It was a busy day yesterday in Champaign, where representatives from 30 of 32 NFL teams showed up for Illinois' pro day. Six members of the Bears organization were on hand to take a closer look at, among others, Corey Liuget, who could be Chicago's first round pick this year.
Liuget (6-2, 298-pounds) ran a 4.97 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, and put up 27 reps in the bench press – both very good numbers for the position. He had a career year in 2010, earning second-team All-Big Ten accolades after recording 63 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and three passes broken up.
He is a prototypical 3-technique tackle. His build is almost identical to that of Tommie Harris, and his game isn't all that different either. He plays with great strength and has a very quick first step, allowing him to regularly penetrate into the backfield. He plays sideline-to-sideline and has enough speed to catch up with plays from behind.
DT Corey Liuget
He can be a disruptive force in the passing game, but he's even better against the run. His ability to hold the point of attack and spin away from blocks in the trenches will make him tough to run through for years to come.
Coordinator Rod Marinelli put him through individual drills yesterday. If he liked what he saw, it's entirely possible the Bears will call Liuget's name if he falls to them in the first round. The problem is, everyone is becoming so enamored with him – some even considering him at the talent level of Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Auburn's Nick Fairley, the top two DT prospects – that he's likely to get swooped up before the 29th pick.
Also at the pro day was LB Martez Wilson, another potential first-rounder. While on the surface,the Bears look set at the position with Pro-Bowlers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher manning the middle and weak side respectively. But those are the only two signed linebackers the Bears have on the roster right now, and they'll need to address that hole at some point in the draft.
It would be highly unlikely, but if the Bears wanted to build one of the most dominating linebacking crews in the NFL, Wilson would be just the guy to draft. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine and hits like a brick wall. He was first team All-Big Ten last year. He's projected to go somewhere around the 29th overall pick. He could be the wild card no one in Chicago is talking about.
RB Mikel Leshoure worked out yesterday as well. He has first round talent and won't be available when the Bears pick in the second round. Also working out for scouts were guard Randall Hunt, outside linebacker Nate Bussey, wide receivers Eddie McGee and Jarred Fayson, cornerback Travon Bellamy, safety Antonio Gulley and punter Anthony Santella.
LB Doug Hogue
Otto Greule Jr./Getty
Bears workout Hogue
The Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles put Syracuse linebacker Doug Hogue through a private workout yesterday. Chicago needs to fill four linebacker slots on its current roster, at least one of which will likely come in the draft.
Hogue was an All-Big East selection in 2010. He ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at the combine, which is very good for his position, but his 18 bench reps at 225-pounds was on the low end.
The 6-2, 235-pounder is a converted running back and has only played linebacker for two years. Needles to say, he's very raw. He's not overly powerful but he's very quick and has good speed. His biggest strength is in the pass game, where he has no problem sticking with most running backs and tight ends. He has untapped potential, which has a lot of teams intrigued.
Most experts project him to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round. This would be a perfect place for the Bears to grab him, assuming they like what they saw in yesterday's workout.
Yet it's not just his potential at linebacker that has the Bears interested. Backup linebackers in Chicago are the bread and butter of the special-teams units. Rod Wilson and Brian Iwuh were some of the team's best coverage guys last year. Hogue possesses the speed to be great in coverage. The fact the Bears worked him out makes it more likely they'll take a flier on him in the late rounds.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.