DE Cliff Avril (6-3, 251) – Purdue
Strengths: He's an outstanding athlete who possesses a top motor. He displays good speed and quickness and is excellent in pursuit. He's a versatile player who can play down or standing up. He makes a lot of plays in the backfield and has a nose for the ball. He's a hard worker and a leader on the field.
Weaknesses: He's an undersized defender who is considered a `tweener at the next level. He has to get off blocks better and defend the run consistently. He has to work on his technique and not depend on his speed and agility to make plays.
Steuber Says: "Avril showed good versatility in Mobile and projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 system. He displayed good speed and athleticism and played with a great deal of leverage. Avril played well in one-on-one drills, but he struggled against bigger blockers. A team like the Jets or Patriots may look at Avril in the third or fourth round and use him as an OLB. But if a team like the Bears, Eagles or Titans drafts him, he'll be a situational pass rusher."
JC's Take: Steuber's assessment of Avril sounds an awful lot like what might be said of Mark Anderson, who was a smashing success as a rookie but went through a miserable sophomore slump.
While the Midway Monsters appear to be deep and talented at the defensive end position, remember that Anderson was a liability against the run most of 2007 and Alex Brown is still talking about getting traded if he's not going to be a starter. Adewale Ogunleye was tremendous this past season and had probably his best performance in a Chicago uniform, so the left side appears to be in pretty good shape. But with Lance Briggs soon to be a memory at linebacker, perhaps Avril could provide some competition for the likes of Jamar Williams and Michael Okwo – especially because he's a little bigger and stronger than those two.
Bears officials did spend a good deal of time with Avril in Mobile before workouts began, and I'm guessing a lot of that conversation had to do with whether or not the former Boilermaker felt up to the challenge of playing on the weak side in a 4-3.
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.