Chicago Sun-Times

Recently in Hakeem Nicks Category

Need No. 1--WIde receiver

Players on roster

WR Devin Hester (signed through 20013)
WR Earl Bennett (2011)
WR Rashied Davis (2010)
WR Brandon Rideau (2009)
WR John Broussard (2010)
WR Devin Aromashodu (2010)

Need

Let's see if we can get this straight. Prior to the trade for quarterback Jay Cutler just more than three weeks ago, general manager Jerry Angelo said the Bears had talked themselves into drafting a wide receiver in the first round with the 18th overall selection. Angelo thought there was a good chance the Bears could land a "blue'' receiver in that spot, meaning a guy who has a chance to be an elite performer. The Bears needed to upgrade their receiver corps and Angelo was willing to take the plunge after drafting only one wideout in the first round in the combined tenures of his time with the Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kyle Orton needed the help and it was on the way. OK. What exactly has changed?

juaquini.jpg


If anyone has the pre-draft buildup figured out it's Juaquin Iglesias.

The Oklahoma wide receiver got away for five days last week when he went to the Turks and Caicos islands with some players he has been working out with at Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta, Chip Smith's facility that Brian Urlacher has done a lot of work at in the past. Iglesias, along with his girlfriend, vacationed with Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama, Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou and Georgia safety C.J. Byrd.

"Working out and relaxing,'' Iglesias said. ``That's all I can do.''

Iglesias returned on Tuesday and is counting the days to the NFL draft now. He's hopeful to be selected in the second round and will likely be off the board by the third round. The Bears put Iglesias through a private workout on April 7 in his hometown of Killeen, Texas. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake worked out Iglesias the day before he traveled to Athens, Ga., to put Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi through a private workout.

While the Bears did their best to downplay the possibility the team will choose a wideout with its first pick--No. 49 overall--there is no denying it is the greatest need on the roster. It's been NFC North teams that have shown the most interest in Iglesias. Minnesota personnel boss Rick Spielman and coach Brad Childress attended the Oklahoma pro day. Iglesias then made an official visit to the team's facility.

mo.jpg


The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be working to trade wide receiver Braylon Edwards and if they rid themselves of him in the same offseason that they have traded tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., they're going to need to some players to catch the ball.

They'll get a look at one Tuesday when they put Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi through a private workout in Athens, Ga., joining the Bears as one of four teams to put him through drills on campus. Detroit and New England have also worked out Massaquoi, who is considered a fast riser on draft boards with less than a week to go. While there was speculation a month ago that Massaquoi would be a third-round pick, it looks like he could go in the top half of the second round now. There's no guarantee he will be available when the Bears select 49th overall with the 17th pick in the round.

Massaquoi has also made visits to Dallas and Tennessee, which pick after the Bears in Round 2.

Here we go with our final Four Down Territory edition of the week. With the draft rapidly approaching, we'll hit a Q&A Monday through Friday next week doing our best to answer all of the draft questions you might have. Let's get right to it.

Q: It seems like the Bears have had so-called easy schedules the last few years based on the opponents' winning percentage the previous year and the easiest of all 32 this year. I'm wondering how well the previous year's win percentage actually correlates with the next year's win percentage. In other words does the preseason strength of schedule actually tell us much about how tough the actual season ends up being?

Julie R., Michigan

A: That's a good question and in order to do our best answering it we've crunched a few numbers. We've also got a link here to a good story by ESPN's John Clayton earlier this week that touches on this very subject. Clayton points out that the first-place schedule has been a tough collar for the NFC South winner to wear each year. In five of the last seven seasons, the NFC South champion from the previous year has finished last. Certainly a tough schedule was not much of an obstacle for some very good teams in 2008. Pittsburgh (1st), Indianapolis (2nd), Baltimore (4th) and Minnesota (5th) all faced supposedly difficult scheduled this past season and all four clubs reached the postseason. We took a look at the strength of schedule for every playoff team the past four seasons. Here is what we found:

ogletree.jpg


One of the issues the Bears have to be batting around at Halas Hall on the second day of full meetings with the scouting staff is what the difference is going to be in this draft between the seventh or eighth wide receiver vs. say the 13th or 14th wide receiver.

