Lewis Full of Confidence

If there's one guarantee heading into the draft, the Bears will take a tight end. That's where the known ends and the questions begin. UCLA TE Marcedes Lewis has visited Halas Hall for a pre-draft workout, but there is doubt whether he's the right type of tight end for Ron Turner's west coast offense.

Lewis was a three-year starter for the Bruins. He earned All-Conference and All-American honors as a senior after leading the Bruins with 68 receptions for 830 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was also an All-Conference recipient as a junior when he caught 32 balls for 402 yards and 7 scores.

Chicago Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel compared Lewis and Georgia's Leonard Pope, who the Bears are also considering with the 26th overall pick.

"Marcedes is a better blocker. Pope might have a little better hands but we're talking a fraction. Pope might time faster, Lewis might play a little faster because he is a little more athletic, his change of direction and flexibility is a little better." -- Gabriel said.

With 4.85 forty speed, Lewis wouldn't appear to be a threat to beat a safety deep over the middle. Still he averaged 12.3 yards per reception his last two seasons at UCLA. There's little doubt he would immediately become the best pass-catching tight end on the roster.

Scout.com ranks Lewis as the third best tight end prospect, earning a four-star rating. He compares himself to cross between Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.

"Just because of our background with basketball a little bit," Lewis said. "I'm able to position myself in the air to catch balls that other tight ends maybe couldn't. I'm long and I can run. I'm pretty athletic."

Despite Gabriel giving Lewis the edge over Pope as a blocker, neither is going to run through an opposing defender. The Bears want to improve from their 31st ranked pass offense, but don't want to have sacrifice their running attack in order to do so.

"Our tight end has got to be able to block," Gabriel said. "This is Chicago, we've got to run the ball, especially when the weather is bad. If he can't block, he's not a fit."

At six-foot-6, 261-pounds Lewis is big enough to at least impede a defender trying to make a tackle. With time, he could improve on his technique

"Blocking, to me now, is just as good as making a catch and scoring a touchdown or running a guy over," Lewis said. "After my sophomore year, I got a different tight ends coach, and he made me realize that if I wanted to be anywhere I would have to put my face in somebody's helmet, so to speak. He would always tell me this is your roof, and we want you to go through that roof. I look at blocking just as I look at receiving."

TFY Draft Preview Scouting Report
Positive:
Exceptional pass-catching tight end with tremendous upside for the next level. Quickly releases into routes, finds the soft spot in the defense and consistently makes plays in the secondary. Has soft hands and pulls the ball from the air even with defenders draped on him. Works back to the quarterback and regularly makes the acrobatic grab. Takes a pounding yet holds onto the throw. Works hard running after the reception, displaying the ability to break tackles and carry the pile. Plays with outstanding focus, concentration and body control.

Negative: Must improve his blocking strength and intensity.

Analysis: A team player who displayed a willingness to work hard and improve his game, Lewis is a natural receiver with consistent hands. Needs to polish his blocking yet offers starting potential at the next level.


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