Chicago Sun-Times

April 2009 Archives

Our unofficial list of players invited to participate in rookie minicamp on a tryout basis just became official. Sort of.

The Bears announced on the team Web site the list of 25 players that will be present starting with the first practice Friday at 12:30 p.m. We had 20 of them here.

Rounding out the list for us are:

Greg Brown, Defensive tackle, Indiana
Aaron Lockwood, Guard, Southern Illinois
Adam McDowell, Tight end, Fresno State
Lou Saucedo, Guard, Montana State
Sean Sester, Offensive tackle, Purdue


With the [fill-in-the-blank] pick in the 2010 draft, the Denver Broncos select ...

Is it ever too early to start mock drafts? We would suggest it is a little early but it's interesting to see what some long-range prognosticators think about the Bears. No, not who they are going to draft next April. How they are going to finish in 2009.

The Bears dealt their first-round pick to the Denver Broncos for next year, so they will not be in action until the second round (or later if they trade down again, right?).

It doesn't look good for the Bears if you follow Todd McShay's draft at He has the Broncos selecting 13th in the first round.


We've got a few more names to add to the list of tryout players for rookie minicamp this weekend.

The Bears will bring in Mississippi State's Derek Pegues and he is expected to have a similar tryout next week with the New York Giants.

Some considered Pegues a potential first-day draft pick but his stock obviously went on a freefall. He was twice arrested while in school and served a one-game suspension last season for what was described as violation of a class attendance policy. One of those arrests was for assaulting on off-duty police officer. He and five other players were charged with felony assault but pled guilty to misdemeanor simple assault for a 2006 incident.

We've come down from our draft weekend buzz. Time to take a look in the mailbag and see what we have. With rookie minicamp starting Friday at Halas Hall, we will get to our next mailbag on Monday. Get your questions in between now and the end of the weekend. Here we go.

Q: Would the Bears have drafted Ohio safety Michael Mitchell at No. 49 if the Raiders hadn't nabbed him at No. 47 and taken all kinds of heat for doing so? I am perplexed by the Bears' inability to address the free safety position in the draft, despite it being their No. 2 need. I have read the quote from Mitchell on, that the Bears called him and told him "to stay by the phone.'' However, the Bears seem to deny this. On the Bears' Web site, Larry Mayer was asked a question about this very subject and whether or not the Bears would have selected Mitchell at No. 49:

"Ohio safety Michael Mitchell was on the Bears' "hot list" as one of nearly 125 players they were going to consider selecting in the draft. But I can tell you with 100 percent accuracy that there's no way they would have chosen him as early as the second round."
I assume that Mitchell has no reason to fabricate the story about the Bears telephone call, and I know that the Bears would never (ever) lie about a player.  Do teams advise players that they are going to draft them at a certain spot on draft day if they don't intend to do so? Who's telling the truth here?   P.S.  Since all of the Jay Cutler jerseys are now gone, where can I be the first to get a Josh Bullocks jersey?

Chuck D., Oak Brook

A: That might have to be a custom order on the Bullocks jersey. As far as the great Mitchell debate, I don't think it's a matter of one side lying and the other side telling the truth, let me tell you that to start with. The Bears liked Mitchell an awful lot. They were one of a few teams that really had him on their radar. Secondary coach Jon Hoke went to visit with him on campus and that went really well. The Bears then brought Mitchell in for a visit and physical. He met with coach Lovie Smith for about 45 minutes. It was a good visit. The phone call you're referring to was a call that Bears Midwest scout Jeff Shiver placed to Mitchell. As it was explained to me, Shiver told him to stay by the phone. He didn't say stay by the phone because we're going to draft you today. The Bears thought they were going to get Mitchell, but not on Sunday.

The Bears will get their first look at the 2009 draft class when the players roll in this afternoon to report for this weekend's rookie minicamp. There are expected to be a little more than 40 players on the fields at Halas Hall so that means more than 20 players will be in on a tryout basis when you consider the nine draft picks and nine undrafted free agents the club has signed.

Here is our unofficial list of tryout players, many of which we've already mentioned. Obviously, the list is incomplete but we do have the three quarterbacks--Drew Weatherford, Chase Patton and C.J. Bacher. Here is a look:

When the Bears announced they had selected San Diego State's Lance Louis in the seventh round Sunday, they called him a tight end.

It looks like they're calling him something different three days later.

The Bears updated their Web site to add rookies numbers and positions and Louis has been assigned No. 60. He's listed as a guard.

Lance Briggs' right hand injury is not serious and the Pro Bowl linebacker participated in the voluntary offseason workout program Tuesday at Halas Hall, a team spokesman said.

He was no longer wearing the large wrap that was on his right hand when he made a public appearance Saturday at a telecommunications store in Algonquin. The wrap was covering a cut that occurred in an accident.


Lance Briggs became the latest star athlete from Chicago to cut himself ... doing what?

Making an appearance Saturday at a telecommunications store in Algonquin, Briggs was sporting a large wrap on his right hand and wrist. Fortunately for those who showed up, Briggs is left-handed so he was able to sign autographs for the crowd. Briggs told people there that he cut himself in an accident involving a straight-edge razor but this wound required more than the kind of bandages you keep in your medicine cabinet.

Photos on a blog of a fan that attended show just that.


Northwestern's C.J. Bacher will join two other quarterbacks on a tryout basis at the Bears' rookie minicamp this weekend.

Bacher will be one of three arms for the three days of practices that will involve the team's nine draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryout players. Florida State's Drew Weatherford and Missouri's Chase Patton are the other two quarterbacks.

Bacher passes for 7,319 yards and 43 touchdowns in his career with the Wildcats, culminating in a trip to the Alamo Bowl this past season. He completed more than 60 percent of his passes over the last two seasons but there are concerns about his arm strength at the NFL level.


The Bears are bringing in a quarterback with legitimate college experience for their rookie minicamp this weekend.

Florida State's Drew Weatherford will pariticipate on a tryout basis and could earn a free-agent contract to go to training camp as the fourth quarterback.

Weatherford was a three-year starter for the Seminoles, passing for 39 touchdowns from 2005 through 2007 before he was replaced by Christian Ponder last year. Weatherford, 6-3, 218 pounds, passed for 7,567 yards in his career.

Add Missouri kicker Jeff Wolfert to the list of Tigers coming in for a tryout at the rookie minicamp.

The Bears are already bringing in quarterback Chase Patton on a tryout basis. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub worked at the school for more than 10 years, and spoke at the coaches' clinic there during this offseason. It was reported in Columbia, Mo., that Toub saw Wolfert work out then.

The Bears are unlikely to bring a second kicker with them to training camp.

The Bears announced the signing of nine undrafted free agents this afternoon.

You can add Louisville cornerback Woodny Turenne to the list of players we have already produced on here.

Those other names are:

Johan Asiata, Guard, UNLV
Dennis Conley, Guard Hampton
Dahna Deleston, Safety, UConn
Tyrell Fenroy, Running back, LA - Lafayette
Kevin Malast, Linebacker, Rutgers
Eric Peterman, Wide receiver, Northwestern
Mike Rivera, Linebacker, Kansas
Will Ta'ufo'ou, Fullback, Cal


The Bears have found another safety for the rookie minicamp.

Texas Tech's Daniel Charbonnet has been invited to compete on a tryout basis and battle for an opportunity to land a free-agent contract, his agent Erik Burkhardt told the Sun-Times. The Bears will have a few dozen players in on a free-agent basis and typically they sign a few to contracts before the weekend is over.

He was the lesser known of the Red Raiders safeties as Darcel McBath was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round, but Charbonnet was a first team All-Big 12 Conference selection. The 5-11, 203-pounder had a big interception of Texas' Colt McCoy in the upset of the then No. 1-ranked Longhorns. The Bears were known to like McBath.

In other news, a league source said Stanford linebacker Pat Maynor is likely to join the Bears for the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. He was a three-year starter for the Cardinal and led the team in tackling for two seasons. Also, Hawaii linebacker Solomon Elimimian has turned down an offer to sign with the Bears as an undrafted free agent.


General manager Jerry Angelo did not rule out going out on the street and bringing in a veteran wide receiver, but based on his comments this morning to Mully & Hanley on 670-AM, it seems very unlikely.

The Bears added three receivers to the cast on Sunday, drafting Juaquin Iglesias in the third round, Johnny Knox in the fifth round and Derek Kinder in the seventh round. More than anything, Angelo is basing his confidence on the development of Earl Bennett, a third-round pick a year ago.

"I'm counting on [Bennett's emergence],'' Angelo said. ``I told Lovie [Smith] this morning I don't feel near the need to go out and sign a veteran [after Sunday] that I did before [Sunday]. I feel good about these three receivers.


The Bears found their quarterback for minicamp.

They got Chase from Missouri.

Chase Patton, that is.

Patton has been invited to compete this weekend on a tryout basis. He was the backup to Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel for the Tigers.

The Bears will bring in Wisconsin long snapper Dave Peck on a tryout basis this weekend for the rookie minicamp, a league source texted us this morning.

Peck was the long snapper for the Badgers for three seasons. Here's a Q&A he did last fall.


It's impossible to judge an NFL draft the day after it has concluded. Today's college stud can be tomorrow's NFL washout. It takes three our four years to evaluate how successful an NFL draft was in helping a team Four years removed from the Bears' 2005 draft, it rates a steady D or F with the failure of Cedric Benson and Mark Bradley at the very top. There isn't a single player from that draft left on the roster. The 2006 draft doesn't look as good as it did in, say, January 2007 when the Bears were marching to Super Bowl XLI and had Danieal Manning starting as a rookie at free safety, Devin Hester setting records as a return man and Mark Anderson looking like the next coming of Richard Dent. We'll say that draft is worth a solid C right now but this coming season will tell a lot.

The point is to take the evaluation of what the Bears did this weekend (or what they did Sunday) with a grain of salt. It's far too early to tell what is going to happen. General manager Jerry Angelo went into the draft with the belief the Bears could get three starters. The Bears promote their draft picks. They carry preferred status.

"Realistically, that's tough,'' Angelo said when asked how many from the bunch could make the 53-man roster. "Six have a chance to make it. I feel every one of them has the ability to make it. Obviously, the competition's going to be a little big keener at some positions. But I don't think that would be unrealistic with this group.''

So, let's take a look at what they are saying about Angelo's draft around the league:

*** The Sporting News gives Angelo an A. They point out that this draft began with quarterback Jay Cutler. Does that mean Angelo has an A coming in 2010 also?

*** John Czarnecki at gives the Bears a B-minus. He calls it a "total success" if Cutler leads the Bears to the playoffs. We'd suggest it's a total success if Cutler leads the Bears to some playoff victories. Kyle Orton has gotten them to the postseason.

*** Kevin Seifert at wonders if the daily double of linemen Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton will turn out better than the player the Bears could have gotten at No. 49. Mohamed Massaquoi or Rashad Johnson anyone?

*** The only team with more picks than the Bears on Sunday was the Dallas Cowboys, which began the day with 12, three more than the Bears. ESPN's John Clayton believes the Bears did a much better job.

"Their picks were consistent and fit needs. Defensive ends Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton have run the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and will work with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli on the Bears' pass rush. Safety D.J. Moore had received a higher grade than his third-round selection. The Bears added wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias, who was rated in the round he was selected. Most of the Cowboys' picks were rated two or three rounds lower than their selections."

However, Clayton says New England had the best Day 2 of any team.

After a series of phone calls across the league we have put together a list, no doubt partial, of the free agents the Bears have agreed to terms with on contracts. The club holds a three-day rookie minicap starting Friday and they like to have it run as close to a normal camp setting as possible, so that means lots of players on the field. With only nine draft picks, expect for dozens more to show up at Halas Hall. Some come on a tryout basis, some are priority free agents and some get nothing to sign.

Here are the eight names we have tracked down this far:

Eric Peterman, WR, Northwestern. Peterman had a terrific pro day back in March and ran himself into an opportunity with a 40-yard dash time under 4.5 seconds. He'll look to punch his ticket by proving he can make a difference on special teams.

Mike Rivera, LB, Kansas. Rivera didn't perform as well during his senior year at Kansas as he did in previous seasons but he had a good showing at his pro day when Bears scout Teddy Monago was in attendance. At 6-2, 245 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds and his 38 1/2 inch vertical jump was eye opening. Rivera had interest from other teams but chose the Bears for the opportunity. Perhaps he could get in the mix on the strong side if he really excels.

Dahna Deleston, SS, UConn. Deleston isn't going to solve any issues at free safety but agent Ed Wasielewski said he has the ability to make an impact on special teams quickly.

Will Taufoou, FB, Cal. The Bears landed one of the better fullbacks that was in this draft. Taufoou had interest from more than half of the teams in the league, including some with money offers, but chose the Bears because he liked the opportunity on the roster. Check out this video of him catching a pass out of the backfield.

The Bears have agreed to terms with Kansas linebacker Mike Rivera on a free-agent contract, according to his agent James Selmer.

The Bears brought Rivera in for one of their pre-draft visits.

The Bears will sign Connecticut safety Dahna Deleston to a free-agent contract, according to agent Ed Wasielewski.

Here are some highlights:

Angelo said he was surprised Johnny Knox was still around in the fourth round.

He likes Derek Kinder from Pitt. The coaching staff really liked him and he got a strong endorsement from Dave Wannstedt.

Defensively, they wanted to get some young talent. It was one of the goals of the draft to get more energy. Angelo believes Jarron Gibert and Henry Melton are two very good defensive ends.

Melton made 12 visits and that is why the Bears grabbed him in the fourth round. They like his traits but he needs to take another step.

UPDATED TO CORRECT OUR ERROR The Bears drafted two three wide receivers on Sunday, grabbing Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias in the third round, Abilene Christian's Johnny Knox in the fifth round and Pitt's Derek Kinder in the seventh round, and a league source tells the Sun-Times that Northwestern's Eric Peterman will sign a free-agent deal.

Peterman ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash in his pro day at school.

The Bears drafted San Diego State's Lance Louis in the seventh round at No. 246 and they are going to convert the college guard to tight end.

We reported here that the Bears put Louis through a private workout after the owners' meetings in Dana Point, Calif. General manager Jerry Angelo attended the workout.

The 6-3, 303-pound rank the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, that is why the Bears believe he can make the move. Louis was one of the most recognized tight ends in the country coming out of high school and was converted in college. Some teams looked at him as a fullback too.

He will challenge Kellen Davis, a fifth-round pick last season, for a roster spot. Davis shined as a receiver in training camp last summer but the Bears don't need a third tight end to catch passes--they have Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen. They need an in-line blocker for run downs and Louis has a chance to win that battle.

Oregon State's Al Afalava projects as a strong safety. Maybe the Bears have plans to use him as a free safety, but every scouting report published about him lists him as a strong safety with in-the-box skills to be a hammer vs. the run.

He's another player the Bears brought into Halas Hall on a pre-draft visit. You can find some bone-jarring hits by him on YouTube.

Afalava is 5-11, 213 pounds, and could contribute on special teams quickly. He's going to have to prove he can pick up the scheme quickly but the Bears have had success with late-round safety selections. Afalava may have had to answer character questions. Like defensive end Henry Melton, he had a DUI arrest in college.

There are seven picks until the Bears are on the clock again in the sixth round at No. 190.

With three picks remaining, let's kick around a few positions they could target.

Safety. They have to get one at some point. Josh Bullocks is not a sure thing and there really isn't another option on the roster unless they want to start shifting cornerbacks around. That's something the coaching staff has seemed extremely reluctant to do and that's a plan that's best started before, you know, a mid-March minicamp.

Tight end. The Bears may look for someone with a little more blocking ability than Kellen Davis to come in and challenge him for a roster spot.

Offensive line/defensive line. If there is a player on the board with a good grade, bodies are always needed for training camp. Nine draft picks are not going to make this roster.

We're getting closer.

The Bears found an outside linebacker with the athletic ability to make an impact quickly on special teams in Marcus Freeman of Ohio State. They grabbed him in the fifth round at No. 140 overall.

Injuries hobbled him somewhat during his senior season and he was forced to wear an ankle brace, but he gained some real momentum at the Senior Bowl. Freeman piled up 109 tackles as a junior for the Buckeyes and is the prototype the Bears seek, undersized at 6-1, 235 pounds.

He's an intelligent player who already has his degree, and he plays well in coverage. Freeman will immediately challenge Jamar Williams and Joey LaRocque on the depth chart.

The Bears will be back on the clock here shortly to pick again at No. 154 overall.

The most pressing need on the depth chart is at safety and the pickings are starting to get slim, but you probably could have said that in the past when Chris Harris was selected in the sixth round and Kevin Payne was chosen in the fifth round.

Here are a few options that are still on the board, unless we missed one coming off the board:

Curtis Taylor, LSU
Michael Hamlin, Clemson
Chris Clemons, Clemson
Otis Wiley, Michigan State
Troy Nolan, Arizona State

The Bears poked around a little bit on Clemons in the last two weeks and there is a chance they go with Wiley. Stay tuned here.

The Bears tabbed Danieal Manning out of Abilene Christian in 2006, and they have gone back to the school again, this time to get speedy wide receiver Johnny Knox in the fifth round with the 140th overall pick.

Knox grabbed the attention of scouts at the combine with a 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds. He's 5-11, 180 pounds and will need to be developed but he instantly adds a possible vertical threat to the offense.

Knox spent two years at junior college before going to Division II Abilene, so making the adjustment could take some time. There will be a learning curve.

The Bears will be on the clock again shortly. They select again at No. 154.

D.J. Moore is not going to help the Bears at safety.

But he might help the Bears pretty soon.

The Vanderbilt cornerback came off the board in the fourth round at No. 119 overall as the Bears stayed true to their goal of remaining true to their draft value.

"We're going to take guys as they are on the board,'' college scouting director Greg Gabriel said when asked why the team has gotten this far without addressing its need at free safety. "We're not going to drop down in value to take a position of need when there is a better rated player there. If there is the right player there at the right time, we'll pull the trigger."

There are concerns about Moore's size--he's under 5-9--but he was a regular playmaker at Vanderbilt and made 12 interceptions over the last two seasons to go with 17 pass breakups. He was projected as a good fit for teams that use the cover two scheme and he could challenge quickly at right cornerback where Nathan Vasher and Corey Graham are.

The Bears added some depth at cornerback by selecting Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore in the fourth round with the 119th overall pick.

Moore was rated fairly high by some but he's short at 5-9, or a shade under, and is about 185 pounds. But he's a three-year starter and is considered a fierce competitor who made 12 interceptions over the last two seasons.

Moore has good speed. It will be interesting to see where he is used first. He could fit in nicely.

This was not a particularly impressive class when it came to defensive ends but the Bears might have found one here at the start of the fourth round that can make an impact.

Henry Melton is still learning the position and he has one of the best combinations of size at nearly 6-3 and 270 pounds and speed. He was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.65 seconds, and will be a project for new line coach Rod Marinelli.

The Bears brought in Melton for a visit. You can find two of the three players they have selected so far on the list of private workouts and visits we kept. The Bears surely wanted to ask Melton about off-the-field issues. He was arrested and charged with DUI while at Texas.

He was a fullback on the Longhorns' national championship team but now he adds depth to a position that the Bears will need help at next year. General manager Jerry Angelo said he was fine with the depth chart for 2009 going into the draft but three ends--Adewale Ogunleye, Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije--are coming out of contract after this season.

After a slow first day that never materialized in a player for the Bears, they're coming fast and furious.

General manager Jerry Angelo just made the club's third selection, choosing Texas defensive end Henry Melton in the fourth round with the pick No. 105, the second choice the Bears received from Seattle for pick No. 49.

That means the Bears turned pick No. 49--which the Seahawks used to choose Oregon center Max Unger--into defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert and Melton.

He is a converted fullback who is still raw on defense Melton made four sacks last season and became a hotter prospect after his pro day. He's 6-3, 280 pounds, and the Bears will likely look to use him as a rush specialist right away. Lovie Smith is adding to his defense.

The Bears made their second selection of the day, selecting Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias with the 99th overall pick, the compensatory pick they got for losing wide receiver Bernard Berrian in free agency to Minnesota.

General manager Jerry Angelo said Saturday that the team was confident it could find a receiver in the draft today that will be able to contribute this season. Igleisas is Oklahoma's all-time leader in receiving yardage, and the Bears have been following him. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake put him through a private workout earlier this month.

Iglesias has good size at a shade over 6-foot and 204 pounds. He's considered a good route runner and he has good hands. With the depth chart the way it is, Igleisas will have the chance to step in quickly.

The Bears pick again very soon at No. 104 overall. What's next? We're guessing more defensive help. Stay tuned.

Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias is still available. Is he their man?

General manager Jerry Angelo said that while Jarron Gilbert, the third-round pick from San Jose State, looks like a defensive end, he likes him most as an under tackle. That's the three technique position that Tommie Harris mans for the Bears.

What's more, the Bears were looking at another three technique tackle at this pick too.

Angelo said when the draft ended Saturday night and the Bears were reviewing their board and what would be available today, they targeted three players with a strong feeling one of them would be there when they selected at No. 68, the fourth pick of the day.

"Well really had three we were real comfortable with and obviously we had the fourth pick today,'' Angelo said. "And the way it came out a couple of those players were gone but one of them obviously, Gilbert, was there and we were real happy about that."

The Bears just got themselves an unbelievable athlete in San Jose State defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert.

If you don't think so, try this. Gilbert became a YouTube phenom when he jumped out of a and landed on his feet. If you haven't seen this, you have to check it out.

Gilbert, 6-5, 288 pounds, can play both tackle and end and it will be interesting to see where the Bears decide to use him. General manager Jerry Angelo said he likes him most as an under tackle although he said he can play end. Gilbert has got long, 35-inch arms, and his frame is like that if Israel Idonije. With all of the ends coming out of contract after this season--Idonije, Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson--the Bears could be looking at him there. They must have had a top grade on him because they passed up greater needs at wide receiver and safety to select him.

The Bears finally drafted.

General manager Jerry Angelo, using the third-round pick he gained in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, selected San Jose State defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert with the 68th overall pick, the fourth selection today.

The New York Jets began the day by taking Iowa running back Shonn Greene and St. Louis followed by grabbing his Hawkeyes teammate Bradley Fletcher. Then, Kansas City took Purdue defensive tackle Alex Magee.

According to PR information man Mike Corbo, this is the third time in history the Bears have not had a pick in the first and second rounds of the draft.

Year Round Pick Player

2009 3 68 ?????

1978 3 78 Brad Shearer, DT, Texas

1970 3 54 George Farmer, WR, UCLA

The second day of the NFL draft and Round 3 is set to begin in a little less than 30 minutes.

The Bears own the fourth pick of the round and with each pick given five minutes, they will be on the clock pretty quickly. Don't rule out the possibility that general manager Jerry Angelo trades down again.

To review quickly, let's look at the picks the Bears begin the day with.

3-4-68 From Seattle

3-20-84 Traded to Denver

3-35-99 Compensatory

4-5-105 From Seattle


5-4-140 From Denver via Seattle



7-20-229 Traded to Tampa Bay

7-37-246 Compensatory

7-42-251 Compensatory

Talk about a long wait to see the Bears not do anything.

In trading the No. 49 pick to the Seattle Seahawks the Bears not only left Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and Missouri safety William Moore on the board, they ensured they would go without a pick in the first two rounds of the draft for the first time since 1978. It's been so long the team doesn't have records of what it acquired for the first rounder that went to the Los Angeles Rams and the second rounder that went to the San Francisco 49ers. If you recall, let us know.

Now, general manager Jerry Angelo goes into Day 2 of the draft, which begins in about 10 hours, with nine draft picks. They start with pick No. 68, the fourth selection of the third round. Angelo has a depth chart at wide receiver that looks worse than it did last season, if you can imagine that.

Jerry Angelo said the Bears talked with the Arizona Cardinals about Anquan Boldin but the team was unable to get a deal done.

"I would assume so," Angelo said when asked if the deal was dead now that the team has traded its second-round pick.

General manager Jerry Angelo discussed the trade down today.

"The key to drafting is filing your needs. Unfortunately, the players we targeted at 49 did not fall to us and we weren't in a position that we were able to move up. We just didn't have enough to be an attractive candidate. Rather than put a square peg in a round hole ... we really looked at this part of the draft hard. Forty-nine we had to get a little luck.

"I had Bobby [DePaul] call around to see if we could move down. We were able to facilitate a trade that I feel is good for us. We feel we can still get some good football players.

"We were looking at a receiver, a defensive player as well. We were looking at Robiskie and there were a couple other receivers just not Robiskie. We didn't want to manufacture a player. It didn't fall the way we wanted it to fall. We just didn't get luck at 49. That's not to say we won't have a good draft [Sunday]. It's not like we missed gold. There were no guarantees."

Jerry Angelo likes to trade down and this time he traded right out of the first day of the draft.

The Bears sent the 49th pick of the draft to the Seattle Seahawks for the 68th pick overall, which is the fourth pick of the third round. They also got the 105th overall pick, which is the fifth pick of the around.

The Sun-Times reported Friday and Saturday the Bears could be looking to deal down and Angelo did just that, leaving Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi and Missouri's William Moore on the board.

The Bears now have nine picks on Sunday.

Here they are:

3-4-68 From Seattle


4-5-105 From Seattle


5-4-140 From Denver via Seattle





Texans just grabbed Cincinnati defensive end Connor Barwin at No. 46 and Oakland grabbed Ohio safety Michael Mitchell, who the Bears valued as a second-day pick.

The Bears will be on the clock after one more pick.

Georgia WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Missouri S William Moore

Bears safeties coach Gill Byrd just saw his son Jairus Byrd, the Oregon cornerback, go to the Buffalo Bills with the 42nd pick.

Father and son will meet in the preseason when the Bears travel to Buffalo for their first preseason game.

Six picks until the Bears go on the clock. Mohamed Massaquoi, William Moore, Everette Brown and Phil Loadholt are all available. Who's your pick?

If the Bears covet Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, he is going to have to last through 12 more picks for them to get him.

He might be the next receiver selected after the Cleveland Browns just grabbed Brian Robiskie of Ohio State with the 36th pick and the fourth selection of the second round.

The Bears are believed to like Massaquoi and Missouri safety William Moore. Can one of them make it through?

The run on safeties has started.

New England followed up Detroit's selection of Western Michigan's Louis Delmas by selecting Oregon safety Patrick Chung with the 34th pick of the draft.

The Bears have Missouri safety William Moore high on their draft board but will he make it through to them at No. 49?

At this point, the Bears could miss out on the top eight wide receivers and the top three safeties. What's the plan after that? We don't know. Stay tuned.

Pittsburgh just grabbed Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood with the final pick of the first round.

Detroit just started the second round by choosing Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas.

Fifteen more picks until the Bears are on the clock. Could the Delmas selection start a run on safeties? What if the Bears get shut out at receiver and safety?

Make it six.

Tennessee just drafted Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt with the 30th pick. He is the sixth wideout to come off the board a year after there were no wide receivers selected in the first round. Four wideouts have gone in the last 12 picks.

With 18 picks to go until the Bears are on the clock, it will be interesting to see where Ohio State's Brian Robiskie and Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi fall.

Looks like the Bears could be going in a different direction than receiver unless they want to pull the trigger on someone like Juaquin Iglesias at No. 49. We got an e-mail asking if Penn State's Derrick Williams could be a possibility. Maybe. But we think the Bears avoid Penn State when possible. Stay tuned.

There goes another wide receiver.

The New York Giants just selected North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks No. 29 overall, a move in an effort to replace Plaxico Burress.

Nicks is the fifth receiver to be selected in the first round. That leaves Rutgers' Kenny Britt, Ohio State's Brian Robiskie and Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi as top receivers the Bears could consider at No. 49.

They have to wait 19 more picks before they are on the clock. It might be tough at this point for one of those three to sneak through to the Bears. Stay tuned.

Green Bay took another step toward making the move from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense by trading back into the first round for another selection. The Packers found a willing partner in New England at No. 26, dealing their second-round pick at No. 41 and more, to jump up and grab Southern Cal linebacker Clay Matthews.

Now, the Packers have defensive tackle B.J. Raji and a solid linebacker to plug in to their front seven.

Twenty-two more picks until the Bears are on the clock. Four of the top eight receivers remain available:

Hakeem Nicks
Kenny Britt
Brian Robiskie
Mohamed Massaquoi

Do the Indianapolis Colts take one here at No. 27? We'll see.

With the Minnesota Vikings adding Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin to a stacked offense, and the Detroit Lions selecting quarterback Matthew Stafford and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, should the Bears factor that into their decision with their first pick at No. 49?

The Bears need help at the last line of defense--free safety--and they needed help their before their rivals bulked up their respective offenses. The Bears have had trouble stopping Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Now, there is plenty more to worry about.

Missouri's William Moore and Oregon's Patrick Chung are believed to be options for the Bears at 49. Should they go safety even if one of the top eight receivers is available?

The Bears' three rivals in the NFC North have all selected a player now.

The Minnesota Vikings just grabbed Florida wide receiver Pery Harvin at No. 22 overall in the first round. Paired with Bernard Berrian and Adrian Peterson, the Vikings have a world of firepower now on offense. Some considered Harvin the most explosive offensive player in this draft.

Green Bay has defensive tackle B.J. Raji to anchor its 3-4 defense.

Detroit has added quarterback Matthew Stafford and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, widely considered the best at his position in the draft.

The Philadelphia Eagles traded up two spots with the Cleveland Browns to draft Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the third wide receiver to come off the board.

There are 13 more picks remaining in the first round. Cleveland, Minnesota, New England, Baltimore, Indianapolis and the New York Giants are some teams that could be targeting a wideout.

We would guess the Bears would consider one of these wideouts if they make it all of the way to No. 49:

Percy Harvin
Hakeem Nicks
Kenny Britt
Brian Robiskie
Mohamed Massaquoi

We'll see how this plays out.

The Denver Broncos used the 18th pick of the draft to select Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers.

That means the Bears have traded Kyle Orton, Ayers, their third-round pick (No. 84 overall) and their 2010 first-round pick in exchange for quarterback Jay Cutler and a fifth-round pick that is No. 140 overall.

We're expecting a move on wide receivers and linebackers to begin soon. Let's see how this shakes out.

The San Diego Chargers picked up a pass rusher to pair with Shawne Merriman as they made Larry English the first first-round pick in the history of Northern Illinois. English was the 16th overall selection

Our guess is Jeremy Maclin goes 17th to Cleveland and then the Bears' former pick at No. 18 will be on the clock.

San Francisco just picked Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall pick. He's the second wideout off the board after Oakland tabbed Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7.

Here's the question--who is the next wide receiver to be selected and when?

Chances are Missouri's Jeremy Maclin goes next. Our interest is because if they keep going early, it might limit the choices the Bears have at No. 49.

We doubt Maclin goes past No. 17 and Cleveland. Let's see how it shakes out.

Green Bay sat out almost all of free agency after making the move from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense. Well, they just got a big piece for that unit by drafting defensive tackle B.J. Raji out of Boston College with the ninth overall pick.

Raji will be squaring off against Olin Kreutz & Friends twice a season.

Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey comes off the board at No. 7 to the Oakland Raiders.

There should be at least four more receivers selected in the round--Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin.

I would look for offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher to come off the board in a hurry here. Guessing, both are gone in the next three or four picks.

Cleveland just dealt the fifth overall pick to the New York Jets, who grabbed USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

In exchange, the Browns picked up the Jets' pick at No. 17 as well as

This gives Cleveland, which is in the market for a wideout, more ammunition to grab one off the board before the Bears go on the clock at No. 49.

The Browns are now picking at No. 17. They have three picks in the second round, but just one is before the Bears at No. 36. They are also selecting at No. 50 and No. 52, meaning they can move up in a trade if they want.

Many expect Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry to be the next player off the board, fourth overall to Seattle.

The question is when will the run on wide receivers begin?

Cleveland is an option at No. 5.

Oakland is an option at No. 7.

Jacksonville is an option at No. 8.

One of those teams could trade out to someone looking to move up for USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo just took out some time to visit with the folks on the Score at 670-AM. Here are some highlights of what he had to say:


It does [feel strange] being from a personnel background. We didn't have it for two years and I said we'd never do that again because it just takes the mojo out of the draft.


We feel good about the eight picks we have. We have worked very, very hard in identifying some players we really feel can help our team on both sides of the ball. It's just a matter now of the combination of how we want to take them.

Chatted with a coach who was on a staff that recently drafted a quarterback No. 1 overall.

We talked about Detroit's decision to select Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall and marveled at the deal he landed with agent Tom Condon.

Over at, Kevin Seifert takes a look at the biggest contracts in league history in terms of guaranteed money. Stafford's $41.7 million tops the list, edging out Washington defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

"They can make you or break you,'' the assistant coach said of quarterbacks taken No. 1 overall. "And if they break you, everyone is losing their job.''

We're positioned at Halas Hall where it is pouring like mad.

We made some phone calls this morning and on the way up here and the feeling around the league now is that four wide receivers are pretty certain to go in the first round if not more. The belief is that Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey will join Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree and Percy Harvin as wideouts to be selected in the first 32 picks. The next group of receivers includes Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi.

If the Bears cannot get one of those receivers at No. 49, that would increase the chances that they turn to defense with their first pick. Let's examine some of the teams picking before the Bears at 49 (17th pick of the second round) and whether or not they could be in play for a receiver.

Here is a name to keep in mind late Sunday afternoon after he draft has concluded--Colin Dow.

The Montana center came in for an official visit to Halas Hall, according to the Missoulian. Dow, who some have projected as a guard, also made a visit to Cincinnati and had a private workout with Carolina. Most of the players the Bears brought in on visits are ones they wanted to consider for free agency. Because the players were not invited to the combine, the Bears needed them to come in to get a full physical and medical report.

Need No. 1--WIde receiver

Players on roster

WR Devin Hester (signed through 20013)
WR Earl Bennett (2011)
WR Rashied Davis (2010)
WR Brandon Rideau (2009)
WR John Broussard (2010)
WR Devin Aromashodu (2010)


Let's see if we can get this straight. Prior to the trade for quarterback Jay Cutler just more than three weeks ago, general manager Jerry Angelo said the Bears had talked themselves into drafting a wide receiver in the first round with the 18th overall selection. Angelo thought there was a good chance the Bears could land a "blue'' receiver in that spot, meaning a guy who has a chance to be an elite performer. The Bears needed to upgrade their receiver corps and Angelo was willing to take the plunge after drafting only one wideout in the first round in the combined tenures of his time with the Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kyle Orton needed the help and it was on the way. OK. What exactly has changed?


Once again, our mailbox has blown up with Anquan Boldin inquiries. On the eve of the draft, we'll pick one out of the hat and cover the bases.

