Nicks Not a Third Banana at Receiver4:14 p.m.
Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin are regarded as the best receivers in the draft and should both go in the top 10, but North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks wants nothing to do with a best-of-the-rest label.
Nicks is an interesting prospect this week at the Scouting Combine, as he could solidify himself as a first-round pick with a quality performance or tumble way back into Round 2 if he doesn't put up good numbers. There's no doubt he can play the game, as evidenced by his recent performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl when he reeled in three touchdown passes. While he's not very big – about 6-1 and 200 pounds – and not very fast – maybe 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash – he's arguably the most physical wideout on the board and considers himself a young Anquan Boldin.
Nicks believes he's in the same class as Crabtree and Maclin. (John Amis/AP Images)
A strong case can be made that wide receiver is the No. 1 need for Chicago this offseason, but they won't get a shot at either Crabtree or Maclin unless they trade up in the first round. And then Percy Harvin of Florida, another pass catcher graded to be in the middle of Round 1, is more of a complementary piece because of his size and doesn't figure to be a natural fit opposite Devin Hester. Remember that 2008 third-rounder Earl Bennett didn't catch a single pass as a rookie, meaning the Bears might have to make a more significant investment to plug one of their most glaring holes.
Since trading for the real Boldin isn't going to happen because the Cardinals will want a king's ransom in return, perhaps a young Boldin-in-the-making like Nicks is the way to go instead.
Davis Had Nothing Left to Prove1:08 p.m.
Even though he's not considered one of the elite passers available in this year's draft, Ball State's Nate Davis felt he had nothing left to prove at the collegiate level.
Yet another somewhat short quarterback that put up ridiculous numbers in college running a spread-option attack, Davis may have stayed in school had head coach Brady Hoke not left to take the same job at San Diego State. That being said, the 6-2, 217-pounder told reporters at the combine that he accomplished everything he could have in Muncie and feels ready to take the next step – even though the track record for junior QBs making the leap to the pros has been checkered at best lately. Matthew Stafford of Georgia and Mark Sanchez of USC are both considered locks for the top of the first round, but Davis is in the mix with Josh Freeman of Kansas State to come off the board in Round 2.
Davis accomplished everything he wanted at Ball State. (Darron Cummings/AP Images)
The Bears would like to bring in a veteran signal caller to push Kyle Orton for the starting job, but the list of potential candidates leaves a lot to be desired. It's possible Chicago will be forced to add another youngster in the draft, and since the team has much higher priorities on both sides of the ball, it would most likely be a second-tier talent like Davis. Both general manager Jerry Angelo and director of college scouting Greg Gabriel traveled to upstate New York to watch Ball State take on Buffalo this season, probably to take a close look at Davis.
His game may be somewhat unconventional, but Davis exuded confidence at the podium in Indianapolis and is looking forward to Sunday's workout.
Spread Hurting Receivers like Johnson11:39 a.m.
Not only are quarterbacks that run the spread offense at the collegiate level being heavily scrutinized by NFL scouts, but so are the wide receivers.
Even though the spread allows for passers and pass catchers alike to put up some sick numbers on Saturday, the fact that the scheme doesn't resemble what they'll be running on Sunday leaves a lot of talent evaluators confused. And then you have players like Taurus Johnson of South Florida, a wideout that never truly got to shine because the Bulls were sending five guys out on a pattern every single play in their shotgun system. He's big, he's fast, he's strong, and he's got a great work ethic, yet he never caught so many as 40 passes in any of his four seasons at USF.
Johnson may not have been used enough in USF's offense. (Chris O'Meara/AP Images)
Johnson understands the fact that he has a lot to prove this week in Indianapolis, as he'll need to start running more NFL-type routes instead of the flag football-like patterns he grew accustomed to in college. If he runs well in the 40-yard dash and shows that he can catch the football consistently on the receiving end of pro-caliber passes, he could be considered a quality sleeper on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. The Bears liked what they saw in Johnson at the East-West Shrine Game, so he may be on the team's radar come April.
While Johnson did admit that he probably didn't get all he could have gotten out of his career at South Florida, partially because of the spread system he played in, he wouldn't trade the experience he had there.
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.