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:
1st round--Reidel Anthony (Bucs, 1997)
2nd round--Mark Bradley (Bears, 2005), Jacquez Green (Bucs, 1998), Courtney Hawkins (Bucs, 1992), Danny Peebles (Bucs, 1989)
3rd round--Earl Bennett (Bears, 2008), Bernard Berrian (Bears, 2004), Lamar Thomas (Bucs, 1993), Lawrence Dawsey (Bucs, 1991), Mark Carrier (Bucs, 1987)
4th round--Horace Copeland (Bucs, 1993), Bruce Hill (Bucs, 1987)
5th round--Airese Currie (Bears, 2005), Bobby Wade (Bears, 2003), Justin Gage (Bears, 2003),
6th round--Jamin Elliott (Bears, 2002), Nilo Silvan (Bucs, 1996)
7th round--Marcus Monk (Bears, 2008), Darnell McDonald (Bucs, 1999), Tyree Davis (Bucs, 1993)
11th round--Terry Anthony (Bucs, 1990), Frank Pillow (Bucs, 1988)
Keep in mind, while he was one voice in Tampa Bay, he wasn't the only voice as the director of player personnel. Of course, he has full control of the Bears' drafts.
The reasoning for taking a receiver in the first round is pretty strong. First, if the club professes to have the confidence in Kyle Orton it does, or if it wants to flirt with Jay Cutler, they're going to need someone to throw the ball to, right? Some others:
1. When Earl Bennett lined up with the starters earlier this month at minicamp, that signaled right there that using Rashied Davis as a starter in 2008 for 12 games was a mistake. Davis had been relegated to the second team and it was through no performance of Bennett. In the history of the NFL, there might not be another receiver who has gone from a 0 catch season to the starting lineup the next year, not without injury any way. Sure, the Bears need to actually find out what they have in Bennett this year by actually getting him on the field. But think he can be an effective starter might be every bit as much as an error as getting in the position they were in to rely on Davis as they did in 2008.
2. When talking about true ``No. 1'' receivers, Angelo has said to get one you usually have to use a high pick. Finding later round picks that blossom into top receivers, well, that involves luck.
3. In listening to Ron Turner talk at the end of the season, he admitted it's very difficult to move up and down the field without a consistent big play threat. Maybe that player is Devin Hester, but if it is, he needs a complement. When you are relying on your running back and tight ends as top targets in the passing game, no defense is going to be scared.
4. Hester himself is no guarantee at the position. The work-in-progress needs to take a major step forward this season. There is no backup plan in place.
5. Unlike last year, it's a good draft for wide receivers and the Bears might have their choice of a good one at No. 18.