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Marquess Wilson gets first shot at No. 3 spot, but Bears still may draft receiver

Jared Abbrederis

Jared Abbrederis

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Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin, 6-1, 195: A former walk-on, Abbrederis developed into a No. 1 receiver for the Badgers. That background might appeal to certain teams and makes him a fan favorite.

Abbrederis has impressed scouts with his route running and soft hands. But his performance against Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby in 2013 stands out. He dissected Roby, a potential first-round pick, catching 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown.

Abbrederis’ strength is a concern, and his ceiling might not be that high, making him a Day 3 pick. But the potential is there for a competent slot receiver who helps offenses that already have established wideouts.

Five more

Kain Colter, Northwestern, 5-10, 198: He has drawn more attention for his role in the unionization efforts of college football players, but the former quarterback has skills that could make him a capable slot receiver or returner.

Mike Evans, Texas A&M, 6-5, 231: He idolizes Brandon Marshall and rates as a first-round pick.

John Brown, Pittsburg State, 5-10, 179: He’s an intriguing late-round prospect who ran a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and is considered dangerous in space. He also can return kicks and punts.

T.J. Jones, Notre Dame, 6-0, 188: He led the Irish last season with 70 catches, 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson, 6-1, 211: Best receiver in the draft. He could be off the board within the top-five picks.

Friday: Defensive ends.

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Updated: April 24, 2014 12:56AM

Leading up to the NFL draft, which begins May 8, the Sun-Times will take a position-by-position look at the Bears’ needs and which players might be available to fill them.

Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were nightmares for defenses last season, combining for 2,716 yards and 19 touchdowns by creating space with their size and stealing balls from defensive backs with their athleticism.

But a third partner in crime is needed, especially with Earl Bennett gone.

The Bears used three-receiver sets more than other formations last season. Of their 1,013 offensive plays, Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett lined up together on 450 (44 percent).

In other words, a No. 3 receiver is essential to what the Bears do.

The Bears have signed veteran receivers Domenik Hixon and Josh Morgan and former Canadian Football League star Chris Williams. Special-teamer Eric Weems also is an option. But the onus is on Marquess Wilson, who is entering his second season.

Trestman said at the NFL owners meetings that he was encouraged that Wilson’s offseason with Marshall and Jeffery in Florida would spur his development. Jeffery blossomed into a Pro Bowl player after training with Marshall last year.

“[Marshall and Jeffery are] unselfishly working to try to bring [Wilson’s] skill set up and to teach him how to train better and work better,” Trestman said. “If they’re together with their teammates and they’re working together and training together, that’s a big investment in each other. That gets our football team better during a time where we can’t help them.”

But that doesn’t mean that general manager Phil Emery won’t look for another receiver in the draft to push Wilson. He grabbed Wilson in the seventh round last year and could be looking for another mid- to late-round player with potential.

NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said the position is very deep, so solid ones will be available late.

Notre Dame’s T.J. Jones, Pittsburgh’s Devin Street, Oregon’s Josh Huff, Pittsburg State’s John Brown and Northwestern’s Kain Colter are projected mid- to late-round picks. Jones and Brown have experience as returners.

Trestman was asked if he has a preference for bigger receivers such as Marshall (6-4, 230 pounds), Jeffery (6-3, 216) and Wilson (6-4, 184) or if he’d be open to a smaller, faster type.

“Our basic input would be to get a good football player,” Trestman said. “We’re flexible enough in our system to be able utilize that player. We just want good players. We feel confident that we can create value in that player if they’re good football players.”


Twitter: @adamjahns

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