Bears trade up, roll dice on talented WR Alshon Jeffery in second round
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com April 27, 2012 11:38PM
South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was considered a first-round talent, but scouts have questioned his desire. | Mike Ehrmann~Getty Images
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:28AM
The Bears rolled the dice in the second round, trading up five spots to take enigmatic South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery with the 45th pick Friday night.
The 6-3, 216-pound Jeffery is a first-round talent with enough red flags to drag him into the second round. His last college game serves as an illustration of what the Bears are getting: In the Citrus Bowl against Nebraska, Jeffery caught four passes for 148 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary pass, was ejected in the second half for fighting with Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and still was named the game’s MVP.
Jeffery comes to town with immense NFL potential — he had 88 receptions for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010, and his 3,042 career receiving yards are the second-most in SEC history. But scouts have questioned his desire and temperament after Jeffery slumped to 49 receptions, 762 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011, missing one start for breaking a team rule.
‘‘I would say I have a great work ethic,’’ Jeffery said. ‘‘I mean, I’m fast. When I get to Chicago, hopefully you can see for yourself first-hand and the team as well. I’m just ready.’’
As for his drop in production last season, Jeffery said, ‘‘It was just one of those things.’’
The Gamecocks were just taking what defenses gave them. South Carolina was 11-2, losing to Auburn 16-13 and Arkansas 44-28.
‘‘I just thought our coaches and all of us as a team, we just wanted the best situation to win the game,’’ said Jeffery, who’s from St. Matthews, S.C. ‘‘We found that teams were going to double-, triple-team us and give us the run, so we were going to run the ball a lot more. We won 11 games, we broke school records, so it worked out for us.’’
But there was enough doubt about Jeffery that little things were scrutinized.
Scouts were concerned about his fluctuating weight. Jeffery played at 230 pounds as a junior but dropped to 216 at the scouting combine in February. He did not do any drills or workouts. Jeffery ran the 40 in the 4.5 range at 213 pounds at South Carolina’s pro day in March.
‘‘Right now I’m at 212,’’ he said. ‘‘I can be at whatever Coach tells me, but I want to be 215 — anywhere between [that and] 220. I’m fine with that.’’
But none of those issues seems unmanageable. If the Bears think their locker room and coaching staff can keep Brandon Marshall in line, there’s no doubt they have no issue with Jeffery.
He does have a knack for winning. South Carolina went from 7-6 to 9-5 to 11-2 in his three seasons. And he won four state basketball titles in high school. The Bears traded their fifth-round pick (No. 150) to move up to get him.
‘‘I’m a competitor,’’ Jeffery said. ‘‘I just love to work hard. I just love making plays, catching the ball, winning my battle.’’