The Chicago Bears have many questions that need answers heading into next season. With the departure of Alshon Jeffery, one of those questions is, who will be the number one wide receiver? And right now, the answer to that would have to be Cameron Meredith.
Yes, Cameron Meredith.
The same guy who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. The same guy who played quarterback in his first two seasons at Illinois State before switching to wide receiver. And yes, the same guy who had a total of 11 catches for 120 yards and no touchdowns in his rookie season of 2015.
He may not match up with most number one receivers in the league, but he most certainly is the number one option for the Chicago Bears. If nothing else, it’s by default.
Meredith finished the 2016 season leading all Bears receivers with 66 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Of the current wide receivers on the Bears roster, the next in line for receptions last season was Eddie Royal with 33. In terms of yardage, the next in line was Kendall Wright, who totaled 416 yards with the Tennessee Titans. Meredith essentially doubled them in both categories.
Statistically, there’s really no doubt that he is the guy.
#Bears will make additions, of course, but losing Alshon Jeffery would make Cameron Meredith heavy favorite to lead team in 2017 targets.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) February 27, 2017
The wild card heading into next season is Kevin White. He certainly has the talent to be a number one receiver and was definitely drafted like one (seventh overall in 2015), but simply hasn’t been on the field.
White has only played in four games in two years with the Chicago Bears. He has totaled 19 receptions for 187 yards. That’s a long way off from being a number one receiver. At this point, the Bears would be happy just to see him on the field for a full season.
The team did recently add Markus Wheaton and Wright, who will both add nice depth at the position. Both of them have potential to make an impact next season, but neither is a number one receiver. The hope is that they will compliment Meredith and White to form a solid foursome for new quarterback Mike Glennon.
Apparently Glennon likes what he has seen of Meredith.
Mike Glennon on watching #Bears film: “The guy that stood out to me was Cameron Meredith.”
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) March 10, 2017
So unless something drastic changes with the receiver group, Meredith is the number one option heading into next season. The difference will be that he won’t have Jeffery lined up across from him. It will most likely be White, and that’s a big difference. Jeffery was an All-Pro and White has yet to prove himself.
Meredith had a nice season, but he did most of his damage as a number two receiver. So if he is now the guy, can he produce?
That remains to be seen. It’s a tall task for a guy who has only been in the league for two years and only been a receiver for the last four years. Not to mention he will have a new quarterback. A lot will depend on how well and how quickly White develops. If he becomes a dependable option, then that will certainly benefit Meredith.
Of course, the Bears won’t complain if White turns out to be a number one either.
Todd Thorstenson is a staff writer covering the Chicago Bears as well as Illinois Fighting Illini football for EndZoneScore.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Thor1323