The prospects of either Alabama’s Amari Cooper or West Virginia’s Kevin White running routes opposite Alshon Jeffery is something that quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen would relish every bit as much as offensive coordinator Adam Gase. One, probably White, is apt to be available when the Bears’ turn on the clock comes at No. 7 of the first round.
If the wide receiver is the significantly higher-rated player on the draft board at that point, general manager Ryan Pace and the Bears can be reasonably expected to honor their board and make the call.
But Pace has been part of a draft — 2006 — that he considers a major key to the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl championship. In that draft, the Saints landed wide receiver Marques Colston in the seventh round, 252nd overall and eventually the Saints’ all-time leader in virtually every receiving category.
Pace will not wait until the seventh round to grab a wide receiver. For one thing, barring a trade, he doesn’t have a “7,” having used the seventh-round pick to help get rid of Brandon Marshall in the trade to the New York Jets.
But he is clear on both his philosophy and on his take on the 2015 draft class:
“Impact players on offense or defense, they’re available at different points in the draft,” Pace said on Wednesday. “This is a deep receiver class, though.”
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Analysts have posited that as many as five or six wide receivers could be selected in the first round, particularly in the wake of the impact receivers from the 2014 draft had in their rookie seasons (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, all in the first round).
A similar number could be gone in Round 1 again this year. And the Saints, with Pace involved, traded up in the first round to get Cooks. But prospects like Jaelen Strong from Arizona State and Breshad Perryman from Central Florida may be still on the board when the Bears’ second turn at No. 7, in the second round, choose to find Marshall’s replacement.