Q: Considering the latest update on the Cardinals trade demands and that Jerry Angelo is now a baller, do you think the Bears have the ammo or desire to land Anquan Boldin for their second-round pick plus Jamar Williams, Garrett Wolfe and/or Dez Clark?

Micah, Minnesota

A: We've thoroughly covered the Boldin situation in the last few months, and did so right here last week when we pointed out an interesting study on his effectiveness vs. that of teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Check that out if you missed it, and keep in mind the Bears don't have a Fitzgerald to run opposite Boldin. It's not a surprise to some personnel people we polled that the price has come down. That should give you an indication what kind of value people around the league place on Boldin. Keep that in mind.


Time to get down to projections. Mock drafts are fun and provide plenty of fodder for discussion. When it comes to projecting to No. 49 and then to No. 99, where the Bears are selecting, that's madness. But we're going to give it a shot. First, our wild guess at the top 10.

1. Detroit, Matthew Stafford. Hey, we got one right.

2. St. Louis, Jason Smith. Didn't take long to replace Orlando Pace.

3. Kansas City, Tyson Jackson. This is what you call a selection in no-man's land.

4. Seattle, Aaron Curry. The Seahawks' defense got bad in a hurry.

5. Cleveland, Mark Sanchez. As much buzz as there is with him, he has to be drafted in the top 5, right?

6. Cincinnati, Andre Smith. Bengals get the lineman scouts believe is the most talented.

7. Oakland, Jeremy Maclin. Elite ability as a return man gives him the edge over Michael Crabtree.

8. Jacksonville, Michael Crabtree. Jaguars badly need some help at this position.

9. Green Bay, Malcom Jenkins. Packers need some youth in secondary and get the draft's best defensive back.

10. San Francisco, Brian Orakpo. The Niners get a pass rusher.

David Bruton is hopeful that his teammates get some good luck this weekend but the Notre Dame free safety could be the only Fighting Irish player drafted this weekend.

There is a parallel between the final recruiting class of Ty Willingham at the school and the performance by the Irish last season, that's for sure. The NFL doesn't see the talent either.

Bruton is a projected mid-round pick with a good combination of size and range. He met with the Bears' coaching staff at the Senior Bowl in January but has not had much contact since. Bruton did make two official visits to Denver and the New York Jets and the Broncos are particularly interested as they also put him through a private workout on campus.

"I have heard anywhere between late second to fifth, I don't know,'' Bruton said. "Wherever I fall is where I fall. At the end of the day, I still have to make the team and eventually become a starter wherever I go."

If little happens between now and the 2010 draft, the Bears could find that defensive end is more significant to their plans than wide receiver is in this draft.

That is because starter Adewale Ogunleye, Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije are all coming out of contract. Now, Anderson will not be a free agent unless the NFL and the players association can work out an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. In an uncapped year, which is what the sides are on track for right now, players do not become unrestricted free agents until they have six years of service in. That will be one motivating factor for the players to reach an agreement on some type of extension. In Anderson's case, that means the Bears would control his rights in an uncapped year.

Idonije is a role player right now who has never been more than a spot starter. He's been moved back to end and that should make him better on special teams again. Ogunleye will be 32. The bottom line is the Bears will have all the cap space needed, and then some, to address their own players if they choose to do so. But it's worth wondering if the contract situation will play a factor in decisions made this weekend with the draft.

With the draft a little more than 27 hours away, let's take a look at the Bears' roster to see how it has been constructed to this point.

First round (4)

Brian Urlacher (9), 2000
Chris Williams (14), 2008
Tommie Harris (14), 2004
Greg Olsen (31), 2007

Second round (4)

Charles Tillman (35), 2003
Danieal Manning (42), 2006
Matt Forte (44), 2008
Devin Hester (57), 2006

Third round (6)

Olin Kreutz (64), 1998
Lance Briggs (68), 2003
Earl Bennett (70), 2008
Dusty Dvoracek (73), 2006
Marcus Harrison (90), 2008
Garrett Wolfe (93), 2007

Fourth round (5)

Alex Brown (104), 2002
Nathan Vasher (110), 2004
Jamar Williams (120), 2006
Craig Steltz (120), 2008
Josh Beekman (130), 2007

Fifth round (5)

Zack Bowman (142), 2008
Kellen Davis (158), 2008
Mark Anderson (159), 2006
Kevin Payne (167), 2007
Corey Graham (168), 2007

SIxth round (3)

Pat Mannelly (189), 1998
Adrian Peterson (199), 2002
Tyler Reed (200), 2006

Seventh round (3)

Ervin Baldwin (208), 2008
Trumaine McBride (221), 2007
Joey LaRocque (243), 2008

Undrafted free agents (4)

Cody Balogh, 2008
Joe Clermond, 2008
Caleb Hanie, 2008
Fontel Mines, 2007

Unrestricted free agents (8)

Brett Basanez, 2009
Josh Bullocks, 2009
Frank Omiyale, 2009
Anthony Adams, 2007
Rashied Davis, 2005
Roberto Garza, 2005
Desmond Clark, 2003
Brad Maynard, 2001

Waived free agents (12)

Glenn Earl, 2009
Orlandon Pace, 2009
Kevin Shaffer, 2009
John Broussard, 2008
Rudy Burgess, 2008
Jason Davis, 2008
Kevin Jones, 2008
Brandon Rideau, 2006
Robbie Gould, 2005
Hunter Hillenmeyer, 2003
Israel Idonije, 2003

Waiver claim (2)

Jason McKie, 2003
Marcus Hamilton, 2008

Trade (3)

Jay Cutler, 2009
Dan Buenning, 2008
Adewale Ogunleye, 2004

Free agents signed off practice squads (3)

Devin Aromashodu, 2008
Nick Roach, 2007
Matt Toeaina, 2007

Need No. 2--Free safety

Players on roster

FS Josh Bullocks (signed through 2009)
S Craig Steltz (2011)
S Glenn Earl (2009)
S/CB Danieal Manning (2009)
S/CB Zack Bowman (2011)


The Bears thought they were selecting an athletic safety with the skills to man the position for some time when they used their first pick in 2006 on Manning. He's started 28 games at the position and that has been enough for them to determine he's not a fit for them there. The most athletic member of the secondary gets caught out of position too often and part of the problem has its roots in the coaching staff's desire to move him all over the defensive backfield. The Bears are content now leaving him at nickel cornerback where he started last year and excelled after coach Lovie Smith took over the position. Smith is adding that position to his growing list of job titles and that is probably a good thing. It's too bad because Manning has proven to be durable and that is one trait the team has not been able to find at safety. Bullocks figures to be the man for the job right now. A former second-round pick, he had a nice rookie season in New Orleans but from there the progress stalled. The hope is that new surroundings will make a difference for him, and he looked good in minicamp, but the easiest way to judge a team's faith in a player is by his contract. Bullocks has a modest one-year deal.


Pierre Walters is seeking to be the first player drafted from Eastern Illinois in 10 years and the Bears are showing some late interest in the defensive end.

According to the Daily Eastern News, Walters met with the Bears last week. He's a late-round prospect who is getting interest from 4-3 and 3-4 teams as an outside linebacker and it's not a lock he will be selected. But Walters showed well at the Texas vs. The Nation game, which was scouted by general manager Jerry Angelo, and he turned in 1 1/2 sacks late in the game.


Q: Wide receiver is the Bears' biggest need in the draft but count me among the crowd that is concerned they will be looking at the 8th or 9th wide receiver by the time their pick comes up. If that is the case, why draft a receiver that not only might not make much impact this season, but might not be anything down the road? Really what I want to know is what else Jerry Angelo could look at if he doesn't take a receiver?

Evan E., Chicago

A: You make a valid point and I believe it's the same thing the Bears have been mulling over for a couple weeks now. Do they pick a receiver to fill a glaring need for depth just to have one, or do they consider a player with a far better grade at a different position? It is all going to depend on how the draft board falls. I think it is safe to say that if they don't pull the trigger on a receiver that they will most assuredly being going with defense.

Maybe you wonder why Angelo would not consider an offensive lineman. Well, he laid out a pretty good reason earlier this week. The Bears already have eight veteran offensive linemen they will carry. Adding a ninth will force them to trim from elsewhere on the 53-man roster. Angelo feels better about his line than he has in some time. They believe line coach Harry Hiestand does a terrific job, particularly after last season, and they will not look at the line early in the draft. Quarterback, running back and tight end are not need areas, so we turn to the defense.

The Bears are set at linebacker for this season and the history of Angelo and coach Lovie Smith is for them to draft defensive linemen and defensive backs in quantity.

At defensive end, which is where the Bears have a need with three players heading into the final year of their contract, I don't know if there is a player who will fit their scheme that will be on the board. Northern Illinois' Larry English could slide into the second round, but won't go that far and he doesn't match what the Bears are seeking. There are a couple of nice players at the top of the list but they will be gone.

For the first time since Jay Cutler was acquired three weeks ago, offensive coordinator Ron Turner explained the scholarship offer that never happened for the quarterback at Illinois.

Cutler and his family felt jilted by the Illini when he was coming out of high school, and comments were made in recent times as well. Cutler believed he had a scholarship offer from the school and when he made his official visit in December of his senior year he found out that was not the case. It's over and done with from Turner's perspective, and he even managed to get a good laugh out of the situation.

"Basically it was a misunderstanding,'' Turner said Thursday morning following the Brian Piccolo awards ceremony. "Jay and I have talked about it. It's in the past. I never in my eight years there offered a scholarship to someone, had them accept it and then pulled it back. That never happened to anybody.

Michael McCaskey attended the annual Brian Piccolo awards ceremony Thursday morning at Halas Hall and the chairman of the board is still beaming three weeks to the day after the Bears traded for Jay Cutler.

"I join with all the Bears fans who are looking forward to the coming season,'' McCaskey said.

General manager Jerry Angelo admitted he was genuinely surprised by the celebration by fans after the blockbuster trade. McCaskey perhaps has a better understanding of the position. Asked if a deal this big would come to the desk in his office before it was approved, he said yes.

"We paid a big price,'' McCaskey said. "Not only the draft picks, but Kyle Orton was a promising young quarterback and a great teammate in the locker room."


The Bears got one of the most productive rookies in the league last year when they selected Matt Forte in the second round with the 44th overall pick.

Lovie Smith is expecting big production again this year from the player the team is going to get in the same area. The Bears will be picking 49th overall to start in the NFL draft, which begins Saturday and runs through Sunday. General manager Jerry Angelo warned earlier this week not to beat him up if he doesn't fill the most glaring need by selecting a wide receiver. The Bears could be looking at just about any position, but of course you can rule out running back.

Forte was honored this morning in the Halas Hall auditorium as the 2008 rookie recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award. He was not present as he is finishing classes toward his degree in finance at Tulane University. Forte did speak in a recorded video and offensive coordinator Ron Turner talked about his value and how it is so difficult to get him off the field. Forte set franchise records in rushing yards (1,238), scrimmage yards (1,715) and receptions (63). He was the league's seventh-leading rusher and became one of just eight rookie backs in league history to have more than 1,000 yards rushing and 50 receptions.

Expecting that much production from their second-round pick this year might be setting the bar too high, but Smith has plans to get the pick involved immediately. He's not settled on one guy.

"At [No.] 49, there are going to be a lot of good players,'' Smith said. "We're going to get a good football player right there. We got Forte and we had high hopes last year. We have high hopes this year. Our track record says you don't have to only pick a guy in the first round for him to contribute. We expect a few of these guys to contribute this year. I feel good about the picks we have.''

Kyle Orton, Tommie Harris, Chris Harris, Danieal Manning, Devin Hester and Greg Olsen are just a few examples of rookies who have contributed quickly under Smith.

The Bears will formally introduce the winners of the annual Brian Piccolo Awards in less than a half-hour.

Matt Forte is expected to be the rookie recipient of the award.

Charles Tillman is expected to be presented with the veteran award.

Need No. 3--Offensive tackle

Players on roster

LT Orlando Pace (signed through 2011)
RT Chris Williams (2012)
OT Kevin Shaffer (2011)
OT Cody Balogh (2010)


The order we have been using for the Bears' needs comes from the file we produced for the Sporting News. That order was changed after the Jay Cutler trade and signing of Orlando Pace, and while we updated the list for the magazine, we were going off the old one. We wrote Wednesday that free safeties were next, and that's changed. So, you can easily determine that free safety and wide receiver are the two positions remaining. We apologizing for any confusion. On with the breakdown and explanation of need. General manager Jerry Angelo said on Tuesday that drafting a lineman, not just a tackle, would put the Bears in the unfamiliar position of having to carry nine linemen on the 53-man roster. The team already has eight veterans in place--Pace, Williams, Shaffer, Frank Omiyale, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza, Josh Beekman and Dan Buenning. A team can carry a ninth lineman but that spot would have to come from somewhere else--a third quarterback or a fifth running back (tailbacks and fullbacks combined) would have to be sacrificed, as an example.


Another busy, busy day of draft preparation. We're going to do two more Q&A's this week, one Thursday and one Friday. Get your questions in now. Here we go.

With reports all over the place now that Florida's Percy Harvin tested positive for marijuana at the combine, could he drop all of the way to the Bears? More importantly, would Jerry Angelo draft him and give the team a receiver more explosive than Devin Hester?

Ben T., New York

A: Angelo has ample experience with wideouts from Florida who dabble in weed, or at least test positive for weed. The Bears drafted speedster John Capel in the seventh round in 2001, 208th overall, about six weeks before Angelo was hired. The Bears took the unusual step of renouncing their draft rights to Capel about a week before training camp opened and before the team had reached a contract with him. Capel got busted in Gainesville, Fla., a month after the draft for possession of marijuana, and he blew off and was late to a slew of team activities. Twelve months earlier, Capel had stunned Michael Johnson and Maurice Greene in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials.

"John did not display the desire needed tobe a member of this football team,'' Angelo said in a statement at the time. "His actions left us with little choice but to end the relationship and move forward."

Angelo was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they drafted a sliding defensive tackle, Warren Sapp, 12th overall in 1995. Sapp also had some drug luggage hanging over him, but the Bucs went ahead and took him and wound up with one of the most dominant players at his position for a decade.

"It was just a gut feeling. We could have been wrong and could have had egg on our face today," Angelo said three years later. "Are the rewards greater than the risks? You have to answer that when character is in question."

Harvin may play the same position as Capel, but he much more resembles Sapp in terms of ability. It would be one thing to roll the dice in Harvin with a top-10 pick. If he somehow makes it all the way to the Bears--multiple people we spoke with today said there is little to no chance he makes it out of the first round--he's a no-brainer. You're talking about a $3 million contract for four years for a guy who some consider the most explosive offensive player in the draft.

Mike Florio over at nailed the issue this morning. It's what league execs have said for years. When a player fails a drug test at the scouting combine he's either got a serious drug problem or he's too dumb to stop in time to let the evidence clear out of his system before a drug test that should be circled in his calendar in red. You worry about investing in the wrong player in the first round, really the top third of the first round. If you like Harvin as a player, what's the risk at No. 49? The reward could be immense.


If anyone has the pre-draft buildup figured out it's Juaquin Iglesias.

The Oklahoma wide receiver got away for five days last week when he went to the Turks and Caicos islands with some players he has been working out with at Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta, Chip Smith's facility that Brian Urlacher has done a lot of work at in the past. Iglesias, along with his girlfriend, vacationed with Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama, Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou and Georgia safety C.J. Byrd.

"Working out and relaxing,'' Iglesias said. ``That's all I can do.''

Iglesias returned on Tuesday and is counting the days to the NFL draft now. He's hopeful to be selected in the second round and will likely be off the board by the third round. The Bears put Iglesias through a private workout on April 7 in his hometown of Killeen, Texas. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake worked out Iglesias the day before he traveled to Athens, Ga., to put Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi through a private workout.

While the Bears did their best to downplay the possibility the team will choose a wideout with its first pick--No. 49 overall--there is no denying it is the greatest need on the roster. It's been NFC North teams that have shown the most interest in Iglesias. Minnesota personnel boss Rick Spielman and coach Brad Childress attended the Oklahoma pro day. Iglesias then made an official visit to the team's facility.

Just like scouting players for the draft is an inexact science, evaluating drafts is a tricky business as well.

It's impossible to put a grade with any kind of substance on a draft right after it's been concluded. The Houston Texans were roundly criticized for taking defensive end Mario Williams No. 1 overall in 2006. Looks like they made the right move in passing on Reggie Bush and Vince Young now, doesn't it.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Tuesday that the hope is the team will get three starters out of this draft even though the team lacks first- and third-round picks. They feel like they have some good grades on players that will be available in the middle and late rounds, and the belief is three could eventually become starters.

"When we put a final grade on a player, that grade reflects what that player's going to be, in all likelihood in year two and three,'' Angelo said. "I remember when I was with the Cowboys, coach [Tom] Landry always would say if a player hasn't reached what we graded him at in year three, then obviously that in all likelihood was not going to happen.

"When we get a player graded, I want to take the onus off the scouts, to say: When you give that player that final grade, don't think that player has to come in and do that his rookie year. That's what is going to happen over a period of time and we really are looking at the second year, but the third year is when it has to happen."

How do you evaluate what a successful strike ratio is? That's another difficult question to answer. For one man's idea, we turn to former Texans general manager Charley Casserly, the man who signed off on Williams before he left the organization. Casserly has put together a 10-year study on drafts, evaluating each one after four years had passed. We found this in Mike Reiss' terrific blog over at the Boston Globe.

