Q: Jeff, Why didn't the Bears make a run at Darren Sharper? Shaper and Chris Harris at safety would have been the best possible combination for this team. I think Jerry Angelo missed the boat on this one. -- Mark P., Brookfield, Ill.
A: Mark, I respectfully disagree. It became obvious at the Super Bowl that Sharper never wanted to leave the New Orleans Saints. Why would he? His 2009 renaissance was due in large part to the defensive system employed by coordinator Gregg Williams, a scheme that let Shaper take chances and play center field. It's no secret Sharper struggled playing in a Cover-2 defense during his final years with the Minnesota Vikings, plus he has openly admitted his disdain for the system on numerous occasions. Why would he want to sign with the Bears? On top of that, Sharper underwent offseason microfracture surgery, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, meaning the Bears would have had to take a medical risk on an older player. No thanks.
Q: You guys talk about the Bears needing a veteran wide receiver, but didn't Torry Holt join New England last month? He seemed like an obvious choice, and put up decent numbers for Jacksonville last year. -- Curtis, Nashville, Tenn.
A: The numbers (51-722-0) were decent for Holt in Jacksonville, but sometimes statistics can be deceiving. My ESPNChicago.com colleague Michael C. Wright used to cover the Jaguars, and chimed in with this scouting report from last season.
"The biggest number from last year was zero touchdowns. He's just not even close to being the guy he used to be. I mean, I respect the guy, because you'd watch him during the week in practice, and he could hardly run. But he always showed up on Sunday ready to play. But he also dropped a few easy balls right in his hands during games, which is weird for Torry Holt. Again, he's just not the same guy."
There you have it.
Q: I take offense to your players rankings posted on Monday. Zack Bowman in the top 10? Are you crazy? -- Don B., Harvard, Ill.
A:Hold on. Bowman was tied for fifth in the NFL with six interceptions, and to be perfectly honest, he also dropped at least two or three easy picks during the season. If Bowman makes those additional plays, are we having the same conversation? In his first full-year in the starting lineup, Bowman made 75 tackles and broke up six passes to go a long with the six INTs, which by the way, were one fewer than everybody else on the team combined (the Bears had 13 total interceptions in 2009). I'd say in terms of talent and importance to the team, Bowman should rank in the top 10. If he can stay healthy, the cornerback may be on the verge of having an even better season in 2010.
Q: Is Kevin Shaffer the front-runner to win the left guard spot? I thought he only okay for the Bears at tackle. -- Sherman, Sycamore, Ill.
A: I'm not sure if he's the front-runner, but I love the idea of Shaffer receiving an opportunity to earn playing time. Why not? If it doesn't work out, the eight-year veteran can backup Frank Omiyale at right tackle, or maybe win that job outright if Omiyale can't handle the assignment. It's not like Shaffer is hurting himself by skipping practice reps at tackle. He has played in the league for eight years, and started a total of 91 games (five for the Bears in 2009). He knows what he's doing. Plus, Shaffer's got some nice size (6 foot 5, 318 pounds), and the Bears made it a point to get bigger inside last season. I view this as a no-lose proposition for Shaffer and the Bears, and I'm eager to see how the competition at left guard unfolds during training camp.
Q: JD, I love the early reports on Major Wright. I watched this kid at Florida, and he's going to be a stud. Could he go down as the best third-round pick ever under Jerry Angelo? -- Rich, Tampa, Fla.
A: That would quite the accomplishment for Wright, because two of the better players taken by Angelo since 2002 were in the third round: Lance Briggs (2003) and Bernard Berrian (2004). However, in recent years, that round hasn't produced much of an immediate impact: Dusty Dvoracek (2006), Garrett Wolfe(2007), Michael Okwo (2007), Earl Bennett (2008), Marcus Harrison (2008), Jarron Gilbert (2009) and Juaquin Iglesias(2009). After doing little as a rookie, Bennett had a quality year last season, while Harrison just hasn't quite put it all together yet. I think there's a good chance Wright makes a bigger impact than any third-round selection since 2004, but whether or not he can reach the level of Briggs and Berrian remains to be seen.