Byrd is the Word

The Bears are in search of an upgrade at tight end. On a roster full of talent at USC, Dominique Byrd made his presence known. Still there are concerns about his game and whether or not he would be the right type of tight end in Chicago.

The six-foot-2, 255-pound Byrd didn't put up impressive workout numbers during USC's pro day on Sunday. Obviously production on the field is the most important aspect when looking at a player, but athletic ability and strength also have to factor into the draft equation.

Byrd put up 225-pounds on the bench press just 16 times. He's not known as a solid blocker and lack of strength along with poor technique are reasons why. His best 40 was 4.79 seconds, which is comparable to UCLA's Mercedes Lewis but not impressive.

Despite the disappointing workout, Byrd was flawless catching the ball and ran good routes. As a three-year starter on a dominating Trojan club, Byrd posted solid numbers. He caught 80 balls for 958 yards and four touchdowns in 27 games.

Byrd is ranked as the fifth best tight end prospect by Scout.com and is the last of the four star players at the position. He would instantly be the best receiving tight end on the Chicago roster, but there is doubt if he could start immediately because of his struggles with blocking.

"I've gotten progressively better and my effort has gotten better and it's been something I've learned to enjoy," Byrd said of his blocking.

At a position prone to injury, Byrd is coming into the league with his share of medical concerns. In the spring of 2005, he had arthroscopic surgery to remove torn cartilage in a toe. He also suffered a broken jaw during a fight with his brother over a video game. As a junior, he missed the first 4 games of the season after breaking his left kneecap in a pickup basketball game. In 2003, he tore ligaments in the same knee.

"I think it was just bad luck," Byrd said. "When I tore my ACL our tackle cut the wrong way on an outside zone play. I couldn't really do anything about that.

"But I think it helped my confidence in knowing that I could come back from an injury and it gave me a sound mind when I came back on the field and it drove me to excel even more.''

If the Bears decide not to address tight end in the first round, there is a chance Byrd will be available in round two. The value with the 57th selection could dictate taking a chance on a player prone to injury, but also ready to contribute as a rookie.

TFY Draft Preview Scouting Report
Positive:
Natural pass-catching tight end with reliable hands. Quick to top speed, runs well laterally and makes the reception in stride. Has strong hands, snatching the ball from the air. Sharp route-runner who gets separation from defenders then displays shiftiness transitioning up field after the reception. Good eye/hand coordination and adjustment to the errant throw.

Negative: Marginal blocker who does not get results at the line of scrimmage or downfield. Has been plagued with durability issues the past two years.

Analysis: A reliable pass-catcher, Byrd nicely fits in as a move tight end at the next level. Must improve his blocking to complete his game yet offers starting potential.


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