Here are the percentages Casserly outlined for finding a starting player in each round:

1st round: 75 percent

2nd round: 50 percent

3rd round: 30 percent

4th round: 25 percent

5th round: 20 percent

6th round: 9 percent

7th round: 9 percent


Here is a transcript from the pre-draft press conference held Tuesday at Halas Hall.

JERRY ANGELO: Good to see you guys. Lovie's not here today, he had a personal matter that came up unexpectedly. Glad that you're all here. Good attendance. We always appreciate you being here at Halas Hall in front of us.

We are anticipating a good draft. I know not having a No. 1 pick will definitely put a cloud on the draft, but that doesn't mean that we don't have good expectations for the draft. I made a statement that I potentially see, given the work that we've done, three starters from this draft class. We certainly have needs that some of you have talked about -- pretty obvious in some cases, maybe not so obvious in others. We want to go into this draft addressing those needs. We certainly feel there's the potential to do that. We also feel that we're going to be able to create some good competition at certain positions that we want to do that at, given that now we know the landscape of what this draft is going to be.

A lot of it is contingent on the medicals, what they do at the combine. We've been able to digest all that information and feel real good that the numbers of players that we're going to have on our hot list will facilitate the things that we would like to get accomplished this weekend.


JA: Well, free agency will still be an option in all likelihood. Most assuredly it won't happen until after the draft obviously. There will be an after-market. I think it will probably be a little bit better this year. It's my intuition, nothing I can present facts and substantiate, but I do feel given the quality at certain positions, what the landscape is in terms of what I perceive of how teams work, there possibly could be some fallout players at positions that we're looking at. Are we counting on that to happen? No, we're not, we're planning on this weekend to address the things we need to address.


JA: It is complicated for this reason: We do like other players at other positions. The receiver position is certainly something that we're looking at strongly for the obvious reasons, but I don't want to rule out other players at other positions that we feel will be better players in all honesty that could help our football team as well. We're never going to rule out defensive linemen. That's always kind of been our mantra since I've been here, and we'll always continue to look at defensive linemen. There's other positions that we feel potentially you would classify them as a need as well. I don't want to get focused on one position and then miss these other players. We've done a pretty good job I feel over our tenure of going into the draft open-minded, understanding that needs are important and they have to be filled -- if not in free agency, it has to come through the draft. That's why you'll see a lot of prognosticators after the draft tell us that we picked players too high or whatever. But in all cases, when you go into a draft and you have to have players [at positions] of need, you have to take them where you can get them and in all likelihood it's going to be in those first three picks.


JA: Three starters down the road. I probably didn't do a good job of clarifying this because I've said that every year. When we put a final grade on a player, that grade reflects what that player's going to be, in all likelihood in year two and three. I remember when I was with the Cowboys, Coach Landry always would say if a player hasn't reached what we graded him at in year three, then obviously that in all likelihood was not going to happen. When we get a player graded, I want to take the onus off the scouts, to say: When you give that player that final grade, don't think that player has to come in and do that his rookie year. That's what is going to happen over a period of time and we really are looking at the second year, but the third year is when it has to happen.


JA: Well, I think it will be better just given the fact that our quarterback is going to play better. I feel that will be something that is going to help that position and really the whole offense overall. If we stay status quo and nobody gets hurt, with our present receiver corps -- and when I say "receiver corps," you guys have to bring in the tight ends, too. I think Greg Olsen had an outstanding year, as did Dez in terms of their receiving ability -- I feel we'll be OK. Now saying that, it's not realistic to go into a season and think that you're not going to incur injuries. And part of why the receiver position is a need is because we want to create some depth there for that reason. But I feel that we're going to be better as a whole given the quarterback and given the continuity of Hester going into his second year. Rashied Davis being slotted as the slot receiver. We do like Earl Bennett quite a bit -- the familiarity, and it was a caveat with the Cutler trade, that he has the familiarity with the quarterback and the quarterback with the receiver. So we feel good going forward. Is it to say that even if we didn't come out of this draft -- and we always have to prepare for the downside -- without a receiver, that we couldn't do something post-draft? We certainly could and we will have a contingency plan for that as well.


JA: Potentially good, but we're not going to manufacture a receiver. We're not going to do that. If there's another player that we feel may not address a position as needed as a receiver, we're still not going to rule that player out. Potentially there could be a player that we really like. It depends on who's going to start the second round. Give you an example, you're talking about Britt from Rutgers, you're talking about Nicks from North Carolina, you've got Harvin in the mix. When does that start? Do those players go in the first round, at the end of the first round, or are they the start of the second round? If they're the start of the second round, that might push a guy down that we like. But we won't know that obviously until the weekend.


JA: Would we do that? We would do that, but I don't feel like we have enough ammunition to do that to be realistic. As you know the compensatory third pick can't be traded, so I'm not anticipating that happening. Would we rule it out? No, but I doubt it. That player that we like in all likelihood is going to have to be there at pick 49.


JA: If the player that we like is there, it will be vastly different. In all likelihood that player could be gone. Obviously that's why I say you always have to prepare for the worst, not live it. We still like the next tier of player at the receiver position. We want to take the players compensatory to the value of the pick. That's very, very important. At the end of the day, the team that has the best players on Sunday wins. We've always believed that and even if you get these need picks on draft day, players get hurt and you're right back into that handbasket. We've all been there before.


GREG GABRIEL: I think the receiver position's one of the hardest positions for a rookie to come in and play. We've done a study on it, we did it a few years ago. Generally speaking, it's the third year when the light comes on with the receivers. There are a few guys that come in and play and contribute right away, but for the most part they have a small contribution the first couple of years and it's in their third year that they break out.


The last thing Jerry Angelo wants to go through again is a recurrence of the Chris Williams' situation. The Bears' general manager says the team will take a "more disciplined'' approach to considering players this weekend with medical issues or red flags.

The organization drafted Williams 14th overall last year knowing that he had a "stabile herniation'' in his back. Putting Angelo and the team at ease in the decision process was Williams' history at Vanderbilt. He hadn't missed games and his practice history was nearly spotless. The back wasn't an issue ... until training camp began. Williams looked like a hobbled old man arriving and leaving practice for two weeks. The club said the issue was muscular at first, that he had spasms. It didn't get better. Then, it was announced he'd had surgery. Turns out the surgery was on the same disc that had a "stabile herniation." As Angelo and trainer Tim Bream explained, you can have an injury to a different part of the disc and it can be completely unrelated to the previous "stabile herniation."

A firestorm erupted and the bottom line was Williams' rookie season was essentially wiped out. He played on special teams and in garbage time in the second half of the year. The team believes he'll be no worse for the wear moving forward.

"Last year we made a conscious decision and we talked about it as an organization and [college scouting director] Greg [Gabriel] and I spent a lot of time on this too, but yes, we are looking at that and we are going to be more disciplined in our approach to taking players with medical concerns, and I want to emphasize that,'' Angelo said Tuesday. "There are in my opinion more players and it was asked about what makes the draft more difficult, that's one of them, there just seems to be more wear and tear on players. Maybe it's the way we evaluate them, we're so finite at the combine.


When the Bears go looking for a free safety in this draft--and it's not a matter of if--history indicates there is a good chance they will look to the South.

General manager Jerry Angelo has relied on Southwest regional scout Chris Ballard to uncover many of the team's defensive backs, including its best, cornerback Charles Tillman. Ballard also did extra work before the selection of Nathan Vasher, the only Angelo-drafted defensive back to be named to a Pro Bowl.

Some quick research shows that of the 14 defensive backs drafted by Angelo since 2002 (that counts 2006 second-round pick Devin Hester, who was chosen as a cornerback), eight have come from Ballard's territory. Ballard has expertise in the area. He coached defensive backs at Texas A&M-Kingsville before he was hired. Not coincidentally, that is a school Angelo scouted heavily when he was with Tampa Bay. At one time, the Buccaneers had six players on their roster from the school.

Furthermore, of the seven defensive backs Angelo has drafted in the first four rounds, five have come from Ballard's territory. Hester and former safety Todd Johnson (2003, Round 4) are the exceptions. Ballard also was responsible for the selection of Chris Harris in the sixth round in 2005 and Kevin Payne in the fifth round in 2007. The Bears trust Ballard to find defensive backs.


Don't overlook the possibility that the Bears will turn their attention to a linebacker at some point in the first five rounds of the draft. It might not be the most pressing need, but general manager Jerry Angelo was very clear Tuesday in discussing the need to make sure the team gets appropriate value at each pick. Angelo has already talked about the position being one of the real strengths of this draft and not just at the top of the board.

That brings us to a college safety most teams are looking to convert into a linebacker--TCU's Stephen Hodge. He's got a Bears' connection. We've known Hodge was a distant relative of coach Lovie Smith. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has cleared up that relationship for us. Smith's sister is also Hodge's mother's stepsister.

Need No. 4--Defensive end

Players on roster

DE Alex Brown (signed through 2011)
DE Adewale Ogunleye (2009)
DE Mark Anderson (2009)
DE Israel Idonije (2009)
DE Ervin Baldwin (2011)
DE Joe Clermond (2010)


If the 2010 draft was three days away, you could be looking at the No. 1 need for the club. The plan is for new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to have a major impact on the players he's inheriting. That won't do the Bears a lot of good if three of the top four ends are elsewhere after this season. Marinelli believes he has a player who is ready to take a big step in Brown, and that would be worth seeing. You could make a case he has been the most consistent player on the defense over the last several seasons, even during the ill-planned 2007 season when Lovie Smith and Bob Babich put Anderson where he was least effective, in the starting lineup. Brown is a solid two-way player and if Marinelli can have an impact on his pass-rushing ability, right end will not be a need spot for another few years. But as Smith says, you can never have enough players who can pressure the quarterback.


Busy day of football with the pre-draft media session at Halas Hall this afternoon. Plenty of good information came out of the 45 minutes with general manager Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Greg Gabriel and we'll be getting to more of it soon. First, we'll get to Four Down Territory and at the same time touch on some of the issues covered earlier today. Here we go.

Q: If the Bears don't take a wide receiver in the second round, or maybe even if they do, who are some free-agent options that would fit their scheme? I think Plaxico Burress is a longshot as he might not even be allowed to play next year. Also, I don't see Jerry Angelo bringing in another rotten apple.
Tom N, Wisconsin

A: Angelo ruled out Burress as an option for the Bears, even if he manages to stay out of jail in New York for carrying an unlicensed weapon.

"I know New York has pretty strict laws up there and what he did is looked at pretty seriously,'' Angelo said earlier today. "So I can't really answer that right now in terms of how we view him but I am not looking at him as an option.''

So, no bad apple even if Burress doesn't do time in the Big Apple. Who are some other options? Well, it's slim pickings out there. Angelo did acknowledge that the Bears could begin considering some players from the open market after the draft. They're not going to make a move at this point until they know how their roster is going to look come Monday. Keep in mind, no stars are going to be found now. You're probably not going to come up with a starter either. Not anyone you would want to project as a starter from the get go, any way. But here we'll take a look at five possibilities if the Bears decide to venture into free agency for some help at a position that is in definite need of some more depth four days from the start of the draft.

Drew Bennett: Complete bust for the St. Louis Rams after signing a $30 million contract. He missed last season with a broken bone in his foot. Bennett is interesting because he is 6-5, 198 pounds. He projects as a big, possession receiver. The Bears might already have that in tight end Greg Olsen, but Bennett might be worth considering.

D.J. Hackett: He's got good size at 6-2, 208 pounds, and long arms and could be an interesting option after spending one season in Carolina.

Darrell Jackson: Maybe the one productive Florida wide receiver in the last 10 years, Jackson hasn't been quite as productive since leaving Seattle after the 2006 season. He has experience with Jay Cutler having played 12 games in Denver last season catching 12 balls for 190 yards.

Ashley Lelie: The best vertical threat of the bunch. Lelie could be useful if he was in a specific role. He's been durable but hasn't been real productive since forcing his way out of Denver after 2005. He's made three stops since, most recently in Oakland.

Justin McCareins (pictured):
Decent possession receiver would welcome the opportunity to play for his hometown team. The Naperville and Northern Illinois product caught 40 balls for Tennessee last season and would be an option as an X receiver.


Cornerback or free safety?

That is the question teams have to kick around when they consider Sherrod Martin. Versatility is a good thing to have and the Troy defensive back is an intriguing prospect for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his 6-1, 198-pound frame and the 4.38-second time he turned in for the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Consider Martin the latest in a line of productive NFL players that are coming out of the Alabama program. DeMarcus Ware, Osi Umenyiora and Leodis McKelvin have gotten the attention of scouts in recent years and now the Sun Belt school is a can't-miss stop.

"It's a big help,'' Martin said of the players who came before him. "But you have to be able to play the game. It just shows that those guys are competitive players and real talented and Troy is producing guys who can play in the NFL. It's on the map.''

The Bears certainly didn't miss Martin. As we reported here, the Bears put Martin through a private workout on campus April 3. It was one of four workouts Martin has had. He's also taken two official visits to AFC teams, and he's expected to be selected in the second or third rounds. New secondary coach Jon Hoke put Martin through the workout and then they went to the classroom where they did some X's and O's work on the board before watching film and talking about the difference in schemes.

It all starts up front.

That is what general manager Jerry Angelo has always said and that is the way the Bears went around constructing this offseason, even if the blockbuster trade to acquire Jay Cutler is the move that still dominates the spotlight. But Angelo didn't want to lose sight of the line on Tuesday afternoon when discussing the club's moves to this point.

"Obviously, the quarterback position speaks volumes,'' Angelo said. "I think we all sleep better at night. He saves lives. But going forward, we've got to do other things to help him. We feel our offensive line, and I want you all to understand this to, when you're building on offense or defense, you have to have a philosophy. Our philosophy was to build that offensive line. We want to protect the quarterback first and then we want to supply him with the needed weapons. So I felt like we were able to do that.

"Our pro department [Bobby DePaul] did an excellent job of identifying some players young and old and we feel real good about our offensive line and that was a concern coming out of the season. Now, we're building inside-out and we're going to look at some of the perimeter people. Yes, we feel real good about having our quarterback and running back in place."


General manager Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Greg Gabriel sat down Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Bears' draft, the one that already began with the acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler.

The draft, at least Saturday's first two rounds, will be anticlimactic for the Bears. Their only selection is No. 49 overall, the 17th pick of the second round and that will not come until some time after 7:30 p.m. The longer the draft session went--it lasted a little more than 45 minutes and we have some updates from it right here--the more Cutler was part of the discussion. The Bears shipped Denver their first- and third-round picks as well as a first-round pick in 2010 for Cutler and a fifth-rounder this year.

``I know not having a No. 1 pick will put a cloud on the draft,'' Angelo said.

But Cutler is the Bears' first-round pick, the closest thing the organization has had to a franchise quarterback in decades.

The Bears have started their pre-draft media session with general manager Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Greg Gabriel. Here are some highlights as we go:

JA: "I know not having a No. 1 pick will put a cloud on the draft. I see potentially three starters from this draft class. We certainly have needs some of you have talked about, pretty obvious in some areas."

Angelo says the after market in free agency starting next week will be better than usual. Maybe he targets a wide receiver there. Angelo believes some wide receivers could be cut after teams draft some.

JA: "The receiver position is a position we are looking at strongly but I don't want to rule out other players at other positions that can be better players. We're never going to rule out defensive linemen. There are other positions we feel potentially you would classify as a need as well."

JA: "Three starters down the road [could come from this draft]. When we put a final grade on a player that reflects what that player will be in Year 2 or Year 3."

Need No. 5--Cornerback

Players on roster

CB Charles Tillman (signed through 2013)
CB Nathan Vasher (2012)
CB Corey Graham (2010)
CB Trumaine McBride (2010)
CB Marcus Hamilton (2009)
CB Rudy Burgess (2010)
CB Danieal Manning (2009)
CB Zack Bowman (2011)


If things go the way the Bears are hoping with new secondary coach Jon Hoke, this will be a position of strength with the players already on the depth chart. Tillman is still recovering from shoulder surgery in January and his health must be watched. The belief is he will be fine. He's always been such a rugged addition to the run defense that you wonder if his second shoulder surgery as a pro will affect the way he plays. Vasher went into Lovie Smith's doghouse last season but he was running with the starters in minicamp. That was because Tillman and McBride were both out rehabilitating injuries. Vasher is intent on fighting his way back into a starting role and he looked to be in good position. It looks like he'll get more of an opportunity than last year's cast off in the secondary, Ricky Manning Jr., and Vasher has earned that right.

Torry Holt has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars that is worth up to $20 million.

ESPN reported over the weekend that the Jaguars were moving in and a deal was imminent. The only other team that showed known interest in Holt was Tennessee. Holt made a visit to the Titans at the end of March.

Welcome to draft week.

We have five days until one of the more exciting weekends on the NFL calendar. Check back with us often this week as we will be updating with information related to the Bears' situation as we come across it. General manager Jerry Angelo, college scouting director Greg Gabriel and coach Lovie Smith will speak Tuesday at a pre-draft session at Halas Hall. The smoke screens are already forming.

