At 6-4, 184 pounds, with the ability to run a 4.51 forty, as shown at the 2013 NFL Combine, Marquess Wilson should have his spot on the Chicago Bears cemented. Instead, the lean receiver finds himself in a log jam, and will be fighting for a starting spot entering his third season in 2015.
Wilson was once one of the best kept secrets in college football. Playing at PAC-12 doormat Washington State, he quietly burned defenses on a weekly basis. After putting up 1,000 yards in his freshman year, Wilson followed it up with an 82-catch, 1388-yard and 12 touchdown sophomore campaign. He was well on his way to becoming the school’s all-time leader in receiving yardage – until he left the team nine games into the 2012 season.
Under new head coach Mike Leach, Wilson had posted 52 catches, 813 yards and five touchdowns before leaving the team citing that coaches were belittling, intimidating and embarrassing players.
After sitting out the remainder of the year, Wilson decided his college resume was enough, and he entered the 2013 NFL Draft. Marquess Wilson fell to the seventh round before the Chicago Bears took a flyer on the lanky wide-out with video game-like numbers. His rookie season was a wash. Wilson was expected to adapt to the NFL, as well as put weight on his wiry frame. He ended the season with two catches for 13 yards.
After a year in the Bears’ system, Marquess Wilson was primed to take on the role of slot receiver, with fellow towering receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall manning the outside. However, those plans were dashed when Wilson broke his collarbone in training camp on August 4th. He didn’t make his return until November 6th against the Minnesota Vikings.
Wilson tallied 17 catches for 140 yards and one touchdown in 2014.
With the team drafting Kevin White, the wide receiver from West Virginia, with the 7th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and signing former Denver Bronco and San Diego Charger Eddie Royal to join starter Alshon Jeffrey, Wilson may be out of a job.
With 12 receivers currently on the roster, the locks seem to be Jeffrey, White, Royal, and Marc Mariani. Levi Norwood, a rookie from Baylor, brings special teams experience which is something Wilson doesn’t have. Josh Bellamy meanwhile spent time with the team last season. The current coaching staff also has no ties to Wilson.
It’ll be hard to imagine Chicago keeping more than five or six receivers on the active roster, especially with the switch to a 3-4 defense. Keeping more lineman and outside linebackers would seem to be the logical choice.
Even if Wilson were to make it past the final roster cuts, his role will likely be as the fourth or fifth receiver behind Jeffrey, White and Royal.