Mixon Turning Some Heads

By now, Bears fans already know that both Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher are free agents after this season. And with Devin Hester now being moved to the other side of the ball, the need for a young cornerback is even more paramount. Tim Mixon went undrafted out of California this past April, but he's made some noise in the offseason program and could sneak his way onto the final roster.

Cornerback Tim Mixon is turning heads in Chicago.

The former University of California Bear, who was rated higher than teammate Daymeion Hughes by scouting services before tearing a knee ligament last August, gave up on his attempt for a sixth season of NCAA eligibility and decided to enter the 2007 NFL Draft.

Initially signing with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, Mixon was cut loose by the team after refusing to sign a waiver for his injured knee. The Chicago Bears quickly swiped him up and originally planned to place Mixon on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list while paying him a practice-squad salary as he continued to rehab his knee. But Mixon was recently cleared to play and has been told by the coaching staff he has a real chance to make the final roster.

Mixon's style of play is perfect for the Cover 2 system employed by head coach Lovie Smith, and his abilities as a return specialist could make him an inexpensive backup to All-Pro Devin Hester. It's also worth noting that Chicago's two starting cornerbacks, Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher, are both in the final year of their contracts.

Ricky Manning Jr. excelled as a nickelback his first season in the Windy City but struggled when asked to start at corner in place of either Tillman or Vasher, who each missed time late in 2006 with minor injuries. Dante Wesley is little more than a special teams player at this point, and Hester has been moved to wide receiver. The Bears drafted corners Corey Graham of New Hampshire in the fifth round and Trumaine McBride of Ole Miss in the seventh this past April, plus they added Greg Fassitt of Grambling as an undrafted free agent.

Since affording both Tillman and Vasher next offseason appears unlikely, Mixon will get every opportunity to show what he can do come training camp in Bourbonnais.

Scout.com NFL experts Tony Pauline and Adam Caplan contributed to this story.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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