Could the Chicago Bears nab former Trubisky target Bug Howard?

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears need talent at the wide receiver position. Could an old college friend of Mitch Trubisky‘s, Bug Howard, be an option?

Earlier, we discussed the possibility of the Chicago Bears signing former Houston Texans wide receiver Jaelen Strong as a potential high-upside addition to their decimated receiver group.

The talented young receiver’s physical ability cannot be denied, but the Bears would have to look past some potential concerns related to off-the-field issues. In that case, the Bears might hesitate to take a chance on Strong despite his upside.

As such, the Chicago Bears might opt to look in another direction for young wide receiver help. And one of the players they’ve had their eye on just happens to be an old college teammate and favorite target of Mitch Trubisky.

could the Chicago Bears be entertaining the thought of signing former North Carolina Tar Heels receiver Bug Howard?

Reliable and Intriguing

Howard went undrafted out of UNC after posting 146 catches, 2048 yards and eighteen touchdowns in his college career. While he played in every Tar Hell game his sophomore and junior year, the ascent of Trubisky as the starting quarterback his senior year gave him his best college season (827 yards and eight touchdowns on 53 catches).

With Trubisky likely to start for the Chicago Bears soon, this familiarity could entice the Bears to sign their franchise quarterback’s former top wide receiver.

Howard reportedly worked out for the Bears yesterday, though there is no news regarding any potential signing at this time.

Should the Bears sign him, his reliability and physical traits set him apart from anyone on the roster or practice squad.

Howard primarily functioned as a big, reliable possession receiver for Trubisky at North Carolina last year. And by reliable, I mean “only four dropped passes in four years” reliable.

I think I can see why the Chicago Bears might be interested in someone who doesn’t drop the ball.

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Furthermore, at 6’4″ and 214 pounds,  Howard is a massive receiver compared to the likes of Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson and Josh Bellamy.  Plus, his ability to make contested catches in traffic, aided by a 37.5″ vertical leap, could absolutely stand out on a team without someone with that skill set at this time.

Too much of the same?

That said, one must know that Howard remains an imperfect prospect despite his potential.

Aside from Howard’s plus size and athletic ability,  questions exist about his ability to get open against NFL competition.  For one thing, Howard does not possess great speed, clocking just a 4.5 40-yard dash. Also, scouts doubt whether he has the route-running progress to create separation from defenders to overcome lack of speed.

From that standpoint, Howard resembles the current Chicago bears receivers a bit too closely for comfort. Specifically, isn’t that more or less the same scouting report on Tanner Gentry right now: an almost entirely vertical receiver without top-notch speed or quickness?

For that reason, if the Chicago Bears did sign him, he likely starts off on the practice squad. Interestingly, a spot may have just opened up should the Bears want to use one on Howard.

Two things may help Howard’s case: the Chicago Bears’ love of familiarity and the inevitable ascension of Trubisky. With that in mind, one can’t rule out the Bears signing a receiver that their franchise quarterback works well with.

After all, though injuries mainly brought on Gentry’s roster promotion, his rapport with Trubisky probably didn’t hurt his chances.

Next: Why the Chicago Bears should reach out to Jaelen Strong

Bringing in Howard provides another such player that Trubisky is comfortable with that could serve him down the road. Plus, Howard offers size and athleticism, even as a developmental player, that the Chicago Bears sorely lack at wide receiver.