LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Had Alshon Jeffery left South Carolina after the 2010 season, the Chicago Bears never would have been in a position to select the wide receiver in the second round, No. 45 overall.
As a sophomore, Jeffery led the SEC with 108.4 receiving yards per game, catching 88 passes for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. But Jeffery's numbers fell off his junior season when he managed 49 receptions for 762 yards and eight touchdowns. Many point to Jeffery's weight as the reason behind the dropoff in production -- he lost over 15 pounds and checked in at 214 pounds at his official pro day at South Carolina -- but it should also be noted that South Carolina dismissed its starting quarterback Stephen Garcia early in the 2011 season and went to a more run-based attack on offense.
Jeffery's talent and potential was ultimately too much for the Bears to pass up. After Jeffery made an official visit to the Bears the week prior to the draft, the club moved up five spots to select him in the second round.
At 6-foot-3, Jeffery is the kind of playmaker the Bears need to complement Brandon Marshall on the outside, and the combination of Earl Bennett and Devin Hester in the slot. Quarterback Jay Cutler had been vocal about wanting bigger targets at receiver, and new general manager Phil Emery delivered.
Plus, given the uncertainty surrounding the status of Johnny Knox next year, the Bears needed to add another wide receiver to the group to protect themselves. They had both Wake Forest's Chris Givens and Nevada's Rishard Matthews at Halas Hall for private visits, but Jeffery clearly graded out much higher on the team’s draft board. After Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill went to the New York Jets at No. 43, the Bears knew they had to strike.
Of course, there is some risk involved with Jeffery, who was not only named the MVP of the 2012 Capital One Bowl, he was also ejected for fighting. But talent is talent. Jeffery has plenty of it and proved to be ultra-productive in the most competitive conference in the country at a position where the Bears had a large need.
That is why he makes total sense for the Bears at No. 45.