The Chicago Bears might have an intriguing young wide receiver in seventh-round pick, Javon Wims. And he’s making a play for a role in 2018.
If anyone still has questions about whether or not Javon Wims would make the Chicago Bears 53-man roster, Saturday answered them resoundingly.
Wims has earned a roster spot, and possibly a more significant role than previously expected, on this team going forward. And if he doesn’t make the final cut, there’s no way he’ll make it to the practice squad.
I might not be an NFL executive, but I’ve seen my share of seventh-round/priority free agent-level receivers come and go not just through Chicago but throughout the league. The fact that Wims slipped to the Bears in the seventh round was a product of an incredibly deep wide receiver class and a Georgia offense that preferred to run the football rather than throw it.
Props to the Chicago Bears for seeing deeper than that. Because while Wims might not be on the Allen Robinson or even Anthony Miller tier of receivers just yet, he has the talent to develop into an intriguing third or fourth option to what is looking like a deep stable of Chicago Bears pass catchers.
What he lacks in raw physical explosion and ability, he makes up for with underrated savvy, open field toughness and elusiveness, and great tracking ability.
Then again, he also showed Saturday that he has some good ol’ fashioned juice, too.
Put it all together, and Wims isn’t your typical seventh-round receiver, which is good news considering how the Bears’ last few seventh-round receivers (Marquess Wilson and Daniel Braverman) have panned out.
No, this guy might actually be something.
Javon Wims or Kevin White?
Who are you keeping?
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 25, 2018
First thing’s first: if you’re asking the question “Wims or (Kevin) White” for the 53-man roster (while will be decided by this coming Saturday), I believe the correct answer is “both.”
Obviously, the Bears want to give White another opportunity to show that he can contribute in the NFL — he helped that case a little bit with his first touchdown in a Bears uniform this weekend — and also would rather not eat a $5.27 million cap hit if they don’t have to. As such, it was going to take White performing pretty badly to keep him off the team, and I’m not sure that’s been the case.
Then again, Wims has done absolutely nothing to warrant being cut. Furthermore, Wims likely has more of a future in Chicago than White does, as something drastic would likely have to change for Ryan Pace to re-sign White this off-season.
And while neither receiver plays special teams, the Bears can utilize other position groups (like cornerback, safety, or tight end), along with Josh Bellamy, to fill in those gaps in order to make room for both.
Of course, if you had to cut one, I’d cut White anyway. He’s on borrowed time.
Anyway, I digress.
After a big Hall of Fame Game, Wims showed up in a big way in the Bears’ fourth preseason game, catching four catches for 114 yards and made an impact against Kansas City’s starting unit. And each one of his grabs demonstrated a different facet of a developing repertoire that could justify his earning snaps as his rookie season progresses.
Wims’ first catch was certainly the most mundane of the plays he made against the Chiefs, but it’s no less important to pay attention to.
With Matt Nagy dialing up a smash concept out a bunched alignment Wims’ side — he runs the underneath hitch route while Marlon Brown runs the deep corner/out route — Wims feels out the Cover-4 and sits perfectly between the outside linebacker covering the flat route and the middle linebacker. It’s far from a difficult concept, but the ease with which Wims executes it tells us that this rookie knows what he’s doing out there.
Plus, his effort to get the first down by breaking this tackle in the open field is plenty impressive. When I saw this play, it reminded me somewhat of former Jay Cutler third-down favorite Earl Bennett, who proved tough and reliable in the middle of the field.
The Bears might already have two receivers in Robinson and Miller who can fill that role at any given time, but having a third certainly doesn’t hurt.
One of the concerns scouts had about Wims coming out of college was his ability to separate against NFL defensive backs and generate big plays without elite speed.
His 54-yard catch and run in the second quarter probably opened a few eyes from that perspective. First off, Wims gets on top of Chiefs free agent corner David Amerson, who was playing man coverage as the Chiefs sent five men at Chase Daniel.
Javon Wims (@Javon_Juice) showing off his SPEED.
— NFL (@NFL) August 25, 2018
Also, notice the setup by Wims at the top of the route. Amerson is preparing for the drag route from the beginning, but Wims presses his cushion, angling his body to attack him straight on, then makes a subtle cut to get into the route. That brief move freezes Amerson enough for Wims to gain the advantage on the drag and separate.
From there, it’s a footrace, and Wims shows us that his 4.53 speed translates better to the field than we expected.
Of course, that was just the first of Wims’ crimes against Amerson on that drive. His second was simply a beauty.
Bears WR Javon Wims gets both feet down for the touchdown. Capped off an impressive drive by the undrafted rookie. pic.twitter.com/UxAX33ZCMq
— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) August 25, 2018
To be honest, there wasn’t much to this route. Wims just beats Amerson, Daniel makes a great throw, and the young receiver makes a play that your average seventh-round receiver probably doesn’t make.
There’s no way this touchdown grab didn’t grab Matt Nagy and his offensive staff’s attention.
Then, if you wanted to see Wims find a way to get free against press coverage, there was this play in the fourth quarter for your notes.
The 7th-round pick is BALLING.
— NFL (@NFL) August 25, 2018
This small corner, Makinton Dorleant, gives Wims a free release which he takes advantage of, using his sneaky speed to out-leverage Dorleant just long enough for Tyler Bray to drop a nice throw in the bucket.
Again, you can see where Wims not being a flat-out burner limited how big this play was to an extent, even if Bray had thrown this ball more out in front of him.
But you also see Wims’ ability to find the football in the air, make a difficult grab look easy, and then shed tacklers with physical running down the field. Not bad for someone scouts described as having just “average run-after-catch ability” coming into the league.
Of course, assuming Wims does make the squad, let’s not pencil him in for 1,000 receiving yards or anything like that. He might have to deal with a healthy scratch or two as a rookie with all of these pass catchers in the rotation.
But as he continues to improve his route running and play-making ability, one can see him pushing for playing time in his first NFL season. And if injuries pile up at the receiver position or White doesn’t play well (or both?), Wims might find himself developing a rapport with Mitch Trubisky sooner rather than later.
Whatever happens from here on, though, Wims has earned the right to make the Chicago Bears in his first NFL training camp.
Follow Kedar on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: NBC Sports