The year is 2015, West Virginia WR Kevin White is seen as a top pick heading into the NFL draft. He has excelled at the college level, putting up over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in his sophomore season. Scouts have said he can produce similar numbers to Houston Texans’ WR DeAndre Hopkins. His 6’3″ height, strength, and speed combination has made him sought-after. Chicago sees their opportunity and selects him with the seventh overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Fast-forward to beginning of the 2017 season. Kevin White has been in the league for two full seasons. He has appeared in only four games, recording 19 receptions for 187 yards. Two shin injuries in his rookie campaign caused him to miss all 16 games, and a fractured fibula in 2016 kept him out of 12 games. Now, just one game into his “third” season, he has suffered a broken collarbone that will force him out for the entirety of the season.
The Bears took a chance on a top-end talent, and unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out in their favor. WR Cameron Meredith also went down for the year with an ACL. This leaves Chicago’s depth chart looking bleak with Josh Bellamy, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson, and Tre McBride (combined all five WRs totaled 74 receptions, 998 yards, and six touchdowns in 2016).
Bellamy and Wheaton will probably see time as the starters once Wheaton returns from injury, and Wright has seen some production in his past with Tennessee, so they aren’t totally hopeless. With that being said, Chicago has the cap space ($19M+) to sign another WR. Veteran Victor Cruz spent the preseason with the Bears and could find himself back in locker room soon. Other options include WR Tanner Gentry (from their own practice squad) and free agents such as former Bear Eddie Royal, Corey (Philly) Brown, Stevie Johnson, and Dorial Green-Beckham. They have to make a move.
Losing a close game against last year’s NFC champions doesn’t help the expectations for the Bears. This was a team that was supposed to be in a rebuild/bridge year. Those expectations got raised when Mike Glennon brought his team on a potential game-winning drive that resulted in a turnover-on-downs. This isn’t totally his fault, because he has less than stellar pass-catchers on the field, and that would have been understood if they didn’t give the Falcons a run for their money.
It truly is sad what has happened to Kevin White. He will sit another season and hope to make an impact next year with Mitch Trubisky (likely). This is a guy who could have done great things in the NFL with all of his physical ability. Now, he could miss nearly all of his rookie contract.