Bears take S Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Going into the NFL draft, new Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said he wanted to add big, fast playmakers.
The Bears believe they did it twice on Friday, taking wide receiver Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina and safety Brandon Hardin of Oregon State with their two draft picks.
The Bears traded up to get the chance to take the 6-foot-3, 212-pound Jeffery as a complement to wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. They gave the St. Louis Rams their second-round pick (50th overall) and fifth-rounder (150th) for the 45th overall pick in the second round. In Round 3, Hardin was acquired with the 79th pick.
"We feel that Alshon has the best hands in the draft, we feel that he's the best at adjusting to the ball, we feel that he's the best sideline and end zone catcher in the draft,'' said Emery, who revealed that he had Jeffery ranked in the top three receivers overall on the team's draft board. "He's dynamic with the ball in his hands. He's a big man, he's strong, he's tough. He doesn't go down without a fight.''
Jeffery's weight had ballooned during the pre-draft process and he has played at over 230 pounds before, but said he is now in good shape at 212 pounds.
"Whatever coach tells me, I want to be 215 and anywhere from there and between (to) 220,'' he said. "I'm happy with that.''
Jeffery had 3,042 receiving yards for his career, making him one of only three Southeast Conference receivers to go over 3,000 yards. He had 1,517 receiving yards as a sophomore in 2010, but just 762 last year.
"We thought that if teams were going to double- and triple-team (receivers) and give us the run ... we thought we'd run the ball a lot more and that would win the most games,'' Jeffery said. "I mean, we won 11 games. ... We broke the school record. It worked out for us.''
Jeffery also has been mentioned as lacking discipline and was tossed out of last season's Capital One Bowl for fighting, but he also was a team captain.
"I would say I've got a great work ethic,'' he said. "I'm a competitor.''
The plan is to let Jeffery compete at a wide receiver spot opposite Marshall, but he'll likely play immediately in three- or four-receiver sets for quarterback Jay Cutler.
Hardin, who is 6-2 and 222 pounds, suffered a broken shoulder and missed the 2011 season. The Bears plan to put him at strong safety where he will compete with starter Major Wright.
"I feel like we're going to get a lot of mileage out of Brandon right from the get-go both in terms of working as our third or fourth safety and special teams,'' Emery said.
The Bears medical staff has given Hardin's shoulder a clean bill of health.
"I have no worries about this guy,'' Emery said. "He will come down in the box and strike people. He has a good medical grade, so we feel good about that.''
The Bears selected defensive end Shea McClellin of Boise State on Thursday with the 19th overall pick. The position ignored so far by the Bears is the offensive line, and tackle specifically. The Bears have allowed 105 sacks over the last two seasons, but believe that by throwing passes with shorter quarterback drops and quicker patterns, the linemen will be more effective.
"I don't feel like we're finished at any position,'' Emery said.
Chicago went 8-8 last season. Cutler broke his right thumb trying to make a tackle in the 10th game and things unraveled from there.
General manager Jerry Angelo lost his job and offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterbacks coach Shane Day are both gone. Offensive line coach Mike Tice is the new coordinator following a promotion.
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