5 Late-Round Prospects That Would Be a Perfect Match for the Chicago Bears
In the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, much of the talk is focused on what direction a team will go with its first-round pick and what each team's greatest needs are.
While a team's first-round selection is very crucial, the middle to late rounds can also become just as important.
The Chicago Bears have had their share of movement this offseason: firing Lovie Smith and hiring Marc Trestman as their new head coach, not re-signing Brian Urlacher and signing a bevy of free agents to one-year deals.
Like every team in the NFL, the Bears want to win this season but also understand they have to add youth to their team and build through the draft. Their first two picks in the draft, while very important, are just as important as the last two selections they make later this month.
Not every selection is going to be a home run or have "potential superstar" written all over it, but the latter half of the draft will help provide depth and they may be able to find a diamond in the rough.
Here are five late-round prospects that would be a perfect match for the Chicago Bears:
Omoregie Uzzi, Guard, Georgia Tech
The Bears have made two improvements to their offensive line already this offseason with the addition of left tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson.
Bushrod is already penciled in as the starter on the left side of the line and Slauson has the flexibility to play either the right guard or left guard position. The team could be looking for another guard in the draft, particularly in the first round if Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper are available at No. 20.
If they are not able to snag a guard early in the draft, Georgia Tech's Omoregie Uzzi may be a perfect fit in the later rounds.
Uzzi's biggest strengths are his explosiveness and quickness and although he may be looked at as a tad undersized, he does a good job of using leverage to fend off defenders. Georgia Tech ran mostly the triple-option offense and he is best suited in a zone-blocking scheme, something that the Bears will likely employ this season with Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer.
He's not as polished as a pass-blocker considering how little the Yellow Jackets threw the football, which could cause him to drop down some draft boards. He has drawn comparisons to Jahri Evans, who went to four Pro Bowls during Kromer's time as New Orleans' offensive line coach.
The Bears still like youth and depth along the offensive line and Uzzi could have the chance to develop into a consistent starter in Chicago under Kromer's tutelage.
Lonnie Pryor, Fullback, Florida State
New head coach Marc Trestman's switch to a West Coast offense, along with last year's starting fullback, Evan Rodriguez, likely moving back to tight end, the Bears could be looking for a fullback in the draft.
Florida State's Lonnie Pryor may be viewed by some as a bit undersized for the position (5'11" 227 lbs), but he has a powerful lower half and combines strength with athleticism. He uses his smaller frame to get low on defenders and it helps him create better leverage.
Besides needing to be a solid lead blocker and having to get to the second level to make blocks, the fullback in a West Coast offense needs to have the ability to catch the football. While at Florida State he had 41 catches for 379 yards and five receiving touchdowns, and showed that he has the ability to catch the football in stride and turn up the field.
He would likely need to add more bulk to his frame considering his weight more closely resembles a running back than a fullback, but if he can add a solid 10 to 15 pounds and not lose much of his athleticism, he has the ability to become a solid contributor in the Bears' new offense.
He currently projects as a fifth-round pick but it is becoming increasingly more rare for a fullback to get drafted in higher rounds, and it is possible he could slip to the back end of the draft or even become an undrafted free agent.
Marcus Davis, Wide Receiver, Virginia Tech
Other than the great season from Brandon Marshall (118 catches, 1,508 yards, 11 touchdowns), the Bears' wide receiving corps was anything but impressive.
Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery all struggled with injuries at some point throughout the season, and when actually on the field, many struggled to make an impact.
The Bears have yet to make any additions to the wide receiving corps this offseason and could look to the draft to help add depth to the position.
Virginia Tech's Marcus Davis has had his share of ups and downs, but he finished the 2012 season with 51 catches for 953 yards and five touchdowns, leading to an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game.
He finished the Shrine Game with just one catch for 16 yards, but in fairness, the quarterbacks struggled all game to get themselves into a rhythm.
At 6'3" and 230 lbs, he is a physical specimen who has all the looks of a talented NFL wide receiver. He is great at going up to get the football and has impressive speed for someone of his size. He has struggled with concentration at times and lacks the desire on occasion to run block.
His numbers at the combine were not spectacular but were overall solid. According to NFL.com, he ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and recorded the best vertical jump amongst wide receivers with a 39.5 inch leap.
If drafted in the sixth round, expectations for Davis will be low, possibly giving him the motivation to improve in many different aspects of his game. He could push for the fourth wide receiver position in camp and, with a strong showing, could see valuable playing time in 2013.
Keith Pough, Linebacker, Howard
After losing outside linebacker Nick Roach to the Oakland Raiders and replacing him with former Carolina Panther James Anderson, the Bears still lack youth at the linebacker position.
Anderson and D.J. Williams were both signed to one-year deals this offseason to be stopgaps until the organization finds suitable long-term replacements. While the team may look as early as the first round to draft a linebacker, it would not come as a surprise if it tried to address the position later in the draft as well.
Keith Pough was nothing short of an unknown prior to the East-West Shrine game earlier this year but the 6'2" 239-lb. outside linebacker from Howard University made quite an impression not only during the game itself but throughout the week of practices in St. Petersburg, Florida.
He plays with high energy and has an athletic, lean frame that allows him to slip behind blockers to make tackles. He has enough speed to chase down ball-carriers and displayed above-average skills in coverage.
He lean frame is a negative in some scouts' eyes and they would prefer to see him add more bulk. Whether or not his abilities will translate to the next level are a bit of an unknown considering the drop in talent he played against while at Football Championship Subdivision Howard.
His stock has risen considerably since the East-West Shrine game and the NFL combine, but he could still be available in the fifth round. If drafted, he would be able to contribute on special teams in his first season and would ideally work himself into the starting lineup in 2014.
Sanders Commings, Cornerback, Georgia
Despite having two Pro Bowl cornerbacks in 2012, the Bears will need to look at getting younger in the secondary in 2013. Charles Tillman turned 32 earlier this year, Jennings will be turning 30 next December and both have their contracts expiring after next season.
The team drafted two cornerbacks at the end of the draft last season in Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy. But only Frey remains, having spent the majority of last season on the team's practice squad.
Georgia's Sanders Commings has great size for the position (6'0", 216 lbs.), but some feel he may eventually make the transition to safety despite starting 35 games at cornerback while at Georgia.
He plays very well in press coverage and has a tendency to play physical with bigger receivers. He does struggle at times when playing zone coverage. He currently projects as a fifth-round pick and given his size and range, he could be a steal if he is still available for the Bears in the sixth round.
The team re-signed veteran Kelvin Hayden to play nickelback in 2013, but Commings could be a nice developmental player for cornerbacks coach Jon Hoke and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.