Once again, our mailbox has blown up with Anquan Boldin inquiries. On the eve of the draft, we'll pick one out of the hat and cover the bases.
Q: Considering the latest update on the Cardinals trade demands and that Jerry Angelo is now a baller, do you think the Bears have the ammo or desire to land Anquan Boldin for their second-round pick plus Jamar Williams, Garrett Wolfe and/or Dez Clark?
A: We've thoroughly covered the Boldin situation in the last few months, and did so right here last week when we pointed out an interesting study on his effectiveness vs. that of teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Check that out if you missed it, and keep in mind the Bears don't have a Fitzgerald to run opposite Boldin. It's not a surprise to some personnel people we polled that the price has come down. That should give you an indication what kind of value people around the league place on Boldin. Keep that in mind.
We talked to a personnel boss from another city at the scouting combine. He told us then he thought Boldin might be had for a third-round pick. He said he viewed Boldin as a tight-end type because of his speed and said his production was a function of what the Cardinals had him do. Yes, he said he'd love to have Boldin on his team, but he didn't classify him as a top-flight wide receiver at this point. I'm not sure what the Cardinals would want from an unproven Jamar Williams, an unproven Garrett Wolfe and an aging Dez Clark. Remember, the tight end isn't a big part of that Arizona offense.
Cardinals general manager Rod Graves said the probability now is Boldin will stay in Arizona.
"Our priority has always been to extend Anquan at some point and we felt before doing so we had to at least explore opportunities a trade might present," Graves told the team's Web site. "We have done that and the process is still not over, but it looks as if him staying with us and at least the possibility of an extension seems more of a reality than a trade."
We don't necessarily buy that. It's likely the Cardinals want to move him and realize that getting a first-round pick might not happen. It's become a headache and the Cardinals have to want to move on. For the Bears to be involved, we're talking about lightning striking twice in the same spot on the heels of Angelo's trade for Jay Cutler. We don't think it will happen. Angelo has said all along the position will be addressed during the draft. If Boldin and agent Drew Rosenhaus demand a deal in the neighborhood of $9 million per year, is he worth that? Again, check out the KC Joyner study we referenced in our last post. If no team is willing to fork over a first-round pick, especially in a draft where so many teams are concerned about the talent at the very top of the draft, does that say something?
Q: Any word on Earl Bennett? I saw a quote you posted were Ron Turner said Jay Cutler was throwing the ball everyday and putting his work in. I was wondering if Bennett was doing the same? I would think that with a new quarterback and a desperate need for help at receiver that all the receivers would be trying to put in some extra work with him. So you got any idea of who he is throwing the ball to?
A: Cutler is throwing the ball to the players who show up for the voluntary offseason workout program. Bennett has been finishing classes at Vanderbilt, so he has not been around for everything. He is at Halas Hall when he's in town and the coaching staff seems pleased with his development.
"Earl looks great,'' Turner said Tuesday. "He looks like we thought he would look. He looks like a player that has more confidence and understands the system now and has learned how to play fast and he did that last year. About the last four or five weeks of the year we could kind of see a difference in him. He came into minicamp this year and I think every coach commented, `Wow, Earl looks different.'
"He looks like a different guy. He was playing fast, playing with confidence. I think having Jay here is probably going to help even more with the confidence level. So we feel good about those guys and obviously our tight ends and what they can do and then some of the young receivers will have to step up and we'll see where we go with it.''
Turner said that Bennett has been working at X and inside in the slot and added his preference would be to get a new receiver with some good size.
Q: We've heard a lot about the first-round caliber receivers and the second rounders (Massaquoi, Iglesias, etc) but what if the Bears wait until the second day to take a receiver? Can you give some insights on who the Bears might target? Is it possible the Bears will select more than one receiver? They certainly could use some depth. I'd like to see them take Johnny Knox from Abilene Christian on Sunday. He's very fast (4.3 forty) and has good hands.
Chris F., Homer Glen, Ill.
A: We have tried to run through the possible names available to the Bears starting in Round 3. It wouldn't surprise us if the Bears take two receivers this weekend, in fact it's probably a pretty good idea. If they don't, they need to give better consideration to a couple players they have on the roster right now--Brandon Rideau and John Broussard. Rideau's preseason production last summer has been well chronicled. Broussard is another interesting guy and we never got around to writing about him after minicamp when we probably should have. The first thing that stuck out about Broussard was the size he's put on. The Bears list him at 6-1, 176 pounds, and he's probably more like 190 right now. He's been diligent since the season ended about getting bigger and getting stronger. He made a handful of really nice catches in minicamp and certainly opened some eyes. He's got very good speed and could be a vertical threat. We're not predicting a roster spot for Broussard, but the Bears need to give a better look to guys like him, especially at a position that screams need. I don't know if the Bears are real interested in Knox and one source said they are not interested in Rice's Jarrett Dillard, another second day option. Ole Miss' Mike Wallace seems to think the Bears are hot after him and seems to think it could happen in Round 2. We doubt that. Later on, maybe. Kevin Ogletree, Juaquin Iglesias, Brooks Foster, Derrick Williams, Austin Collie, Brandon Gibson, Marko Mitchell, Ramses Barden, Patrick Turner, those are some names. Not sure what kind of rookie production you can expect out of them. Iglesias probably will not last to No. 99 where the Bears pick.
Q: Based on what you have written this week it seems like you don't believe Alabama's Rashad Johnson is an option for the Bears, or they don't think he's an option for them. He's the best free safety in this draft with the production in the SEC to go along. What gives? I hope you're wrong.
Barrett, Parts Unknown
A: We'll turn right to Angelo and what he said earlier this week when asked about the ultra-productive Johnson.
"[His size] is an issue,'' Angelo said. "As I say, we have a player profile at each position and that comes into play strongly, particularly at the safety position. It's not just Bear-related, it's collectively around the league the durability has become a real concern there. With size, durability is a part of that.''
Johnson is listed at 5-11, 203 pounds, up a little more than 10 pounds since the Senior Bowl. One scout said he played at closer to 185 last season the Crimson Tide. You can't argue with his production. You can't argue with his durability in college. The scout said he had small hands and they just are concerned about him being able to hold up. Now, the scout said if Johnson is on the board in the fourth round (very unlikely) it's an entirely different conversation. In Round 2, it sounds like Johnson's size makes him an unlikely selection for the Bears.
That concludes our final Four Down Territory before the draft. We'll entertain some questions at some point next week. Make sure you check back with us all weekend for complete draft coverage. We'll finish our positional previews Saturday morning with, what else, wide receivers.
We're going to be blogging live from Halas Hall and if you're not following us on Twitter, get on board. We'll be sending out quick updates. Our handle on Twitter is cst_bears. Thanks for the participation and thanks as always for reading and making this the most popular blog on the Web site this spring when we're months away from an actual game.