Calvin Ridley's big-play ability would be welcome in a Bears passing attack that's struggled to find a top target. Andrew Hancock for ESPN

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It's not a secret that the Chicago Bears are desperate for help at wide receiver.

Last season, Kendall Wright (unrestricted free agent) led all of Chicago's wideouts with 59 receptions for 614 yards. The next closest receiver in terms of production: Joshua Bellamy, who caught 24 passes for 376 yards.

With so much already invested in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Bears' next move is to surround the former second overall pick with better weapons at the skill positions.

The Bears are projected to select Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who was an accomplished three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, in Kiper's first 2018 NFL mock draft.

Ridley (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) had 55 receptions for 896 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season and added two touchdowns in Alabama's playoff victories over Clemson and Georgia.

Ridley put up even better numbers the previous two seasons -- he had a career-high 89 catches for 1,045 yards in 2015 and had 72 receptions for 769 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016.

The Bears tried to address wide receiver three years ago when general manager Ryan Pace used the seventh overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft on West Virginia's Kevin White. White has played in only five regular-season games since he arrived in Chicago.

There's also concern over the health of Cameron Meredith, who had a breakout year in 2016 but tore multiple knee ligaments last preseason that landed him on injured reserve. Meredith said the day after the conclusion of the regular season that intends to be ready for next summer's training camp, but there's no guarantee that happens.

In free agency last year, the Bears signed Markus Wheaton ($6 million guaranteed in 2017) and waved goodbye to Alshon Jeffery.

Neither move worked out.

So Chicago's need at wide receiver is obvious. Whether the Bears spend another top-10 pick on the positon -- with other pressing concerns at cornerback, linebacker and guard -- remains to be seen.