Draft Decisions: WR Needs Obvious

The Chicago Bears have many needs heading into the 2009 NFL Draft, but none is more glaring than wide receiver. With Devin Hester and Earl Bennett currently in the starting lineup, there is room for a rookie to make an immediate impact. Bear Report breaks down what to expect this weekend.

Projected Starters: Devin Hester and Earl Bennett got the majority of the first-team reps during veteran minicamp last month, with Hester serving as the deep threat and Bennett working in more of a possession-receiver role. Hester would be better off as a No. 2 and Bennett may be most effective working out of the slot, but a week depth chart from top to bottom is forcing both players into roles that don't necessarily suit them best.

Expected Reserves: Rashied Davis and Brandon Rideau have also been running routes with the first team at Halas Hall, although Davis is lucky to still be on the roster and Rideau has been little more than a practice-squad staple. While Davis has had some success as a slot receiver and Rideau always seems to play well during the preseason, neither is likely to be a major contributor on offense once all the pieces are in place.

Round 2 Discussion: The Midway Monsters have had a lot of private workouts for wideouts scheduled to come off the board somewhere in Round 2, although two of their favorites, Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina and Brian Robiskie of Ohio State, have done well during the pre-draft process and should be gone by No. 49. The next tier includes Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias and Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi, both of whom have worked out privately for the Bears as well.

Day 2 Possibilities: If you take into account some of the players Chicago spent time with at events like the Senior Bowl, then keep an eye on Patrick Turner of USC and Mike Wallace of Mississippi. Two of the more impressive performers at the Scouting Combine were Florida's Louis Murphy and Arizona's Mike Thomas, while some late-round fliers to add to the Windy City list are Brian Hartline of Ohio State and Taurus Johnson of South Florida.

Plan of Attack: Not only should the Bears take a pass catcher early on in the draft process, but a strong argument can be made that they need to grab another one late. Without a doubt, the receiving corps was the weak link offensively during minicamp and could potentially hold back a unit that has made strides to get better during the offseason – both at the skill positions and in the trenches. In today's NFL, you're not going to win unless you can make plays in the passing game.


Turner scored 17 touchdowns in four seasons with the Trojans. (Harry How/Getty Images)

JC's Take: General manager Jerry Angelo has to nab a receiver at 49th unless there is a run on the position beforehand or a gem falls in his lap, and even then he should think extra hard about a wideout because that's the most immediate need.

Strong-armed – and strong-willed – quarterback Jay Cutler will inevitably make Hester and Bennett much more productive than Kyle Orton ever could, as the former first-round draft pick can fit the football into tight spaces and has some mobility in the pocket. Many experts look at what Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal did as young players in Denver on the other end of all those Cutler passes, but make no mistake about it: Hester and Bennett are not Marshall and Royal. Marshall has more than a few size-and-strength advantages Hester will never possess, while Royal is twice as quick as Bennett could ever hope to be.

The Bears are begging Nicks or Robiskie falls to them because either could work well opposite Hester in the starting lineup, but Iglesias or Massaquoi is a more realistic expectation since many teams in front of Chicago will be thinking receiver, too.


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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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