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Rome Odunze could have a rookie season similar to former star wide receiver

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Rome Odunze

Earlier this week, Chicago Bears’ rookie wide receiver and the ninth overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, Rome Odunze met with the media to discuss his goals for 2024 NFL season. Odunze stated that he is determined to break not just franchise rookie records, but league receiving records, including several set by Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua last season. Although the rookie wide receiver has been compared to former Cardinals wide receiver and Hall of Famer Larry Fitgerald, it is another Cardinals’ legendary pass-catcher Anquan Boldin that Odunze may have a similar rookie season to.

Rome Odunze Is In A Similar Situation To That of Anquan Boldin’s Rookie Season of 2003

Leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft, Rome Odunze was regarded as one of the best wide receivers available and was constantly being compared to Fitzgerald when it came to talent ability. The reason why the ceiling is so high for the former Washington Huskies’ pass-catcher is due to his traits at the position, as he is both a deep-threat downfield and is capable of winning most 50/50 contested throws. Last year with Washington, Rome Odunze caught 92 passes for 1640 yards, while hauling in 16 touchdown catches with an impressive 18.5 yards per reception.

Despite his enormous level of production and being a key factor in Washington making it to the National Championship game against Michigan, Odunze was somewhat overshadowed in the first-round of the draft as he was the third wide receiver selected, behind Marvin Harrison Jr and Malik Nabers. Once selected by the Bears at nine, the rookie wasn’t even the best receiver on the roster as Chicago had both DJ Moore and Keenan Allen. Despite being highly sought after prospect, Rome Odunze was a complimentary selection being the second of two top-ten picks made by the Bears, with the first being quarterback Caleb Williams.

Whether being the third wide receiver taken in the draft, being the third wide receiver on the Bears’ roster, and being the second of two first-round selections for Chicago, it seems that Rome Odunze is being consistently overshadowed to an extent. Being overlooked can be used by the rookie to achieve his goals in 2024, as he can potentially capitalize on opposing defenses not properly game-planning against him. Additionally, due to Chicago having perennial 1,000-yard pass-catchers in Moore and Allen, opposing teams may be forced to pick their poison when it comes to pass-coverage, enabling Rome Odunze to have more one-on-one opportunities to succeed.

When Anquan Boldin was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2003 NFL Draft, he too was similarly overlooked, despite having an immense level of talent. Boldin was the fourth wide receiver taken in the draft and was the second taken by the Cardinals, with Bryant Johnson being taken in the first round by the team. Although Hall of Famer Andre Johnson was taken ahead of him, there were several pass-catchers taken ahead of Cardinals wide receiver that didn’t have much success in the NFL, including Charles Rodgers and Taylor Jacobs.

Boldin demonstrated his high-level talent immediately, as he recorded ten receptions for over 217 receiving yards and two touchdowns. A significant reason why he was so successful in his NFL debut was because of his capability to line up both inside and out, while Detroit’s defense seemed more focused on stopping the Cardinals’ other pass-catchers. During his rookie season, Boldin recorded four 100-yard receiving games while recorded eight or more receptions in five contests on his way to a Pro Bowl season.

Rome Odunze Has The Opportunity To Have Even More Success Given His Situation

Although Rome Odunze’s situation is setting up to be similar to Boldin’s 2003 rookie, he has more opportunity to have success because of the talent surrounding him. For the Cardinals’ wide receiver in 2003, he thrived early on because NFL teams didn’t expect him to be a threat immediately, but took him serious after his breakout game against the Lions. Boldin, after recording over 200 yards receiving against Detroit, was held to under 100 yards in his next eight games, which was due in part to Arizona not having other legitimate pass-catching threats on offense.

Rome Odunze Is A Number One Wide Receiver But A Number Three On The Bears Due To Circumstance
Rome Odunze is part of a great WR group in Chicago with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen

For Rome Odunze, 2024 could be a productive season due in part to him sharing the field with both Allen and Moore, who are both considered to be number one wide receivers in their own right. Chicago’s offensive setup will be a difficult one for opposing defense to game plan against as any one of the Bears’ top three pass-catchers have the capability to take over a contest. Odunze will have numerous occasions to produce numbers similar to Boldin’s rookie campaign due to either opposing defenses not accounting for him or not being able to contain him because of the presence of Allen and Moore.

Chicago’s offensive scheme under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will also be beneficial to Rome Odunze’s potential success, as the scheme focuses on inclusion of all the pass-catchers on offense. Last season with the Seattle Seahawks, Waldron oversaw an offensive unit which featured three wide receivers with 60 receptions or more.

With Chicago’s offense set up similar to the talent that Seattle featured at the receiver position, it is likely that Odunze will be able to produce good numbers for a rookie, but could be the best due to the offense’s desire to focus on getting pass-catchers the ball.

Odunze has a tremendous opportunity ahead of him to produce numbers similar to Boldin because of being overlooked due to the veteran talent around him.

Given his relationship with William’s coming out of college, the Bears’ rookie quarterback could be more keen on feeding the ball to his fellow rookie wide receiver. There were several draft analysts that believed that Rome Odunze was the best pass-catcher in the 2024 NFL Draft, and because of his current situation, the Washington wide receiver could use a multitude of favorable situations to have a memorable rookie campaign.


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