Bears draft preview: Don’t overlook Notre Dame WR Chris Brown

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Notre Dame receiver Chris Brown. (AP)

Part 6 of a 10-part series previewing the NFL draft, which begins April 28 at the Auditorium Theatre.

To wide receiver Chris Brown, Notre Dame had everything: big games in big venues, media attention and the chance to play for college football’s most storied program.

“I feel like it’s prepared me for anything that can come my way,” Brown said. “It’s prepared me not only on the field but off the field with how to conduct myself, to stay out of the bad headlines and stay in a good light.”

In other words, Brown believes playing for the Fighting Irish helped prepare him for the NFL. Fellow Notre Dame receiver Will Fuller is a headliner, but Brown also has generated considerable interest.

Brown declined to name teams, but he has had six private workouts and dined with a couple of teams recently. He spoke to the Bears at the East-West Shrine Game and at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“It was just like one of the other teams,” Brown said of his talks with the Bears. “I feel like they show interest, but they always keep their poker face.

“All of the workouts I felt went well. A lot of [the coaches] said I did well as far as retaining the information they were trying to teach and how we take coaching. I was feeling some good vibes, so to speak. They’ve been continually staying in touch. We’ll just see how that goes.”

At 6-2, 193 pounds, Brown has the size teams like, but he has worked at adding more weight and strength this offseason. He has commuted between South Bend, Indiana, and Highland Park to train at EFT Sports Performance under respected trainer Elias Karras.

“I’m 6-2, so [teams] expect a bigger frame,” Brown said. “I wanted to make sure I filled out my frame really nice while maintaining my explosiveness and my speed. I feel like I’ve been able to do that.”

Brown showed that at Notre Dame’s pro day last month, running the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds with every NFL team watching. He’s projected to be an early Day 3 pick.

Brown’s production improved every season at Notre Dame. As a senior, he had 48 catches for 597 yards and four touchdowns. Competing with Fuller, a potential first-round pick, helped.

“We knew how to push each other’s buttons and get the most out of each other,” Brown said. “I feel like that’s what really helped us thrive in our offense.”

It was just part of playing at Notre Dame.

“I have a driven mindset,” Brown said. “I’ll do whatever I need to do to make an NFL roster.”


Rating Bears’ need: Low

The only reason for the Bears to draft a receiver early in the draft would be if the team believed a long-term deal could not (and would not) be reached with Alshon Jeffery, who signed his $14.6 million franchise tag. General manager Ryan Pace was optimistic when he spoke of Jeffery’s situation at the NFL owners meetings last month.

Pace also joyfully declared that 2015 first-round pick Kevin White is 100 percent healthy after missing his rookie season because of surgery to fix a stress fracture in his shin.

Veteran Eddie Royal, who turns 30 on May 21, is coming off a tough first season with the Bears. He had only 37 catches for 238 yards after signing a three-year, $15 million contract.

Marquess Wilson, Marc Mariani, Cameron Meredith and Deonte Thompson round out the Bears’ receiving corps.

Best of the best

Some draft analysts have wavered on Mississippi’s Laquon Treadwell, a Crete-Monee graduate, but he still is the most complete receiver in the draft.

Treadwell (6-2, 221 pounds) had 82 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and was named first-team All-SEC by conference coaches.

The best aspect of Treadwell’s junior year was that he overcame adversity. He suffered a broken leg in gruesome fashion in the last month of his sophomore season.

Other options

This class of receivers isn’t as acclaimed as the last two. But Baylor’s Corey Coleman, Notre Dame’s Will Fuller, TCU’s Josh Doctson and Ohio State’s Michael Thomas could get selected in the first two rounds.

Ohio State’s Braxton Miller is an intriguing player. He was the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback before moving to receiver. His potential is considered worth an extra work.

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