Bears

Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Wide Receiver

303924.jpg

Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Wide Receiver

Wednesday, April 27, 2011Posted: 2:00 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Fourth in a series

The Bears have not had significant consistent success addressing receiver positions early in drafts, and GM Jerry Angelo is on record as disliking the bust factor that plagues too many high picks at receiver.

The Bears

A bigger, veteran wide receiver was going to be a priority in free agency, and that still may be once a resolution is reached in the owners-players impasse. Braylon Edwards, Roy Williams and several others may yet wind up in a Bears uniform, although dropping someone into the Mike Martz offense too close to the season may prove problematic.

The best Bears receiver pick did come via a No. 1, in the person of Greg Olsen, a wideout in a tight-end body and who already ranks 17th in franchise receptions (194) and 13th in receiving TDs (20). Earl Bennett in the 2008 third round is playing to a solid level and Johnny Knox from the 2009 fifth round was a steal. Devin Hester remains serviceable but his trajectory can no longer be seen as winding up at the level of elite receiver.

Need: The Bears had five players with 40 or more catches last season but none with more than the 51 of Knox and Matt Forte. It is a group that works but needs another level up.

The 2011 draft

Just like running back, there is a premium talent (in this case, two) and then. No tight ends are projected for round one and the wide receivers project to be solid but generally unspectacular.

There may be a long wait from after the first two receivers are selected and when a thirds name is called, more likely on day two. If you want a receiver, you can get one, said ESPNs Todd McShay.

Few expect an elite receiver with immediate impact unless someone is willing to get into the top 10, which is the draft range in which the top two talents should go. Both A.J. Green and Julio Jones were freshman starters in the SEC and both are projected to be freshman starters in the NFL as well.

The Bears had a private workout with Austin Pettis of Boise State, projected as a mid-round pick but at 6-2, 205 pounds with a quality program, Pettis caught 229 passes in a four-year career.

The Best Bets:

1. A.J. Green, Georgia If you were to design a wideout, this is him. Green is 6-3, 211 pounds, runs 4.49 in the 40, and consistently caught 50 passes while averaging 15.8 yards per catch.

2. Julio Jones, Alabama The only debate is whether Jones or Green goes first, but both will be gone before the middle of the first round. Jones is slightly bigger than Green but the margin between the two is very slight.

3. Randall Cobb, Kentucky Wes Bunting of National Football Post considers Cobb a safe pick, which is prized at a position of draft risk. A slightly faster version of Earl Bennett who is a full-service receiver with the ability to pass and run for a Wildcat team.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

mitch_trubisky_bears_mnf.jpg

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Laurence Holmes (670 The Score) and Phil Rogers (MLB.com) join Kap on the panel.

The crew discusses Bobby Portis’ suspension, Edzo’s return to the booth and the Bears' chances against the Panthers. 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: