Draft Dissection: Offensive Prospects

The NFL Draft kicks off Saturday, and the Chicago Bears are busy making their final preparations at Halas Hall. There are immediate-impact players on their wish list, but which ones are most likely to be selected by the team this weekend? JC offers his final draft primer, starting with the offense ...

Quarterback

The skinny: General manager Jerry Angelo stated all the way back at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that he has targeted four potential signal-caller prospects in this draft. While this is not a good year for the QB position overall, he still needs to find a passer to carry a clipboard behind Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton since Brian Griese was sent back to Tampa Bay.

First-round focus: There has been some speculation lately that the Bears could make a deal with New England for the seventh-overall pick, which would allow them to leapfrog Baltimore at No. 8 and potentially draft Matt Ryan of Boston College. Angelo didn't offer a flat-out denial at the team's annual pre-draft luncheon Tuesday, although the scenario seems remote at best.


QB Chad Henne
Carlos Osorio/AP Images

Middle-round bargain: Chad Henne of Michigan would be a wonderful pick in the third round if he lasts that long, and there are rumors afoot lately that the Bears are indeed targeting the former Wolverine. Joe Flacco of Delaware seems less likely every day, as he could even sneak into the late stages of Round 1.

Late-round flyer: Colt Brennan of Hawaii could very well be there in the fifth round, and he might be worth a gamble that late because of his incredible production in college. There are plenty of Hawaii haters that don't want him anywhere near a Bears uniform, but Angelo and Co. have been checking him out since the Senior Bowl in Mobile.

Best bet: Henne seems like a real possibility at this point, even though the Midway Monsters might have to grab him in Round 2 instead of hoping he's there in Round 3. Brian Brohm of Louisville is slipping on most everyone's board, but it would be a shock if he were still available when Angelo is on the clock at No. 44 overall.

Running Back

The skinny: Nobody at Halas Hall said anything Tuesday to dispel the idea that the tailback position will be addressed at some point this weekend, so all that remains to be seen is how early. With Cedric Benson still rehabbing that fractured ankle, Adrian Peterson failing to capitalize on his opportunity to start, and Garrett Wolfe not getting much of a chance as a rookie, it's safe to assume that one of them will be deep-sixed in the near future.

First-round focus: Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois is a local product and looked incredible at the combine, offering plenty of strength to go along with all that speed. If there is a run at offensive tackle toward the middle of Round 1 as has been anticipated, Mendenhall just might be the best player available at No. 14 and would make many Bears fans quite happy.


RB Jamaal Charles
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Middle-round bargain: The debate in Round 2 seems to be Matt Forte of Tulane or Jamaal Charles of Texas, both of whom had private workouts for Bears officials earlier this month. Forte is more of a punisher and can catch the ball out of the backfield soundly, while Charles is more of a home-run hitter and could complement Benson's between-the-tackles style.

Late-round flyer: Some experts believe this might be the deepest draft in history for ball-carriers, so there should be all kinds of quality talent available well into Day 2. Two names to consider are Tashard Choice of Georgia Tech and Cory Boyd of South Carolina, who are considered fourth- and fifth-rounders, respectively.

Best bet: When asked Tuesday if he likes the second-tier tackles or the second-tier running backs better, Angelo said that he believed there was more to choose from at running back outside of the first round. If he wants Forte, he better take him at No. 44 because Detroit has been eyeing him at No. 45.

Wide Receiver

The skinny: The heads in Lake Forest don't seem overly concerned about their passing game these days, even though leading receivers Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad are no longer on the roster. Head coach Lovie Smith honestly believes return-man extraordinaire Devin Hester can be a primary target in this league, but that's a serious leap of faith for a player who was lining up at cornerback just a year ago.

First-round focus: Two wideouts the Bears showed interest in at the Senior Bowl are Limas Sweed of Texas and Early Doucet of LSU, although neither participated in the actual game because of injury. Sweed got himself back into the first round by running better than expected at the combine, but Doucet appears to be a second-round choice these days.


