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Bears should be targeting improvement at receiver

The Sports Xchange
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In the last 39 years, the Bears have sent one player to the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver.

That was Marty Booker after the 2002 season. That's also the last time the Bears had a 1,000-yard receiver. And by refusing to acknowledge their desperate need for a big, game-changing wide receiver, the Bears only call more attention to their lack of such a player.

"In the offseason we look to improve our ball club -- wide receiver, linebacker, defensive line, O-line, running back, the works, coaching staff," coach Lovie Smith said when asked specifically about the wide receiver position. "Wide receiver is a part of that."

Wide receiver is the position that most requires the Bears' immediate attention. More specifically, they need the kind of big wide receivers who are dominating the NFL. Guys like Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

That's why several mock drafts project the Bears to select Notre Dame's 6-3, 230-pound Michael Floyd with the 19th overall pick in the draft.

If 6-3 Roy Williams is not back with the Bears next season, as expected, then 6-0, 206-pound Earl Bennett would be their biggest wide receiver.

Of the 17 NFL wide receivers who had more than 1,000 receiving yards last season, 11 are taller than Bennett.

Smith acknowledges the benefits of having bigger targets in the passing game, and quarterback Jay Cutler has mentioned numerous times that he'd love to have someone like the 6-4 Marshall, who caught 206 Cutler passes for 2,590 yards in 2007 and '08 in Denver.

"You don't have to have that ball right in the perfect spot every time, if you have a big body to throw the ball to," Smith said. "All those things come into play. I think most guys would tell you they would like to have big receivers. But, as much as anything, you would like to have good receivers that can do something with the ball."

Floyd would give the Bears a big body and a physical, talented player who caught 179 passes for 2,172 yards and 21 touchdowns the past two seasons. He leaves Notre Dame as the school's career leader in receptions (271), yards (3,686) and touchdown catches (37).

But he comes with baggage - three alcohol-related incidents while in college, including a DUI last March and two previous underage-consumption arrests.

At the Scouting Combine last week he was asked about those indiscretions by NFL teams - a lot.

"It's just about answering their questions and moving forward," Floyd said. "You tell them that you've grown from it, that it's behind you. It was a mistake that happened in the past, and I'm moving forward.

"It was just immaturity. People all the time have mistakes like this. Unfortunately, it happened to me on a big stage, going across the nation. Now it's about making sure you don't make the same mistake again and just staying on the positive side of things."

Other wideouts the Bears should consider in the draft are Georgia Tech's 6-4, 220-pound Stephen Hill, after he ran in the 4.3s at the Combine and Wisconsin's Nick Toon.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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