Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been in the news lately after his recent column for the Chicago Sun Times discussing the passing of Junior Seau and the stigmas of mental health.
Marshall recently joined the Waddle and Silvy show of ESPN Chicago 1000 to talk about his column and teammate Devin Hesters ability to be a Pro Bowl wide receiver.
Does Hester have what it takes to be a Pro Bowler in 2012?
No one would argue Hesters special abilities; when some tacklers flail at air while defenders in pursuit see real estate widen, Hester pulls away with sheer speed. But what is Hesters special package GM Phil Emery discussed post draft? Can this package propel Hester to a Pro Bowl wide receiver?
Numbers to Contemplate
Here are regular season numbers from 2011 NFC Pro Bowlers:
Roddy White (Falcons) - 100 receptions, 1,290 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Calvin Johnson (Lions) - 96 receptions, 1,681 yards, 16 touchdowns.
Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) - 80 receptions, 1,411 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Miles Austin (Cowboys) - 43 receptions, 579 yards, 8 touchdowns. It is highly debatable for Austin to even be in the Pro Bowl, but other NFC receivers like Carolinas Steve Smith (79 receptions, 1,394 yards, 7 touchdowns) bowed out.
Additional Top NFC wide receiver numbers
Hakeem Nicks (Giants) - 76 receptions, 1,192 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Jordy Nelson (Packers) - 68 receptions, 1,263 yards, 15 touchdowns.
Victor Cruz (Giants) - 82 receptions, 1,536 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Marshall believes Hester will have a bigger year on offense this season, stating, Honestly, I think he is going to have a bigger year than me this year. I just dont think hes been in an environment, a situation offensively that catered to him as a player.
This is a pretty big statement by Marshall, who logged had 81 catches, 1,214 yards, and 6 touchdowns last season. One would assume the Bears would like this type of production to continue from Marshall if not improve when combined with solid quarterback play from Jay Cutler.
Marshall believes the addition of new quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, as well as Jay Cutlers growth at quarterback, will make all the difference for Hesters production at wideout. Marshall said, I think they will be able to put him in a better position this year to where he can probably do some damage.
Judging by the numbers from other every down wide receivers in the NFC rather than package players, it is difficult to project Devin Hester to a Pro Bowl. Hester is coming off his worst season with 26 receptions, 369 yards, and only 1 touchdown. Injury held Hester back in 2011, but his 5 year average only consists of 39 receptions a season since his conversion in 2006. Hesters biggest year was 2009 where he caught a career high 57 balls for only 757 yards and 6 touchdowns, which is hardly Pro Bowl worthy.
A lot depends on the special package for Hester, but it is hard to make an impact as a player when you are on and then off the field.