We will have a Four Down Territory each day through Friday, so get your draft-related questions in now and make sure you stay with us all week, including Saturday and Sunday from Halas Hall where we'll be filing continuous updates. Let's get to it:

Q: I've seen plenty of stories from all over that seem to indicate some of the top wide receivers could be falling into the second round. If so, why wouldn't the Bears trade up to give themselves a better chance to grab a player who could make a difference for Jay Cutler this season? I know rookie wide receivers are not always the most productive, and they are not the safest picks, but I'm with you. Are the Bears that sure Earl Bennett is a future star?

Sean B., Chicago

A: That is a good question and one we've covered a little bit before. The first point that needs to be made is that Angelo's history is to trade down in the draft. In seven years, he's traded up just once and that was to acquire wide receiver Justin Gage in the fifth round in 2003. Angelo has traded down a number of times, most notably in 2003 when he dealt out of the No. 4 overall pick and in 2006 when he traded the No. 26 overall selection to move out of the first round all together. History would say the chances are not good, but then again history would have told us the chances for Angelo getting in the running for Jay Cutler were not good either. That's changed and now the Bears need to do something to get some wide receivers to go with Cutler.

Now, draft analyst Mike Mayock said last week that you can throw the traditional draft value chart away. He calls is obsolete.

``Every team in the top 10 is looking to trade out,'' Mayock said. ``Never seen it, never seen the situation quite this heavy. And the theory is, everybody knows we're upside-down right now with this draft. The rookies are getting paid way too much money proportionate to their value. So, teams are scared to death of missing (in) the top-10.

``Here's what happening, though, that I think is really interesting, and I'm anxious to see if this trend plays out. That whole trade chart that all the teams used to use, it began to go out the window last year, and I think, like the economy, it's completely out the window now. So, I think any team in the top 10 that is looking to get out will listen to any reasonable offer, and more than ever, teams are looking to get down (to picks) 15 to 25, because you can get the same kind of player at (No.) 20 as you can at (No.) 7, and you pay one-third the money.''


The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be working to trade wide receiver Braylon Edwards and if they rid themselves of him in the same offseason that they have traded tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., they're going to need to some players to catch the ball.

They'll get a look at one Tuesday when they put Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi through a private workout in Athens, Ga., joining the Bears as one of four teams to put him through drills on campus. Detroit and New England have also worked out Massaquoi, who is considered a fast riser on draft boards with less than a week to go. While there was speculation a month ago that Massaquoi would be a third-round pick, it looks like he could go in the top half of the second round now. There's no guarantee he will be available when the Bears select 49th overall with the 17th pick in the round.

Massaquoi has also made visits to Dallas and Tennessee, which pick after the Bears in Round 2.


Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand put Ball State's Robert Brewster through more than three hours of drills and classroom work this morning in a private workout in Muncie, Ind., a source said.

Brewster played right tackle at Ball State but some clubs are looking at him as a guard. He started 50 consecutive games and is durable with experience. He has good footwork and good size at 6-4, 325 pounds. He did work in the classroom with Hiestand for roughly 90 minutes, going over formations and looks as they talked schemes.


The Bears are going to hold their annual pre-draft media session on Tuesday at Halas Hall.

General manager Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Greg Gabriel are going to do their best to convince everyone listening--and then everyone reading and listening to the reports after the press conference--that the Bears will have a world of opportunities when they go on the clock Saturday night with the 49th overall pick in the draft.

Best available player.

The Bears have preached it forever but it's hard to find a time when they have come out and practiced it, at least with their first pick. Look no further than last year's draft when they selected offensive tackle Chris Williams with the 14th pick. It wasn't a need selection, it was a dire need selection.

Angelo and Gabriel want everyone, including the teams picking in the vicinity of their selection, to believe they can go with anything other than a wide receiver at No. 49. Sure, there could be an intriguing safety on the board. Maybe even an offensive lineman or defensive lineman that is interesting. Then all you have to do is take a gander at the depth chart at wide receiver and see what real need looks like. You can't clamor for a safety or some other position in the second round now and then cry about the receiver situation come September. Remember, Angelo has had success finding safeties later in the draft.

Need No. 6--Defensive tackle

Players on roster

DT Tommie Harris (signed through 2012)
NT Anthony Adams (2010)
DT Marcus Harrison (2011)
NT Dusty Dvoracek (2009)
DT Matt Toeaina (2009)
DE/DT Israel Idonije (2009)


If Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith have a hobby, it's collecting defensive linemen and defensive backs. Harris is the key here and is as important to the success of the defense as a whole as Smith is as the new play caller. There was a buzz about Harris not finishing the minicamp last month but what's important--virtually meaningless drills in mid-March or a game in September? When Dan Hampton was still a dominating force in the middle of the Bears' defense, he'd miss practice time with knee issues. The Bears knew exactly where Harris was from a health standpoint when they signed him to a $40 million, four-year extension last summer, a deal that for practical purposes will total $34 million over four years.


Linebacker is not a pressing need for the Bears in this draft but that doesn't mean they are not doing their due diligence when it comes to investigating some options.

Add Kansas' Mike Rivera to the list of players the team has brought into Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit. Rivera came in for a closer look last week and was given a physical. He is the third linebacker we've found who came in for a visit joining Murray State's Nathan Williams and Notre Dame's Maurice Crum Jr. The Bears also put San Diego State's Russell Allen through a private workout.

Need No. 7--Strong safety

Players on roster

SS Kevin Payne (signed through 2010)
S Craig Steltz (2011)
S Glenn Earl (2009)


Make no mistake about it, this is a big season for Payne. Entering the third year of his contract, he has the opportunity to play so well that the Bears will be motivated to talk extension with him at this time next year. If he doesn't play well, the Bears could be exploring new options come 2010. Payne played well at strong safety last season, which is where he started the year before a change was made to benefit departed veteran Mike Brown. Payne had double-digit tackles, including a season-high 15 on Oct. 19 vs. Minnesota--in six of the first 10 games before the move. Payne was out of position at free safety and the idea that the positions are interchangeable is a stretch. There are some durability concerns with him. He missed most of his rookie season with a broken arm that required surgery. He had shoulder surgery after this past season.

Need No. 9--Inside linebacker

Players on roster

MLB Brian Urlacher (signed through 2012)
SLB/MLB Hunter Hillenmeyer (2011)


The word is Urlacher has spent much of his offseason around Halas Hall working to ensure he will be in top shape when business gets going. That has never been an issue for him though. Urlacher always is in terrific shape. That's just the kind of worker he is in the gym. It will be interesting to see what level he can play at with Bob Babich returning to coach linebackers and Lovie Smith overseeing the defense.


We covered a couple options for the Bears at safety earlier in the week when we touched on Alabama's Rashad Johnson and Ohio's Mike Mitchell.

In our quest to uncover some more possibilities for the Bears, we jumped on a teleconference this afternoon with Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly. He identified Oregon's Patrick Chung as someone who will merit ``strong consideration'' if he's on the board when the team goes on the clock with the 49th pick. Chung is considered one of the top three or four safeties in the draft and while the Bears have shown no outward interest in him, that doesn't mean a whole lot. West Coast scout Marty Barrett has seen plenty of Chung's career with the Ducks over the last four seasons when he made 51 consecutive starts. The question that we raise most when it comes to Chung is whether or not he has the range to play free safety.

``One that will be interesting for the Bears is a guy like Glover Quin (pictured above) from New Mexico,'' Nawrocki said in answer to our question. ``He played cornerback there but he is a big, physical player and he could be converted to safety. I think he'll definitely get some looks.''

Here we go with our final Four Down Territory edition of the week. With the draft rapidly approaching, we'll hit a Q&A Monday through Friday next week doing our best to answer all of the draft questions you might have. Let's get right to it.

Q: It seems like the Bears have had so-called easy schedules the last few years based on the opponents' winning percentage the previous year and the easiest of all 32 this year. I'm wondering how well the previous year's win percentage actually correlates with the next year's win percentage. In other words does the preseason strength of schedule actually tell us much about how tough the actual season ends up being?

Julie R., Michigan

A: That's a good question and in order to do our best answering it we've crunched a few numbers. We've also got a link here to a good story by ESPN's John Clayton earlier this week that touches on this very subject. Clayton points out that the first-place schedule has been a tough collar for the NFC South winner to wear each year. In five of the last seven seasons, the NFC South champion from the previous year has finished last. Certainly a tough schedule was not much of an obstacle for some very good teams in 2008. Pittsburgh (1st), Indianapolis (2nd), Baltimore (4th) and Minnesota (5th) all faced supposedly difficult scheduled this past season and all four clubs reached the postseason. We took a look at the strength of schedule for every playoff team the past four seasons. Here is what we found:

Need No. 9--Outside linebacker

Players on roster

WLB Lance Briggs (signed through 2013)
SLB Nick Roach (2009*)
SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer (2011)
OLB Jamar Williams (2009)
OLB Joey LaRocque (2011)

* Roach will be a restricted free agent after 2009 so the Bears will still have rights to sign him.


The Bears have arguably the best weak-side linebacker in the game in Briggs and he remains in his prime after being selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth consecutive year. He's the most consistent defender in the front seven and should remain in that role for at least a few seasons. It will be interesting to see what happens on the strong side where Roach and Hillenmeyer figure to compete. There were concerns about Roach's durability and those were only reinforced last season when he missed two games. Hillenmeyer is coming off a season in which he was dinged as well.

Need No. 10--Guard

Players on roster

RG Roberto Garza (signed through 2011)
LG Frank Omiyale (2012)
G/C Josh Beekman (2010)
G Dan Buenning (2009)
G Tyler Reed (2010)


One of the goals the Bears set out to fill this offseason was to add some more size to the interior of the line. That was accomplished by a series of moves, the first of which was signing Omiyale to a $11.5 million, four-year contract on the first day of free agency. Omiyale spent all of one day at guard in minicamp before being moved outside when the coaching staff appeared to be frustrated with the makeup of the roster. Maybe that's what happens from time to time when you run a minicamp in mid-March. At any rate, Omiyale can move back inside now that Orlando Pace has been signed to play left tackle and Kevin Shaffer has traded places with John St. Clair.


The mailbox filled up with a slew of Anquan Boldin inquiries after word came out of Arizona on Wednesday night that the Cardinals are entertaining offers for the Pro Bowl wide receiver. It's been all wide receiver, all the time so here we go. We'll do one more Q&A on Friday so get your questions in for the final one of the week.

Q: I know, I know. The Bears already made their blockbuster move for this decade. But let's just look into this thing for one second. What could the Bears possibly package up to get Anquan Boldin? Any package has to include the second-round pick but what after that? How about a player? Say, the Bears' second-round pick and Nathan Vasher? Or how about Brian Urlacher?

James T., Charleston, Ill.

A: It certainly looks like Boldin can pack his bags and prepare for an exit from the Valley of the Sun. The Cardinals are reportedly seeking a first- and third-round picks in exchange for Boldin. The important thing to note, right off the bat, is the Cardinals want picks in exchange for him. One source, with knowledge of the situation, says that he believes Arizona will ultimately accept a first-round pick and something significantly less than a third rounder.

``I think they want to get rid of the headache,'' the source said.

The headache is Boldin and agent Drew Rosenhaus crusading for a new contract while Boldin has two years remaining on his current deal. Boldin is going to need a big, new deal from his new team. The thing that needs to be investigated is how good Boldin is right now and how long he will remain at his current level. His yards per catch has dropped the last two seasons. Arizona was 3-1 in regular-season games Boldin missed. They rolled in the playoffs after he missed most of the Atlanta game (after scoring a touchdown) and the entire Carolina game. The Cardinals probably believe they can be just as successful without him.


One of the issues the Bears have to be batting around at Halas Hall on the second day of full meetings with the scouting staff is what the difference is going to be in this draft between the seventh or eighth wide receiver vs. say the 13th or 14th wide receiver.

There is considerable depth at the position to go with some top-end talent. At safety, arguably the Bears' second greatest need going into this draft, there is not the elite talent you have seen in recent years and there also isn't a lot in the way of depth.

Bears college scouting director Greg Gabriel likes to talk in terms of combinations of players and that is what you have to do here. What combination of receiver and safety could the Bears get if they go with a receiver at No. 49 overall and a safety later on? What combination of safety and receiver could they get if they pull the trigger on a safety at No. 49 overall? At that point they could probably get a top five safety, maybe even top three depending on how the draft unfolds.

If the Bears opt for a receiver in the second round there is a good chance they will wait until the later rounds for a safety given their history of finding players such as Kevin Payne, Chris Harris and even Todd Johnson in the fourth round on down. If general manager Jerry Angelo makes a play for a safety in the second round, our bet is he goes with a wide receiver with his next selection at No. 99, the second-to-final pick of the third round, the compensatory selection for losing Bernard Berrian via free agency.

That is why we introduced Virginia's Kevin Ogletree as a possibility here. He's gaining some momentum and the Bears might be more comfortable with someone like him and a safety who could compete immediately for a starting job than a receiver like Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi or Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias and a safety later on in the draft.

``It's probably just guys going in and really looking at my film and evaluating me as a player,'' Ogletree said Thursday morning when asked why he was gaining some buzz with the draft nine days off. ``They're probably seeing some of the little things. I played with a bunch of quarterbacks, I think that helps. Given the opportunities I had, I did everything I could.''


Jay Cutler might not be ready to commit to the Indian but he will sure meet the Indian, as a Bears spokesman said.

The new quarterback will drop the ceremonial first puck tonight at the Blackhawks' playoff opener with the Calgary Flames at the United Center.

If the Bears do not draft a safety in the second round with the 49th overall pick--wide receiver is the club's greatest need no matter how you analyze the roster--the Dallas Cowboys could grab one right behind them.

Dallas, which traded itself out of the first round when Jerry Jones paid a steep price for wide receiver Roy Williams, doesn't pick until No. 51 overall. Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Clemson's Mike Hamlin, Western Michigan's Louis Delmas and Texas Tech's Darcel McBath are all scheduled to visit the team this week. The Cowboys did the same thing as the Bears to address this position by signing a veteran--Gerald Sensabaugh--to a one-year contract. That is what general manager Jerry Angelo did with Josh Bullocks. Both clubs are eyeing lonterm solutions and the Bears are known to have interest in McBath too.

Need No. 11--Fullback

Players on roster

FB Jason McKie (signed through 2011)
FB Jason Davis (2009)


The Bears went to more double tight-end sets in 2008 with Desmond Clark and Greg Olson and the result was less playing time for Jason McKie, who missed five games with a quad injury. The expectation with the arrival of quarterback Jay Cutler is that the Bears will continue as is or perhaps use the position even less. It seems fullbacks are less involved every year when you look across the landscape of the league. McKie was a dependable outlet in short-yardage and goalline situations until his usage became predictable. The Bears consider McKie to be an above-average fullback and he has some value for them on special teams.

Let's get right to the action.

Q: I've been following various free agent trackers online and New Orleans wide receiver Lance Moore continues to appear as a restricted free agent. Last year, on a team with multiple weapons, he caught 80 [79] passes and thus would seem to have proven value. One Web site said it probably would take a second-round pick to get him, which led me to think, "What team needs a wide receiver and seems about to spend a second-round pick on an unproven kid just out of college?" Have the Bears pursued Moore at all?

John B., Parts Unknown

A: Friday is the deadline for teams to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets, and it would take more than a second-round pick to land Moore. It would take a lot of money too. The Saints tendered him a $1.545 million contract and will receive a second-round pick as compensation if they decline to match an offer to him. Given Moore's value to the Saints, as you pointed out, it's fair to assume that they would strongly consider matching an offer.


If you're having second thoughts about Rashad Johnson, throw in some film.

The Alabama safety believes his performance the last two seasons for the Crimson Tide in the rugged SEC speaks loudest when it comes to his game.

Johnson is one of just a handful of free safeties that figure to be selected in the first three rounds of the draft, and he's one the Bears have been keeping close contact with as area scout Ted Monago remains in communication with him. The Bears have a need at the position. They signed Josh Bullocks to a one-year contract and he figures to compete with Craig Steltz with Glenn Earl perhaps having an outside shot. If general manager Jerry Angelo, who is known to like Johnson, goes with a safety in the second or third round of the draft, the position could come down to a training camp competition between Bullocks and the newcomer.

"I definitely believe I have the ability to come in and be a starter as a rookie,'' Johnson said Wednesday afternoon. ``My knowledge of the game is one of my strong points. That will help me learn the system and I believe that will be an edge for me. I think I could do that fairly quickly and I have the athletic ability to step right in.''

The Bears did just that with a rookie safety in 2005 when Chris Harris was quickly installed as a starter. Danieal Manning started at safety for the majority of his rookie season in 2006. Lovie Smith isn't afraid to go with young players, especially in the secondary.

Judging purely on production, Johnson is the best safety in the draft. He made 11 interceptions the last two seasons and also had 19 passes broken up. That means he got his hands on the ball 30 times, far more than any other draft-eligible safety. He's not the fastest safety but his instincts seem to put him in the right place the majority of the time and that's more critical than any stop watch reading. The issue is his size. He measured 5-11, 203 pounds at the combine, but one scout said he played closer to 185 as a senior. Johnson said he was in the 190 range. While injuries were not a factor at Alabama--he played in 50 games--durability will be a question in the NFL.

Need No. 12--Center

Players on roster

C Olin Kreutz (signed through 2010)
G/C Josh Beekman (2010)


The 12-year veteran Kreutz has not been voted to the Pro Bowl since the 2006 season when he was named first team All-Pro. He will turn 32 in June and has a lot of mileage on him having started 102 consecutive games. He's missed just one game since 2001. Kreutz might not be a dominant player at the position any longer but it will be interesting to see how he looks this season with a new quarterback and new cast around him on the offensive line. There are expected to be three new starters. If Jay Cutler performs well and running back Matt Forte excels, well, reviews of Kreutz's play are obviously going to be favorable. That's how it goes a lot of times for interior linemen.

