While the Chicago Bears' staff has repeatedly thrown support to its current crew of wide receivers, that doesn't belie the teams need for a No. 1 pass catcher. The team has met with numerous players at the position and will almost assuredly grab one receiver in the upcoming draft.
That player could be Georgia's Kris Durham. The Bears recently worked out the 6-5, 216-pounder. At the Bulldog's pro day, Durham flashed outstanding speed for his size, running a 4.46 40-yard dash. His 20-yard shuttle (4.41 seconds) was on the low side but his 3-cone time (6.89) was about average. His 17 bench-press reps was a good number compared to the receivers invited to the Scouting Combine. He posted a 35-inch vertical leap and a 10-1 broad jump as well.
On tape, Durham is a fluid runner with very good hands. He's not afraid to go over the middle and has no difficulty making catches in traffic. He catches the ball away from his body and has decent after-the-catch ability. He needs to work on his route running, as he doesn't sink his hips well enough coming in and out of his breaks. As a downfield blocker, he's above average.
Georgia utilized Durham mostly as a deep threat. When he was able to match up on safeties down the seam, he dominated. He uses his size well to shield off defenders when going up for the jump ball. His speed allows him to breakaway once he has some daylight. For a player of his size, he shows great ability to maneuver his way through traffic.
Durability is an issue though. He missed all of 2009 with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He also missed time in 2008 with ankle and hand injuries.
Durham is not the most athletically gifted player coming out of college but his combination of size and speed is unmatched, especially for lower-tier prospects like himself. Jay Cutler needs a big guy who can go up and get the jump ball. Durham could be that player.
If Chicago foregoes the position until later in the draft, they could grab him in the late rounds and let him develop for a few years. If he can stay healthy, Durham could turn in to just the player the Bears are looking for.
He has also had individual workouts with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. The New York Giants have also displayed significant interest. If the Bears like what they saw during his individual workout, they may have to use a fourth- or fifth-round pick to acquire him.
Paul meets with the Bears
Paul (6-1, 225) has good size and is a physical player. He clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash at his pro day and his 24 bench reps were second best at the combine. He is one of the best deep threats in the draft and his breakaway speed is off the charts. He has game-changing ability and also was a punt and kick returner for the Cornhuskers. There are few more-talented prospects in the draft.
His blend of size and strength is intriguing, yet there are some red flags. Inconsistency has been the biggest knock on Paul, as he'll make the spectacular grab on one play and then drop the routine ball the next. He also was cited for alcohol-related incidents in 2009 and 2010, arrested for suspicion of DUI and underage consumption/urinating in public. He ultimately pled guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and was fined for both incidents.
Paul has all the makings of a No. 1 receiver, if he can only stay focused and on the field. Most scouts believe he'll fall no further than the third- or fourth-round. He is a risky prospect but has all the athletic tools to be a top-tier receiver at the next level. If the Bears are still looking for a receiver come the fourth round, and Paul is still available, it will be hard for them to pass him up.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.