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Saturday, April 27, 2013
WSU WR Wilson a low-risk proposition

By Jeff Dickerson

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It’s impossible to predict if wide receiver Marquess Wilson will land on the Chicago Bears' final 53-man roster after the way his college career unraveled at Washington State.

Marquess Wilson
Marquess Wilson's decision to walk away from Washington State cost him in the draft.
Wilson quit the team last year and accused Cougars head coach Mike Leach of abuse, a story he eventually recanted.

But the damage was done.

Wilson’s decision to walk away from Washington State for the final three games of 2012 and the subsequent controversy with Leach overshadowed what been a productive college career. The wideout posted back-to-back seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards in 2010 and 2011, catching a career-best 82 balls for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns his sophomore season.

Wilson made 52 catches for 813 yards and five touchdowns last year before he pulled the plug. He still left Washington State as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,207, the ninth-most in Pac-12 history.

Wilson had 14 100-yard games.

From a pure talent standpoint, Wilson deserved to be drafted higher, but his stock plummeted for obvious reasons.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said the Bears did exhaustive work on Wilson in the pre-draft process.

"We put in a tremendous amount of work, the area scout did a great job," Emery said. "Been out there several times talking to people from all different directions. From all parts of his life. We definitely did our due diligence, and we felt at this point of the draft that a person with this kind of talent deserved a second chance.

"His biggest sin is that he walked out. He made a young decision. He's still young -- going to be 20 years old this fall. We felt comfortable that this was a good person who made an immature decision. He's owned up that decision and he's ready to roll."

At 6-4, 185 pounds, Wilson needs to add some bulk to his frame to compete on the NFL level, but the Bears do need a receiver or two to step up this year with the retirement of Johnny Knox and the movement of Devin Hester exclusively to special teams.

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett sit atop the receiver depth chart, while Eric Weems is assured of a spot on the team because of his standout ability on special teams. That leaves Wilson to compete with Joe Anderson and Brittan Golden for the final spots at wideout. However, Anderson proved last year he can play special teams, which should aid his cause.

Wilson is another example of the Bears looking past off-the-field concerns and taking a player with great talent. But in the seventh round, Wilson is not considered a risky pick. If it doesn’t work out, the Bears will have little egg on their face.

But if he turns into a productive NFL player, Emery will look like a genius.