Chicago Bears brass made it known that they were looking for a speedy wide receiver to stretch the defense, and to complement their current crop of wide outs. They addressed receiver in the 7th round of the NFL draft, but they also added a few undrafted free agents.
Today we'll talk with the Iowa State SB Nation site, Wide Right & Natty Lite, about former Cyclone and current Bears hopeful Josh Lenz.
Windy City Gridiron - Josh Lenz had only 101 receptions in four years at Iowa State, was that due more to the overall play of the Cyclones or just Lenz not contributing enough on the field?
Wide Right & Natty Lite - For as much of a physical specimen that Lenz appears to be he could have used a redshirt year after arriving in Ames. Lenz was brought into Ames in Paul Rhoads' first year and was an immediate starter on special teams but got by primarily on his speed and elusiveness. It felt like Lenz plateaued early and some of this is on the lack of a redshirt year, some of it is on how the staff failed to utilize him extensively, and then there is the unfortunate injury bug. Lenz was banged up at the end of 2011 and again in 2012 where he missed three games and recorded only one catch over a month in the middle of the season.
WCG - The Bears plan to use a variation of the West Coast offense in 2013 under new head coach Marc Trestman, which puts an emphasis on route running. How would you rate Lenz as a route runner?
WR&NL - Lenz is an above average route runner that excels at getting his man turned early and using his speed to get open. He has also excelled in identifying coverages and adjusting his routes accordingly, but was not always successful due to the weaknesses of Iowa State's quarterbacks. Lenz is not afraid to go over the middle to pick up tough yards and almost always finds the first down marker when it's necessary.
WCG - To say his pro day was impressive is an understatement. Did his 4.36 40 time flash while playing offense?
WR&NL - The 40 time for Lenz was the least surprising thing about his pro day. He has great straight ahead speed, and as evidenced by this video, pulls away from his man once he is past him. His first few steps are not the fastest but give him a lot of space to run in and he almost always finds a way to run away from his man.
From the above NFL.com link:
Josh Lenz, WR (5-11 1/4, 201) - Lenz ran the 40 in 4.37 and 4.36 seconds. He had a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-1 broad jump. He did the short shuttle in 4.20 seconds and the three-cone drill in 6.59 seconds. He is one of the few guys who ran the 60-yard shuttle in under 11 seconds (doing so in 10.88 seconds). He also had 21 strength lifts.
WCG - Was Lenz used more outside or in the slot?
WR&NL - As you see in the above video, Lenz was used both inside and outside during his time at Iowa State. From his freshman through junior years he was primarily an inside force that was sent on intermediate or deep routes over the middle or on bubble screens. When he became the #1 receiver this past fall he was shifted to the outside where his speed was more the emphasis. He can certainly play both positions effectively but I think his strength is going to be on the inside in the NFL and finding soft spots in the coverage.
WCG - Bottom line, did you think "NFL prospect" while watching Lenz play at Iowa State?
WR&NL - Quite honestly I did not see Lenz as a pro prospect during his time at Iowa State. A lot of that has to do with how he was used in the offense and he never became "the guy". Receivers like Jordy Nelson, Wes Welker, and Jordan Shipley were all focal points of their teams during college and were "do it all" type guys on both offense and special teams.
Lenz always seemed to have the potential to fill this role but never seemed to have all the pieces fit together at once. He was strong on special teams early in his career but eventually found himself battling injuries and playing wide receiver exclusively. However, Lenz has physically and mentally demonstrated that he has the tools to succeed in the NFL, and I certainly think he could fill a solid special teams role with the Bears this coming season.
Thanks again to the guys over at Wide Right & Natty Lite for helping us out!
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