The Monsters of the Midway entered the offseason in pretty good shape offensively at running back and tight end, but every other position was in need of an upgrade to some degree.
General manager Jerry Angelo made one of the biggest splashes in recent memory by acquiring Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler from the Broncos, although the price was high: Kyle Orton, this year's and next year's first-round draft pick, and a flip-flop of Round-3 and Round-5 choices this year. Angelo then made sure his new signal caller is going to have adequate protection in the pocket, signing future Hall of Fame tackle Orlando Pace. Fellow linemen Frank Omiyale and Kevin Shaffer were inked earlier in free agency and should provide quality depth up front.
Now if Angelo can land one of the better wide receiver prospects at No. 49 overall in this month's NFL Draft, Cutler and Co. may be able to do some damage right away.
The Bears formally interviewed top-tier talents Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin at the Scouting Combine back in February, but both are top-10 types and will be long gone. As will both Percy Harvin and Darrius Heyward-Bey, with Heyward-Bey in particular drawing interest from Chicago during the pre-draft process. Other names to consider in Round 2 are Brian Robiskie and Juaquin Iglesias, each of whom has gotten a lot of attention from team officials in recent weeks.
One of the more intriguing names to consider is Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina, who recently had a private workout with receivers coach Darryl Drake, but is there any chance he falls to the Bears come draft weekend?
To help answer that question, Bear Report enlisted the help of Don Callahan, who has followed Nicks since his high school days while covering Tar Heel football for InsideCarolina.com on the Scout.com network.
Callahan Says: Nicks has very strong hands, excellent concentration and body control, which allows him to come up with any remotely catchable pass – his ability to adjust to poorly-thrown passes made UNC's quarterbacks look better than they really were. He's a very strong receiver that will beat the jam and fight for extra yards. He plays bigger than his height because of his long arms and extremely large hands. Nicks isn't a burner and might have some difficulty separating down the field and beating one-on-one coverage, but he is going to make some NFL team happy. He's a possession receiver that will catch most everything thrown his way and will fight for yardage after the reception.
JC's Take: It might be a pipe dream that Nicks slides down the draft board and falls in Angelo's lap the last weekend in April, but the fact that this is a quality class of receivers means it's possible many teams will address other positions early and look to add a pass catcher later.
Remember not one wideout was selected in Round 1 last year, and while that won't happen this year because there are some elite prospects out there, many clubs have become hesitant to take them on Day 1 because few prove capable of adjusting to the NFL game as rookies. Most teams need their first few picks to come in and make an impact right away, which is difficult for receivers to do with the intracicies of the pro passing game and the level of athleticism on display from most defensive backs. Nicks went 34th overall in the Scout.com intersite mock draft conducted last month, so even though sliding an extra 15 spots is unlikely, crazier things have happened.
Angelo simply must take a wideout at No. 49 no matter what – Nicks would be an absolute steal there, so be happy if it turns out to be Robiskie or Iglesias.
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Insider Analysis: WR Hakeem Nicks
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