As the draft choices and invited first-year players convene at Halas Hall, here are five questions that will start to be addressed:
1. Is top pick Kyle Long ready to challenge for a starting job? Long had only five career starts at Oregon and was a surprising choice. Can he bolster a traditionally weak unit that has underwent a drastic turnover in the off-season with the additions of veteran free-agent tackle Jermon Bushrod, hard-working guard Matt Slauson, and versatile Eben Britton, a former second-round pick of Jacksonville.Long is projected to begin at guard, but the Bears are high on his athletic skills, and in fact, he tested out as best among the group of linemen at February’s scouting combine. Long will miss the remainder of the off-season work due to Oregon’s school year still being in session, so this weekend serves as an important time for him.
2. Are LB’s Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene the heir apparents at LB? The Bears needed to add depth and young talent at the position, so Bostic and Greene are welcome reinforcements. Both run well and possess the ball instincts desired, but how quickly each can adjust to the pro game will determine if either can challenge veterans D.J. Williams or James Anderson for playing time.
3. Is sixth round DE Cornelius Washington simply a “workout warrior” or a player who was miscast in Georgia’s defense? Washington flashed first-step quickness and the skills to impact as a pass rusher at the Senior Bowl in January, but his production was very limited with the Bulldogs. Teams are always looking for edge rushers who can push the pocket. Washington looks the part, and if new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker can find Washington’s switch, the Bears could have one of the steals of the 2013 draft.
4. Will seventh round WR Marquess Wilson of Washington State make a favorable first impression? Wilson’s senior season at Washington State ended in an ugly fashion when he accused first-year Cougars coach Mike Leach with player abuse. Wilson later recanted his story, but burned bridges and wasn’t welcomed back for pro day. He has some talent, but the character issue and inconsistent hands could prevent him from cracking the final roster. He’s certain to be under the spotlight as soon as he steps off the plane.
5. Is fifth round OT Jordan Mills a tackle or guard at the next level? Mills played right tackle at Louisiana Tech, but may be better suited to move inside in the pros. He’s an underrated draft choice who was solid and productive in college, using the post-season all-star game games (Shrine game, Senior Bowl) to boost his stock. Mills could battle last year’s undrafted free agent, James Brown, for a roster spot.