Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, April 21: Receivers the Bears could consider next week

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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.

Nothing real fancy here but maybe there is a guy who can come in and fill a role as a No. 3 or No. 4 for a season. One thing that was interesting is Angelo said Rashied Davis would be returning to the slot. That is where he played well for the Bears in the past. He just wasn't a fit outside last season.

Q: Do you see the Bears having any interest at all in taking Pat White in the second round? I know he wants to play quarterback but he might be something special at the receiver position with the possibility of other "creative" plays designed for him. I'm not a huge fan of the wildcat, but you'd have to talk about it if you talk about White. I'm just so darned intrigued by that kid and think that one way or another he's going to be a real player in the NFL. You have to admit, Pat White has a lot of heart and fight in him. Who wouldn't want that?

Patrick M., San Marcos, Texas

A: There's no questioning White's ability and the real buzz he created at the scouting combine. White would be a luxury pick for the Bears and they have some real needs that must be addressed. I don't see him as an option, certainly not in the second round.

Q: What is it about the spread offenses in college that create such difficult transitions for skill players moving to the NFL? While I understand the gaps in the quarterback position (being under center, footwork, reading defenses, etc.), I don't understand why there is such a gap with with wide receivers? Florida wide receivers, even pre-Urban Meyer, historically don't translate well to the NFL game after leaving Gainesville. Are the sight adjustments that different? The routes? You would think that with the amount of times that the colleges put the ball in the air and the complexities of some of the college offenses that receivers would be better equipped for the intricacies of the pro game.

Kirk W., Chicago

A: Good question and it's worth noting that wide receivers are not the only players from the spread offense that are difficult at times to project in the NFL. For offensive linemen it can be even more difficult. As Angelo has explained, the lack of offensive linemen is what created the spread offense. It was a way to play with smaller, more mobile linemen. Getting back to your question about wideouts, Gabriel addressed that very issue when he was asked about Missouri's Jeremy Maclin and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, the consensus top two receivers in this draft who both come from spread offenses.

"They come from spread offenses and they don't run the precise patterns that you see in our game so they are doing a lot of things differently than what we ask NFL receivers to do,'' Gabriel said. "So it's really more of a learning process. They have the talent. It's being up to speed on the learning process."

Q: What does the Sam linebacker depth chart look like going into training camp? Nick Roach then Hunter Hillenmeyer? Will Jamar Williams ever have a chance to win a spot? I still have a feeling he can do damage as a starter.

Rahul C., Los Angeles

A: The Bears are not going to share a depth chart at this point. In fact, they'll claim one does not exist. I would imagine Roach will get the first crack at the position considering he was promoted over Hillenmeyer last season. It's this writer's opinion that Hillenmeyer was made a scapegoat at the time of his demotion. I'm not taking away from Roach's abilities but pointing out that Hillenmeyer was criticized for some shortcomings in coverage that were probably more the result of the scheme and less the result of his ability in coverage. Williams was long expected to be the replacement for Lance Briggs on the weak side. When the Bears nearly traded Briggs to Washington prior to the 2007 season, Williams was going to get his chance. When most expected Briggs would depart via free agency after the 2007 season, Williams was going to be the guy. The Bears like to say the positions are interchangeable and they need to know all the spots. That may be true to a degree but I sense Williams has always been projected as a guy on the weak side. He's entering the final year of hid contract. It could be that chance will have to come someplace else.

Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We'll check in with another Four Down Territory on Wednesday. Get your questions in now.

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Good for you Angelo on shutting the will-Plaxico-be-a-Bear? door. Forget if you will the stupidity of shooting one's self in the leg, and just focus on the fact that he's being charged with criminal possession of a handgun; a very serious offense in NYC. There are also reports that he had additional, unlicensed weapons in his vehicle, has been sued nine times, and thinks public roads are bumper car facilities.

But of course to someone like "wood", Plaxico is nothing more than a rambunctious young man acting successfully.

Last but not least, let's hope the Fridge is doing alright and has a speedy recovery.;_ylt=AtaJwof1urhQm6QA_.tkY0pDubYF?slug=ap-perryhospitalized&prov=ap&type=lgns

I feel a McCareins, Hacket,Bennet could be a real help as we need someone with experience opp. Hester.
I didn't hear Harrisn mentioned......not that I would want him but

If you watch the teams that run the spread well, like FL and OK, you will notice a receiver is wide open in space. That's because they are really fast and the DBs are mostly crap. WRs are not required to get open by running precise routes. There are usually so many crap teams in those conferences with all their lousy DBs that the stats are crazy.

