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Bears draft preview: Wide receivers

4/16/2013

ESPNChicago.com continues its daily Bears draft preview with a look at the receivers.

The Chicago Bears lost any semblance of a speed element for their 2013 offense at receiver when Johnny Knox was forced to retire, and the club decided Devin Hester should focus on returns.

So it's reasonable to expect an infusion of speed into the receiving corps for what could be a dynamic offense in 2013, provided the club finds an explosive target in the draft to complement Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Still, general manager Phil Emery stressed that speed isn't necessarily the determining factor in any decision the team plans to make at that position.

"Anytime you lose a player (Knox) of that quality and that kind of speed, it does impact you," Emery said. "We'll look at all avenues in terms of finding somebody that can add to that mix of wide receivers. I would say specifically (the goal is) to find the best player that can help us (regardless of speed)."

The Bears are believed to be interested in Texas A&M's Ryan Swope (161 catches for 2,120 yards and 19 touchdowns over his last two seasons), who possesses 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash to go with a concerning history of concussions. Emery attended Texas A&M's 29-24 upset victory at Alabama in which Swope caught 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Tyrone Goard of Eastern Kentucky could also draw interest from the Bears, which met with him formally at the East-West Shrine game. Projected to be a late-round pick, Goard, possesses the ability to stretch the field but like Swope, has suffered concussions. The Bears have also shown some interest in projected late-round pick Eric Rogers of Cal Lutheran.

The club was present at Rogers' Pro Day on March 11.

The next 10: 11. Aaron Dobson, Marshall, 6-3, 210; 12. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 5-11, 189; 13. Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech, 6-2, 217; 14. Josh Boyce, Texas Christian, 5-11, 206; 15. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M, 6-0, 205; 16. Denard Robinson, Michigan, 5-10, 199; 17. Marquise Goodwin, Texas, 5-9, 183; 18. Tavarres King, Georgia, 6-0, 189; 19. Aaron Mellette, Elon, 6-2, 217; 20. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma, 6-0, 194.

Position grade: B

Analysis: The one-two punch of Marshall and Jeffery should be deadly in the new offense of coach Marc Trestman provided the latter can stay healthy. Jeffery produced an impressive NFL debut (three catches, 80 yards and a touchdown), but missed six games because of injuries. With Hester likely out of the picture in the slot, the club's options there include Earl Bennett and Eric Weems. Bennett possesses dynamic run-after-catch ability and chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler, but injuries have hampered his production over the last two seasons.

What the club lacks in the receiving corps at this point is a speed element that would draw off some of the extra coverage that Marshall sees on an every-game basis. By adding a speed receiver to play in the slot, the Bears can keep safeties honest, so to speak. The Bears fully expect to field an explosive offense under Trestman. Emery started that process with the acquisition of tight end Martellus Bennett, who will threaten defenses down the seams. A new slot receiver to go with Bennett could open things up for the entire offense. The question, however, is whether the team sees that as a need position considering some of the holes in the roster in other areas.