Position overview: With tall targets Marshall and Jeffrey outside, the Bears could use a speedy slot receiver that is comfortable working over the middle. Earl Bennett was supposed to be that guy, but he has struggled to stay healthy and to catch the ball when on the field. An elusive slot receiver with good hands, toughness over the middle, and the ability to return kicks (if Hester leaves) should be a target for the Bears in the middle to late rounds.
Jared Abbrederis (6’2, 190) Wisconsin: Technician who really impressed all week with his routes and sure hands.
Robert Herron (5’9, 193) Wyoming: Fast (4.38), and elusive with good hands. Showed the ability to catch the ball despite contact all week.
Ryan Grant (6’0, 197): Best hands I saw during practice. Consistently catches the ball away from his body. Not as shifty as the other two guys, but could be a reliable possession receiver.
Position Overview: The Bears haven’t had a reliable #2 TE since the Olsen / Dez Clark combo in 2009. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bears use one of their last picks on a blocking tight end with some ability to catch the ball.
CJ Fiedorowicz (6’6, 262) Iowa: A stud blocker who showed better than expected athleticism, good hands, and the ability to find soft spots against the zone. He was easily the best TE of the Senior Bowl group. He most likely will be gone before the Bears are willing to use a pick on a backup tight end, but stranger things have happened.
Position Overview: Signing Bushrod has stabilized the left tackle position. Rookie Jordan Mills struggled for most of the year, but played well enough the last quarter of the season to be in the running for the starting job in 2014. Swing tackle Eben Britton, a former 2nd round pick who is only 26, is a free agent but played well enough that the Bears should make him a priority re-sign. Even if they re-sign Britton, you can never have enough competent tackles, so tackle depth should be on Emery’s radar. Here are a couple guy projected to go in the middle rounds who have starter upside:
Jake Mewhort (6’7, 308) Ohio St: At the start of Senior Bowl practice, Mewhort was projected as a 4th-5th round pick, but after a solid week at both tackle and guard, Mewhort has raised his stock a few rounds. He was consistently solid in 1-1 drills, stoning pass rushers who had success against other tackles. It is a weak crop of tackles at the Senior Bowl this year, so Mewhort really stood out. His highlight was pancaking projected 1st round DT Ra’Shede Hagemen (6/6, 318). Mewhort looked like a starting right tackle to me and would give Mills a serious competition next year in training camp.
Morgan Moses (6’6, 328) Virginia: Definitely looks the part at 6’6 and a ripped 328. Moses showed flashes of dominant blocking and was one of the only lineman to stop speed rusher Dee Ford (Auburn). He also showed enough speed to get about 20 yards down-field on a run to block DBs. It was an impressive show of athleticism for a man his size, but Moses had his fair share of mistakes as well. He didn’t bend well and blocked too high most of the week. His technique needs a lot of work, but the physical ability is there and with a year or two of coaching, Moses could be a stud RT.
Position overview: With the resigning of 26-year old Matt Slausen and the emergence of rookie Kyle Long, the Bears are set at guard for the foreseeable future. It never hurts to have depth though (as we learned last year) and I wouldn’t be upset if the Bears spent a late draft pick or two on interior lineman. Here are a couple of guys who impressed at practice this week who should be available on day 3:
Michael Schofield (6’4, 303) Michigan: Struggled a bit the first day, but got better in day 2, and then had a dominant stretch on day 3 where he won battles against 1st rounder Re’Shad Hageman and pancaked Missouri’s Michael Sam. Schofield showed good versatility playing both guard and tackle and drew a comparison to Bears rookie Jordan Mills for his strong run blocking. Schofield could provide good depth as a backup G/T and probably can be had with a day 3 pick.
Jon Halapio (6’4, 320) Florida : Aggressive, mauling run blocker. Halapio plays angry and more than held his own against the best the senior bowl had to offer. Run blocking is his strength, but he showed a good initial punch in pass protection. Halapio dealt with a myriad of injuries at Florida which may lower his draft slot a bit. Projected anywhere from the 3rd to 6th round, Halapio would provide solid depth right away with potential to be a starter down the road.
Position Overview: Roberto Garza has been a warrior for the Bears, but he will be 35 next season and is nearing the end of his career. He’s got at least one year left, so the Bears don’t need to bring someone in to start this year, but they might need a new center as soon as 2015. Here are a couple of mid-to-late round picks who could be starters after a year or two of development.
Westin Richburg (6’4, 300) Colorado St: Technically sound, intelligent center who had an impressive week of practice. Richburg was the only center quick enough to handle Aaron Donald. He probably needs a year or two of strength training before he can start at the NFL level.
Gabe Ikard (6’3, 302) Oklahoma: Similar to Richburg in that he is technically sound with good footwork, but needs to get stronger. He isn’t as physical as Richburg and will probably be available a round or two later.
Defensive prospects coming soon…