During his first public session as Bears general manager, Phil Emery pointedly described the NFL as a big-mans game. Lovie Smiths demand for speed would always be uppermost in most personnel thinking but the Bears, who had looked to get bigger on the offensive line over the past half-dozen years, were going to do it elsewhere as well.
That commitment was amply apparent in the unveiling of the expanded preseason roster, the rookies of which were working at Halas Hall this weekend.
The 2011 Bears had only one receiver taller than 6 feet (Roy Williams at 6-3) and generously listing Earl Bennett at 6 feet.
Besides veterans Brandon Marshall (6-4) and Devin Thomas (6-2) coming in for OTAs later this month, the Bears roster for rookie minicamp includes only one receiver shorter than 6 feet. No. 2 pick Alshon Jeffery is 6-3.
Marshall is a mismatch receiver, Emery said. He creates problems for corners. The average corner around the league is 5-11 and a lot of them are shorter than that. He creates a problem for them from the get-go just from his structure.
Indeed, two of the Bears top three cornerbacks last season -- left corner Tim Jennings and nickel corner D.J. Moore -- were sub-5-10.
Veteran signees Kelvin Hayden (6-0) and Jonathan Wilhite (5-10) already bump up the average.
And all of the Bears three draft choices in the secondary -- safety Brandon Hardin (6-3), corners Isaiah Frey (6-0) and Greg McCoy (5-10) -- moved the size needle in the direction of the receivers that afflict the Bears in the NFC North.
It's tough to take an undersized player as a depth player and in your mind he's going to continue to ascend and hasn't already reached a ceiling, Emery said. You want take players and be oriented toward players that are bigger, stronger, faster, so they can continue to develop in that role and possibly hit on a starter."
Ironically, No. 1 draft choice Shea McClellin held to the course of speed and functional strength over simple size, at 6-3, 260 pounds. But even McClellin already is weightier than predecessors Mark Anderson and Alex Brown, who played at 250 pounds or below.