We've digested it. We've look at it from the top, bottom and side and now we're ready to share some tidbits on the schedule. Surely we have missed some, probably some noteworthy ones, but this is what we have come up with.

*** With five prime-time games scheduled, the Bears are eligible to appear in one more night game due to flex scheduling that occurs between Weeks 11-17. No team is permitted to appear in more than six prime-time games and they cannot reach that number unless one is on NFL Network. The Bears meet that criteria as they play at San Francisco on Thursday, Nov. 12, on NFL Network. Of course, if things are not going well or if the Philadelphia Eagles struggle, the league could opt to move the Bears out of their Week 11 prime-time game on NBC. There are complex rules involved with shifting games during the flex portion of the schedule and the networks can block games from being moved. Without knowing all of the fine details, the Week 12 meeting at Minnesota ad the 15 game at Baltimore could be potential candidates to be shifted.

*** This marks the fourth consecutive season the Bears are scheduled to have five prime-time games.

*** The bye week comes at a good time for the Bears in Week 5. That gives them extra time to prepare for their Oct. 18 game at Atlanta.

On the flip side, bye weeks work out for the Bears. They don't have a single opponent on the schedule that will get an extra week to prepare for them. Every Bears' opponent has a game the week before the Bears face them.

*** Some consider Minnesota to be the Bears' chief competition this season. They meet in Weeks 12 and 16. That is the latest in the season the Bears and Vikings have ever played for the first time in a season since the league expanded to 16-game seasons in 1978.

As we expected, the Bears' first training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., will be July 31. Players will report to campus the day before. Camp is expected to run about three weeks.

The Bears will likely break camp before the Aug. 22 preseason game vs. the New York Giants.

One has to wonder if the addition of Jay Cutler less than two weeks ago altered the landscape for the Bears' 2009 schedule.

They're in demand by the networks, that much is for certain.

The Bears are scheduled for five prime-time games beginning with the opener Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers, the one game we already knew about. They will host Philadelphia and Minnesota in night games at Soldier Field and play in prime time at San Francisco against Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary and at Atlanta. The game with the Vikings will be Dec. 28 in the second-to-final game of the regular season. The Bears will close the season Jan. 3 at Detroit. This is the fifth time since 1999 the regular season has spilled into January.

The NFL will release the 2009 schedule at 6 p.m. but we've picked up some details on the Bears' schedule with more than 90 minutes to go until the full release on NFL Network.

As we already know, the Bears will open the season at Green Bay on Sept. 13 on NBC's "Sunday Night Football." That is the first of what is scheduled to be five prime-time games. The Bears could get flexed into a sixth game later in the year by NBC and the NFL.

Obviously, with the addition of Jay Cutler to the team in the league's second-largest television market, they are going to be a big draw.

As we wait for word to come on the 2009 schedule let's get into another round of Four Down Territory. Here we go.

Q: I do have a question about the job security of Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith and the coaching staff. Before the Jay Cutler trade, I could sense the leash on Angelo and company was tightening. Certainly the team, especially Lovie's defense, has been in steady decline since the loss in the Super Bowl, including several dubious coaching decisions (Danieal Manning, the end of the Atlanta game, etc.). I would think another year missing the playoffs this year would have put Jerry and Lovie squarely on the hot seat. Does the Cutler trade as the center of the most aggressive offseason in memory buy Angelo more time? Angelo's boldness in actually bringing in talented players seemingly has given him the leeway for another few years at the helm, but with talent finally in place on offense and Lovie taking the reigns on defense, is it time for these coaches to produce another playoff appearance? Hopefully the team will succeed with a truly talented quarterback, but these are the Bears after all. Will there be more pressure on the coaching staff this year, specifically offensive coordinator Ron Turner? Will another mediocre season mean ousting Turner and/or Bob Babich as scapegoats?

Ryan Y., Columbus, Ohio

A: Did the acquisition of Cutler buy Angelo more time? Angelo agreed to an extension following the team's appearance in Super Bowl XLI through 2013. I don't think he is going to be buying himself more time. Let's keep in mind the franchise we're talking about here--the Bears. The bold move to deal for Cutler was not the kind of move you are accustomed to in these parts. You're also not accustomed to the organization eating the contracts of high-powered employees and paying them to go away. It doesn't happen. Prior to the Cutler deal, I could not envision a scenario in which the Bears would have lost in 2009 and then Angelo would have been on the hot seat. I just didn't see any way the McCaskeys would have paid Angelo to not work for them in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

We've got less than 3 1/2 hours until the NFL releases the 2009 schedule.

The Bears have been a popular team in prime time since Lovie Smith's breakout season in 2005.

The Bears were on ``Monday Night Football'' twice in 2006, once in 2007 and once last season. They have been on ``Sunday Night Football'' three times in 2006, twice in 2007 (they were flexed out of a third SNF appearance at Seattle after a poor start) and appeared on Sunday night three times last season. They appeared on Thursday night once in 2007 and once in 2008.

So, the league has scheduled the Bears for prime time five times in 2006, five times in 2007 (reduced from six by flex scheduling) and five times in 2008.

Nolan Nawrocki over at Pro Football Weekly, the guy who puts together one of the finest draft guides there is, has a terrific draft value chart that is worth looking at.

It provides a good glimpse at where some of the players the Bears have been scouting the last few weeks are forecasted to go, as well as some other information. Nawrocki updated it today and it reflects some of the sentiment around the league that North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks could be falling. One source we spoke to Monday said he didn't expect Nicks to be on the board when the Bears select at No. 49 in the second round, but he wouldn't rule it out after concerns about Nicks multiplied when he showed up out of shape on his pro day.

Nawrocki's chart has three levels for each round--A, B and C. A is for players in the top-third of the round, B is for players in the middle of the round and C is for players in the bottom third of the round. He has Nicks at 2B with the arrow pointing down. The Bears' pick is the 17th of the round, so that indicates Nawrocki believes he will be coming off the board right around where the Bears are at.

One of the players we first identified here as someone the Bears were interested in may have looked like an off-the-radar candidate at the time.

Ohio University safety Mike Mitchell is very much on the radar now.

He had a private workout for two teams at his high school in Fort Thomas, Ky., on Monday. He travels to Cincinnati today for a visit with the Bengals and from there he will go to Cleveland where he will meet with the Browns. Mitchell then heads to Oakland on Thursday and will wrap up the week in Green Bay on Friday. That's a busy week to add to the three official visits he's already had to this point.

``I didn't want to smell like old cologne, so I had to get two more suits to add to the rotation,'' joked Mitchell about his weekend shopping expedition.

Suddenly, Mitchell has gone from a possible late-round selection to a guy who could come off the board in the middle rounds. The Bears went in for a visit with him last month and are just one of the teams with genuine interest in him.

We have a look at the tentative preseason schedule for the Bears. This should be firmed up before or by the time the regular-season schedule is released later today.


Saturday, Aug. 15 at Buffalo, 6 p.m., Fox-32, WBBM-780
Saturday, Aug. 22 New York Giants, 7 p.m., Fox-32, WBBM-780
Sunday, Aug. 30 at Denver, 7 p.m., Ch. 5, WBBM-780
Thursday, Sept. 3 Cleveland, 7 p.m., Fox-32, WBBM-780

The Bears brought in a quarterback to Halas Hall on Monday.

But they might have other plans for Julian Edelman. Some clubs believe the Kent State quarterback projects as a wide receiver in the NFL or perhaps a contributor on special teams. He could run the wildcat also after becoming the second quarterback in school history to pass for 1,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. The first? Cleveland Browns electric return man Josh Cribbs.

The interest seems genuine. Edelman worked out for the Bears at his school last Thursday and then the club flew him in for a visit to Halas Hall, a trip that likely included a medical evaluation. He is making the rounds this week. According to the Record-Courier, Edelman will visit Miami on Wednesday and San Francisco on Friday, the last day draft prospects can make official visits to clubs. The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly shown interest in Edelman also.

Need No. 13--Running back

Players on roster

RB Matt Forte (signed through 2011)
RB Kevin Jones (2010)
RB Garrett Wolfe (2010)
RB Adrian Peterson (2009)


As we wrote Monday, we probably would have moved this down the list a notch or two if we had it to do over again. No draft additions here are going to have a very easy time making the roster, not with Wolfe in place as a guy offensive coordinator Ron Turner needs to work more to get involved before the Bears can actually make a determination as to what they have. Jones figures to be the primary backup, however, after the Bears prevented him from signing with Buffalo by reeling him in with a $3.5 million, two-year contract. Jones disappeared at times last season, so much so that he was inactive on gameday, but never stopped working. It's a credit to him that he went to coach Lovie Smith and asked to be used on special teams, a role he relished and did well in. Jones got excited talking about playing special teams as a freshman at Virginia Tech where Frank Beamer is considered one of the best coaches in the country.

The NFL will reveal the regular-season schedule on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on NFL Network.

We will have a full breakdown and analysis here after the dates come out.

All we know right now is the Bears will open the regular season Sept. 13 at Green Bay on NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

Add two more offensive linemen to the list of players who have been to Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit.

Jeff Dickerson at ESPN 1000 reported that Hampton guard Dennis Conley and Montana State guard Louis Saucedo have made the trip to Lake Forest. That brings to 15 the total of pre-draft visits we have confirmed. NFL teams are permitted a maximum of 30 and the cut-off date for visits is Friday.


Here we go again with Four Down Territory. We're going to have one every day this week through Friday so get your questions in. Let's get started.

Q: Does the acquisition of Jay Cutler change the strategy for backup quarterback? Does it increase of decrease the need to sign a veteran?

Terry L. Boulder, Colo.

A: We wrote here on Sunday that nobody finds the backup quarterbacks like the Bears, listing Brian Griese, Jeff Blake and Chris Chandler as examples of solid quarterbacks who arrived at Halas Hall after they had become journeymen. There doesn't look to be a lot left on the scrap heap right now. Did you have someone specific in mind? J.P. Losman, Charlie Frye, Gus Frerotte, Trent Green, Charlie Batch and Brooks Bollinger are out there. New agent Drew Rosenhaus is shopping Rex Grossman for the minimum. Grossman will not be returning to the Bears. Looks to me like the Bears will stand pat with what they have. If they were comfortable--and Lovie Smith said as much at the combine--with Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez competing for the No. 2 job behind Kyle Orton, why wouldn't they be comfortable with one of those two behind Cutler?

You can get your Orlando Pace jerseys now.

A week after he signed his contract, the Bears have updated their roster. Pace will wear No. 76, the same number he has worn throughout his career with the St. Louis Rams. That is according to the club's Web site and the roster, which was updated at some point today.


If the Bears can find DeSean Jackson in the second round with the 49th pick of the draft, they'll be in a very good spot.

Jackson, who started 15 games as a rookie for the Philadelphia Eagles, was the 49th pick of last year's draft. He represents the upside of where the Bears are with their first pick this year.

As you can expect, the results at No. 49 are mixed. That is where the Bears found offensive tackle Troy Auzenne in 1992. He didn't pan out so well although he made 35 starts in a five-year career, the first four seasons with the Bears. No. 49 is where the Bears selected defensive tackle Chris Zorich in 1991. He made 49 career starts.

General manager Jerry Angelo said at the scouting combine that there would not be a perfect player where the Bears were choosing at No. 18 in the first round. That was before the Jay Cutler trade. There is considerable more guesswork that goes into waiting until No. 49. We went back over the last 20 years to look at the draft picks. Besides Auzenne and Zorich, the 49th pick produced former Bears assistant secondary coach Torrian Gray. He was chosen by the Minnesota Vikings in 1997.

The Bears' draft room is going to get busy.

The club's area scouts will descend on Halas Hall beginning Wednesday as preparations for the April 25-26 draft ramp up. This is when general manager Jerry Angelo will begin the process of putting the final touches on the team's draft board. There are a myriad of issues at play and much has changed since the group was last fully assembled after the April 2 trade for quarterback Jay Cutler.


A week after Orlando Pace signed his contract, we've been able to take a closer look at the numbers in the deal. Pace left more money on the table in Baltimore to come to the Bears for an opportunity to play left tackle. It could be he wanted to remain in the Midwest as well. He could maintain his home in the St. Louis area and commute easily during this time of year when players are at Halas Hall four days per week for the voluntary offseason workout program. Whatever the reason for choosing the Bears, they got the seven-time Pro Bowl performer at a good price.

Pace, who will turn 34 in November, is expected to step in as the starting left tackle. Players have said he reported for work last week in terrific shape.

Need No. 14--Tight end

Players on roster

TE Desmond Clark (signed through 2010)
TE Greg Olsen (2011)
TE Kellen Davis (2011)
TE Fontel Mines (2010)


After looking over the ranking list I submitted to the Sporting News, I'd probably move tight end up a slot or two if I had it to do over again. But it's certainly not an area of major concern. What the Bears could use is a more skilled in-line blocker for the run game. The loss of special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo in free agency a year ago was well chronicled but just as significant was the departure of John Gilmore. The offense didn't come up with a replacement for Gilmore and it showed at times in the running game. Matt Forte had a terrific rookie season and there's good reason for optimism moving forward with him. Let's remember the Bears ranked 24th in the league in rushing. Gilmore would not have pushed them into the top half of the league, but he might have helped in short yardage.

Need No. 15--Quarterback

Players on roster

QB Jay Cutler (signed through 2011)
QB Brett Basanez (2010)
QB Caleb Hanie (2010)


The Bears have worked for years to solve the backup quarterback position, bringing in the likes of Chris Chandler, Brian Griese and Jeff Blake in recent years. That hasn't been a problem. It's been finding the starter that has been an issue and general manager Jerry Angelo finally did that by dealing for Cutler. Hanie has impressed many in the organization since his arrival nearly a year ago and Basanez was intriguing enough for the Bears to make a move for him in February. They'll be able to proceed with what they have if they are comfortable. There really are not many interesting veteran options still available. Once again, the Bears could consider going with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. It's something they nearly did last year before deciding to keep a spot for Hanie. But that's a decision for this summer.

I completed an assignment for the Sporting News last week, and a portion of the file was to rank the Bears' draft needs from 1 to 19. Using the order I put together for the Sporting News, the NFL draft preview edition just hit newsstands with Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford on the cover, I'll do a daily breakdown here. For the purpose of getting every position covered before the draft begins April 25, I've combined the specialisits--kicker, punter, kick returner, punt returner and long snapper--into one category.

We'll begin with need No. 16 today and work our way up to the draft, having to double up on one day.

Need No. 16--Specialists

Players on roster

K Robbie Gould (signed through 2013)
P Brad Maynard (2010)
KR Danieal Manning (2009)
PR Devin Hester (2013)
LS Pat Mannelly (2010)

Here is our final edition of Four Down Territory for the week. We'll get back to the mailbag on Monday, so make sure you get your questions in over the weekend with two weeks until the draft. Here we go.

Q: What do you think the chances are that the Bears will select Rashad Johnson of Alabama in the second round to play strong safety and wait until later in the draft to get a receiver like Ramses Barden and let him learn under a veteran like Torry Holt? I think Johnson has the ability to be an Ed Reed type of safety who can play center field. I also see Barden having the ability to possibly develop into a Marcus Robinson type receiver. What are your thoughts?

Nick D., Orlando, Fla.

A: Johnson is an interesting guy who had a very successful college career, particularly after Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007. A former walk-on, Johnson turned into one of the best defensive backs in the SEC. No one is going to be drafting him to play strong safety though. He's strictly a free safety and there are some questions as to whether or not he will be able to hold up at that spot as well, but more on that in a little bit. Johnson thrived under Saban and made 11 interceptions over the last two seasons to go with 19 passes broken up.


We didn't find this one on our own, credit for that goes to and before them, but Bears fans will get a kick out of this. Or something.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who totaled 4 1/2 sacks vs. the Bears last season, has a good friendship with new quarterback Jay Cutler. In fact, when Allen was traveling overseas, someone played a joke on him and text messaged him that the Vikings had landed Cutler. Well, when Cutler made his way to the Bears last week, it was Cutler's turn to congratulate him.

"Congrats, I guess you got out of Denver,'' Allen recalled messaging him when appearing at the Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Check out Allen's cowboy hat.

Then, he talked about his plans for the future now that he'll get to face Cutler twice per season like he did when he was in Kansas City and Cutler was in Denver.

The Bears already know that their 2009 season will begin at Green Bay on ``Sunday Night Football'' Sept. 13.

The rest of the schedule will be unveiled Tuesday. In prime time. With the league doing all it can to strengthen the embattled NFL Network, the release will be shown on NFL Network in prime time starting at 6 p.m.

The Bears will travel to Denver with new quarterback Jay Cutler on Aug. 30 for their third preseason game. That is the contest in which most starters play into the third quarter.


Welcome to Four Down Territory where we tackle issues surrounding the Bears as best we can. We'll do one more Q&A for this week on Friday. Get your questions in soon. We'll resume the Q&A on Monday and have a schedule for next week then.

Q: Will new quarterback Jay Cutler be able to earn the $100,000 workout bonus from the Bears that he reportedly had already missed with Denver?