There is considerable depth at the position to go with some top-end talent. At safety, arguably the Bears' second greatest need going into this draft, there is not the elite talent you have seen in recent years and there also isn't a lot in the way of depth.

Bears college scouting director Greg Gabriel likes to talk in terms of combinations of players and that is what you have to do here. What combination of receiver and safety could the Bears get if they go with a receiver at No. 49 overall and a safety later on? What combination of safety and receiver could they get if they pull the trigger on a safety at No. 49 overall? At that point they could probably get a top five safety, maybe even top three depending on how the draft unfolds.

If the Bears opt for a receiver in the second round there is a good chance they will wait until the later rounds for a safety given their history of finding players such as Kevin Payne, Chris Harris and even Todd Johnson in the fourth round on down. If general manager Jerry Angelo makes a play for a safety in the second round, our bet is he goes with a wide receiver with his next selection at No. 99, the second-to-final pick of the third round, the compensatory selection for losing Bernard Berrian via free agency.

That is why we introduced Virginia's Kevin Ogletree as a possibility here. He's gaining some momentum and the Bears might be more comfortable with someone like him and a safety who could compete immediately for a starting job than a receiver like Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi or Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias and a safety later on in the draft.

``It's probably just guys going in and really looking at my film and evaluating me as a player,'' Ogletree said Thursday morning when asked why he was gaining some buzz with the draft nine days off. ``They're probably seeing some of the little things. I played with a bunch of quarterbacks, I think that helps. Given the opportunities I had, I did everything I could.''

Nolan Nawrocki over at Pro Football Weekly, the guy who puts together one of the finest draft guides there is, has a terrific draft value chart that is worth looking at.

It provides a good glimpse at where some of the players the Bears have been scouting the last few weeks are forecasted to go, as well as some other information. Nawrocki updated it today and it reflects some of the sentiment around the league that North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks could be falling. One source we spoke to Monday said he didn't expect Nicks to be on the board when the Bears select at No. 49 in the second round, but he wouldn't rule it out after concerns about Nicks multiplied when he showed up out of shape on his pro day.

Nawrocki's chart has three levels for each round--A, B and C. A is for players in the top-third of the round, B is for players in the middle of the round and C is for players in the bottom third of the round. He has Nicks at 2B with the arrow pointing down. The Bears' pick is the 17th of the round, so that indicates Nawrocki believes he will be coming off the board right around where the Bears are at.

jangelo1.jpg


Let's get right into the mailbag today.

Q: I agree with you that Jerry Angelo needs to build around Jay Cutler and that needs to start with some competent wide receivers. As much as I want to believe Earl Bennett will look like the career leader in receptions in the SEC and not Mark Bradley, how do we know that will happen. So, to improve Angelo's chances of hitting with a wide receiver in this draft, what are the chances he trades up into the top of the second round to get say Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt if they fall out of the first round which could happen.

Victor S., Chicago

A: Like I said on Tuesday in response to an inquiry about free-agent wide receiver Matt Jones, prior to the Cutler deal I would say there was little chance. After the Cutler deal, anything can happen. The Bears made a bold move to acquire the quarterback, then immediately signed a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle in Orlando Pace. It seems to have ushered in a new way of doing business at Halas Hall. In the past, I would have said no based on Angelo's history. In studying his draft deals with the Bears, he's traded up just once. That was to select wide receiver Justin Gage in the fifth round in 2003. Bet you wish they still had him on the roster. The point is, Angelo's history has been to make conservative moves and when he trades, he trades down to add more depth or put more bullets in his gun. Your idea for moving up to the top of the second round, or near where the Bears selected cornerback Charles Tillman at No. 35 overall in 2003 is a good one. Here's the problem--what does Angelo offer to move from No. 49 to the mid-30's? The Bears traded their third-round pick to Denver in the Cutler deal. Their compensatory third-round pick--No. 99 overall--cannot be traded. That leaves a fourth-round pick and two fifths. Those picks might not be enough to get the Bears up the 12 to 15 picks you're talking about. It would also put a real squeeze on a draft right now that has the Bears with eight picks. For those reasons, I think it is unlikely the Bears will be in position to move up.

btate.jpeg


The Bears have not left any stone unturned in Chapel Hill, N.C., this spring.

College scouting director Greg Gabriel went in to do some work at North Carolina. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake went in. The Bears put wide receiver Hakeem Nicks through a private workout. Ditto tight end Richard Quinn.

