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.
``If [he's] not the most explosive player in college football, he's really close,'' UNC quarterback Cameron Sexton said. ``To replace a kick returner, punt returner and receiver of his caliber, you just can't do it. But we're going to find somebody who's going to play really well in his place."
Tate is running and is expected to be ready to resume football activities around the time training camps begin. How close he will be to his top level at that point remains to be seen, but a handful of teams are checking him out. Tate is visiting the New England Patriots today. He was in Baltimore last week and has visits upcoming with Indianapolis, St. Louis and Dallas. Originally projected as a first-round pick, Tate probably will not go higher than the second round and could slide into the third round.
The Bears have had luck drafting a player with an ACL reconstruction in the past. Bernard Berrian worked out just fine. When they drafted Mark Bradley, who also had a torn ACL in school, that didn't work out so well.
Here is another wide receiver to keep an eye on--Virginia's Kevin Ogletree. He is 6-1, 196 pounds, and is another player with an ACL in his past. Ogletree missed the 2007 season with a torn ACL but rebounded last year to lead the Cavaliers in receiving. He had a year of eligibility remaining when he elected to leave school but he has already graduated.
Ogletree projects as a possession receiver who will be dependable, and he played in a pro-style scheme. The Bears have not put him through a private workout but they have kept close tabs on him. He will probably be a mid-round selection.