Chicago Bears

Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Wide Receiver

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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.

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

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AP

WATCH: Deonte Thompson channels inner Devin Hester with 109-yard return in Bears preseason game

It's been a while since Devin Hester electrified the city of Chicago with his touchdown returns, but we got flashbacks of that Saturday night.

Deonte Thompson took a page out of the book of arguably the best returner in NFL history by returning a 109-yard missed field goal to the house as the first half expired during the Bears' second preseason game in Arizona.

It gave the Bears a 17-7 lead, and even had John Fox going crazy on the sideline:

Deonte Thompson, you are ridiculous?

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

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USA Today Sports Images

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

1. QB Mike Glennon

The Bears’ first team offense as a whole could be included under this subhead, whether it’s the offensive line creating holes for a running back (Jordan Howard won't play with a minor corneal abrasion) or the receivers creating more separation to get open. But the onus is on Glennon to be better than he was Thursday night and prove that 0.0 quarterback rating was the product of a small sample size and not a sign of more serious issues. On the other side of things, a bad game from Glennon only would lead to further questions about his ability to succeed as the Bears’ starting quarterback. 

“I mean, (this game is) bigger than the first but not as big as the third,” Glennon said. “I don’t really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well but I don’t want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game.” 

2. WR Kevin White

Cameron Meredith can do a lot to help Glennon’s case, but the Bears have a good idea of what they have in the third-year receiver who’s been one of the more steady performers during training camp. Kevin White is in a different position, having not been targeted at all against the Denver Broncos and still needing to prove plenty going into his third year in the NFL. White’s growth this year may be slow, but he needs to show some signs of that growth during preseason games to build up some confidence for Sept. 10. 

“Anytime you go through some injuries, there’s a whole mental game that plays a part of it,” fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz (more on him in a bit) said. “Just talking to him – I think he’s over it. He understands those things are behind him. His confidence is back in his body with the things that he can do. You’re starting to see that out there on the football field. He’s really hitting another gear, catching these balls, going deep down the field and putting pressure on these defensive backs.”

3. WR Victor Cruz

It was a little jarring to see Cruz, a Super Bowl-winning former Pro Bowler, playing until the final snap of Thursday’s game — even if that had something to do with the Bears not having Daniel Braverman available and losing Rueben Randle and Joshua Bellamy to injuries during the game. But Cruz hasn’t seemed to significantly push Kendall Wright for the No. 1 slot receiver job over the last few weeks, and could find himself on the roster bubble by the end of the month. A good showing Saturday night could provide a nice boost to his chance of avoiding that bubble.  

“I've been impressed with him,” Fox said before the Bears’ first preseason game. “He's got a great feel for the game. Sometimes it might not be just how fast they are physically but how fast they play, and he seems to be that type of guy. He's still got plenty of gas in the tank and we're excited to have him.”

4. DE Jonathan Bullard

Bullard is the only player on this list who flashed last Thursday, with an impressive tackle for a loss probably the Bears’ second-best defensive play of the day behind Leonard Floyd’s first-play-of-the-game sack. He’s had a solid camp, too, showing some promising signs after struggling to show much of anything a year ago. For Bullard, Saturday night will be about keeping his arrow pointing up, perhaps to the point that he could start at defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks in Week 1. 

“He’s definitely stronger, faster,” Hicks said. “He was already explosive, right? He has picked up the game to a point where he can play within the scheme now and see things come and be able to predict the play in order to get a step on the guard or the tackle, whoever he’s playing against. Just the things that come with getting more reps.”

5. CB Kyle Fuller

No player may have a better opportunity Saturday night than Fuller, who should be in line to take first-team reps with Bryce Callahan out and Prince Amukamara missing practices this week with a strained hamstring. What Fuller does with this opportunity could be a major deciding factor of whether or not he’s part of the Bears’ 53-man roster — this coaching staff and front office didn’t draft him, and his fifth-year option for 2018 was declined in the spring. 

“It’s a new year,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said earlier this month when asked about Fuller. “We start evaluating guys by what you’ve seen on the field at this point.”