Higher priority for the Bears wide receiver or pass rusher?

Right now both the wide receiver and pass rusher/under-sized DE position is one of the deepest pools of talent in this draft. Plus there is recent talk that certain pass rushers may be falling out of the first round and falling into the second round leaving the Bears on quite the quandary come draft day.

While there is little doubt that the Bears’ offense severely struggled due to the lack of a premiere pass catcher in 2008, conversely the defense lost games because of a lack of a pass rush. You can literally point to three to four games where a lack of a pass rush lost games where as the passing game was consistent enough to win games for the Bears. Plus the addition of Jay Cutler will only help the current roster of receivers improve.

All that is true but the most recent development is the recent talk that premiere pass rusher Larry English’s stock has begin to fall. Apparently at 6-foot-2 255-pounds English is to small to line up as a DE, but when you think to stand him up as a 3-4 OLB suddenly he’s to slow. Not a good problem to have if you’re Larry English, but a nice problem to have if you’re the Chicago Bears.

Why? Because English is a fearsome pass rusher, plain and simple he has speed of the edge and is going to succeed in this league. Pass rushers that are as explosive off the edge as English is are at a premium. If a team is foolish enough to pass English because he doesn’t fit into the ideals of size and speed then that’s their loss.

Another player who fits the mold of a Larry English who I can personally attest to being a great player coming out of college is Terrell Suggs at Arizona State. Suggs didn’t work out at the combine so all his eggs were in one basket at the his ASU Pro-Day. I was there personally to witness Suggs pro-day first hand with all of the NFL scouts in attendance including Bears’ GM Jerry Angelo. Suggs that day went out and ran his 40-yard-dash in the high 4.8 second range. He was as high as 4.87 on some watches and as low as 4.72 on other watches. But the consensus for Suggs was that 4.8 was as good as it was going to get for his 40-yard dash time. I personally clocked Suggs in the 4.93 40-yard dash that day in the hot sun on Astro turf at ASU.

So Suggs went from a sure fire top-five prospect to a player who steadily fell until the Ravens traded up to grab him. A few years later Suggs is a 3-4 OLB who is a consistent Pro-Bowl level player. That to me is the type of player Larry English is that burst off the edge, as Mike Mayock calls it running the arc. That is where pass rushing money is made, not in the 40-yard dash times that so many people zero in on, but that 10-20 yards a DE needs to run to sack the QB.

Two other players who fit into that late first round to mid second round category who could be considered pass rush specialists are Connor Barwin and Aaron Maybin. Both have that size at 6-foot-4 245 to 255-pounds but may fall in the draft because of their timing in the 40-yard dash or their raw abilities may fall. There is little doubt that three are pure pass rushers with threat motors.

Then there is the Brian Robiskie, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks problem. One of those three could fall as far as 49, but all three are deemed late first round worthy. There is the sense that the three together fall into nearly the same category, late first round to second round WR talent. They are among the 35th to 50th best players in the NFL draft in the scope of overall talent. They have been covered in Bears draft talk ad nauseam since the end of the NFL combine in late February. All three would be great big strong receiver who could work the underneath routes with Devin Hester taking care of the deep routes.

So while the consensus near unanimous opinion is that the Bears should take a WR with the second round pick at 49. The question is what do you do with a great pure pass rusher still on the board?

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