Bears best fits from Senior Bowl: offense

After a week's worth of practices in Mobile, Alabama, plus the Senior Bowl itself, here are the offensive players who can help the Bears going forward, and those who are best suited elsewhere.

Chicago Bears scouts and coaches were on hand throughout Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala., getting an up-close look at some of the best players in the country. Bear Report was also front and center, evaluating prospects with an eye toward Chicago's needs this year and beyond.

Here are the offensive players that we feel would best help the Bears going forward, and those who are better suited to play elsewhere.

Best Fits

WR Josh Huff, Oregon (5-11, 201)
Earl Bennett was serviceable as Chicago's slot receiver last year but he lacks ideal speed and has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career. Bennett has hit his ceiling and the jury is still out on Marquess Wilson, so the Bears should keep their options open in terms of a No. 3 wideout. Huff could be that player. He's quick, shifty, runs good routes and has solid hands. He's also well built and showed an ability to absorb contact and still make plays on the ball. He's also an accomplished kick returner, which gives him added value. Huff is projected in the third round, which would allow the Bears to address defensive needs in the first two rounds before selecting the club's slot receiver of the future.

Projected: 3rd round (he could go higher if he posts a blazing 40 at the combine)

C Weston Richburg, Colorado State (6-3, 300)
Richburg was the toughest center in Mobile, showing nastiness and aggressiveness at the pivot. He has good size and decent power and is willing to do whatever it takes to get his opponent blocked. He's a three-time All-Mountain West honoree and is durable, starting 49 consecutive games for the Rams. The Bears may re-sign Roberto Garza but they still need a long-term center. Assistant offensive line coach Pat Meyer coached Richburg for three years in college, so the team knows exactly what they'd be getting.
Projected: 3rd round

OL Billy Turner, North Dakota State (6-5, 316)
Turner played both guard and right tackle during practice. He's a very natural athlete with active feet and good hand punch. He tends to bend too much at the waist, which led to a few badly missed blocks, but overall Turner was impressive. The jury is still out for Jordan Mills, who was easily the worst offensive lineman on the team last year. The Bears could provide Mills some camp competition by selecting Turner, a player who can play multiple positions and has a lot of upside.
Projected: 3rd round

TE Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State (6-6, 253)
Gillmore was a late arrival in Mobile replacing Fresno State's Marcel Jensen, who strained his abdominal on the first day of practice. Gillmore made an immediate impact and emerged as the top pass-catching tight end. During Wednesday's practice, he was nearly unstoppable in red-zone 1-on-1 drills, beating defenders on crosses, hitches and jump balls, showcasing very solid hands in the process. He then flashed in the Senior Bowl, leading the South team with five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. He also showed very well as an edge blocker. Gillmore would make an outstanding compliment to Martellus Bennett and would be a welcome addition to Chicago in the middle rounds.
Projected: 4th round

WR Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma (5-9, 164)
There was no quicker wide receiver at the Senior Bowl than Saunders. He's extremely fast in and out of his cuts and showed very good straight-line speed. He'll be limited to a slot role due to his size, and could struggle against physical defenders, but he'd be a very good complement to Chicago's big receivers out wide. Saunders' quickness could add an extra dimension to the Bears' passing attack and would be worth the risk on Day 3.
Projected: 5th round

RB Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky (5-10, 225)
Andrews led the nation in all-purpose yards the past two seasons and was named the Sun Belt's Offensive Player of the Year. He's solid as both a runner and a pass catcher and has the size to help cure Chicago's short-yardage woes. Yet he was most impressive as a pass blocker, absolutely dominating in 1-on-1 drills against opposing linebackers. Andrews is a complete running back who would serve well as Matt Forte's backup, as well as on third downs.
Projected: 5th-6th round

Worst Fits

C Travis Swanson, Arkansas (6-5, 310)
Swanson is widely considered the top center in this year's class but he didn't perform like it during practice last week. He's a powerful player inside but he struggled with quicker defenders. The Bears need help at the pivot and may consider Swanson if he's available in the second round but based on his performance in Mobile, that pick might be better spent on a defender.
Projected: 1st-2nd round

QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson (6-0, 222)
The Bears do not have a developmental quarterback on the roster. Although Cutler just signed a seven-year deal, it's always good to have a young signal caller in the pipeline. Boyd is a Day 3 pick, so the Bears wouldn't have to invest heavily, but he didn't look like an NFL quarterback at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. He lacked accuracy, anticipation and struggled running the offense. For Chicago's purposes, he wouldn't be worth the fifth-round investment.
Projected: 5th round

OT Seantrel Henderson, Miami (6-7, 331)
Henderson is massive and can absolutely maul in the run game. He could come in and provide a solid boost to the right side of Chicago's offensive line but he doesn't have the footwork to handle speed rushers at the next level. Auburn DE Dee Ford ate up Henderson all week. The Bears need a right tackle who can pass block consistently. Henderson is not that player.
Projected: 4th-5th round


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. 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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