(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey.)
Team: Chicago Bears
Experience: 4 seasons
2016 vs. Cowboys:
The Cowboys and Bears meet in Week 3, Sept. 25, in primetime at AT&T Stadium – the franchises' fifth matchup in the last seven years. The Cowboys lead the all-time series, 14-11.
What's the Deal:
Jeffery signed a one-year franchise tender to remain in Chicago for at least a fifth season, ensuring the Bears' offense retains one of the NFL's most dynamic receivers. A second-round pick by Chicago in 2012, Jeffery has Jeffery has scored 24 touchdowns and averaged 63 catches over his first four years in the league, including a career-high 89 catches for 1,421 yards in his 2013 Pro Bowl season. Injuries limited Jeffery to only nine appearances last season, but he still had 54 catches for 807 yards and 4 touchdowns.
In three straight games against the Bears from 2012-2014, the Cowboys' defense was challenged not only by Jeffery, but another big receiving threat: Brandon Marshall. Marshall's now with the Jets, which makes Jeffery the unquestioned No. 1 receiving option for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. The 6-foot-3 wideout was a particularly tough cover in the Bears' last two games against the Cowboys. He had 5 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in a dominant 45-28 victory in 2013; the following year, in a 41-28 loss to Dallas, he had 6 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys have their top three cornerbacks returning in 2016 – Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne – and all three could get matched up with Jeffery during the course of the game.
In three career games against the Cowboys, Jeffery has 14 catches for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns and the Bears won twice (2012, 2013).
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Impressive physical makeup. Possesses a big frame and long arms. Can be intimidating to a defensive back when he first encounters him. Looks big on tape but even bigger in person.
- For a man his size he can make all the catches. Will go high and low to grab a ball. Good hands to pluck the ball. Wide catch radius. Hard guy to get a ball past. Snatches screens and gets quickly up the field. Adjusts well to the ball in flight. Natural receiving skills.
- Plays like a power forward at times gaining position then out-jumping defender for the ball. Has the skill and the size to make the defender have to go through him to get the ball. Will drive the corner off the ball then settle down to work back to the ball.
- Have to respect his ability to catch the deep ball. Runs all the routes: hitches, slants, digs, verticals. There are snaps where he rounds off the patterns but has improved in this area since his days at South Carolina.
- Has power and some quickness to make people miss in space. Hard man to bring down one-on-one in the open field. Must get off press with strength and power then get into his route. Will get tall off the line at times. Doesn't always bend his knees and will get defender a shot at his chest.
- Fierce downfield blocker. Positions and walls off corner support. Not afraid to stick his nose in the action.
- Has always been a high-target receiver that struggled with injuries in 2015 – should be better in 2016.
The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.