The Bears additions to the wide receiver room this offseason were not exactly what fans may have hoped for them to be. No clear true No. 1 was signed, nor was one drafted. Instead, the front office attacked the problem piecemeal, finding players than can potentially perform a set of specific roles. This essentially entailed a breakdown of the traditional receiver positions; there were no true X’s, Z’s, or slots, though the definition of these roles can vary (Is an X receiver always a 6’3, 220, 4.4 guy? Is it simply the number one target? Is it the best route runner? Just a technical term for the guy lining up right on the LOS and running a dig?). N’Keal Harry is the latest piece of that puzzle.
These additions had been notably lacking in size and all skills that derive from it, namely contested catch ability, run blocking, and defeating press. This was all, once upon a time, thought to be Harry’s skillset. Betting these talents will be recovered or unearthed in spades is not a likely hit, but on a roster where he is the only option, some production may be forced. Harry will be on the field in obvious run scenarios and more often on early downs, and his size and length may help Justin’s occasional tendency to err high. Harry can be comfortably slotted into the (and in general thought of as) Allen Lazard role that was built into Luke Getsy’s Packers offense- a run blocker who can win at the rim for you in RPO and play action situations. This role has shown marginal success in terms of production and certainly opened up the wide zone and perimeter run game for Aaron Jones. In that way, this move benefits David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert as much as it does the pass game.
I’ll be curious to see which team Harry starts rolling out with in camp and the preseason. For now, the move fills out the “wide receiver basketball team” with a missing big man, and at a very light cost. This is a B+/A-; a potential contributor, recent first round pick at receiver, and scheme fit for an extraordinarily low price. If Harry can commit fully, which he has allegedly struggled with in New England, there’s a rather large opportunity to be seized here. I’d love to see him pull it off.
Receiving Room By Depth Chart & Position (Repeats to allow for multiple roles. Bold is who I expect to make team)
X-WR: N’Keal Harry – Equanimeous St. Brown – Tajae Sharpe – David Moore – Isaiah Coulter
Slot-WR: Byron Pringle – Velus Jones – Dazz Newsome – Nsimba Webster – Chris Finke – Kevin Shaa
Z-WR: Darnell Mooney – Dante Pettis – Velus Jones – David Moore – Tajae Sharpe – Isaiah Coulter – Kevin Shaa
RET: Velus Jones – Dante Pettis – Nsimba Webster
By Projected Playing Time and Stat Lines (Bold and italics indicate making team. Just italics indicates likely practice squad.)
- Darnell Mooney – 86 rec, 1020 yds, 4 TD
- Byron Pringle – 47 rec, 590 yds, 5 TD
- Velus Jones – 22 rec, 380 yds, 2 TD
- N’Keal Harry – 30 rec, 260 yds, 5 TD
- Equanimeous St. Brown – 15 rec, 210 yds, 2 TD
- Tajae Sharpe – 9 rec, 100 yds, 1 TD
- Dante Pettis
- David Moore
- Dazz Newsome
- Nsimba Webster
- Isaiah Coulter
- Chris Finke
- Kevin Shaa
Featured Image: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports