Another busy, busy day of draft preparation. We're going to do two more Q&A's this week, one Thursday and one Friday. Get your questions in now. Here we go.
Q: With reports all over the place now that Florida's Percy Harvin tested positive for marijuana at the combine, could he drop all of the way to the Bears? More importantly, would Jerry Angelo draft him and give the team a receiver more explosive than Devin Hester?
Ben T., New York
A: Angelo has ample experience with wideouts from Florida who dabble in weed, or at least test positive for weed. The Bears drafted speedster John Capel in the seventh round in 2001, 208th overall, about six weeks before Angelo was hired. The Bears took the unusual step of renouncing their draft rights to Capel about a week before training camp opened and before the team had reached a contract with him. Capel got busted in Gainesville, Fla., a month after the draft for possession of marijuana, and he blew off and was late to a slew of team activities. Twelve months earlier, Capel had stunned Michael Johnson and Maurice Greene in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials.
"John did not display the desire needed tobe a member of this football team,'' Angelo said in a statement at the time. "His actions left us with little choice but to end the relationship and move forward."
Angelo was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they drafted a sliding defensive tackle, Warren Sapp, 12th overall in 1995. Sapp also had some drug luggage hanging over him, but the Bucs went ahead and took him and wound up with one of the most dominant players at his position for a decade.
"It was just a gut feeling. We could have been wrong and could have had egg on our face today," Angelo said three years later. "Are the rewards greater than the risks? You have to answer that when character is in question."
Harvin may play the same position as Capel, but he much more resembles Sapp in terms of ability. It would be one thing to roll the dice in Harvin with a top-10 pick. If he somehow makes it all the way to the Bears--multiple people we spoke with today said there is little to no chance he makes it out of the first round--he's a no-brainer. You're talking about a $3 million contract for four years for a guy who some consider the most explosive offensive player in the draft.
Mike Florio over at profootballtalk.com nailed the issue this morning. It's what league execs have said for years. When a player fails a drug test at the scouting combine he's either got a serious drug problem or he's too dumb to stop in time to let the evidence clear out of his system before a drug test that should be circled in his calendar in red. You worry about investing in the wrong player in the first round, really the top third of the first round. If you like Harvin as a player, what's the risk at No. 49? The reward could be immense.
Q: You have done a quite thorough job outlining the Bears' pre-draft visits and private workouts. As you have previously mentioned, Lovie Smith made visits to Arkansas and Vandy last year. That obviously translated to draft picks. Where has Lovie visited this year and what players could come into play at those schools?
Bill S., Oneida, Ill.
A: Great question, Bill, and if I had an idea here I would have an even better answer. We tracked down Smith's trip to Fayetteville, Ark., last year in a late phone call out of the blue with a source that will remain unnamed. The Bears wound up drafting defensive tackle Marcus Harrison and wide receiver Marcus Monk. We knew Smith went to Boise, Idaho, with line coach Harry Hiestand. He also went to Nashville, Tenn., to meet with Chris Williams. Our first thought on Tuesday when Smith was a no-show at the pre-draft media session was that Smith was on the road doing some last-minute work to make certain he was comfortable with a draft pick. The club said he was taken away from the building for unexpected personal reasons. I don't think you throw around "personal reasons'' as part of a smokescreen. The bottom line is if I had news on any campus visits by Smith, it would have been loudly displayed right here.
Q: From what I've read, linebacker is one of the deeper positions in this draft. While I would like to see the Bears get a wideout that they believe could make a solid contribution as a rookie, I do not understand why linebacker is not considered a position of need. If Brian Urlacher goes down with a serious injury or he turns out to have lost enough that he is no longer a quality starter, just who is ready to move in as middle linebacker? If the best player on the board at No. 49 is a linebacker, the Bears should pick him.
Tim F., Denver
A: I don't know that linebacker has been ruled out by the Bears but replacing Urlacher right now is a little premature. Remember, the Bears signed him to an $18 million, one-year extension last summer that carries through 2012. If they need to be replacing him right now, there is a far bigger problem here. You make a good point about what is behind him, but what's the contingency if Lance Briggs goes out? How about Charles Tillman? Matt Forte? Take any key player off almost any team at any position and you can say the same thing. If a can't-miss linebacker falls into the Bears' laps, it will merit discussion, but where are you going to play him unless he is a perfect match for the strong side?
Q: I continue to enjoy your ongoing Bears coverage during this exciting offseason/draft preview period. I have a question heading into this weekend's draft: Where does BYU's Austin Collie sit on the draft boards among wide receivers and do the Bears have any interest? He's a strong character guy, very bright, precise route runner and he showed great hands throughout his college career to go along with a big, strong body (6-2, 215 pounds). He's not a "speed guy," but I think he'd be a very nice addition to the Bears in the later rounds. I'm just very surprised to hear so little about him across the league this offseason. What do you think?
Joe M., Jersey City, N.J.
A: Collie has no shortage of production coming out of BYU but we need to put those numbers in perspective. He was in a spread offense that played in a conference without a lot quality defense. Angelo said Tuesday that speed was what the Bears were seeking first and foremost and it remains to be seen if Collie is going to be able to make the adjustment at the NFL level. He was clocked at 4.63 seconds at the scouting combine and while that's not going to seal his fate right there, he didn't show a lot of run-after-the-catch ability in college and that combined with a slow speed is an issue. He could compete as a slot, possession receiver and figures to come off the board somewhere in the middle rounds. He'll be a 24-year-old rookie after a mission but he'll come with top character and will be a quick learner. The Bears need an impact guy. I don't know if they will find one, and I also don't know if Collie can be that guy. As far as I know, the Bears have not shown any outward interest in Collie but that doesn't mean anything.
Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We'll check in with another Four Down Territory on Thursday.