Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Feb. 3: Harvin an unlikely match for Bears

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Just about three weeks in advance of free agency the Bears have made their first move of the offseason by adding quarterback Brett Basanez, who was available because he was a practice-squad player for the Carolina Panthers last season. He didn't have to wait until free agency to sign. There will be plenty of news and speculation to work through as we move closer to the opening of the NFL shopping season on Feb. 27.

Obviously, the moves by the club at the start of free agency will help shape decisions that will be made come the draft. Here's the latest mock draft by Todd McShay and Scouts Inc. at ESPN.com. He's got the Bears drafting Percy Harvin in the first round with the 18th pick. We don't see any way the Bears consider Harvin. He'd give them a second Devin Hester. He's a little like Hester in that he's not a proven commodity at wide receiver. He spent time as a running back last season at Florida. He's got an injury history. After drafting Chris Williams in the first round last season, general manager Jerry Angelo is not likely to roll the dice on a player with medical issues. They don't need a Hester clone as much as they need a gamebreaking receiver with size. I'm not sure that player will exist where they're drafting, but that's an issue for another day.

The mock goes through the second round and there they have the Bears grabbing Oregon center/guard Max Unger. It's a good bet the Bears go for an interior lineman in the first four rounds of the draft but it's a better bet they go for a tackle first. The draft will give us plenty to discuss moving forward. For right now, let's jump into the mailbag and resume Four Down Territory.

Q: While I agree that the Bears need help in a lot of areas, especially wide receiver, I'm a little surprised more hasn't been said about strong-side linebacker. I assumed going into the offseason that the Bears might be looking for a starter in that spot. Are they that happy with the players they already have there or do you think they'll be looking to draft one?

Tom S., Chicago

A: If the right player was there and the Bears deemed him to be a difference maker, I wouldn't say no to it. But like you said, the Bears need help in a lot of areas. They need more help in a lot of areas than they do at linebacker. Nick Roach made some strides in his first year starting. He got nine starts after taking over for Hunter Hillenmeyer and showed promise. Can you do better? Sure, but at what expense? The Bears must get at least one safety on board and they also need to bolster the pass rush. Yes, that can be done with a strong-side linebacker but I think they're more likely to look to develop Roach. Hillenmeyer appeared to be a scapegoat for a defense gone wrong at the time of the move. He had some high-profile situations in coverage but if you look at those more closely some of those perceived errors could have been as much a product of the scheme as anything else. Hillenmeyer is still a functional two-down starter. With Bob Babich being moved back to linebackers coach, the Bears could expect him to improve the group as is, too. This doesn't look to rate as a priority.


Q: Jerry Angelo's comments notwithstanding, do you think the Bears would consider moving Mike Brown to nickel back? The coaches have repeatedly stressed that nickel requires better command of the defense and more physical, almost linebacker-like, play than the other DB positions. Those characteristics would seem to fit Brown's remaining strengths. Playing nickel would also address injury concerns by reducing his reps, and Danieal Manning could move back to safety, where he seems most comfortable. It'd be a shame to lose a player like Brown when he clearly wants to continue playing in Chicago.

Dan T., Ingleside

A: We'll get a better idea about Brown's future in the coming weeks, but at this point it would have to be a mild surprise if he returns. Brown's skills best suit him to be an in-the-box safety at this point. Asking him to play nickel would expose him in coverage more than you would like. Brown got better when he was moved from free to strong safety during the middle of the season. That's not a role that would fit him or the team well. Last season, it looked like Manning was most comfortable in the nickel. The Bears need to pick a spot and leave him there. If they move him back to safety, fine, they have to leave him there. Part of the problem, a big part of it, is they have not been able to decide what they want to do with him. He was playing with confidence in the nickel role until he was moved to safety for the final game at Houston. What happened? He blew coverage on a long play to Andre Johnson. We saw that play happen in Super Bowl XLI. Let him find a spot and grow some roots.


Q: Last season I heard Josh Beekman was being groomed as Olin Kruetz's replacement at center before being thrown into the starting lineup at guard. Will he stay at guard where he did just OK or are they planning on moving him back to being the backup center and moving someone else to left guard?

