The height and good hands of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery helped them become the first pair of receivers in team history to make the Pro Bowl in the same season. Marquess Wilson, last year's seventh-round pick, is a leading candidate to be the third receiver after the Bears released Earl Bennett, but he is unproven. That creates opportunities for veteran free agents Josh Morgan and Domenik Hixon to earn playing time. Chris Williams, a 5-foot-8 speedster, headlines a group of inexperienced hopefuls.
Level of draft need: High, MODERATE, Low
Questionable depth could prompt the Bears to select from a deep class of receivers. Marshall is entering the final year of his contract. If, at 30 this season, he duplicates last year's 100 catches, 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns, the team would welcome that contract decision. Although the Bears like how smoothly Wilson runs and how naturally he catches the ball, he's an unknown quantity. Given how Marshall and Jeffery are similar physically, the Bears would benefit from adding an explosive threat after the catch.
Sammy Watkins, Clemson
6-1, 211 pounds
Worth a look: Watkins could be a top-five pick. He's an explosive playmaker with top speed to threaten a defense deep or turn short catches into big plays. He's elusive in space, and his hands are good. He also was a game-breaking kick returner in college.
Stay away: Teams at the top of the draft could pass on Watkins because they have bigger needs at other positions, but they would do so at the expense of passing on one of the draft's surest bets. Watkins must refine his route-running, as does every collegiate receiver.
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
5-9, 197 pounds
Worth a look: Ellington would present good value if he's available when the Bears pick in the fourth round. He's nimble and can get in and out of breaks quickly. He is fast enough to provide the Bears the vertical element they lack. His toughness helps him catch passes over the middle out of the slot. Ellington returned kickoffs in college, an area of need for the Bears. He split time with the Gamecocks' basketball team, so he could improve as he focuses only on football.
Stay away: Ellington is short and not a powerful blocker. He doesn't have a reputation for being an explosive returner, in case the Bears would consider him for that role.
Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State
6-3, 219 pounds
Worth a look: The possible Day-3 pick plays fast to match his 4.4-second 40-yard dash time, and that speed doesn't come with a height tradeoff. He can turn shorter catches into chunk plays. His exceptional leaping ability shines when attacking contested throws. Janis has impressed evaluators with his character and passion for football.
Stay away: There is significant uncertainty in projecting how Division II production could translate to the NFL. Janis has been plagued by drops, and he is known as an inconsistent run blocker.
John Brown, Pittsburg (Kan.) State
5-10, 179 pounds
Worth a look: Brown, an All-Dade County honoree in high school out of Florida, played Division II because of academic struggles. The late-round prospect ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.34 seconds, second-fastest among all receivers. He has a reputation for smoothly and quickly getting in and out of breaks. His elite straight-line speed also made him a prolific kickoff returner in college.
Stay away: Brown must get stronger to stand up to the physical rigors of the NFL and to be an effective blocker. He already is 24.
Kain Colter, Northwestern
5-10, 198 pounds
Worth a look: The converted quarterback projects as an early Day 3 pick. He has quick feet and sound body control, which enables him to navigate tight coverages. His explosive initial burst would suit him well as a slot receiver. Because he wasn't a full-time receiver in college, he has upside in that role in the NFL. His versatility could attract an offensive coach willing to exploit his quarterback background.
Stay away: Colter's extensive injury history includes ankle surgery this winter, a torn labrum and biceps tendon in his right arm and a concussion.
Next: Running backs.