We're still more than three months away from the Miami Dolphins officially being on the clock in the 2008 NFL Draft, but the Chicago Bears could be giving early clues as to which positions they covet most this offseason.
After a spectacular run all the way to Super Bowl XLI in 2006, the Monsters of the Midway crumbled to a 7-9 mark this past year and missed out on the playoffs entirely. Injuries at key positions played a big part in their demise, but age and ineffectiveness were also major factors for a team that couldn't put together so much as a two-game winning streak until Weeks 16 and 17. All three quarterbacks – Rex Grossman, Brian Griese, and Kyle Orton – experienced their ups and downs, but other skill-position players were also underwhelming. The offensive line suffered a shocking dropoff and may need a complete overhaul. Defensively, depth at defensive tackle is a concern, and both safety positions need to be upgraded.
With the 14th selection in Round 1, there are many directions GM Jerry Angelo can go. However, he may be tipping his hand based on his scouts' activity during preparations for Saturday's Senior Bowl. Team officials spent a lot of time with Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan earlier in the week, and a similar trend was on display Tuesday in Mobile.
Like Sweed, Doucet (6-0, 207) is one of the premier wideouts available in the draft and expected to go somewhere in Round 1. A great natural athlete who can do a little bit of everything, he comes from a program that just won a national championship and produced first-round pass-catchers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis just a year ago. Doucet's time in the 40-yard dash is average at best and he didn't have the monster senior season many scouts projected, but he has all the tools to succeed at the next level.
QB Joe Flacco and WR Early Doucet
Like Brennan, Flacco (6-6, 230) isn't going to be a first-rounder but could come off the board as early as Round 2. A prototypical drop-back passer who put up huge numbers in two seasons with the Blue Hens, he can make all the throws necessary of an NFL quarterback and possesses excellent touch and timing. His mechanics need some work and he didn't play against top collegiate competition, but he's drawn rave reviews so far and is outperforming other signal-callers from bigger programs.Since the Bears are spending a lot of time with the likes of Sweed and Doucet, it's reasonable to assume that they're looking to draft a receiver in the first round and might be less than optimistic about their chances of re-signing Bernard Berrian in free agency. And if they're taking an interest in the likes of Brennan and Flacco, it's also reasonable to assume that they'll make an effort to bring back Grossman and will target a young signal-caller outside of Round 1. It will be a while before Commissioner Roger Goodell announces "The Chicago Bears are on the clock" at Radio City Music Hall, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that a playmaking wide receiver is higher on the club's list of priorities than yet another quarterback of the future.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.