Rick W., California

A: I don't know if Beekman was being groomed as Kreutz's replacement or if he was being groomed as the backup center. If the Bears and Kreutz have any luck, he'll be in place for several more seasons. Beekman's status at left guard is dependent on what the club does in free agency and the draft. John St. Clair would have been in the mix there if he was moved off of left tackle. That didn't happen. He's an unrestricted free agent and has expressed a desire to return, but first and foremost he wants the opportunity to be a starter and get the starter money that comes along with that. If St. Clair doesn't get a good opportunity elsewhere, that would certainly increase the possibility of him returning. Beekman wasn't spectacular in his first season starting but held up. At some point, the Bears need to draft another young guard. We'll see where this one heads.


Q: Will Brandon Lloyd return to the Bears?

Raymond P., Parts Unknown

A: I don't think so. Lloyd, the college standout for offensive coordinator Ron Turner at Illinois, saw his season fall apart after a mild knee sprain knocked him out in late September. He made 15 of his 26 receptions in the first four weeks and when he took five weeks off to heal when the injury was expected to sideline him two to four weeks, Lloyd got an extra week he wasn't expecting Nov. 9 against Tennessee as Lovie Smith sent him a message. Lloyd has shown acrobatic ability throughout his career but more striking has been the wild inconsistency he's also shown at every stop he's made. Even if Turner is still in his corner, it would be a surprise for him to return. At some point, chances run out for guys like this.

Thanks for all the questions. Fire some in and we'll visit the mailbag again Wednesday. As always, thanks for reading.

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12 Comments

Brad just a little heads up on Max Unger. He is actually being projected as a RT in the NFL by most. He plays every position on the line except LT and that is were his value lies. He is very versatile and Angelo loves versatile players. He is rated above guys like Loadholt in a lot of top 100 boards. Not that it means anything or that he will be a RT but he does play the position plus all interior positions as well. Anyway just an FYI.

My Bears first round pick at this point is Josh Freeman if he is there. It's a wild guess but people may think he is the next Flacco. It's crazy, I know, but someone is going to fall in love with him and it may be Angelo.

McShay has some of the worst mocks out there, why would Seattle take Raji when they have Rocky Bernard playing NT. Walter Jones will be 36 and looks done plus they have no recievers. Does he know the last time the Bears took a player from Florida was 2003, when they took 4 players who all stank.

O-line and D-line must be a top priority. The O-line turned out to be a group of tough old corn cobbs this last year and proved to be a pleasant surprise (don't expect the age 30+ boys to repeat their '08 injury-free performance in '09). Bring in some young blood to learn from these crusty vets before they kick off.

Here's how I think it should go down:

Round 1: Larry English, DE NIU
Give the new D-line coach/master some clay to mold. English "gushed" at the Sr. Bowl when presented the prospect of playing for the Bears. What a motor, a plethera of moves. If Oher is available here, Angelo should sprint to the stand with his ticket.

Round 2: Max Unger, C/OG Oregon
McShay doesn't know his butt from a hole in the ground normally, but he nailed this one. Unger is very versatile and has experience playing C/OG/OT and has a mean streak.

Round 3: Nic Harris, S, Oklahoma
Big fella, fast, replaces Mike Brown (if that is ever possible).

Round 4: Louis Murphy, WR, Florida
Jerry and the boys just dropped $40M to Hester, they are not going to spend on a WR for another season. Murphy may be available here and would be a steal. Another option would be Pat White, QB/WR V.Tech if he is available.

Round 5: DeAndre Levy, OLB, Wisconsin
A LB with the size, speed, and hunger to give Hillenmyer a run for his money. Could be groomed for ILB also.

Round 6: Tyronne Green, OG, Auburn
More road graders for Forte. Solid performance at the Sr. Bowl, no injury history, under the radar.

Round 7: Jorvorskie Lane, FB, Texas A&M
What did McKie do this year? If we are going to stick with the power run game on 1st, 2nd, 3rd-and-goal, we might as well have a FB that is 285 and has a history of running over everyone on his way to 6.

Biggs, you are the only person worth reading when it comes to the Bears.

Here's to Dent going to the Hall in 2010.

The Bears have many needs and I would be thrilled to see them take any of these in any order in the first four rounds: edge rusher, QB, WR and OL.

The one I would go after, probably in the third round, is Brian Robiskie. He is big, has great hands and bloodlines, and great heart. He will go get the ball and that will make Orton more accurate. He's from Ohio State. You know, the school that turns out great WRs. Just ask Pittsburgh.

