With options in free agency dwindling for Chicago, let's take a quick look at a few potential draft options for the Bears at receiver. Chicago owns the No. 7 overall pick of the draft.
Round 1 prospects
Amari Cooper, Alabama
2014 stats: 124 receptions, 1,727 yards, 16 touchdowns.
Why he fits: In the debate between Cooper and former West Virginia receiver Kevin White, coaches seem to prefer the former, while scouts tend to give the edge to the latter. That's primarily because coaches view players with an eye toward them helping right away, while scouts take more of a long-term perspective. Cooper (6-1, 211 pounds) ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. So he's speedy enough to provide Chicago a legitimate deep threat opposite Alshon Jeffery. Cooper's quickness allows him to gain a clean release off the line of scrimmage consistently, and he possesses a burst that allows him to separate from defensive backs. Cooper also seems to have a natural feel for the receiver position.
Quotable: "You don't want to give the defensive back any signals about what route you're going to run. Every time I run a route, I try to make it seem like I'm running a different route than I'm actually running so I can get open. I certainly want to be the best receiver, not just in this class, but overall, wherever I go, and I'm going to work hard to try to be that. I take good pride in the way I release off the line and coming out of my breaks. That's really the only two ways you can get open. I think that's probably what would separate me from someone else." -- Cooper
Kevin White, West Virginia
2014 stats: 109 receptions, 1,447 yards, 10 touchdowns.
Why he fits: White (6-3, 215 pounds) ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and flashed explosiveness with a 36 1/2-inch vertical leap. So White would give the Bears a speed element they lacked in Marshall with similar run-after-catch traits and that knack for overpowering defenders. Like Marshall, White wins most contested-ball situations, but like most receivers coming from college to the NFL, he could improve as a route runner. White fits the mold as an attacking receiver, and might be the ideal type of player to pair on the outside with Jeffery.
Quotable: "I think I put a lot of fear in defensive backs just because I block so well, and when I come off the line I'm quicker than they expect. By the time they realize it, it's already a done deal. When you talk trash, you've got to back it up. That just puts more pressure on me to back it up. I love getting in defender's heads. Once I do that, it's definitely game over. Blocking separates receivers. I feel like to have a successful offense, receivers have to block, and that's what separates me. I love to block. I love to manhandle guys. I'll continue to do that." -- White
Outside of Round 1
Nelson Agholor, Southern Cal
2014 stats: 104 receptions, 1,313 yards, 12 touchdowns.
Why he fits: Agholor (6-0, 198 pounds) appears to be very similar to former Trojans Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, and like them, he's got experience in a pro-style offense, which should ease his transition to the NFL game. Projected as a second-round pick, Agholor clocked a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but couldn't complete the workout after dislocating a finger on his left hand during receiving drills. Agholor runs crisp routes, and provides extra value because of his return ability. Agholor scored a USC-record four touchdowns on punt returns, but he might project in the NFL as more of a slot receiver. The Bears need a bona fide No. 2
Quotable: "I'm very different compared to a lot of guys [in the draft class]. I think a lot of these guys have a lot of traits. I'm multiple in many ways. I want to be the guy you keep in the game 25-7. If a team already has a No. 1, I want to contribute the equivalent to a No. 1 or be the No. 1. I progressed from Year 2 to Year 3. It was always about progressing, and when I left college, I look back at everything and I say, 'You know what, I never took a step back each day.' I never missed a practice. I didn't face injury. It was about progressing each day. I thought my mentality was to be on the rise. In terms of character, professional, everything I do, I want to do it the right way. I want to prepare. As a player, I want them to know that." -- Agholor
Justin Hardy, East Carolina
2014 stats: 121 receptions, 1,494 yards, 10 touchdowns.
Why he fits: Hardy (5-10, 190 pounds) lacks elite speed, having run a 4.56 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but he's quick enough off the line of scrimmage to consistently get clean releases. Like Agholor, Hardy seems to project as a slot receiver in the NFL. While his speed and measurables don't jump out at you, Hardy is a natural ball catcher capable of making explosive plays after the catch. Hardy also provides extra value in the return game as he returned punts his last three years at East Carolina. Despite Hardy's calm demeanor, he's a confident competitor, and you can't overlook his monstrous college production (387 receptions, 4,541 yards and 35 touchdowns) as the NCAA's all-time leading receiver.
Quoteable: "A lot of guys, I tried to look at what they do to be great. Growing up, Jerry Rice, you know, a great guy, kind of like me, not being that fast, but got the job done. It's been fun. Coming from no D-I offers, to walking on at ECU, earning a scholarship and getting to this spot. [I'm] trying to be the best that I can be and go from there." -- Hardy