Four Down Territory, Feb. 24: The growing buzz for WVU’s Pat White

SHARE Four Down Territory, Feb. 24: The growing buzz for WVU’s Pat White

We only knocked out three questions on Monday so we’ll even it up with five today. Let’s get right to it:

Q: One thing I really took away from the combine was the performance of Pat White. I know everyone was writing him off as a quarterback because of his size but this kid did everything right. He had excellent throws all day. He also ran a very fast 40 for a quarterback. How would he look in a Bears uniform if they could get him in the second or third round?

Tyler K., Tulono, Ill.

A: You were not the only one who was impressed by White’s dazzling display Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was quite a show and it will be interesting to see how much momentum White generates moving forward. Remember, it just takes one team to fall in love with a player.

Here is what they said on nfldraftscout.com:

2/24/2009–West Virginia’s Pat White is a fine athlete who worked out at the combine as a quarterback and was relaxed in doing so. White is such a talent that teams are discussing what to do with him and when he should be drafted. He could be a No. 3 quarterback with a chance to be a No. 2, but he also can run the Wildcat, play slot receiver and return punts and kicks. As one GM said, I want him on my team, and now I just have to figure out where I have to take him. – Pat Kirwan, NFL.com

One quarterbacks coach we talked to wasn’t sold on White at all, though. He said White has a big windup, is too small and doesn’t run as well as has been advertised.

The issue, or one of the issues, is White is just 6-foot, 190 pounds. Can he play quarterback in the NFL on an every-down basis? I don’t know if anyone has the answer to that question right now. His strong effort throwing the ball before coaches and scouts went a long way toward answering questions they may have had. Just as impressive as White was on the field, he was off the field, saying the right things. White said he was willing to do other positional workouts at the WVU pro day on March 12. One suggestion is that is not a good idea for his future.

As far as White in a Bears’ uniform, the possibilities would be exciting. But recall how long it took the coaching staff to get Devin Hester integrated into the offense. Keep in mind the coaching staff has still, after two seasons, yet to show it can get running back Garrett Wolfe involved on any kind of consistent basis. General manager Jerry Angelo called the Hester selection in the second round of the 2006 draft a luxury pick. I’m not going to speak for Angelo or pretend to know where he is on this one, but I have a sneaking suspicion he might put White in that same category. With the Bears’ needs moving toward the draft–offensive tackle, wide receiver, safety, pass rushers, cornerback–can they afford a luxury pick at the point in the draft they would have to strike to get White? Certainly White is an intriguing prospect and I am sure we will re-visit this one going forward.

Q: What would be the odds of the Bears signing Marvin Harrison since he was released by the Colts? Or do you believe they will stick with the core they have by moving Earl Bennett up?

Ish, Parts Unknown

A: Ish, congratulations on being the lucky winner of having your question picked out of the Marvin Harrison cap. There were many inquiries about this after news spread Monday that the Colts had informed Harrison’s party that they would terminate his contract as a vested veteran this week. Not so fast, Colts owner Jim Irsay reportedly said.

Let’s cover a few points here:

1. Let’s assume that Harrison does hit the free market–it hasn’t happened yet–are you really confident he’d have any interest in playing for the Bears after 11 seasons of teaming with Peyton Manning to be a record-setting combination? Free agency is a two-way street. You can have all the interest in the world but that doesn’t mean the player will want to join you. Who knows if Harrison will choose to continue his career elsewhere.

2. Harrison turns 37 before the start of the season. He put up 60 catches for 636 yards (10.6 average) with six touchdowns last season in the high-powered Colts’ offense. What does that translate to with the Bears? 40 catches? 35 catches? Do you really want a pay a premium for that kind of production?

3. Frankly, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more attention given to the shooting near Harrison’s Philadelphia garage that resulted in a wounding. Police found shell casings from his Belgian-made FN5.7 at the scene, reportedly.

4. Finally, bringing in a veteran like Harrison would go against the reasons Angelo laid out Saturday for moving forward without a veteran receiver. He cited the release of Bobby Engram in 2001 as a reason why Marty Booker flourished. The hope is Bennett, like you said, will be the next receiver to spread his wings.

