Bears coaches were busy yesterday. Chicago representatives were on hand for three workouts, the locations of which spanned the width of the country.
First out of the gate was running backs coach Tim Spencer, who went out to California to put Cal RB Shane Vereen through a private workout. Bear Report covered Vereen in detail a few weeks ago. He's a versatile runner who has outstanding hands. He'll make a very good third-down back in the NFL, yet he's more than that.
At the Scouting Combine, Vereen measured 5-10, 210-pounds, which is not that much smaller than Alabama's Mark Ingram, the consensus No. 1 running back in the draft. Vereen also showed some amazing strength, benching 225-pounds 31 times, the second most for any back and more than most offensive linemen. He is arguably the most-complete back coming out of college.
RB Shane Vereen
Heading into the combine, Vereen was thought of as fourth- or fifth-round talent. His stock rose during those four days in Indianapolis, and many think he'll come off the board in the second or third. With so many other more-pressing needs, it would be surprising for Chicago to go running back in the second. Yet the Bears wouldn't be sending Spencer out to California if there wasn't some real interest on their part.
Heading across the country, we found offensive line coordinator Mike Tice in Gainesville for Florida's pro day. The big name on the docket was C/G Mike Pouncey, twin brother of the Steelers' Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey.
The 6-5, 303-pounder is very high on the Bears' draft board. He played both center and guard in college. He could come in and start right away at guard, while learning the center position under Kreutz. He would then be ready to take over when the old man finally calls it quits. And if Kreutz doesn't re-sign with the team, Pouncey could start right away in the middle, or take over at right guard if Roberto Garza moves to the center spot.
Scouts feel he's one of the more aggressive, powerful interior linemen in the draft. Add to that his versatility and you have the makings of a first-round pick. Whether he falls to Chicago is yet to be seen. Most experts feel he'll go in the 20-25 range, but if he's available at 29, expect the Bears to jump all over him.
Tice also got a good look at tackle Marcus Gilbert and G/T Carl Johnson. Gilbert (6-6, 330-pounds) is a massive human being. He began his collegiate career at guard, so there is some versatility there. Most scouts see him playing right tackle in the pros, as he doesn't have good enough footwork to man the left side. He's still a bit raw, but with his size and 30 starts in the tough SEC under his belt, he could be worth a mid-round pick.
Johnson played guard and tackle at UF and is considered a late round or priority undrafted free agent type. He brings with him some off-the-field baggage.
WR Austin Pettis
Our last stop on the tour takes us to Ohio, where Andrew Hayes-Stoker, who assists wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, put former Boise State WR Austin Pettis through a private workout. Pettis measured 6-3, 209-pounds at the combine. He's the type of big-bodied receiver the Bears need. He was the Broncos' career leader in receptions (229) and touchdowns (39). He has decent speed, running a 4.56 40-yard dash at the combine. Yet he showed amazing quickness, running the fastest 20-yard shuttle (3.88 seconds) in combine history. He did well in most of the other drills as well.
Pettis is not a game-breaker. He's more of a possession type with the decent after-the-catch ability. He was very dependable for the Broncos though and made a lot of big plays in big games. He's projected as a mid-round pick. If the Bears address their other needs in the trenches with the first two picks, Pettis could be their choice in the third or fourth.
Boise State's pro day is March 24.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.