For the most part, Kyle Orton has done a fine job at quarterback for the Monsters of the Midway this season, especially considering that he was forced to sit and watch behind Rex Grossman and Brian Griese for the better part of two years.
However, general manager Jerry Angelo hasn't dusted off his checkbook just yet. The Bears could have given Orton a long-term conract extension at midseason and had some of the bonus money count against this year's salary cap – just like the rival Packers did with Aaron Rodgers – but there didn't appear to be any sense of urgency in the front office since the former Purdue Boilermaker is signed through 2009. Maybe Angelo is tightening his purse strings after breaking the bank to keep the defense satisfied financially, but perhaps Bears brass isn't necessarily sold on Orton being the answer under center for good.
The Bears rarely send more than one scout to the same game, and Angelo doesn't attend too many of them personally, but he and director of college scouting Greg Gabriel will be side by side Thursday night.
According to Scout.com NFL Draft analyst Chris Steuber, both Angelo and Gabriel will be on hand for Friday night's matchup between Ball State and Buffalo.
Neither Ball State nor Buffalo has been a breeding ground for signal callers over the years, but it's worth noting that there are a pair of passing prospects featured in this game that may have caught the Bears' attention. Ball State's Nate Davis might forego his senior season to enter the draft since he's already considered a late first- or early second-round selection. Buffalo's Drew Willy, while not as highly regarded as Davis, could hear his name called this April in Round 5 or 6.
Davis (6-2, 217) has enjoyed a stellar season for the undefeated Cardinals, completing 67.3 percent of his passes for 3,095 yards with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. In 37 career games, he's compiled a magnificent TD-to-INT ratio of 73-to-20 and also averaged 8.4 yards per attempt.
Willy (6-4, 214) has been a big part of the Bulls' stunning turnaround under head coach Turner Gill, connecting on 64.5 percent of his throws for 2,885 yards with 22 scoring strikes and just five picks. He's put up at least two TD passes in seven of 12 games this year and only thrown one INT in his last six outings.
There is more evidence that the Angelo-Gabriel joint scouting effort in Buffalo could be significant: The Louisville vs. Rutgers game Thursday night will most likely have more NFL talent on the playing field, including a possible premier passer in Hunter Cantwell of the Cardinals, but the Midway Monsters do not have a representative scheduled to attend.
Angelo took a pass on Brian Brohm last April even though he fell to him at No. 44 overall in the second round, so one has to wonder if the Bears simply don't believe in Louisville's pass-happy system.
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.
Bears Not Sold on Orton Just Yet?
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