Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and rookie Johnny Knox all improved this season for the Bears, and there is reason to think they'll be even better next season, but none of them will ever be any taller than about six feet.
Credit the Chicago receiving corps for exceeding expectations in 2009, although they still lack a long and lanky presence that can create matchup problems for shorter DBs, especially in the red zone. Devin Aromashodu may have come on strong down the stretch and plays bigger than his 6-2, 200-pound frame would indicate, but he's not necessarily a go-up-and-get-it guy like quarterback Jay Cutler had in Denver with Brandon Marshall. Right now, 6-5 tight end Greg Olsen tends to run the fade routes from inside the enemy 10-yard line, with mixed results so far.
If the Bears are going to keep building their offense around Cutler and give him every weapon available on game day, then one player that may get their attention this April is Missouri wideout Danario Alexander.
For an insider's perspective on the 6-4, 215-pound Alexander and what he brings to the table as a pro prospect, BearReport.com consulted with Chris Steuber, the NFL Draft analyst for Scout.com. ...
Strengths: Alexander is a tall, lanky receiver who put it all together in 2009. He gets a fluid release off the line, uses his long strides to get downfield and beats one-on-one coverage. He uses his frame to his advantage and possesses soft hands, catching the ball away from his body. He has the athleticism to adjust to errant throws and the awareness to track deep passes. He has outstanding hand-eye coordination and offers the quarterback a reliable target. He displays toughness and isn't afraid to make receptions in traffic.
Weaknesses: Injuries have stalled his career, and he's only had one productive season. He has an elite frame, but he has to get stronger and be physical throughout his routes. He's not a burner and relies on his long strides to get downfield. He doesn't offer much as a downfield blocker.
Steuber Says: Alexander showed his promise in 2009, as he hauled in 113 receptions for 1,781 yards and 14 TDs. He has the size and quickness you want out of a receiver, but his injury history is a concern. He's more of a possession receiver that possesses good vision to create a big play. Alexander has to get stronger and be able to beat jams at the next level.
JC's Take: Sure, Alexander's numbers are going to be inflated because of the spread offense he played in at Mizzou, but he was more productive in 2009 than first-round pick Jeremy Maclin was the year before.
There are a lot of ways the Bears can go with their third rounder in April's draft, as there are holes to fill at several positions: offensive tackle, guard, defensive end, defensive tackle and safety are the most glaring. Nevertheless, this offense still needs a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Right now, there are myriad twos and threes in the rotation like Hester, Bennett and Knox. Maybe Aromashodu can be the next Rod Smith, transforming from practice squader into Hall of Famer. Most likely, he won't.
Common wisdom suggests the Bears will be better on offense in 2010 if their blocking improves, but with Chris Williams solidifying himself at left tackle and Frank Omiyale starting to figure it out at left guard, perhaps another pass catcher is the way to go.
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Mobile Analysis: WR Danario Alexander
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