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Mel Kiper Jr.: WR safer than pass-rusher at No. 7

CHICAGO -- With nine days left on the calendar until the opening round of the NFL draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. is convinced a wide receiver might be the Chicago Bears’ best option at No. 7, ahead of a pass-rusher.

“I just felt at that point you take more of a sure thing than an outside linebacker who there are some concerns with,” Kiper said Tuesday on a national conference call.

“Keep in mind there is also depth at outside linebacker into the second and third round where you can get some pretty good players. History tells us you can normally find those guys a little later in the draft. A lot of guys are going to go from the second to seventh round that can really get after the quarterback so you don’t have to lock in inside the top 10 and say if we don’t get one here we are going to be in trouble. This is a very deep position this year.”

Kiper and fellow ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay slotted West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White at the seventh pick to the Bears in their recent 2015 NFL Mock Drafts 4.0.

White visited Halas Hall on Tuesday, according to a league source.

“With the pass-rushers, there are some concerns there. Randy Gregory obviously didn’t have a great year and there is the off-the-field issue (positive marijuana test at the NFL combine). Vic Beasley not playing the run well enough, and in some games having a sack as his only tackle. [No. 7] is too high for Bud Dupree; he’s a mid-first round guy.

“When you are picking seventh, you have to get somebody that is rated on your board in the top five. You are not going to get the eighth- , ninth- , 10th-best player. You have to get somebody in your top 5 when you are picking seventh. Kevin White would be worthy [of going No. 7]. Amari Cooper would certainly be worthy. Brandon Scherff, if you want to take a right tackle, [is worthy]. A tackle or guard that can help you immediately and solidify a line that had some major issues last year. If you want to get in the Marcus Mariota sweepstakes and move from No. 7 to No. 2, hey, that’s possible.”

Kiper listed 12 outside linebacker/pass-rusher prospects that could interest the Bears in later rounds: Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington; Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville; Nate Orchard, Utah; Eli Harold, Virginia; Davis Tull, Chattanooga; Zack Wagenmann, Montana; Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA; Danielle Hunter, LSU; Deion Barnes, Penn State; Obum Gwacham, Oregon State; Mike Reilly, William and Mary and Ryan Delaire, Towson.