Now that the Bears are out of the first round and do not have their first selection until No. 49 overall, Nicks seems like a real longshot. Chances are he's off the board between the middle of the first round and beginning of the second round. Could it be the Bears are considering a former Tar Heel--wide receiver Brandon Tate?

Some considered Tate a better prospect than Nicks before he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in a victory over Notre Dame in early October. Tate was leading the ACC in all-purpose yardage at the time of the injury. He is considered a good route runner and is skilled in the open field.

Earlier this week it looked like the Bears were in a position where they had to draft an offensive tackle in the first round.

What a difference a few days makes. Not only do the Bears not have a first-round pick any longer after acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler from Denver, they filled a pressing need on the line by signing seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace.

That leaves the Bears with a complete line, minus a young tackle to eventually join Chris Williams in the starting lineup, and some flexibility when it comes to the draft, right?

Wrong.

The addition of Cutler has made it a virtual lock the Bears will have to draft a wide receiver when their pick comes up in the second round, 49th overall, the 17th pick of the round. The idea that Cutler will make the cast they currently have better is only going to go so far. There is no Brandon Marshall on this roster. There might not be an Eddie Royal on the roster either depending on how Devin Hester progresses. Marshall and Royal gave Cutler one of the better 1-2 combinations in the league in Denver.

"I don't think quarterbacks make receivers, and I don't think receivers make the quarterback,'' Cutler said. "It's a joint mesh there, we've got to both be on the same page. I've got to deliver the ball and they've got to be in the right place. I can't do it without them, and they can't do it without me."

We got a lot of questions regarding Orlando Pace and the makeup of the Bears' offensive line and we're going to address that in a separate blog post a little later on. This is our first Q&A since last Thursday, and we will probably do our next one some time over the weekend. Let's get right to it.

Q: I heard you on the radio earlier today suggest that the Bears could trade linebacker Lance Briggs in order to get Jay Cutler. Do you really believe that? He's been their best defensive player since Tommie Harris stopped playing at a high level on a regular basis and I can't think where the Bears' defense would be without him. Tell me you're kidding. April Fools, right?

Chester, Chicago

A: In visiting with Mike Murphy on the WSCR 670-AM, I was trying to make the point that the Bears may have to deal just about whoever the Bears want for Cutler. The Broncos, it's believed, are seeking two first-round picks and a quarterback to start. Who knows if anyone will offer a package like that for Cutler. But there is a chance that Denver could look at Kyle Orton and say, ``no thanks.'' It's hard to say how the rest of the league views Orton, but it's probably safe to say most clubs don't hold him in the same esteem as the Bears do. Predictions of Rex Grossman being a commodity in free agency didn't go over so well, did they? It could be the league frowns on Bears' quarterbacks.

The Bears have been doing their due diligence when it comes to one North Carolina prospect, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

The team already put Nicks through a private workout, and he's not the only Tar Heel the team has put under the microscope. J.J. Pesavanto of NFLDraftBible.com reports that the Bears have also put tight end Richard Quinn through a private workout. Quinn is considered one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft and that is an area the Bears are looking for improvement after failing to re-sign their own free agent in John Gilmore a year ago.

Full day of football activity as the owners meetings wrapped up in Dana Point, Calif. We're going to do one more Q&A this week on Thursday and then we're going to take a break with the mailbag until next Wednesday. We'll roll through some questions that day. Don't worry, Four Down Territory isn't going away but we've got a few things we need to knock out. So keep the questions coming. Let's get to it.

Q: Is the money the Bears are paying Kevin Shaffer starting money or backup money? It feels like backup money. Is the plan now to move forward in the draft without placing a high pick on a tackle (first three rounds) and address other needs instead? Or should I not try reading anything into this signing? Your thoughts?

Dave, Parts Unknown

A: I think it is probably fair to characterize Shaffer's pay day as being near the bottom of the wage scale for an experienced starting right tackle, or as a very solid pay day for an experienced swing tackle. That probably reflects how the Bears view him--as a guy who can man the position capably until they have a young player ready to take over. When that point comes, he'd be a nice veteran piece to have in the mix.

Twitter updates

Categories

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Hakeem Nicks category.

Grossman is the previous category.

Harry Hiestand is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.