Ryan Pace exited the 2015 NFL Draft process with a really good wide receiver. Does it really matter if that player is an undrafted free agent or the seventh overall pick?
I’m not giving up on Kevin White – it is impossible to reach any conclusion on the first rounder – but Cam Meredith’s play last year has me wondering how much White’s health and development will actually play into the Bears plans and how much flak we should give Pace if he missed on the pick.
Meredith was the Bears leading receiver with 66 catches, 888 yards and four touchdowns, but the numbers are more impressive when you add context.
The second-year, former quarterback didn’t play even half of the team’s snaps until their Oct. 9 game against Indianapolis. From that point on, he averaged five catches for about 70 yards a game. Calculated out over a 16 game season that’s 80 catches for 1,120 yards and 6 touchdowns. Those numbers are comparable to the 2016 production of Amari Cooper, the guy with whom White was competing with to be the first receiver taken in 2015.
Now consider the quarterback carousel.
After catching 11 passes from Brian Hoyer for 113 yards against Jacksonville, Meredith got just six targets the next three weeks combined. Hoyer got hurt against the Packers. Barkley wasn’t ready to play and Cutler mostly ignored Meredith the next three weeks for more familiar targets.
Cutler started to come around during their game against New York, throwing to Cam four times — he caught all four — but, of course, Cutler was hurt again. It took Barkley and Meredith a game to get in sync, but from then on they were a consistent duo with Meredith averaging more than six catches and 87 yards over the team’s last five games.
All things considered, Meredith’s second season was damn impressive.
The general thinking seems to be that Meredith’s ceiling is as a second receiver. Why?
- He’s every bit the athlete White is, as their SPARQ scores were less than one point apart.
- He’s more athletic than Alshon Jeffery.
- Every veteran the Bears have brought in this offseason points out how impressive Meredith looks.
- Pace compares him to Marques Colston.
For two years leading up to the Bears decision on Alshon Jeffery I wrote, tweeted and shouted from rooftops that their decision on Jeffery would depend on Kevin White’s development. I was wrong by making that exclusively about White. The Bears did see a potential number one receiver on the roster.
It just may be Cameron Meredith.