NFL Scouting Combine preview: 5 wide receivers for Bears to watch

The NFL Scouting Combine is less than a week away. All 32 NFL teams will converge on Indianapolis for the annual convention, where teams will have the chance to meet individually with all 321 invited prospects.

For the Bears, wide receiver is a position of need. DJ Moore had a fantastic season in 2023, but the Bears did not have a solid No. 2 option at the position and Darnell Mooney is set to become a free agent.

So receiver will be a big focus for the Bears, who hold the No. 1 and No. 9 overall picks in the draft. They probably aren’t going to take a receiver with the first pick, but it’s definitely one of the areas of need that they could target with the No. 9 pick.

Here are five receivers they need to get to know next week at the combine.

1. Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. appears to be the favorite to become the first non-quarterback selected in this year’s draft. Harrison has size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds), which he can use to his advantage when needed, but he also can play like a much smaller, faster receiver as well. He recorded back-to-back seasons with 1,200 or more receiving yards, totaling 14 touchdowns in both 2022 and 2023.

Harrison is likely to put up some gaudy athletic numbers at the combine. The Bears probably wouldn’t take a receiver, even one of Harrison’s caliber, with the No. 1 overall pick. They would be more likely to take Harrison if they traded down from No. 1 or picked a quarterback at No. 1 and traded up from No. 9 for Harrison. The Texans did a similar move last year when they took CJ Stroud and Will Anderson back-to-back at Nos. 2 and 3 overall.

2. Malik Nabers, LSU

LSU’s Malik Nabers helped power Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels to the Heisman Trophy in 2023. Nabers (6-0, 200) totaled 1,569 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games last season. He averaged 17.6 yards a catch and seemed to always find a way to catch everything thrown his way.

He’s extremely dangerous against one-on-one coverage when he runs vertical routes. He has the ability to take the top off a defense, and that might be exactly what the Bears need. He’s also dangerous in other settings, too, particularly jet sweeps.

Nabers is most likely going to be a top-10 pick. He could be available at No. 9, but it’s entirely possible that he’s gone by that time. He’s likely to be wide receiver No. 2 on many teams’ boards.

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze warms up before the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game between Washington and Michigan Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez) AP

3. Rome Odunze, Washington

Like Harrison, Rome Odunze has great size for the receiver position (6-3, 215). His body allows him to make tough catches in traffic. But he also has elite body control and can come down with almost any ball thrown his way, even at difficult angles.

He will test incredibly well both in the 40-yard dash and in the vertical jump. It will be fun to see what his numbers come in at. He was a big reason why Washington had such an explosive offense last season. He led all of FBS football with 1,640 receiving yards. He did it on 92 catches with 13 receiving touchdowns (plus one rushing). Odunze is another receiver who could be a top-10 pick.

4. Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

LSU was blessed to have both Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. on the same offensive unit. Thomas totaled 68 catches for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns (yes, 17 touchdowns in 13 games). He did it all while playing in the shadow of Nabers, a likely top-10 pick.

Thomas (6-4, 205) had offers to play basketball in the SEC, but elected to stick with football. He didn’t even play football until his sophomore year of high school. He had a relatively quiet first two seasons at LSU before a major breakthrough last season. He’s only 21 years old and is relatively raw for an NFL receiver, but the potential is there for him to keep improving. Thomas is a possible first-round pick but likely to be available outside the top 10.

Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) runs a route against Wake Forest during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) AP

5. Keon Coleman, Florida State

Another two-sport star like Thomas, Florida State’s Keon Coleman was also a stud basketball player. He originally played both basketball and football at Michigan State before transferring to Florida State to focus on football in 2023. Coleman led the Seminoles with 50 receptions for 658 yards and 11 touchdowns in his lone season in Tallahassee.

Coleman (6-4, 215) uses his basketball background to go up and grab contested catches over the top of defensive backs. He projects as a first-round pick but will likely be available in the latter half of the first round.

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