WR Keenan Burton
Jim Lytle/AP Images

Middle-round bargain: Even though there isn't a true alpha-dog receiver in this draft, lots of quality pass-catchers should be available outside of Round 1. Two names on the team's wish list are Donnie Avery of Houston and Keenan Burton of Kentucky, with Avery the speedster and Burton the bruiser.

Late-round flyer: Davone Bess of Hawaii was on the receiving end of Brennan's passes quite often, and he looked like he belonged during drills at the combine. And Adarius Bowman might be a troubled young man after yet another recent run-in with the law, but he has a world of talent and could be a second-day steal if he ever gets himself straightened out.

Best bet: It doesn't look as if there will be a wideout making his way to Chicago on Day 1 of the draft, even though Mark Bradley caught just six passes this past season and Marty Booker is soon to be 32 years old. Another possible pick this weekend is Earl Bennett of Vanderbilt, the SEC's all-time leading receiver and a player who could step into the rotation right away.

Tackle

The skinny: Arguably the club's most desperate need heading into the draft, there are six or seven tackles that could go in Round 1 when it's all said and done. John Tait might extend his career by moving over to the right side, and John St. Clair is more valuable as a swing man than a starter.

First-round focus: Smith attended the Pro Day for Ryan Clady of Boise State himself, although he probably won't last until No. 14. Chris Williams of Vanderbilt is also on the team's radar, but Jeff Otah of Pittsburgh doesn't appear to be in the same class as Clady and Williams from Chicago's point of view.


OT Ryan Clady
Ted S. Warren/AP Images

Middle-round bargain: Buffalo, Denver, and Carolina pick directly in front of the Bears in Round 1 and are all looking for a tackle, so Angelo might be forced to wait a bit at the position. Anthony Collins of Kansas has spent some time with team officials and could be grabbed in Round 2, while Tony Hills has also been discussed and should be there at the top of Round 3.

Late-round flyer: The Midway Monsters would be quite foolish to push aside their obvious needs up front until it's too late, as they did this past April. Collecting an extra tackle like Will Robinson of San Diego State with one of their three compensatory picks in the seventh round would also make a lot of sense.

Best bet: Clady or Williams should be the selection if either is still on the board at No. 14, but Otah at that spot seems less likely. The Bears might have a hard time saying no to a quarterback and a running back with their first two choices depending on who's there, which means both of their picks in Round 3 should then be set aside for the best blockers available.

Guard

The skinny: Nine-time Pro Bowler Ruben Brown made some noise about returning after last season's shoulder injury, but the team has decided to move on without him. The line needs a guard in the draft just like it needs a tackle, as Terrence Metcalf was a disaster in 2007 and Josh Beekman was inactive for 15 of 16 games.

First-round focus: Branden Albert of Virginia is the only guard worthy of a choice in Round 1, although many teams are now looking at him as a tackle and he could go as high as No. 5 to Kansas City. Chilo Rachal of USC, a second-rounder at best, looks to be king of the hill at guard these days.


G Chilo Rachal
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Middle-round bargain: Very little has been mentioned out of Bears camp with regard to the position, so they could be evaluating just about anybody. A lot of scouts like Oniel Cousins of UTEP even though he's going to be awfully raw, while Mike McGlynn of Pittsburgh is also one of the experts' favorites.

Late-round flyer: Brown will be missed because he was great pulling on running plays, helping to create holes on the right side of the formation. If Chicago is on the hunt for another athletic prospect in the doldrums of Day 2, Jeremy Zuttah of Rutgers or Kerry Brown of Appalachian State might fit the bill.

Best bet: Guards will never be in demand like tackles are, but that doesn't mean the Bears can afford to pass on them altogether this weekend. While St. Clair has proven he can play inside if needed, using one of those two third-rounders – No. 70 or No. 90 – on a youngster would be a wise decision.

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.


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