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Sports

Bears new receiver has standout potential

The Bears appear to have received excellent value in acquiring Brandon Marshall for two third-round draft picks and there's little doubt he can make the Bears offense more dynamic and proficient.

But it's not all sunshine and seashells with this import from the Dolphins.

Here is what stands out about Marshall, pro and con.

Pro: He is a proven producer who has gone above 1,000 receiving yards every year but his first. Marshall takes a back seat to few receivers in terms of talent.

At 6 feet 4, 229 pounds, he will be a matchup problem for every cornerback in the league. He moves like a smaller man. At the 2006 combine, he ran a 4.52 40-yard dash and had a 37-inch vertical jump.

What Marshall can do, with size and explosiveness, is make big plays. He had 16 receptions of 25 yards or more last year, which was fourth most in the NFL according to Stats.

He was the star of stars at the last Pro Bowl and was awarded the most valuable player award for catching six passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns. He owns the NFL single-game record for catches with 21 against the Colts in 2009.

Con: There are reasons why he will be on his third team in fourth years, and why the Dolphins were willing to surrender him for what might have turned into Garrett Wolfe and Michael Okwo revisited. Great, reliable players normally do not bounce around from team to team like pinballs.

The Bears could have made a play for Marshall two years ago when the Broncos traded him. They chose not to because they didn't want to take on a player who has been portrayed as a diva with a rap sheet.

If history is an indicator, Marshall will be high maintenance in the locker room and away from Halas Hall.

Pro: He and Jay Cutler have a chemistry between them that clearly has been missing between Cutler and the other Bears receivers.

Marshall's best two seasons were with Cutler and the Broncos, as were Cutler's.

Even though they both started together for only two years, Cutler has directed 143 more of his passes (359) to Marshall than any other receiver in his career. He also has more completions to Marshall (211) for more yards (2,727) and more touchdowns (14).

Marshall should make Cutler better quickly, according to one pro scout, because he will give him more margin for error.

"Brandon is bigger than Devin Hester or Johnny Knox, so Cutler can throw it to an area and Marshall can go get it," he said. "That makes Cutler more accurate."

Con: Marshall better get the football.

If he does not, he can be disruptive. Marshall has a history of complaining and pouting if things don't go his way.

Pro: Marshall is a Bears kind of receiver.

He will fit well in the NFC North and the Bears offense because he is physical and tough and he competes hard.

He doesn't mind using his muscle for blocking, and he should help Matt Forte's game.

He is a hard worker who watches a lot of tape, hits the weights and practices with intensity.

Con: Marshall is not the most consistent player.

His 12 drops in 2011 were the second most in the NFL. He has dropped 51 passes in his career.

He caught 57.4 percent of the passes thrown to him last year. Six Dolphins had a higher percentage. So did Roy Williams of the Bears, who caught 58.7 percent.

The scout said he believes Marshall has good hands, but he drops some balls because of lack of concentration.

Given his size and ability, you would think Marshall would excel in the red zone and on third downs. But that wasn't the case last year.

On third downs, Marshall caught 47.4 percent of the passes his way (18 of 38). Davone Bess was the Dolphins' best third-down receiver, catching 61.9 percent of his passes.

Last year in the red zone, the Dolphins threw to Marshall 20 times but he caught only six passes. Thirty-six players had more red zone catches. Some of this was because of the Dolphins' instability at quarterback.

In his career, he has caught more than seven touchdown passes in a season only once — he had 10 with Cutler in 2008.

Nevertheless, if the Bears can live with the cons from Marshall, they are going to love the pros.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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