Then they get to the NFL where all the DBs are better than the best DB they faced in college. and the jig, as they say, is up.

For all the knocks it takes, the Big Ten produces much better WRs, especially Wide Receiver U, also known as Ohio State (full disclosure: I am an alum, but read the piece Hard Cold Football Facts did on the best colleges for WRs). I wish we could get Brian Robiskie. That guy can run a route, because that's what they do at OSU.

The Bears should allready have signed 2, even 3 of those WR's to give them an option with their first pick in the draft. Say they sign Lelei and Hackett. 2 WR's that would start on the Bears, it covers them come draft day if there is a run on WR's before the 49th pick, which is real possible, allowing them to get real value at another position of need, namly defense. The Bears got Cutler and in doing so just changed opposing defenses from 8 man fronts to 7 man fronts. That combined with signing a hall of famer left tackle has gone along way in improving the running game. Now we need a few WR's to keep them back and with the schedule the football gods have given them it's back to the playoffs baring major injuries.

Yes Butkus,
It does seem like they should have already signed one of those FA WR to give them more flexibility at draft, makes you wonder if they are going WR in the draft and not eyeing FA WR? I would rather sign one of these WR and go D in the draft myself.
But Jerry is riding high on my list at the moment for the TRADE, so I'll wait and see.

OK Mike, Ill bite, what about the reports then that Cutler reached out to Plax? I would think Cutler has enough sense to know a good person or not? What do you think of Harrison ? I am in Indy and I would not touch him as I feel he did that shooting and someone else was shot at as opposed to shooting himself, I feel the same about Ray Lewis, Someone else (2) died as a result of his `posse' but yet he was not guilty so he is a fine role model? as is Harrison?? and not Plax?? who did not injure anyone but himself. I am just asking questions here not ranting or bi...and wasn't it Chicago where the NBA stars were robbed in their homes? and wasn't the NFL player shot to death in his home recently as a robbery? If I were a Pro Ball Star I would most def. carry a gun.
I am not saying Plax is a good role model - far from that I am saying he did not shoot someone else as others did (I feel) who are considered ok citizens and still playing. Would you call Harrison or Ray out and then turn your back??? I would think they are strong enough to beat these people but no - shooting/knifing s occurred where they were def. involved. I am not saying I am right only saying he might be worth the risk, with a clause.

Big Ten WR - David Terrel comes to mind. Thats a hard pick for me to get over.

I really think everybody should just chill on the receiver thing.

In the first place the odds are astronomical against the Bears helping themselves much in 2009 by drafting a wide receiver. Quick development on a starting wideout is 2 years, and often it's 3 or 4 years. This is why making any judgement on Earl Bennett today is a little foolish. He just started.

In the second place free agency is not over. A banner year for incoming wide receivers usually will mean that it is also an uneasy year to be a veteran wide receiver. The teams that wind up with a quality rookie are going to be looking hard at their cap and rosters. There will be some quality players hit the street. (This also applies to tackles this year).

Lastly, the most important thing Brad said is probably the second sentence. "Plenty of good information came out..". That is absolutely correct and he is doing a great job keeping us up on the latest. However, the other 31 teams probably read what Angelo said before we did. This is lil' Jerry's 29th draft. Don't you think he knows that? He is saying "receiver", in public, about every other word. Think about it.

""I am not saying Plax is a good role model - far from that I am saying he did not shoot someone else as others did (I feel) who are considered ok citizens and still playing. Would you call Harrison or Ray out and then turn your back??? I would think they are strong enough to beat these people but no - shooting/knifing s occurred where they were def. involved. I am not saying I am right only saying he might be worth the risk, with a clause.""

The bigger issue is (2) fold....

(1) Angelo has already been burned a few times recently with poor character players such as Cedric Benson and Tank Johnson and (2) Burress is still not off the legal hook just yet. He still faces prison time and another league suspension so adding him now is not a good idea because it potentialy solves nothing for this season.

As far as not already signing any of the other WR's available in Brad's blog here I agree. I thought Angelo would have at least kicked the tires on Hackett, Jackson, Lelie, McCareins ect... but on the flip side of the coin, why haven't the rest of the NFL teams done so ???

Perhaps there are some undisclosed issues, concerns, questions marks surrounding these players and Angelo is just bidding his time until the post draft FA market opens up to see if he add a better quality WR to the mix...

Go Bears !!

