Jeffery a controversial pick for Bears

If Shea McClellin was a conservative pick in the NFL draft, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was a slightly risky one and safety Brandon Hardin was a daring one.

It makes sense to go further out on the ledge in the second round than the first, and further still in the third.

Both players have the potential to be impact players.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said Jeffery was rated in the Bears' top three receivers. He was the seventh receiver selected in the draft, but the Bears thought he was the best in several skill areas and that his size and toughness is important.

Emery pointed out Hardin, like Jeffery, has a lot of athletic gifts.

"This is a big, fast, dynamic, physical athlete," Emery said.

But both players also have the potential to make Emery regret taking them.

Jeffery's stock has gone up and down dramatically. It was at its highest after his sophomore year. He went from 88 catches in 2010 to 46 in 2011, but he still elected to leave school early.

He played at 232 pounds for South Carolina. He got down to 216 at the NFL scouting combine, but looked soft according to scouts. He also didn't work out there, and failed to impress some NFL teams in interviews.

"He killed himself at the combine," one AFC front office man said.

By his pro day, Jeffery had lost another couple pounds. He also made a lot of people forget what happened at the combine when his vertical leap was measured at 361/2 inches.

With hops like that, 33-inch arms and a 6-foot-3 frame, Jeffery can be a matchup nightmare. He can catch the ball away from his body, so he takes advantage of his length and explosion. As long as his belly isn't lined up offsides, Jeffery can force coverage adjustments.

It's difficult for NFL secondaries to match up with one big receiver. It's almost impossible for them to match up with two. The Bears now have two — Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.

"We're going to be hard to handle in terms of size and physicalness and ball skills with the wideouts we have," Emery said.

At the very least, the Bears should have improved their charity basketball team significantly.

Yet, Jeffery is a polarizing player in NFL front offices.

Said one personnel director: "He has size and hands and can separate for a big guy. He's pretty rare that way."

Said a college scouting director: "He is not fast or quick. He is a between the numbers receiver. I see a lot of average skills there."

A number of NFL front office men have compared Jeffery to Mike Williams.

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