COLUMBIA SC - NOVEMBER 06: Alshon Jeffery #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts during their game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 6 2010 in Columbia South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
I got together with the good folks at Windy City Gridiron, the Chicago Bears SBN community, to chat about Alshon Jeffery. Here are their answers to my questions, to be followed with a link to my answers to their questions.
1) As you know, Alshon Jeffery was a hot topic leading up to the draft, with many divided over whether he is an elite prospect or a risk due to conditioning / work ethic issues. What is the general feeling among Bears fans about Jeffery? Are you guys happy to have him, or are you worry you wasted a pick?
Our message boards were split on him. Before his weight issues really came to light he was being considered by our readers as a potential pick in the 1st round. After the reports of him playing at 230-240 and after the pic of him with the paunchy belly started floating around fans soured on him. But now that he's got his weight down, and appears to be focused on being a pro football player, most fans are excited to see him play with Jay Cutler.
2) Tell us a little bit about your depth at WR. What are Jeffery's chances of seeing the field regularly in his rookie season?
If it were up to me, I'd pencil him in as a starter with Brandon Marshall right now. But I figure the Bears will bring him along slowly. The Bears have Marshall, Earl Bennett, Dane Sanzenbacher, and Devin Hester returning. Johnny Knox will start out on the PUP list, and they also went out and signed Eric Weems and Devin Thomas, but those two are more for special teams depth. My best guess is that Jeffery will eventually be starting with Marshall, and they'll use Bennett as the primary slot guy with Hester seeing time in a few packages.
3) On a related note, granting that the perceived work ethic issues never really become a concern, there's been a lot of discussion regarding whether Jeffery has the ability to be a dominant first-option or if he's going to be more of a possession and red-zone receiver. Where does Jeffery come in? What kind of skill set was your team looking for in drafting him? What kind of offense are you seeking to run and how does he fit in?
Chicago has long needed a bigger target for Jay Cutler. They addressed that with the trade for Marshall, and getting Jeffery is icing on the cake. With Mike Tice now running the offense I'd expect the Bears to roll Cutler out a bit more than last year, and for them to look to exploit the match-up problems their new found size at WR will bring defenses. Both players are very good at overpowering smaller corners, so I expect the Bears to audible (audibling is something the Bears didn't do last year) to find the mismatches. Jeffery's size and hands should endear him to Bears fans.