Q: After reviewing what you saw at the combine do you believe the running back from Liberty, Rashad Jennings, would be a good pick for the Bears at No. 49 or will they not take a running back as early as the second round?

Heath D, Parts Unknown

A: While waiting to pick off some coaches by a bank of elevators in an Indianapolis hotel over the weekend, I happened across Jennings who was with his Washington-based agent Adisa Bakari, the same man who represents Matt Forte. Jennings is every bit as well put together at 6-1, 234 pounds as he’s been advertised. He’s coming from a small school but he spent one year at Pitt before transferring to be closer to his father, who is diabetic.

Jennings rushed for 1,507 yards and 17 touchdowns this past season, playing nearly the entire year with a broken pinkie finger. Here is how they broke down his game on nfldraftscout.com:

Positives: Good size with well-developed upper body. Played in part-time zone read offense, sometimes in I-formation. Good vision, able to change directions using quick feet. Can stiff-arm and run through tacklers in the open field by lowering his pads. Very good second gear once in the open. Runs tough inside, able to lean forward for additional yards. Looks natural catching the ball out of the backfield. Will keep his feet churning after contact and fight for the first down or goal line. Can hit an inside hole quickly. Surprisingly quick stop-start if the hole is not there immediately. Negatives: Played against a lower level of competition, although he had one year of experience in the Big East. Runs loose; must consistently keep the ball high and tight to prevent fumbles. Only gets in the way as a blocker, giving marginal effort. A bit stiff in the hips, and is not overly shifty. Runs a bit tall, which will leave him open to big hits in the NFL. Must sink his hips when cutting.

Some are projecting Jennings to go in the second round like Forte. I don’t see the Bears using a draft pick on a running back and expect Garrett Wolfe to get the first crack as the complement to Forte.

Q: What is the chance of Nathan Vasher getting a crack at the nickel back spot? I know they have Danieal Manning penciled in as the nickel, but they’ve already moved him several times, and the chances of him being moved again are rather high seeing as how he might be the best option at free safety over both the draft and free agency. I’d like to keep Manning at nickel, but I also seem to remember Vasher playing pretty well as a nickel his rookie season. I know he’s getting paid quite a bit, but the way Lovie Smith talks about the nickel back, it seems as though it’s more important to his defense than a strong-side linebacker.

Anthony, Parts Unknown

A: My 2004 recall is sputtering a little bit this afternoon … I don’t know how much time Vasher actually spent at nickel, if any. That position was primarily manned by Mike Green during Vasher’s rookie season. Vasher’s never been considered a physical corner and he doesn’t exactly look to mix it up out there. That’s what you need from the nickel, who is essentially your strong-side linebacker with coverage skills. There are run support responsibilities. I don’t see Vasher getting a look in this area and based on what Smith said Saturday, I’m betting Manning does not get moved. You’d think the Bears would eventually learn that shifting him all over has not helped.

Q: The Bears are facing another draft, and so another golden opportunity to blunder. Is Jerry Angelo doing anything to avert the disasters of the past several years, other than wondering if taking health issues seriously is a good idea? The Bears have precious little to show for the past three or four drafts, and injuries and character are only a small part of the talent evaluation and development crisis. What, if any, indications are there that the team will do concrete things to improve in these areas?

Michael K., Indiana

A: It was a year or so ago that Angelo said he was approaching the draft from a different position when it came to evaluating football character. Probably stung by the failure of running back Cedric Benson, and perhaps to a lesser degree the shortcomings of Tank Johnson, Angelo wanted to re-evaluate his approach. Aside from that, I can’t tell you anything has changed. What kind of tangible changes are you suggesting? Sure, it would be great if they could hire Bill Polian away from the Colts to get some of his draft acumen. No one has had more consistent success with lower picks than him. Certainly the fruits of the last several drafts haven’t proven to be very good.

For what it’s worth, Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher lauded the Bears for being one of the more organized outfits at the combine. Unfortunately for Angelo, he’s not in position to get a can’t-miss player sitting at No. 18. Stay tuned.

Thanks for the questions. We’ll do it again on Wednesday. As always, thanks for reading.

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