The Bears spent their final pick in the 2018 draft on Georgia receiver Javon Wims, selecting the 6-3, 215-pounder with the 224th choice in the seventh round.
A junior college transfer, Wims played two seasons at Georgia. He appeared in 13 games with three starts in 2016, catching 17 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown.
Wims then blossomed last season, playing in all 15 games with 14 starts and helping the Bulldogs reach the FBS championship game by leading the team in all receiving categories with 45 receptions for 720 yards and seven touchdowns.
Wims appealed to Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy because he’s a big, physical receiver who possesses several impressive traits.
“He has outstanding hands, outstanding catch radius, body control,” Pace said. “He’s a guy Matt and I have talked about for a long time. We were really excited to get him at that point in the draft.”
Asked about his strengths, Wims said: “Other than size, I just think I have the unique ability to be a natural hands catcher. I have the ability to catch the ball while I’m surrounded. I have amazing ball adjustment skills. A lot of people may say I have huge upside because I have a lot of raw talent. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I can become. I think my best football days are ahead of me. Under the right tutelage, the right people, I think I could be a very good player in the league.
The Bears felt fortunate to land the leading receiver from a team that reached college football’s national championship game so late in the draft.
“He’s played in a lot of big games and he’s made big plays at big moments,” Pace said. “We were happy when he was there. I know we were kind of staring at that magnet and it’s kind of taking forever as you go through those later rounds. We were hoping he was going to be there, all the way up until the pick right before him. And when he was we were thrilled to get up and turn that magnet in.”
Wims’ journey to the NFL has been a long and circuitous one. He played just one year of high school football and worked at a gymnastics center and clothing store between stints at Belhaven University and Hinds Community College before entering Georgia.
“It definitely made me realize how long it took for me to get here,” Wims said. “It made me thankful for all of the ups and downs I’ve had and thankful for every opportunity I’ve had.
“I’m just most proud of my patience, the fact that I never gave up. The NFL was always the goal. It didn’t really seem real until my senior year. This past season is when it seemed real.”
Nothing was more real to Wims than holding two jobs after leaving Belhaven University in 2014. He worked at a gymnastics center as well as a store called Designer’s Closet at Orange Park Mall in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I’ve grown to appreciate things ever since I worked two nine-to-fives,” Wims said. “The worst part was really just not doing something you love, and just doing something just to get by. My parents are very lower middle class, if that. We’re barely getting by. When I was back working those jobs I was barely getting by. That was the hardest part, not doing what was I loved to do.”