Remember when it took a wide receiver two to four years to develop in the NFL? Me either. Those days are a distant memory. Now more than ever, rookie wide receivers—especially those drafted early—are likely to provide an immediate impact.
Will Chicago Bears rookie wide out Alshon Jeffery fall into this category in 2012? At least on the surface, there are plenty of factors that work in Jeffery’s favor. For starters, he will be targeted by a legitimate NFL quarterback.
The Bears of yesteryear have often had a mediocre (at best) signal-caller under center. Sure, Jay Cutler doesn’t deserve to be referred to as “elite,” but the Bears’ 6-3, 220-pound QB does belong in or at least close to the Top 10 players at his position.
Spoiler Alert: Cutler is one of 16 QBs that make our list of the Top 100 NFL Players of 2012.
Just in terms of ability alone, Cutler is easily one of the most talented guys to play the position today. He has a cannon for an arm and can make the throws that only a small handful of QBs can hope to these days. In addition to his attitude and body language, his downfall has been his decision-making.
His arm is so solid that he hasn’t had any fear trying to fit the football in tight windows. Part of the problem, though, has been a lack of weapons (as well as protection). While Matt Forte has been a beast out of the backfield, playmakers on the outside are often non-existent.
Fortunately for Cutler and company, the Bears brought in Brandon Marshall, who has a history of success with the former first overall selection out of Vanderbilt in the 2006 NFL Draft dating back to their days together in Denver.
Marshall, who was also brought in by the Broncos in that same draft class in the fourth round, has amassed 484 receptions for 5,938 yards and 37 scores over the last five seasons with the Broncos and Miami Dolphins in 76 games (74 starts). Marshall, 28, also made 20 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie year.
The presence of Forte and Marshall will undoubtedly make life easier for the Bears’ new rookie receiver.
Given the club’s stable of weapons at wide out, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jeffery playing plenty opposite Marshall. Plus, given his size at 6’3″, 216 lbs., Jeffery could be quite active in the red zone. Currently tracking as the 67th wide receiver according to Mock Draft Central, that makes him a WR6 in 12-team fantasy leagues.
While I wouldn’t want Jeffery as my primary backup, let alone starting fantasy wide out, he’s worth considering for depth at the position. Keep an eye on him during the preseason and consider him in your fantasy drafts.