Brett Basanez is an intriguing prospect, my only problem with the guy is durability. One of the knocks on Basanez coming out of college was he may have durability concerns, and now Basanez has already been on IR in the NFL, not a good sign. I do like his athleticism, and Basanez has shown the ability to buy time in the pocket at Northwestern, he's worth a look.

Brad, I agree, I also can't see the Bears taking Florida receiver Percy Harvin at #18. If they go receiver in the first, the only player worth taking that high would be Missouri receiver Jeremy Maclin, that would give you a gamebreaking receiver with size. If not Maclin in the first, I would love for North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks to fall to Chicago in the second. Nicks has great hands, and is strong after the catch, Nicks may slip in the draft because of his 40 time so there is a chance Chicago could land him in the second.

As of right now, I would still like to see the Bears take Arizona offensive tackle Eben Britton. If Chicago were to sign a free agent tackle like Jordan Gross or Vernon Carey, then go in a different direction in the first like Jeremy Maclin a receiver, or a linebacker like James Laurinaitis. But right now the Bears most pressing need is a tackle, and even if Chicago were to resign John St.Clair, I would still bring in Eben Britton. I think Britton would be a steal at #18, one more year in college and Britton would have been a top 5 pick in 2010. Much like Bears current center Olin Kreutz, Chicago got him in the third in 98, but many scouts felt another year in college and Kreutz might have been a 1st rounder. I still wouldn't be surprised if Chicago takes Mississippi DT Peria Jerry. I've read that the Bears were big on him at the senior bowl, much like they were a year ago on one Mr Matt Forte, with the draft, you just never know GO BEARS!!

Brad:

What is the teams sentiment about John Tait going into his contract year? If they resign St. Clair, who is the starter at RT figuring Williams at LT and Beekman at RG.

no way does English go to the Bears in the first round. Everyone is projecting him as a 3-4 OLB. Here's what I would like to see in the draft:

1st round- WR My pick is Darius Heyward Bey, WR from Maryland.
2nd round- WR My pick is Robert Ayers, DE from Tennessee
3rd round- OT My pick is Phil Loadholt, RT from Oklahoma
4th round- S My pick is Derek Pegues, FS from Miss State
5th round- OLB My pick is DeAndre Levy, OLB from Wisconsin
5th round (supplement)- CB My pick is Sherod Martin, CB/S from Troy State (similar to Peanut Tillman)
6th round- QB My pick is Mike Teel, QB from Rutgers
7th round- G My pick is Jamie Thomas, G from Maryland

We need to get a real big time receiver, who beleives in TEAM play,is consistant, creates a real chemistry between himself and the QB (as well as the rest), doesn't come with baggage and wont provide drama. Until then our passing game will struggle and the O will continue to be predictible. Hope I am wrong and I hope we take a chance and spend some loot on a valuable asset like the Viqueens did with Allen. Go Bears!

Brad,

What player in the draft comes closest to being a Harrison or Dockett type player (i.e. a player that comes bursting thru the line like a crazy unstoppable rhinocerous). That is what the Bears really need (someone who PENETRATES!)

McShay is a idiot and a east coast queer. They need to draft the best lineman availible what ever side of the ball it is, English only adds to the already smallish nature of a defense that was steamrolled when it counts Lane from A&M is interesting as is Jerry of Miss. when you have a back like Forte a huge OL makes him that much better.

Ish I can name the big time WR in this draft, Crabtree and maybe Maclin. For all the Bey fans just a little heads up on the guy, he drops a lot of passes about 25% over the last two years. That is not a good thing to have in a reciever. Britt and Nicks are going to start rising up the boards and mocks in the next month.

I've seen published reports saying the Bears should make an offer to Oaklands' franchised CB.What do you think of Kelvin Hayden as an alternative (local,same base defensive system and maybe cheaper)?

they also need a number 2 running back spechelly if they work forte like they did last year.. dont know if peterson or the little guy wolf are the answers.. every team is running that 1 2 punch..maybe free agency or later rounds mind you

Creighton

Alex Brown is from Florida and he is a great defensive player...

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 3, 2009 9:28 PM.

Basanez didn't have to bare it all to join Bears was the previous entry in this blog.

Dreamy thinking: Warner to Bears never had a chance is the next entry in this blog.

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