There is nothing quite like a 25th anniversary and the 2009 draft marks the 25th year Mel Kiper Jr. will be associated with ESPN's coverage of the NFL Draft.
Kiper has the Bears selecting LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson in
his latest mock draft, which has been up for a few weeks, and he took time out this morning in a conference call to talk about a realm of different possibilities.
"Wide receiver, offensive line and obviously the quarterback situation has to be cleared up there moving forward," Kiper said when asked what the Bears could potentially target at No. 18 in the first round. "But certainly wide receiver would be the one you have to look at, maybe Percy Harvin if he was there would be someone they have to consider. I just think their defense, which did not get it done in a lot of games, has to be looked at. Tyson Jackson from LSU, a defensive end, would seem to fit kind of the mold of the versatile defensive end they like. I would say Tyson Jackson if not maybe Percy Harvin.''
We outlined a few reasons why Harvin might not be a good match for the Bears in that slot last week. Harvin's cut from the Devin Hester mold and like Hester he played other positions in school. He also comes with some injury baggage, not the kind of thing general manager Jerry Angelo will likely be willing to consider at this pick.
Still, there are some other options and the Bears are known to be interested in Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, who Kiper slots more in the second round. Whether he makes it down to No. 49 in the second round remains to be seen. Some mock drafts suggest Heyward-Bey could be a late first-round selection.
Kiper compared Nicks, who was in an offense run by John Shoop at North Carolina, to one of the game's best over the last 20 years.
"I compared him a little bit to Michael Irvin," Kiper said. "Irvin didn't have the great 40 time, but certainly had great natural pass receiving skills, great hands, toughness, great route runner. That's what Nicks is. If his 40 time is good enough, he'll be a first-round pick. If it's an average to mediocre 40 time, he'll probably be a second-round pick."
Kiper then listed some other receivers that might be worthy of consideration at some point:
Mike Wallace, Ole Miss: "Mike Wallace had a big year for the Rebels, he's got the ability to beat you on the vertical routes, did a real good job,'' Kiper said. "His stock is certainly on the rise. He is certainly a guy that I think a lot of people are going to have to take a good, hard look at."
Johnny Knox, Abilene Christian: Comes from the same program as defensive back Danieal Manning.
Nate Swift, Nebraska: Kiper called him productive and consistent.
Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State: Made 70 catches for 1,040 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Mike Thomas, Arizona: He's a slot receiver at 5-8 and the Bears have one in Rashied Davis.
Deon Butler, Penn State: He's another undersized guy but he has big-play ability.
Jarrett Dillard, Rice: Wildly productive in college with 60 career touchdowns, 20 last season.
Dobson Collins, Gardner-Webb: Has good size at 6-2 and was productive last season but comes from a small school.
"Those are some receivers that I think at some point need to be considered as guys you might get at bargain points during the draft,'' Kiper said.
*** If the Bears looked at a cornerback in the first round, Illinois' Vontae Davis is who he would match up with them.
"I'd say at that particular juncture Vontae Davis of Illinois as a roll-the-dice type pick,'' Kiper said. "It's a little early for D.J. Moore of Vanderbilt so I would say Vontae Davis, if he is there. Malcolm Jenkins I don't think will be there but his 40 time is going to determine where he goes. Right now, I think Jenkins could go as early as maybe nine to Green Bay but if he doesn't run that well then he drops significantly in the first round."
Some other notes from the chat:
*** Right now, Kiper has three offensive tackles going in the top eight picks as there are some standout talents like there were a year ago. Alabama's Andre Smith, Baylor's Jason Smith and Virginia's Eugene Monroe could all be long gone before the Bears' turn comes at No. 18.
That doesn't mean they are not going to have interest in a tackle high in the draft. Kiper lists Ole Miss' Michael Oher as the next prospect, and puts him in the 15 to 25 range in the first round, and has him going No. 28 in his most recent mock to Philadelphia. The Bears also like Oklahoma's Phil Loadholt, who projects as a right tackle. Kiper calls him a second-round pick right now. Kiper also says Arizona's Eben Britton could gain some momentum moving forward.
*** Georgia's Matthew Stafford and USC's Mark Sanchez are both worthy of discussion for being the No. 1 overall pick. But Kiper says Kansas State's Josh Freeman could "be the buzz of the draft" in the coming months and says he could make a move into the first round.
"You can't say for sure about quarterbacks," Kiper said. "Quarterback is always going to bring with it a lot of risks."
The Bears are well aware of that fact.