Bears Scouting Tour IV

The Chicago Bears get an up-close look at a first-round wide receiver out of the Big East conference and are one of only two NFL teams not present at one of the biggest pro days in the ACC.

Click here to view our Chicago Bears Scouting Tour Primer.

Bears in Attendance: West Virginia

PlayerPos.HeightWeightOld 40 Pro Day 40 BenchVertBroadProj. Round
Geno SmithQB6-22174.59DNPDNP33.510-41
Tavon AustinWR5-91734.34DNP143210-01
Stedman BaileyWR5-101984.524.621134.59-92-3
Joe MadsenC6-43105.2DNP25278-107-FA
Josh FrancisOLB6-0228--4.7225--10-5FA
Joshua JenkinsG6-3297--5.4622----FA
Jeff BraunG6-4309--5.3629----FA

The Chicago Bears were in attendance at the West Virginia pro day held in mid March. Most other NFL teams were also on hand, with many paying close attention to quarterback Geno Smith.

In a class devoid of elite quarterback talent, Smith is widely considered the best signal caller. He's a strong-armed, accurate passer who can also beat defenses with his legs. As such, many believe he'll be selected in the Top 10 of this year's draft, with some slotting him as the No. 1 overall selection.

The Bears may be in the market for a young quarterback in this draft but that won't be until later in the process. And unless they are willing to trade the rest of their draft picks to move up into the Top 10, they'll have no shot at Smith with the 20th overall pick. Yet wide receiver Tavon Austin could be sitting there when it's Chicago turn to pick in the first round. The Bears already have Brandon Marshall and used a second-round pick in last year's draft to select Alshon Jeffery, so not many folks have Austin linked to the Bears at pick 20. Yet I believe there is a strong chance GM Phil Emery will select Austin if he's still available in the first.


Tavon Austin
Joe Robbins/Getty

Emery has said on numerous occasions his strategy in the first round of every draft is to take the most-talented player, regardless of position. By that criteria, it's hard to imagine a more-talented player could still be on the board at 20 if Austin is also there. The Bears have much bigger needs at linebacker, offensive line, defensive tackle and linebacker, yet Austin is an elite athlete who would be hard to pass up.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, the second best time of any player in Indianapolis. To say Austin has elite speed is an understatement. When he gets a step on the defender, he's gone, which makes him a homerun threat every time he touches the ball.

Austin also has amazing quickness and elusiveness in the open field. As a receiver, he worked mainly out of the slot, where he excelled at turning short catches into huge gains. Many compare him to Percy Harvin, one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NFL, and for good reason. Austin is arguably the most diverse player in this draft, similar to Harvin, with extensive experiences as a receiver, running back and kick returner.

Here are his senior-season stats from 2012:

Receiving – 112 catches, 1,289 yards, 12 TDs Rushing – 72 rushes, 643 yards, 3 TDs Return man – 978 return yards, 2 TDs

That type of versatility and ridiculous production, combined with amazing natural athleticism, most likely has new Bears head coach Marc Trestman salivating. The thought of placing Austin in the slot, with the two big guys out wide, along with new pass-catching tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte out of the backfield, might be too much for Trestman, the team's de facto offensive coordinator, to ignore. At the pro day, Austin was reportedly electric during his workout.

West Virginia's other talented receiver, Steadman Bailey, also worked out. Bailey is similar in size to Austin but doesn't possess the same speed, quickness or after-the-catch ability. Yet that doesn't make Bailey a slouch, it just means he's not elite. As a second-round pick though, he could be very attractive to the Bears, assuming they are unable to get Austin in the first.

Bailey is a much more polished receiver who runs outstanding routes and, despite his size, is physical when the ball is in the air. He was ultra productive in Morgantown, posting eye-popping numbers as a junior in 2012 (113 catches, 1,627 yards, 25 TDs), earning him second-team AP All-American honors.

Bailey lacks ideal size and speed but he makes up for it with great technique, good routes and outstanding body control. He'll be a very productive slot receiver in the NFL, which is something the Bears need.

Bears not in Attendance: Miami (FL)

PlayerPos.HeightWeightOld 40 Pro Day 40 BenchVertBroadProj. Round
Brandon McGeeCB5-111934.4DNP14349-113-5
Ray Ray ArmstrongS6-3216--4.691834.59-86-FA
Mike JamesRB5-112174.53DNP28359-77-FA

Seventeen former Miami Hurricanes worked out in front of representatives from 30 NFL teams. The Bears and Washington Redskins were the only to clubs not in attendance.

Despite the high number of players working out, Miami has a surprisingly low number of draftable prospects. Their highest-rated player is CB Brandon McGee, a potential fourth-round selection.

McGee is very fast (4.40) but he doesn't have fluid hips and he tends to lose track of the ball. His speed helps him close quickly on passes, which leads to a lot of breakups, yet his lack of technique and agility limit his ability in man coverage. He had a very inconsistent senior season, looking horrible at times.

The Bears did not attend Miami's workout, which would typically lead me to believe they have no interest in McGee. Yet Chicago did recently work him out privately, so in this case, the lack of representatives at McGee's workout doesn't indicate a lack of interest from the Bears. In fact, it appears they have significant interest in McGee as a potential fourth rounder.

Safety Ray Ray Armstrong is an interesting prospect. After a strong 2011, the school suspended him for the 2012 season for taking impermissible benefits from a booster. He ended up transferring to an NAIA school, where he did not play football. Armstrong is a very good athlete who was productive when on the field, yet his numerous off-field problems will see fall into the later rounds. The Bears don't need a safety and weren't interested in seeing Armstrong up close, so don't expect him to end up in Chicago next year.


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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