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Sunday, March 7, 2010
Bears turn focus to college pro days

By Jeff Dickerson

CHICAGO -- With much of their free agency work already completed, the Bears can continue preparations for next month's NFL draft. The next layer of player evaluations takes place at different college pro days across the country, where scouts -- if necessary -- can go in for another look.

Here's a list of notable pro days for the upcoming week, courtesy of

  • Monday, March 8: Utah
  • Player to watch: Robert Johnson, FS, Utah: At 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds, Johnson projects as a center field-type in zone coverage. Although his man-to-man coverage skills have been questioned, Johnson had 13 interceptions over the last three seasons, six in his final year at Utah. That should be music to the Bears' ears, since they only got one pick (Danieal Manning) from the safety position in 2009.

    Robert Johnson had 13 interceptions over the last three seasons in Utah, six in his final year.
  • Tuesday, March 9: Oklahoma, Missouri, Auburn, Indiana
  • Player to watch: Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana: The Bears showed a lot of interest in Saffold during the week of the East-West Shrine game. A left tackle at IU, Saffold is a quality athlete with excellent feet for a big guy. If Frank Omiyale remains at left guard, adding a young tackle to the mix like Saffold would be a smart move. Many project Saffold as a second-round selection, but if he makes it out of Round 2, the Bears may pounce.

  • Wednesday, March 10: Alabama, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland
  • Player to watch: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama: Jackson may not having blazing speed, but he's known as a very sound coverage guy, with decent size at 5-foot-11 and 192 pounds. He left school a year early after starting his first three seasons in Tuscaloosa. There is a chance Jackson does not last until the third round, but he certainly has many of the intangibles Lovie Smith looks for in cornerbacks.

  • Thursday, March 11: Nebraska
  • Player to watch: Larry Asante, SS, Nebraska: Jerry Angelo has done plenty of homework on Asante, who started three years at Nebraska, and played one season in the same defensive backfield as current Bears starting cornerback Zack Bowman. Asante did not run well (4.63) at the combine, and some question if at this point he possesses enough strength to be an immediate impact player at strong safety. Still, Asante has plenty of ability, and might be an intriguing option in the fourth round.

  • Friday, March 12: Arizona, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, TCU
  • Player to watch: Marshall Newhouse, OG, TCU: Marshall showed his versatility to play several spots along the offensive line during East-West Shrine practices. Some scouts think he might be better off moving inside to play guard, where he can best use his size and strength. It's always a luxury to draft a lineman who can line up at either guard or tackle if necessary.