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.
That means he got his hands on the ball 30 times and as we were told by one person, that's more than any other safety in the draft over the final two years of their college career since Sean Taylor and Reed came out of Miami. Johnson doesn't have the best speed but he has a knack for playing the game. Some consider him a possibility in the second round and others say he will be around into the fourth round. Here's why--he's small. One scout we spoke with said that Johnson played at 185 pounds last season. He was up about 10 pounds at the Senior Bowl and then checked in at the combine at 5-11, 203. It wasn't good weight, a lot of water weight, according to the BodPod, which measures body composition. The scout believes Johnson is a guy who will wind up playing at 185 in the NFL. That's probably too small and that would definitely give you concerns about durability, even for a guy who played in 50 games over the last four seasons for the Crimson Tide. Some teams are not going to want to have anything to do with Johnson. Others are going to see a smart, playmaking football player. His intangibles are terrific but his size makes me think there is a chance he is still around in the third round. Barden could be a mid-round possibility but in order for him to develop under Holt, the Bears would have to sign Holt, right? Barden has an intriguing size/speed ratio but he played at Cal Poly and gets knocked for his route running ability. Yes, that sounds like Robinson to me. I think Barden is a project and the Bears need something better than a project right now.
Q: What are your thoughts on drafting Clemson safety Chris Clemons in the third round?
Derrick G., Parts Unknown
A: Clemons has been somewhat overshadowed by his teammate Michael Hamlin but they're different players. Hamlin has good instincts and projects as a strong safety although there are questions about his durability as he broke both feet in school. Clemons, on the other hand, didn't miss a game in his college career. He does a good job of reading the quarterback and is considered adequate as an open-field tackler. He really helped himself at the combine when he ran under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Clemons lacks ideal size at 6-foot, 208 pounds, but he had a productive career with the Tigers. He'll go somewhere on the second day of the draft and the third round isn't out of the question. There really are not a lot of top-caliber free safeties available in this draft.
Q: Do we have any idea of what happened with the visit of Ken Lucas to the Bears? Or are they stuck with the Josh Bullocks experiment at free safety for this year and development of a rookie?
A: The Bears brought in Lucas and Orlando Pace on the same day and while they moved quickly to get Pace signed, there's been no movement in regards to Lucas. It could be the club just wanted to check him out as a possibility. I don't know if Lucas would change the situation at safety if he was signed. He's a career cornerback so you're talking about signing a free agent and then switching his position. Yes, it looks like Bullocks will likely compete with a draft pick and perhaps Craig Steltz at free safety, but Steltz seems to be a better fit at strong safety. Sometimes you will find a mini-wave of free agency after the draft when teams get a better gauge on their roster. Right now, clubs don't want to pay players with holes in their games to fill needs when they can potentially draft help.
Q: I saw the Bills are shopping wide receiver Roscoe Parrish, a friend of Devin Hester. Any thoughts on if he would be a fit on the Bears, or significantly improve their wide receiver corps?
Paul, Parts Unknown
A: Parrish has 97 receptions in four seasons and is better known for his return abilities. The Bears have enough projects on their hands at receiver right now and they're not in need of trading for help in the return game. Parrish is 5-9. He's not going to be a big-play wideout. The Bears need to switch their focus from finding a franchise-caliber quarterback to a No. 1 receiver. Here's hoping Jerry Angelo can get that done in quicker order than the eight years it took to turn up the quarterback.
Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We'll check back with a Q&A on Monday.