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.