When I lived in TN I had the opportunity to watch Drew Bennett play for the Titans prior to going to the Rams as a FA. I was always impressed with his athletic ability and great hands, making the Pro Bowl in 2004 then leaving in free agency. He had a 3 game stretch in 2004 where he caught 8 touchdown passes, so obviously he knew how to get open. He was smart and had played QB in college, so he could be valuable in Wildcat formations. I haven't kept up with his career since then, but if he's healthy he could definitely pose a threat as a third down target and in the red zone. He's only 30 and should still have a few years left in the tank. Certainly is worth a look.

Justin McCareins is a good receiver. Great hands and toughness.

None of those FA WR's are being courted right now because none of them are considered to be "game changer" type WR's or even lock starters. No moves are going to be made on guys like that until after the draft and GM's are able to give a good look at what they have to work with.

I'm sure Angelo, along with multiple other GM's, have "kicked the tires" on some of these guys but they just aren't going to make a move until after the draft, for good reason. The longer these guys remain unsigned, the better deal the Bears are going to get on a guy who might make absolutely no impact on the team anyway.

Even though it seams like a WR is a huge need right now, in the grand scheme of things, if you have a franchise QB, RB, TE and solid offensive line (which the Bears have for the first time in franchise history), you're feeling pretty darn good about the upcoming season, regardless of who you are plugging in at WR. The Patriots still haven't won a Superbowl with Randy Moss- although they have put up some gaudy numbers. They did win with a plethora of mediocre receivers, a great QB, and a solid defense and an on again/off again running game. If the Bears improve their defense, they can make a serious post-season run with the roster they have.

I think the Bears should really look at a safety in the second round. There are just too many WR in free agency and the draft-class is supposed to be littered with good WRs.

IMO, Hackett looks very promising. I really think Plax should get a second look too. I don't think any GM is going to lend any bargaining power to Plax and his agents by disclosing an interest - especially since the player is going to be suspended for at least a couple of games, if not the season.

This NIU alum would love to see McCareins in a Bears jersey. The guy had great hands back in DeKalb. While he might be a 3rd or 4th WR around the NFL, he would probably be a nice 2nd or 3rd in Chicago. Plus maybe a little home-team discount? I wonder what the buzz is around McCareins?

I'm excited to see who we pick up in the draft, but as far as WR's go...It doesn't look great at #49 to pick up a (NFL Ready) WR. (Nicks, Britt, Robiskie) As far as that goes, I trust that Angelo will pick a pretty good WR and Safety. I would like to see the Bears pick up Lelie and/or McCareins. Lelie looked good when he was with the Bronco's, and he's quick/good hands. McCareins is fairly speedy and like fan55 said, he's tough and has good hands.

Also, I would like to see the Bears pick up Johnny Knox in the late rounds as a second WR from the draft. He is as speedy as they come, and he has good hands. I don't know too much about him, but what I've seen he looks like he would be a good pickup in the 4th or 5th.

Has anyone gotten a chance to watch Tiquan Underwood from Rutgers play? He may be a good 7th round pick up if he's still on the board.

Hackett was very productive when with Seattle and had a QB that could get him the ball. Hackett has had some health issues but has WR talent and might if healthy be very good opposite Hester. Hackett had a bad year last year because Carolina's QB Delhome was pathetic last year and the scheme focuses on Smith and the running backs. Chicago is a different story where Hacket might flourish.

I see McCarreions as more of a possession receiver but tough and decent as a NFL wr. EIther could help the BEars now more than ever since the Bears now for the first time in 50 years have a QB who has all the skills necessary to succeed at QB.

Receivers coming to the Bears will do better than in the past simply because they will get the ball thrown to them.

I totally agree if we upgrade our D we will win and win big as we have upgraded the O enough to win with the D we had in 2006, maybe I'm dreaming on our D being that good again but even close would be great


DJ Hackett is a player. I am a die hard Bears fan living in Seattle, and a Seahawks season ticket holder. I saw him here on a regular basis. He's quicker than one might think, he's tough and will catch a ball over the middle. And I mean catch - he's the anti-Rashied Davis. He's reliable. And he blocks decently. Torry Holt would have been a stop gap. DJ Hackett can actually be a very productive long term answer. I will go so far as to boldly say that with Cutler throwing to him, and the balance the offense should have with Forte and good TE's, that he is a guy that could even get mention as a Pro Bowler. I'm sure many will be skeptical of this - but he is a real player. He's really underrated and it would be a great move bth for the Bears and for Hackett. The fit is perfect.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 21, 2009 9:46 PM.

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