Alex O., Toronto

A: We've received a few inquiries on this one and waited to have a firm answer to respond. Yes, Cutler is eligible to earn the $100,000 workout bonus that is a part of the contract the Bears inherited when they traded for Cutler. The contract applies to the Bears and because Cutler was acquired before the start of the club's voluntary offseason workout program, he's eligible to cash in. It doesn't matter what happened with the Broncos, where he had missed out on the mark after missing six days. The interesting thing to note is Cutler's contract calls for him to be present for 90 percent of the workouts to trigger the payment. Typically, the Bears ask their players to appear at 85 percent of workouts to collect bonuses in their contracts. Cutler will have to do better to be paid, but it's money he is eligible to earn.


Kurt Warner turned 34 a month before his first training camp with the Arizona Cardinals in 2005.

At the age when most quarterbacks are nearing the end, or moving to a role wearing a ballcap and headset on the sideline, Warner was just getting started on the second half of his storybook life in the NFL. It was a move that revitalized his career.

In a lot of ways, Orlando Pace is in the same position Warner was. Like Warner, he will turn 34 this season, his first in new surroundings. Pace was seeking a fresh start following a downward spiral in St. Louis that saw the Rams win just five games over the last two seasons. He's seeking a chance to be on a winning team again. They play different positions, they're vastly different personalities, but you can draw some parallels. Both have arguably put up Hall of Fame credentials. That's one.

Looked into the numbers on the Kevin Shaffer contract. It seems like about two months ago that the Bears added the veteran tackle. That's how much movement there has been recently. He looks to be in a position now where he will be the swing tackle. That will be an adjustment for Shaffer, who has started all but two games over the last five seasons for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.

The Bears reeled in Shaffer before they knew they could get Orlando Pace. You cannot rule out Shaffer as an option to start. No one knows how Chris Williams will develop on a move the right side. Pace has missed 25 games over the last three seasons. Injuries happen on the line. The Bears were one of only six teams to have five offensive linemen start all 16 games last season.


Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi was the second wide receiver Bears assistant coach Darryl Drake put through a private workout in as many days Wednesday.

Drake returned to Athens, Ga., where he was an assistant from 1992-1996, to meet with Massaquoi, who is believed to be moving up draft boards into the second round.

On Tuesday, Drake was in Killeen, Texas, where he had what was described as a solid workout with Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias. Both will be under consideration by the Bears for the 49th pick in the draft, their first selection.

We caught up with Massaquoi on the phone for a conversation after he worked out following his workout with Drake. Here is the Q&A:


It went pretty good. Hopefully he got a chance to see a couple of things that he was looking for. I think I did some things out there well today. We'll just see.


I think people are taking a closer look evaluating my game and I just think they are seeing a lot of things they like and hopefully I can influence them that I do some things differently from other receivers and I would be a good fit for their team.


Let's get right into the mailbag today.

Q: I agree with you that Jerry Angelo needs to build around Jay Cutler and that needs to start with some competent wide receivers. As much as I want to believe Earl Bennett will look like the career leader in receptions in the SEC and not Mark Bradley, how do we know that will happen. So, to improve Angelo's chances of hitting with a wide receiver in this draft, what are the chances he trades up into the top of the second round to get say Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt if they fall out of the first round which could happen.

Victor S., Chicago

A: Like I said on Tuesday in response to an inquiry about free-agent wide receiver Matt Jones, prior to the Cutler deal I would say there was little chance. After the Cutler deal, anything can happen. The Bears made a bold move to acquire the quarterback, then immediately signed a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle in Orlando Pace. It seems to have ushered in a new way of doing business at Halas Hall. In the past, I would have said no based on Angelo's history. In studying his draft deals with the Bears, he's traded up just once. That was to select wide receiver Justin Gage in the fifth round in 2003. Bet you wish they still had him on the roster. The point is, Angelo's history has been to make conservative moves and when he trades, he trades down to add more depth or put more bullets in his gun. Your idea for moving up to the top of the second round, or near where the Bears selected cornerback Charles Tillman at No. 35 overall in 2003 is a good one. Here's the problem--what does Angelo offer to move from No. 49 to the mid-30's? The Bears traded their third-round pick to Denver in the Cutler deal. Their compensatory third-round pick--No. 99 overall--cannot be traded. That leaves a fourth-round pick and two fifths. Those picks might not be enough to get the Bears up the 12 to 15 picks you're talking about. It would also put a real squeeze on a draft right now that has the Bears with eight picks. For those reasons, I think it is unlikely the Bears will be in position to move up.


The Bears have not left any stone unturned in Chapel Hill, N.C., this spring.

College scouting director Greg Gabriel went in to do some work at North Carolina. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake went in. The Bears put wide receiver Hakeem Nicks through a private workout. Ditto tight end Richard Quinn.

Now that the Bears are out of the first round and do not have their first selection until No. 49 overall, Nicks seems like a real longshot. Chances are he's off the board between the middle of the first round and beginning of the second round. Could it be the Bears are considering a former Tar Heel--wide receiver Brandon Tate?

Some considered Tate a better prospect than Nicks before he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in a victory over Notre Dame in early October. Tate was leading the ACC in all-purpose yardage at the time of the injury. He is considered a good route runner and is skilled in the open field.

Troy Aikman was seated at a crowded table in Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville on media day the Tuesday before Super Bowl XXXIX when I asked him how Sid Luckman remained the Bears' all-time leading quarterback after, well, roughly a half-century. You know, back when leather helmets were the thing in professional football.

Aikman turned to me, laughing and said, ``That's my question. That says it all, doesn't it? It's absolutely mind-boggling. Maybe what it points to is just not really being able to get a quarterback who could last for any significant time.''

It wound up being just part of a story for the start of the 2005 season on the franchise's inability to cultivate any success at the position. It came on the heels of Rex Grossman breaking his ankle in a preseason game in St. Louis, Chad Hutchinson playing himself out of professional football in a series of disastrous preseason outings and a rookie fourth-round pick named Kyle Orton being named the starter less than two weeks before the start of the season.

We've been tied down with some other football stuff recently so we'll get to five questions in today's Four Down Territory. We'll get to another one on Wednesday so get your questions in and thanks for your patience. Let's get right to it.

Q: I have to disagree with the idea of a wide receiver in Round 2. Earl Bennett was a bust last season but given the typical trajectory of NFL receivers and the fact that they usually take two to three years to click, isn't it worth the risk to see if he develops this season? Especially given the unusual circumstance of having a playmaking and familiar quarterback now on the team? Bennett is in his best possible position to succeed and I think the Bears should realize he's got a better chance of making an impact than a rookie second rounder, a spot where the busts far outweigh the impact players. Busts can come from any position, but I think the Bears may find a safer gamble should they look for a safety (as you noted) or even a guard or defensive tackle at that spot. Seeking a veteran wide receiver to add now and a rookie in the later rounds would be just as wise, I think, and concentrate on defense in this draft.

Chris M., Pasadena, Calif.

A: I don't think you can call a player a bust after evaluating just one season, and I've certainly not said Bennett will be a bust. But his 2008 rookie season only created more questions about his future. Your concerns are valid, that there are no sure things in drafting a wide receiver in the second round. That being said, the same concerns have to be in place for a receiver selected in the third round like Bennett. I don't think there is a risk involved to selecting a receiver in the second round this season, I think the Bears would give themselves a better chance of succeeding. If they don't go after a receiver at the beginning of the draft and if Bennett does not pan out, then where is the offense? As you suggested, it takes a few years for a receiver to develop. That only ensures the offense is set back further. We'll see what happens.

We stirred some considerable debate Saturday when we suggested the Bears were locked into a wide receiver in the second round with the 49th overall pick.

Now that they have quarterback Jay Cutler, it's time to outfit him with the appropriate weapons.

Not everyone saw it that way. Some feel the addition of three starters on offense--Cutler, left tackle Orlando Pace and projected to left guard Frank Omiyale--signal a move to defense in the draft. At least in the early rounds. Certainly there are those out there who feel the Bears need some real work on the defensive side of the ball. Clark Judge of writes that Cutler is not necessarily a cure-all for all things wrong with the Bears.

There cannot be many more dates left on the calendar between now and the draft for Western Illinois linebacker Jason Williams, a DuSable product, to squeeze in a visit.

But Williams managed to find room for the New York Jets. They become the 11th team Williams has or will visit prior to the draft, the product of eye-opening performances at the Western Illinois and Northwestern pro days last month.

Two more names have surfaced of players who visited Halas Hall last week, bringing to 13 the total number of names we have learned on the Bears' list of pre-draft visits.'s Adam Caplan reports that Texas Christian running back Aaron Brown and West Virginia cornerback Ellis Lankster were in town for a look. Both are considered potential late-round draft selections. Brown rushed for 2,616 yards for the Horned Frogs but is considered a little slim at 6-foot, 200 pounds. Lankster, 5-9, 191, did well for himself at the Senior Bowl and is believed to be a player the Bears have their eyes on. College scouting director Greg Gabriel attended the Mountaineers' pro day.


No sooner than we get up a post reviewing the options the Bears could have for selecting a wide receiver in the second round, word comes that another private workout is on the way.

The Bears will put Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias through a private workout on Tuesday.

Earlier this week it looked like the Bears were in a position where they had to draft an offensive tackle in the first round.

What a difference a few days makes. Not only do the Bears not have a first-round pick any longer after acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler from Denver, they filled a pressing need on the line by signing seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace.

That leaves the Bears with a complete line, minus a young tackle to eventually join Chris Williams in the starting lineup, and some flexibility when it comes to the draft, right?


The addition of Cutler has made it a virtual lock the Bears will have to draft a wide receiver when their pick comes up in the second round, 49th overall, the 17th pick of the round. The idea that Cutler will make the cast they currently have better is only going to go so far. There is no Brandon Marshall on this roster. There might not be an Eddie Royal on the roster either depending on how Devin Hester progresses. Marshall and Royal gave Cutler one of the better 1-2 combinations in the league in Denver.

"I don't think quarterbacks make receivers, and I don't think receivers make the quarterback,'' Cutler said. "It's a joint mesh there, we've got to both be on the same page. I've got to deliver the ball and they've got to be in the right place. I can't do it without them, and they can't do it without me."

Jason Williams is going to earn his wings before the NFL draft. Maybe he'll even score a free future ticket.

The Western Illinois linebacker is one of the hottest risers with just three weeks to go as he crisscrosses the country getting in 10 pre-draft visits. That is more than any other player we've heard of to this point as the visit season cranks up with teams whittling down their draft boards.

Williams will travel or has already traveled to meet with Cleveland, Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Using the handy Air Miles chart on page 216 of the Bears media guide, that's 13,332 flown miles. Teams want to give Williams a physical and get a better chance to know him.

Any rift that was in place between Jay Cutler and Ron Turner over a scholarship to Illinois that one says was rescinded and the other says was never offered is gone.

So says Cutler.

The quarterback addressed the issue Friday at his introductory press conference at Halas Hall, less than four months after the athletic director at Cutler's high school in southern Indiana made critical comments to Denver Post columnist Woody Paige.

Jay Cutler called his arrival to the Bears the beginning of a new chapter for him and did his best to avoid questions about the saga that led to his departure from the Denver Broncos after a two month saga.

"I couldn't be more excited,'' Cutler said at his introductory press conference at Halas Hall. ``I am here to help this team win and bring a championship back to Chicago.

"I want to thank [Denver owner] Pat Bowlen and the fans of Denver. Obviously, there has been a lot said on my part and the Broncos' part over the last couple months. I think both sides would possibly do a few things different. This is a dream come true for me. I am looking forward to the future.''

Cutler said the experience was like draft day all over for him as he waited for the Broncos to deal him following Bowlen's announcement earlier in the week that the team would deal him.

Kyle Orton is excited to be a member of the Denver Broncos.

While the Bears will finally introduce Jay Cutler in a press conference at Halas Hall in about a half-hour, Orton has already made the rounds in the Mile High City. He said he was appreciative of the opportunities he had as a member of the Bears.

"My wife and I are so excited to get out here and be part of this community,'' Orton told Mike Klis of the Denver Post.

Here are some more quotes passed on by Klis.


"I've taken the same approach my entire and that is, my job description is to win football games. And I've done a pretty good job of that and I plan to keep that up. I'm a hard worker. I'm not flashy by any means but my job is to play football and win and I plan to do that.''


"I'll take that every time. I've had a lot of great teammates back in Chicago, I know I'll have a lot of great teammates here. Leadership doesn't come overnight. I plan to put my head down and go to work and show the guys what my work ethic is.''

The Bears have a private workout scheduled for next week with Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt. It's unknown if that will still take place after the team dealt away its first-round draft pick Thursday in a package to land quarterback Jay Cutler.

One workout has been nixed. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake was going to make another stop on the East Coast next week to work out Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. A league source said that workout has been canceled because the Bears will not be in position to select Heyward-Bey.


If the Bears really want to go out and get a top-flight wide receiver, here is their chance.

The New York Giants just put Plaxico Burress on the market by cutting the controversial wideout and former Super Bowl champion who caught the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII.

Burress could be staring down some jail time after shooting a hole in his leg last November at a Manhattan night club. He's angling for a plea, reportedly, but it would still likely involve incarceration. If the Bears are willing to wait for a second fiddle defensive tackle like Tank Johnson to do some time in the poky, why not Burress? Just think of the long line of Halas Hall employees who could visit Burress in lockup, if he winds up there.

A defensive coordinator shared his thoughts on Jay Cutler with us on Thursday shortly after the trade.

Today, we placed a call to a quarterbacks coach in the league who weighed in on the Bears' new quarterback provided he could do so without being revealed.

"I like the kid. I wish I was working with him,'' the quarterbacks coach said. ``He's a little sloppy with his mechanics at times. He's not as consistent with his release as he can be. But he stands in the pocket and just has great courage. As far as accuracy, a quick release, he's great.


A day after adding players at arguably the most important positions on the field--quarterback (there is no disputing that one) and left tackle--don't look for an acquisition spree by the Bears today.

Not if you are thinking veteran wide receiver Torry Holt, any way.

Holt visited the Tennessee Titans on Thursday and it does not look like the ex-St. Louis Ram will be coming this way.

"I don't see that,'' Holt's agent Kennard McGuire told the Sun-Times.

Here is our unofficial list of pre-draft visits for the Bears and private workouts.

We have independently confirmed the information for all but but two of these, and the vast majority were reported first right here. The Bears do not announce who they are bringing to Halas Hall or where they are sending their scouts and coaches prior to the draft. Some of the moves turn into nothing. Some mean a lot. Lovie Smith traveled to Vanderbilt and Arkansas last year. The Bears drafted four players from those schools, including first-round pick Chris Williams and third-round picks Earl Bennett and Marcus Harrison. The club made visits to see running back Matt Forte. Many of the late-round picks and free-agent signings after the draft last year made pre-draft visits to Halas Hall.

We'll try to keep this information organized and updated as we move forward. We'll do our best to make the list as complete as possible.

The Bears brought in Penn State safety Anthony Scirrotto for a pre-draft visit to Halas Hall on Thursday.

Scirrotto, a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions, projects as a strong safety who could be a late-round draft pick or a priority free agent. He hasn't been able to run and do much for scouts this spring as he was suffering from a pulled hamstring at the school's pro day, but there is plenty of game tape for teams to get a good feel for what he can do. He is considered strong in run support. Still, for him to get drafted he'll probably have to run and do well.

On the day the Bears solidified their starting offensive line--at least for 2009--by signing seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace, they looked under the hood on a draft prospect.

Eastern Michigan offensive lineman T.J. Lang made his official visit to Halas Hall on Thursday.

He's fast climbing draft boards and it will be interesting to see how general manager Jerry Angelo addresses the need to find a young offensive tackle. He doesn't own a first-round pick this year after the Jay Cutler trade but it's not like he can wait to grab one in the first round next year. The Bears had to deal away their first-round selection in 2010.


Jay Cutler's exit from Denver is easily traceable.

He felt he could not trust Josh McDaniels after he got on board with the new coach, bought into the program McDaniels was selling, and then the new coach tried to trade him. The nearly five weeks of banter back-and-forth, a teleconference, a face-to-face sitdown, text messages, he said, she said produced nothing but drama, a riveting offseason story the NFL probably cherished.

And it ultimately led to Cutler becoming a Bear, the 12th starting quarterback of the Jerry Angelo regime, Thursday afternoon in a blockbuster deal that will define the general manager's career one way or another.

Now we'll see where Cutler can pick things up with another coach he feels has jilted him, or at least did at one point--Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner.

When in doubt, follow the money.

It's the safest rule there is to follow in the NFL. It's the only explanation you need when trying to understand precisely where the Bears' confidence in Kyle Orton stood. The guy was going into the final year of his contract. The Bears were demanding more from Orton before showing him the money. That tells you right there how confident they were about him as their longterm quarterback.

General manager Jerry Angelo had some very kind things to say about Orton on a conference call earlier this evening. They were probably heartfelt. But Angelo's confidence in newly acquired Jay Cutler is far greater. The man who treats draft picks as if they're virtually untradeable forked over two first-rounders and a third-rounder. Ultimately, not having those picks could be a good thing for the Bears, or Angelo, any way.

It is being hailed as the greatest move general manager Jerry Angelo has made in eight years with the Bears. No price was too steep to finally bring a franchise quarterback on board.

Let's get a sample of what they are saying elsewhere about the addition of Jay Cutler for two first-round picks, a third-round pick and Kyle Orton. Yes, we didn't forget the Bears will get a fifth-round pick back in return, which might not matter if it doesn't turn into, say, the next Mark Anderson.

