ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper released his first mock draft on Wednesday, and it's not surprising -- considering Chicago's need at the position -- he's got the Chicago Bears using the 19th pick to select Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd.
Less than stellar play at the position and the need to surround quarterback Jay Cutler with more weapons likely play into Kiper's thinking here, not to mention the unexpected time frame for the recovery of Johnny Knox, who suffered a broken vertebrae in a Dec. 18 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Aside from Earl Bennett, there's not much for the Bears to work with in terms of receivers (and, no, Devin Hester hasn't yet developed into what the team expected). So Kiper's pick here makes a ton of sense. After all, the Bears haven't drafted a receiver in the first round since -- brace for it -- David Terrell in 2001. Over the past 10 drafts, the Bears have selected a total of 12 receivers (although Hester was originally drafted as a cornerback), but none in the last two drafts.
So clearly, it's time for the Bears to draft a receiver. The question is whether the club does it in the first round.
Floyd (6-foot-3, 224 pounds) fits the bill as the big target everyone seems to be clamoring for, and currently ranks No. 20 on Kiper's big board. Kiper also has the receiver listed as the second-best prospect at the position behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (6-2, 215).
In the past, the Bears have said they're not necessarily looking for saints when it comes to questions about character. But it's important to remember this team is still reeling from the drug arrest of free-agent acquisition Sam Hurd. So it's worth questioning whether the Bears would take a shot on Floyd, who was arrested and charged with "operating while intoxicated" in March 2010, just 15 months after authorities in Minneapolis hit him with an underage drinking charge, which ultimately led to the team suspending him for spring 2011.
Durability has also been an issue with Floyd missing time in 2009 with a broken collarbone, and three games in 2008 because of a knee injury.
Here's what Scouts Inc. had to say about Floyd's big-play ability: "Is a mismatch for some DB's because of his size. Is not going to run by most cover corners in the NFL, but he has enough speed to challenge vertically, and he has the length/hand-eye coordination to come down with the jump ball. Not very elusive and will not make the first defender miss with any consistency. He does show good vision after the catch, and he's a physical runner that will break some attempted arm tackles by DBs."
Here's Scouts Inc.'s take on Floyd's competitiveness: "Not afraid to go over the middle but clearly more comfortable working outside the hashes. Effort is adequate as a blocker. He leaves his feet a bit too frequently. Lacks great lower body strength and struggles to sustain at times but he typically is in good position and can use his long arms and solid upper body strength to shield the DB sufficiently. Will get lazy at times and try to pull in one-handed catch when he clearly should and can use both hands (see third quarter 2010 Sun Bowl vs. Miami)."
Despite the Bears having a vacancy at the general manager position, once the new hire is made, he'll surely be taking a look at Floyd along with other receivers such as Blackmon, Baylor's Kendall Wright (5-10, 190) and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery (6-4, 232).
Yes, there's still plenty for the Bears to do internally regarding openings on the coaching staff and front office. But it's always fun to take a look ahead at some of the team's potential draft prospects.