Bears need wideouts, but they can be hard to project
By Mark Potash email@example.com January 25, 2012 11:00PM
Marvin Jones of California says that even on “plays that I’m not supposed to catch, I catch anyway.” | Ezra Shaw~Getty Images
Updated: February 27, 2012 9:58AM
MOBILE, Ala. — I have no idea if Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick has soft hands or an exceptional ‘‘get-off.’’ I don’t know if he’s sudden in and out of his breaks or whether he’s a long-strider with a wide catching radius or a burner who accelerates toward space and has high-end speed.
He’s 6-5, 220, claims he has a 39-inch vertical, says he’ll run a 4.4 40 — and he can catch the ball and run with it. That makes him a candidate to help the Bears.
Quick isn’t the best wide receiver at the Senior Bowl. He’s tall and athletic but raw and inexperienced against top-flight competition. And he admitted he didn’t learn the nuances of the position at Appalachian State.
‘‘I had a receiving coach, but he was basically a quarterback,’’ said Quick, who had 71 receptions for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. ‘‘[I was] not really getting coached on being a receiver, just going out there and using my talent.’’
But even with uneven performances at Senior Bowl practices, Quick had been intriguing enough to attract above-average attention from NFL talent evaluators. Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith talked to him before I did Monday, and even more NFL reps were lined up to talk to him after practice Tuesday.
Because you never know. Mike Wallace from Ole Miss was a raw — though very fast — wide receiver at the Senior Bowl in 2009. And even after catching a 39-yard touchdown pass in the game and running a 4.33 40 at the scouting combine, he still wasn’t drafted until the third round by the Steelers — with the 84th pick that originally belonged to the Bears, by the way.
And if it’s not Quick, it could be somebody else. California’s 6-2, 194-pound Marvin Jones has more polish and played against better competition. He believes he has what NFL teams are looking for in a wide receiver.
‘‘Getting separation,’’ Jones said. ‘‘Being very sudden with my routes. I can drop and get out as well as being aggressive when the ball’s in the air. And just catching the ball consistently. Even plays that I’m not supposed to catch, I catch anyway.’’
North Carolina’s 6-4, 226-pound Dwight Jones is another candidate He comes from a pro-style college offense under coach Butch Davis that produced the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks and the Browns’ Greg Little. Like Floyd he has the potential to physically dominate defenders and catch the ball in traffic, but isn’t a disciplined route runner — there’s always something. But he’s considered a potential first-round pick.
His strongest suit?
‘‘That I just know how to play football,’’ said Jones, who had 85 receptions fro 1,196 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. ‘‘I know how to get open and I’m coachable. I’m trying to pick up the playbook as quickly as possible to show teams that I’ve only been here two days and I can come out there and run routes as clean as possible. I’m trying to show teams that I love playing football and I’m a quick learner.’’
Jones and Iowa’s 6-3, 216-pound Marvin McNutt are the highest-rated wide receivers at the Senior Bowl. But whether it’s here or at the combine or in any draft room, finding a difference-making wide receiver is tricky.
‘‘A lot of times the skill guys will stand out and you have to be careful,’’ said Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, the former Super Bowl Bear whose staff is coaching the North team. ‘‘When you’re trying to measure, can they translate that to the next level, where the best of the best play. That’s one of the reasons why the wide receiver position is misguided. Teams miss on first-round wide receivers for a reason.’’