The Chicago Bears were greeted with good news as offseason workouts began Tuesday with Kevin White’s appearance and participation:
— Bears Insider (@bears_insider) April 18, 2017
White still projects to play a major role in the Bears’ offense in 2017, and hopefully beyond. Even though the team signed wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright in the offseason, White has first-round pedigree and multiple years of familiarity with Dowell Loggains’ offense. In that sense, he has a leg up on Wright and Wheaton and would be wise to make the most of this advantage.
And based on the depth chart, there should be plenty of opportunity to go around. Here are the 2016 grades (minimum 100 snaps) for the receivers currently on the Bears’ depth chart:
- 74.6: Kendall Wright
- 74.5: Cameron Meredith
- 69.2: Kevin White
- 68.2: Deonte Thompson
- 67.6: Josh Bellamy
That list features two players who grade out as “average” on PFF’s scale, with three coming in as “below average.” This isn’t encouraging news for a team with a new quarterback who will be looking to get off on the right foot after signing a lucrative contract in free agency. Perhaps the Bears will choose a receiver in next week’s NFL Draft. There are 12 receivers among CBS Sports’ top 100 draft prospects list. You can take a look at that group here.
The departure of Alshon Jeffery via free agency has opened up a chance for someone to grab Mike Glennon’s eye and grow into his top target. Wide receivers and tight ends combined to receive 425 targets from Bears quarterbacks in 2016, Jeffery received 94 – or a little more than 22 percent. Perhaps that player will be White, but he’ll need to improve on a 52.8 percent catch rate and 9.8 yards per reception, both of which would rank among the bottom tier of receivers in each category. Frankly, that would be maddeningly disappointing for a player pegged as a big-play receiver coming out of West Virginia.
The future of the passing game won’t rest solely in White’s hands, which is a good thing considering we’re talking about a player who has played a grand total of 192 snaps since being drafted in 2015. And maybe the Bears not having a standout contributor to carry the bulk of that load will benefit White and the others in the receiving corps. But for White, the offseason training program should be seen as the starting point toward building a productive 2017 season.
It’s not as if he won’t be given ample opportunity, even if the Bears go out and draft a receiver.