Until the Midway Monsters take the wide receiver position a little more seriously, then Kyle Orton is never going to develop into the franchise quarterback this organization has been looking for all this time.
General manager Jerry Angelo turned to the free agent bargain bin this past season, bringing in former Bear Marty Booker and one-time Illinois star Brandon Lloyd. But the veteran additions combined to catch just 40 passes for 575 yards and four TDs in 2008, as Booker looked over the hill and Lloyd all but disappeared after a 124-yard performance in Week 3. Neither is expected to be back in '09, meaning Chicago currently has Devin Hester and Earl Bennett atop the depth chart ahead of next month's minicamp – Hester was drafted as a cornerback and Bennett caught zero balls his rookie year.
However, with John Tait unexpectedly deciding to hang up his spikes, all of a sudden offensive tackle is a glaring hole that could push pass catcher down the team's list of priorities in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Ed Thompson, the senior NFL analyst for Scout.com, has told Bear Report that Aaron Kelly of Clemson had a formal interview with Chicago in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.
Kelly (6-4, 204) has the measurables to be the big receiver the Bears require opposite Hester, and his height works to his advantage down in the red zone and in jump-ball situations. Unlike most taller wideouts, he's actually fairly elusive in the open field and can make tacklers miss after the catch – he even returned punts and kicks in college because of that skill. While he needs to learn how to be more physical and tends to shy away from contact here and there, he was productive for the Tigers and has been known to make the dramatic catch.
According to Thompson, Kelly bulked up to 204 pounds on the suggestion of NFL scouts he talked to at the East-West Shrine Game back in January – he was in the 190-195 range as a senior.
Kelly could have come out as a junior and may have been downgraded in this year's draft because of the awful season everyone experienced at Clemson, making him an intriguing prospect should he still be on the board in Round 5.
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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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