Linebacker Peaks Bears' Interest

With pro days going on at universities around the country, a member of the Bears staff was down in Georgia taking a closer look at linebacker Odell Thurman.

While the Bears have dished out more $50 million in new contracts to upgrade the offense, the team could look to boost the defense through the draft. Although it's unlikely to happen in round one, the team could go with a defensive player with the 39th overall selection.

With the need for another receiver and running back, it will be difficult for GM Jerry Angelo to justify selecting a defender on the first day of the draft.

Still, Lovie Smith has said the unit is one linebacker short. He appears to prefer going after one in free agency rather than the draft.

"Bringing in one more veteran linebacker was something if we could do it it would be good," Smith said. "We still feel the same way, there are a few guys out there still and we may go that direction."

Although Thurman spent the bulk of his time at Georgia on the inside, he would be a perfect fit in the speed-oriented defense the Bears play. Obviously the team isn't looking for a middle linebacker, so the team is projecting Thurman to be able to move outside.

Lance Briggs made the transition from strong to weak side linebacker last year. However, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Joe Odom and Marcus Reese failed to establish them self on the strong side.

The Bears have scheduled a personal visit with Thurman down the road. He is moving up the draft board and could be taken in the latter part of round one.

"That's the main goal, but I'll feel blessed whatever round I'm in," Thurman said.

Thurman ran a 4.56 and a 4.60 and bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times Tuesday. Those numbers were slight improvements over his Combine numbers, but Thurman said he thinks he's made most of his progress in interviews. He felt like he had a bad reputation when he left Georgia after being kicked off the team once and suspended on another occasion.

"They don't really know me so it's just the stuff they read and hear about," he said. "I felt I helped myself just talking to them, and selling my side of the story."

6-0 0/8; 233 lbs; Arms 32 5/8 inches; Hands 10 3/8 inches

Scouting Report
The Good:
Explosive linebacker that projects to either the middle or on the outside. Immediately diagnoses the action, flashes on the scene and displays quickness in all aspects of the game. Gets depth on drops, displays good range and the ability to make plays sideline-to-sideline. Exceptional playing speed and possesses a good degree of suddenness. Runs well to the ball, displays good hand technique getting off blocks and has a closing burst of speed. Packs a wallop at the point of attack

The Bad: Not overly efficient and wastes a lot of motion. Undersized and slowed by blocks.

The Skinny: An athletic prospect with an excellent combination of speed and quickness, Thurman can play any number of linebacker spots in different schemes. Needs to refine his game and play with better control.

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