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Linebacker is not a pressing need for the Bears in this draft but that doesn't mean they are not doing their due diligence when it comes to investigating some options.

Add Kansas' Mike Rivera to the list of players the team has brought into Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit. Rivera came in for a closer look last week and was given a physical. He is the third linebacker we've found who came in for a visit joining Murray State's Nathan Williams and Notre Dame's Maurice Crum Jr. The Bears also put San Diego State's Russell Allen through a private workout.

Two more names have surfaced of players who visited Halas Hall last week, bringing to 13 the total number of names we have learned on the Bears' list of pre-draft visits.

Scout.com's Adam Caplan reports that Texas Christian running back Aaron Brown and West Virginia cornerback Ellis Lankster were in town for a look. Both are considered potential late-round draft selections. Brown rushed for 2,616 yards for the Horned Frogs but is considered a little slim at 6-foot, 200 pounds. Lankster, 5-9, 191, did well for himself at the Senior Bowl and is believed to be a player the Bears have their eyes on. College scouting director Greg Gabriel attended the Mountaineers' pro day.

We take this break from our regularly scheduled Jay Cutler news to report another draft development.

Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli put Northwestern tackle John Gill through a private workout on Tuesday.

The Bears were one of six teams represented today at Missouri Western in St. Joseph, Mo., to watch intriguing guard prospect Roger Allen at his pro day.

Allen was invited to the combine but a sports hernia prevented him from participating. He finally got down to business with Bears scout Ted Monago there, as well as representatives from Carolina, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami and Philadelphia. Allen has big-time strength as evidenced by his 38 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds at the Missouri pro day. The 6-3, 326-pounder is considered a mid-round prospect.

The Bears will host defensive end Jamaal Westerman at Halas Hall today on a pre-draft visit.

The Rutgers product is one of the 30 pre-draft visits the team can have. He's an interesting late-round prospect who could also be a priority free-agent type.

The Bears flew Maurice Crum Jr., the Notre Dame linebacker, in for a pre-draft visit at Halas Hall today.

The team has been doing its homework on some linebackers that project as a late-round picks or priority free agents.

With the pro day circuit winding down at schools across the country--most of the big ones are out of the way(USC will hold its pro day Wednesday)--the Bears are nearing one of the next big steps in draft preparation. Soon, the club's six area scouts will gather at Halas Hall for at least a week. The team will begin to shape its draft board and at this point it's more removing players from the list than adding them. Twenty-seven days away from the first day of the draft, the team already has a pretty good idea what the board is going to look like.

In talking with a number of league sources last week, the same thing kept coming up over and over again--offensive tackle and wide receiver. Those are the two positions the team appears most focused on for the very top of the draft. Could it change now after Kevin Shaffer was signed this week? Maybe. But the Bears didn't come out and trumpet the signing of a starter, and certainly he's no longterm fix at the position. If general manager Jerry Angelo wants to ensure Frank Omiyale can compete at guard right away, he probably needs to go out and get a quality tackle early in the draft.

A couple tidbits we picked up along the way:

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The Bears have lined up a couple more official visits to Halas Hall for players who went under the radar of the scouting combine last month.

Oregon State safety Al Afalava is reportedly scheduled to visit the Bears soon. He's a big hitter in the secondary who had an impressive pro day that Bears West Coast scout Marty Barrett attended.

Afalava, who is considered a strong safety, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds, quieting any questions there were about his speed. He did 25 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds, had a 10-5 broad jump and soared 40 inches for his vertical jump. That's posting some big numbers for a 5-11, 207-pound safety, and here is a look at his pro day. If you want to see him in action, check out this crushing hit.

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The Bears took interest Wednesday in an intriguing pass-rushing prospect at the packed Texas Longhorns pro day.

With Southwest scout Chris Ballard on hand for the Brian Orakpo show that drew an estimated 60 NFL types, the Bears were able to get a better look at converted defensive end Henry Melton, who reportedly is on the team's radar.

Melton began his career at Texas as a running back but simply outgrew the position. He was moved to end as a junior in 2007. He grew into the position and had four sacks as a senior to go with 10 tackles for loss. The Austin American-Statesmen reports that Melton has a visit lined up with the Bears. He is also drawing interest from Dallas, Minnesota and Tampa Bay.


The Bears have had a good deal of success pulling players from Louisiana schools in the last decade or so. Running back Matt Forte, cornerback Charles Tillman, strong safety Kevin Payne, safety Craig Steltz, ex-safety Chris Harris and ex-wide receiver Marty Booker are a few examples.

Looks like they have their eyes in another Cajun, this one a Ragin Cajun.

Bears college scouting director Greg Gabriel was one of an estimated 75 NFL people at North Carolina's pro day on Tuesday.

He got to visit with Tar Heels offensive coordinator John Shoop briefly. The Bears have interest in wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and have scheduled a private workout with him next week. Shoop checked in earlier today to talk about Nicks, who was a gamebreaker for the Tar Heels last season. Nicks averaged 18 yards per catch and scored 12 touchdowns.

Our Q&A:

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Hakeem Nicks isn't the only highly touted prospect the Bears are going to investigate next week.

Ed Thompson
of Scout.com reported that the Bears will put Oklahoma offensive tackle Phil Loadholt through a private workout, and we've confirmed that will take place next week. Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is a good bet to attend. Southwest scout Chris Ballard was at Oklahoma's pro day last week and the Bears were known to have interest in the 6-8, 332-pounder coming out of the Senior Bowl. He played left tackle for two seasons for the Sooners but projects as a right tackle in the NFL.

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