Bears trade up to land WR Jeffery
LAKE FOREST – Jay Cutler just landed another big target.
The Bears moved up five picks in the second round Friday to select South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. They dealt their second-round (No. 50 overall) and fifth-round (No. 150 overall) picks to the St. Louis Rams in order to grab the high-ceiling wideout.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to be a Chicago Bear,” Jeffery said via conference call.
So are the Bears.
Jeffery (6-3, 216) ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash during his agility tests and bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times, which was only one shy of Bears’ first-round pick Shea McClellin.
As a sophomore, Jeffery was named a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the nation’s top receiver. He caught 88 passes for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns in 2010, but he regressed as a junior with 49 catches for 762 yards and eight touchdowns.
Jeffery said part of the reason his statistics declined was because South Carolina transitioned to more of a run-first offense. The strategy worked, he said, as the Gamecocks went 11-2 and pounded the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 30-13, on Jan. 2 in the Capitol One Bowl.
Jeffery said his playing style was easy to describe.
“I’m a competitor,” said Jeffery, who was a four-star recruit as a high school player in St. Matthews, S.C. “I just love making plays and catching the ball and winning my battles.”
By adding Jeffery, the Bears provided Cutler with a deep threat to go along with Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Jeffery could represent a taller, stronger version of Johnny Knox, whose status for next season is in question as he recovers from back surgery.
Earl Bennett figures to serve as Cutler’s go-to target on third downs again next season. The Bears also have Devin Hester, Eric Weems, Devin Thomas and Dane Sanzenbacher on the roster, which should lead to an intriguing competition during training camp this summer.
Jeffery became the second South Carolina wide receiver to be drafted by the Bears. The first was Marcus Robinson in 1997.
The Bears have the No. 79 overall in the third round later Friday. Bears general manager Phil Emery is expected to address the media after the team makes its third-round selection.