Reality may force Bears to draft a top receiver
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org December 22, 2011 9:16PM
Updated: January 24, 2012 9:51AM
The Bears’ void at wide receiver has become so glaring, even NFL draft analysts aware of Jerry Angelo’s disdain for drafting receivers are predicting the Bears will take one in the first round.
In a mock draft released Wednesday, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay predicted the Bears would take Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd with their first-round pick. Even if he’s just throwing darts, it’s an indication of just how stark the Bears’ issues are at wide receiver.
The absence of a big-play, ‘‘go-to’’ threat at wideout has been a point of contention during Angelo’s 11 years as general manager. He never has used a first-round pick for a wide receiver. And he seemed to lose interest in drafting a wide receiver at all
after failing to strike gold with Bernard Berrian in the third round in 2004 and Mark Bradley in the second round in 2005. The only other receivers he has drafted in the first three rounds since then are Earl Bennett in the third round in 2008 and Juaquin Iglesias in the third round in 2009.
Angelo has maintained that the Bears’ receiving corps is good enough with Jay Cutler at quarterback. But even after the best stretch of Cutler’s Bears career this season, the wide receivers had modest-at-best production. Johnny Knox was their leading receiver with 24 receptions for 477 yards and one touchdown. Devin Hester (22-320, one TD), Roy Williams (21-298, one TD), Bennett (17-271, one TD) and Dane Sanzenbacher (19-172, three TDs) weren’t far behind.
But Cutler’s injury has magnified the issue. In four games with Caleb Hanie, Bears wide receivers have a combined 28 receptions for 417 yards and one touchdown. The Atlanta Falcons’ Roddy White has 31 catches for 390 yards and five TDs in the same span.
Maybe veteran Josh McCown can do better. But it’s worth noting that during the best stretch of McCown’s career, when he was 9-10 as a starter with the Arizona Cardinals in 2004-05, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin accounted for 51 percent (2,208) of McCown’s 4,347 passing yards and caught 17 of his 20 touchdown passes. The Bears don’t have a Fitzgerald or a Boldin, both Pro Bowl receivers.
A Michael Floyd might change that. The 6-3, 225-pound Notre Dame star has 95 receptions for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Floyd’s checkered past, which includes three alcohol-related incidents, might be problematic in light of the Sam Hurd episode. But Bears running back Robert Hughes, a teammate of Floyd for three years at Notre Dame, gave Floyd a ringing endorsement.
‘‘He’s a pro’s pro. A great guy. He’s going to be legit,’’ Hughes said.