In most preseason games, stellar performances from roster-bubble level players usually end up swept underneath the rug, pinning the praise on the opposing second strings that allowed for such an impressive performance. However, in the seventh round rookie receiver Javon Wims’ case, the 114 yard and one touchdown breakout game can’t be discredited as an inevitable.
Obviously, blowing preseason games well out of proportion seems to come so naturally for writers and fans alike. A commanding performance over third and fourth stringers feeds imaginations like no other and Wims’ wonderful preseason theoretically could fall under the overhyped label. While he currently leads the league in receiving yards, the last five receivers to accomplish this feat never exceeded 677 yards or six touchdowns in the subsequent regular season. Both statlines came from the then-Jaguars star Allen Hurns and not a single other receiver came close to this anomaly.
Though to say this preseason hasn’t been a pleasant surprise for the seventh round rookie would be crudely misguided. He kicked off his NFL career off with a strong seven reception, 89 yard game in the Hall of Fame game but his finest game came against the Chiefs starters. As a whole, the backups outperformed the Chiefs first-team defense by a large margin for much of the first half and Wims smoking their starting secondary only validates his legitimacy as a receiver.
After producing only a single season of high school football, Wims had zero big-time offers. Continuing his football career at the JUCO level, Wims quickly blossomed into among the most hotly pursued receiver prospects in the country after an excellent 47 catch, 779 yard, nine touchdown campaign at Hinds Community College. Though he had offers from the likes of Oklahoma, Miami, and South Carolina, he eventually settled on Georgia. After a down season of settling in, Wims’ final season saw him explode into the Bulldogs’ number one target.
Thoroughly impressing to the tune of 45 passes for 720 yards with seven touchdowns over his curtain season, his chef-d’oeuvre coming against Oklahoma in the playoffs, going for six passes, 73 yards, and a touchdown. Flaunting a breathtaking spectacular catch ability, his dynamic hands put together quite the highlight reel and he made his money as an explosive playmaker.
A trait that very well could land him a roster spot.
He flashed this spectacular catch ability in the pros on a beautiful over the shoulder toe tap for a score and this capability potentially grants him an instant role on the Bears. His massive six foot and four-inch frame already had him drawn up as a red zone threat coming into the league but now he proved it against the Chiefs. With upwards of one hundred players on a teams radar to start a season, the critical pinch of carving a serviceable role for rookies looms in order to avoid being forgotten about, the most dangerous state for a rookie to be in.
Being drafted at all nearly guarantees a practice squad spot for at least a season but falling so late often turns seventh rounders into a draft obligation rather than a valuable prospect for teams to build a franchise with. The pressure to make an impact within training camp and preseason dominate these players stories on a cinematic scale, a concept in of itself breeding multiple television series on the matter. Without a sizable impression, late round picks and undrafted experiments usually wash out of the league pretty quickly. Wims, however, has evidently done more than enough to justify an active roster spot.
While resident number one target Allen Robinson does fulfills the red zone threat and will probably be relied on solely in these situations, Wims’ playmaking simply cannot be banished to the practice squad. While a seventh-round receiver’s talents can not and wisely will not be banked on heavily, especially considering the wealth of talented receivers on the Bears, his red zone prowess must add to the offense, not dismissed.
Red zone options should be plentiful for the Bears, with the signing of Robinson and the emergence of the second year tight end Adam Shaheen, but Wims’ spectacular catch capability should bolster the already-dangerous red zone offense. Until he garners a little bit more trust, he will not a go-to option, however, it would be a mistake to omit his atomic skillset from the offense. Worlds of sleeper potential aside, his talent should be utilized now. Whether it be red zone or purely situational, Wims may not have earned a leading role, but he has undoubtedly earned a roster spot.