Ten Most Important Bears Players: Rome Odunze
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Ten Most Important Bears Players: Rome Odunze


by - Senior Writer -

No team has gone through a more massive roster makeover than the Chicago Bears have the past two seasons. They started that process last year in free agency, and it continued this offseason and the NFL draft. To say this team is in win-now mode would be an understatement, but now it is time to win games instead of talking like they will win games.

For the Bears to be successful this season, it will take a collective effort to get the job done, but some players could play a more vital role than others. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some of these players who could be the biggest difference makers for the Bears this season, and that all starts with rookie WR Rome Odunze as our 10th most important Bears player of 2024.

Odunze was taken with the No. 9 overall selection in this year's draft. He was listed as one of the top three receivers in this year's class, and some publications had him as the best receiver prospect. His mix of speed, size, athletic ability, and route running made him the top target for Michael Penix the past two seasons, and he went on to post impressive numbers.

In his two seasons catching passes from Penix, Odunze hauled in 167 receptions for 2785 yards and 20 TDS. That included a 92-reception season this past year when he brought in 1640 yards and 13 scores. The yardage led the nation, and his play alone shows that he has the potential to be a No. 1 WR option in this game.

However, when you look at this Bears offense and how it is constructed, not only will Odunze not be the No. 1, but he won't be the No.2 either, as DJ Moore and Keenan Allen will occupy those spots. Talk about a scary thought, as Odunze could be one of the best, if not the best, No. 3 WR options in the game today if he lives up to his potential.

That is always the most significant question when it comes to a rookie and Odunze has a lot to live up to when you look at the expectations put on him in the past. When you look back at the history of the Bears and their offense, they rarely have multiple 1000-yard receiver options on offense with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey being the last pairing that did that.

This season, the Bears have Moore and Allen, who are both proven 1,000-yard guys, and Odunze, who comes in with the potential to reach that mark also. That gives the Bears three guys all capable of reaching the 1,000-yard mark this season, which will make this offense more dynamic than it has ever been.

What makes Odunze such an essential piece to the Bears this season is that he is a rookie and will be paired with Caleb Williams for the next five years. With Allen on a one-year deal and Moore having three years remaining on his extension, Odunze is going to be the one guy who can say he will be here through the duration of Williams' rookie deal.

That allows both players to form a true connection on and off the field, and it could also give the Bears an excellent duo for years to come should Allen and Moore leave when their deal is up. The sooner Odunze can show what he is about, the better this team will be. With Allen on a one-year deal and no guarantee that he will come back after this season, Odunze will likely be looked at as the team's No. 2 option next season.

Expect him to be brought along a little bit slowly to begin the season, as the Bears want him to take his time adjusting to the NFL game and its speed. However, once he makes that adjustment, look for him to potentially see more targets than Allen during the second half of the season, as he could lead all Rookie WRs in receiving yards this season.

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