*** Sports Illustrated's Peter King writes that Cutler doesn't know what he is getting himself into.

"It's a massive step down. Maybe Cutler will make the Bears a lot better. He certainly should. And the Broncos will take a step back, at least until [Josh] McDaniels develops a quarterback in his own image. The saddest thing here? Cutler could have been a truly great player in McDaniels' offense. He may be great with the Bears; he certainly has the talent to be. But the Denver attack was tailor-made for Cutler's brains and ability to throw the deep ball. Whatever he says now, I know he'll always wonder how great he could have been in that offense, with that bright young coach -- whether he liked McDaniels or not."

*** Mike Ditka
knows something about trading a lot for one player. He dealt away an entire draft for Texas running back Ricky Williams when he was the coach of the New Orleans Saints. Then, Williams got in a wedding dress to pose for a picture with Ditka. He weighed in on the deal for the Denver Post.

Jay Cutler will be introduced as the Bears' next quarterback Friday in a 5 p.m. press conference. Here is what general manager Jerry Angelo had to say about a whirlwind day Thursday at Halas Hall:


Well, we had a big day as everybody knows today. We're very happy with the outcome, not only of making the trade for Jay Cutler but also the signing of Orlando Pace. It just all came together, and really it came together unexpectedly. We didn't know for sure what the timetable was, particularly about the trade. We had plenty of time to think about the trade given all that has been going on about the Denver situation with Jay. We had a chance to talk amongst us. I came to the conclusion after talking to Lovie [Smith] and Ted [Phillips] as well as ownership that I felt like we needed to pursue this, and if we decide to get in it, we want to get in it to win it. My understanding is that there were quite a few teams that were in this; to what degree I can't answer that. I do know that we really didn't know for sure where we stood in this whole process until maybe an hour before it got done.


BRAD'S NOTE: Cutler's salary this season is $1.03 million, representing actually a cap saving compared to Kyle Orton

We're fine. As you know, he's under contract. He signed a six-year contract and he has played three years of that. So that really had no significance in any of this.


As we've talked about postseason, and I don't want to do anything to diminish how we felt about Kyle and I want to make that real clear to everybody. We like Kyle very much. I felt very comfortable if we were going into this season with Kyle, we were fine. This came up unexpectedly. We looked into it. We just felt like in our best interest looking now and in the future, we can't minimize the importance of the position. We've talked about that. I know personally it's been something that has been my goal for the organization and felt this was the right thing to do.

It's simple to predict what the Bears' depth chart at quarterback is going to look like.

1. Jay Cutler
2. Caleb Hanie
3. Brett Basanez


1. Jay Cutler
2. Brett Basanez
3. Caleb Hanie

Sorting through the offensive line after the addition of Orlando Pace, things are not as clearly defined. Let's give it a try though:

Veteran linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, the elder statesman on the Bears from Vanderbilt, is not going to recognize some of his teammates when the team begins the voluntary offseason program on Monday. At least not as familiar faces around Halas Hall.

Hillenmeyer was excused from the minicamp two weeks ago. The Bears representative to the NFL Players Association, he was attending that organization's most significant meeting in decades as a successor to union boss Gene Upshaw was chosen in DeMaurice Smith.

We've got a scouting report on new Bears quarterback Jay Cutler from a defensive coordinator who spoke on the condition he not be identified. We'll just get right into it:

"I like him because of his arm strength most. He's got a little gunslinger attitude to him too and he's not afraid to fit that ball into some tight spots that some guys might not be able to do.

"He throws a good vertical ball. Anything over the middle, he's usually pretty doggone accurate with it.

"He has a good head on his shoulders. If there is one thing about him, it's his temper. At times he might lose his composure out there. That would be my only negative. I think that's something, with a little more maturity, he'll be better. He's very impressive.

"He's mobile but he looks to throw before he runs. He doesn't get sacked much and that's because he's big, he's strong and he can move.''

We take this break from our regularly scheduled Jay Cutler news to report another draft development.

Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli put Northwestern tackle John Gill through a private workout on Tuesday.

Quick reaction from Jerry Angelo's teleconference.

Angelo says the inclusion of Kyle Orton was a key to the deal from the perspective of the Denver Broncos.

"I feel what really fortified this trade was that Kyle was part of it,'' Angelo said. ``I can see why they like Kyle.

"That's what my opinion would be [that Orton set the Bears' offer apart from others]. He was very much an integral part of this trade. They did a lot of work on Kyle."

On his attitude entering the deal: "If we decide to get in it, we want to get in it to win it."

On the trade: "I felt this was the right thing to do."

John St. Clair was seeking $5 million per season when he opened contract negotiations with the Bears.

He was a one-time backup to Orlando Pace in St. Louis.

That's what the Bears will pay Pace. He gets a $15 million, three-year deal, and will have the opportunity to earn $11 million in the first two seasons without having to trigger bonuses or incentives.

Devin Hester will be one of the players most impacted by the acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler.

He reacted to the news on Sporting News Radio on The Monty Show.

What is your vision knowing Jay Cutler will be in Chicago?

DH: "As far as the GM, they went out there and made a pretty good move. My thoughts go out to Kyle Orton, I feel like he was getting ready to come to his peak, but the NFL is a business and things happen for a reason so... but on the other side of the hand now we have Jay Cutler, which has proven himself as a pro bowl quarterback. I think he'll come in and kind of boost up the team and probably fill in some of the pieces we're looking for."

Round and round.

The Bears quarterback carousel started spinning before Jerry Angelo came on the scene prior to the 2001 season.

But until Thursday's blockbuster trade for Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, Angelo was destined to have the following words written on hios tombstone one day: Could never find a quarterback. Now, that space has been cleared. Perhaps one day it will read: Finally found Bears a QB.

When Cutler starts the season opener Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field, it will mark the 36th change in starting quarterbacks for the Bears over a span of 156 regular-season games. If you don't have your calculator handy, that's one change every 4.3 games.

Talk about a huge day for the Bears' offense.

If Orlando Pace can be as effective as Ruben Brown was when he energized his career with a move to the Bears, the offensive line just improved considerably.

A little more than an hour after trading fopr Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears agreed to terms with Pace, the veteran left tackle who is a seven-time Pro Bowl performer, on Thursday in a move that not only reshapes the line but likely changes the plans of general manager Jerry Angelo 23 days before the NFL draft.

Pace will sign a two- or three-year contract and will be inserted as the starting left tackle meaning that 2008 first-round draft pick Chris Williams will have to stave off newly signed veteran Kevin Shaffer to claim a starting job at right tackle. Pace, 33, missed 25 games over the last three seasons but started 14 last season and cleared a physical when he visited the team on Monday. Agent Kennard McGuire praised the visit and it led to quick negotiations.

"He had a tremendous relationship with Lovie,'' McGuire said. "That was an element."

The Bears won out over the Baltimore Ravens, who initially pursued him when he was cut loose by the St. Louis Rams, and who had an offer on the table for more money. Pace, it seems, wanted to remain in the Midwest and felt comfortable with his relationship with coach Lovie Smith, who was the defensive coordinator of the Rams for three seasons. The Pace thing just came together for the Bears as his visit to Halas Hall came when offensive coaches were scheduled to be on vacation. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake was spotted in Las Vegas earlier in the week.

After the Jay Cutler deal, let's recap quickly the impact on the 2009 draft.

Here are their current draft selections.

Round-Pick-Overall pick

3-20-84 (Yes, we goofed that up. That pick goes to Denver. Thanks for the posters who caught this.)
3-35-99 (compensatory)
5-4-140 (From Denver, originally belonging to Seattle)
7-37-246 (compensatory)
7-42-251 (compensatory)

Denver gets the Bears' first-round pick 18th overall, third-round pick 84th overall, and 2010 first-round pick.

Jerry Angelo's fixation has ended.

Perhaps the Bears' quarterback carousel will stop spinning.

In a blockbuster move, the Bears acquired Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler on Thursday, sending the Denver Broncos two first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Kyle Orton in exchange for Cutler and a fifth-round draft pick.

Cutler immediately reshapes the organization, ending the sometimes laughable direction the quarterback position took under Angelo as the Bears went through 11 starters in his eight seasons. He will turn 26 at the end of the month, is signed for three more seasons, and the belief is he could steady the position for the next decade.

``I can't say anything until I am up there [Friday],'' Cutler said when reached by phone. ``I'll be up there tomorrow.''

The Bears were one of six teams represented today at Missouri Western in St. Joseph, Mo., to watch intriguing guard prospect Roger Allen at his pro day.

Allen was invited to the combine but a sports hernia prevented him from participating. He finally got down to business with Bears scout Ted Monago there, as well as representatives from Carolina, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami and Philadelphia. Allen has big-time strength as evidenced by his 38 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds at the Missouri pro day. The 6-3, 326-pounder is considered a mid-round prospect.

Bernard Berrian.jpg

The Bears' pursuit of Orlando Pace got us thinking more about the possibility they will draft a wide receiver in the first round. If the Bears sign Pace, it greatly reduces the chance that an offensive tackle is not a target in the early rounds in the draft.

A wide receiver might be the No. 1 target already. It is not difficult to build a case for the Bears needing to draft a wideout in the first round. Sure, it's easy to come up with some reasons for why the club will stay away from a receiver in Round 1. Most notable, of course, is the track record of general manager Jerry Angelo. You can't ignore that, It's not something he does and it may take a strong effort from the coaching and scouting staffs to talk him into it.

The last time Angelo drafted a receiver in the first round was 1997 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose Reidel Anthony with the 16th pick. Anthony's numbers are not very different from those put up by David Terrell, the wideout selected in the first round (8th overall) by the Bears in 2001, less than two months before Angelo was hired. Let's look at Angelo's track record for drafting receivers by round. Cover your eyes if you have a weak stomach. This isn't a pretty list and you can make a strong argument Bernard Berrian is the best of the bunch although Mark Carrier, a third-round pick of the Bucs in 1987, had a nice career. Here we go:

According to reports, the Denver Broncos have the pedal to the metal in efforts to drive Jay Cutler right out of town.

Word is that a deal could be struck as soon as Friday for the Pro Bowl quarterback. Washington, Tampa Bay, the New York Jets and Bears are believed to be primary contenders. and the Tampa Tribune are reporting that the Broncos want at least two first-round draft picks and it is not necessary that they receive a quarterback in return.


Back in 2004 the Bears found a receiver with a story not to unlike the one that belongs to Derek Kinder.

Bernard Berrian was projecting to be a first-round draft pick going into his junior season in 2002 when he blew out his knee in the first game of the season.

His recovery from the injury, combined perhaps with the departure of Fresno State quarterback David Carr, led him to fall a year later. The Bears grabbed him in the third round and felt confident they had gotten a player who could have gone two rounds earlier. They proved to be right. They wish they still had him today.

Nobody is saying Kinder will be the next Berrian, but the Bears are going to give him a good look. The Pitt receiver will be at Halas Hall today for an official pre-draft visit.

Orlando Pace.jpg

The Bears have action on two fronts as they try to get involved in the Jay Cutler Sweepstakes while also working diligently to sign free-agent offensive tackle Orlando Pace.

The 33-year-old is a seven-time Pro Bowl performer and while he's missed 25 games over the last three seasons because of injury, he was out of only two games last season. Acquiring Pace would instantly give the Bears more freedom at the top of the draft. They could look at a wide receiver, defensive lineman or perhaps even a quarterback. Pace would come in and give the team three tackles and while general manager Jerry Angelo would be wise to look for a developmental tackle, he could wait until the second or third round.

Agent Kennard McGuire said in a text message that Pace's visit to Halas Hall Monday went very well. Pace didn't meet with the offensive coaches, though, as they were out of the building on vacation. He did receive a physical.

Surprise, surprise.

OK. It's no surprise whatsoever. The Washington Redskins are putting a full-court press on Denver to land soon-to-be ex-Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. After owner Daniel Snyder got the biggest prize in free agency in defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, he's looking to reel in an even bigger catch--a franchise quarterback.

That is what the Washington Post reports tonight. The Post also names Tampa Bay and the New York Jets as teams in hot pursuit. It's believed to be frenzied in Denver right now where the Broncos are getting unbelievable interest in the quarterback.

We got a lot of questions regarding Orlando Pace and the makeup of the Bears' offensive line and we're going to address that in a separate blog post a little later on. This is our first Q&A since last Thursday, and we will probably do our next one some time over the weekend. Let's get right to it.

Q: I heard you on the radio earlier today suggest that the Bears could trade linebacker Lance Briggs in order to get Jay Cutler. Do you really believe that? He's been their best defensive player since Tommie Harris stopped playing at a high level on a regular basis and I can't think where the Bears' defense would be without him. Tell me you're kidding. April Fools, right?

Chester, Chicago

A: In visiting with Mike Murphy on the WSCR 670-AM, I was trying to make the point that the Bears may have to deal just about whoever the Bears want for Cutler. The Broncos, it's believed, are seeking two first-round picks and a quarterback to start. Who knows if anyone will offer a package like that for Cutler. But there is a chance that Denver could look at Kyle Orton and say, ``no thanks.'' It's hard to say how the rest of the league views Orton, but it's probably safe to say most clubs don't hold him in the same esteem as the Bears do. Predictions of Rex Grossman being a commodity in free agency didn't go over so well, did they? It could be the league frowns on Bears' quarterbacks.

Linebacker Russell Allen was not the only player the Bears put through a private workout last week at San Diego State.

With general manager Jerry Angelo among the club personnel hanging around Southern California a few extra days following the conclusion of the owners meetings, the Bears took a look at Allen and at the same time put Aztecs guard Lance Louis through a private workout.


From the NCAA Tournament to the NFL draft?

That's the path Cleveland State's J'Nathan Bullock is attempting to follow.

The tight end prospect has a private workout scheduled for April 10 and reports that the Bears will be one of the teams in attendance. The 6-5, 245-pound Bullock was an honorable mention all-state high school player in Flint, Mich., and now he's chasing the dream of being the next Antonio Gates. The Chargers All-Pro tight end went from the hardwood at Kent State to the gridiron in San Diego.

The Bears hosted a Texas defensive end on Monday at Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit.

It wasn't Brian Orakpo, who has a very good chance of being off the board before they select at No. 18.

It was Henry Melton, the former bruiser of a running back, who is considered a work in progress. Melton is a second-day prospect who has good explosiveness off the edge and boosted his status with a strong performance at his pro day.

f the focus for the Bears on the offensive line has been at tackle, but they're doing their homework when it comes to guards.

Scout Ted Monago is expected to be at the Missouri Western pro day Thursday with the intent of watching guard Roger Allen.

Jerry Angelo took to the podium for the Bears' Web site again Wednesday and addressed the club's reported interest in soon-to-be ex-Denver quarterback Jay Cutler, as well as free agents Orlando Pace and Ken Lucas, who both visited Halas Hall on Monday.

If he shed any light on the situations, it's that he'd like all situations in the dark. Think pitch-dark cave. At night.

"We always are looking for ways to improve our team and we spend a great deal of time exploring the options available to us whether it be unrestricted free agency, restricted free agents, trades, the draft, etc.,'' Angelo announced on the Web site. "We have brought in players that have helped us win through all those vehicles in my years here in Chicago. We have already signed a few free agents this offseason and we continue to work the pro player acquisition channels as we prepare for the draft. What we have not made a habit of is talking about these moves prematurely and we will continue to operate in a similar fashion.


Some teams like Sherrod Martin as a cornerback but he would probably fit the Bears best as a safety.

They'll go in and get a better look when they put the Troy defensive back through a private workout on Friday at the school, the Sun-Times has learned.

Martin is big for a cornerback at 6-1, 198 pounds, and he's only been gaining momentum since a strong showing at the scouting combine followed by a strong pro day performance last month.

The Bears are continuing their search for a wide receiver and will head to Athens, Ga., next week to work out Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi next week.

Massaquoi is a big receiver at 6-2, 210 pounds, and he performed well at his pro day last month, running the 40-yard dash between 4.47 seconds and 4.53 seconds depending on the watch. His broad jump is 10-7, and he's considered a high character guy as a captain for the Bulldogs. Massaquoi and North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks, another player the Bears are interested in, were high school teammates.

The Bears are hosting Louisiana-Lafayette wide receiver Jason Chery on a pre-draft visit at Halas Hall today.

Chery played in the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game that general manager Jerry Angelo scouted. He's 5-11, 189 pounds, and is fast with a 40 time in the low 4.4 range. He's got the ability to be a returner and compete on special teams.

The Bears have been doing their due diligence when it comes to one North Carolina prospect, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

The team already put Nicks through a private workout, and he's not the only Tar Heel the team has put under the microscope. J.J. Pesavanto of reports that the Bears have also put tight end Richard Quinn through a private workout. Quinn is considered one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft and that is an area the Bears are looking for improvement after failing to re-sign their own free agent in John Gilmore a year ago.

The phone lines are no doubt on fire as Denver as teams work to get a feel for what kind of package the Broncos are seeking in exchange for disgruntled quarterback Jay Cutler, who will be traded in one of the most controversial deals in the history of the NFL, at least over the last few decades.

Let's get a quick feel for what is going on in other cities and the pulse there on possible landing spots for the Pro Bowl passer:

Detroit has the No. 1, No. 20, No. 33 and two third-round picks. General manager Martin Mayhew has said he's open to trading the No. 1 pick. Detroit has already worked out Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford and if the Broncos pick up the pick, maybe Stafford becomes their next QB.

Twitter updates


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

May 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.