The importance of this year's NFL Scouting Combine at Indianapolis is diminished somewhat for the Bears because they aren't scheduled to make a draft pick until the third round.
Among the 329 players invited, however, are a number of locals who will attract league-wide attention.
Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, a Crystal Lake native who starred at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, is a first-round lock and could go in the top 12 picks.
The 6-foot-6, 311-pound Bulaga is among a group of elite tackles this year, four of whom could be off the board by the middle of the first round.
"Bulaga is quick enough to prevent edge rushers from turning the corner and shows excellent balance when forced to change directions quickly," according to Scouts Inc. "Bulaga also has the frame, strength and toughness to develop into an effective drive blocker."
Illinois wide receiver Aurrelious Benn also is expected to be selected in the first round.
Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour, a Downers Grove native who played at Benet Academy High School in Lisle, is a solid third-round pick who could easily sneak into the second round with an impressive showing this week, although he won't throw until his pro day next month.
LeFevour is big (6-3, 230), athletic and productive.
He is the only player in NCAA history to pass for at least 12,000 yards and rush for at least 2,500 yards in a career. His career total of 15,853 yards of total offense (12,905 passing, 2,948 rushing) ranks second in Bowl Subdivision history.
LeFevour accounted for 150 career touchdowns (102 passing, 47 rushing, 1 receiving), the most for any player in Bowl Subdivision history.
He holds Mid-American Conference career records for total offense, passing yards, touchdown passes, completions (1,171) and attempts (1,763).
According to ESPN draft expert Todd McShay: "LeFevour is the fastest-rising quarterback on the board right now, and plenty of teams consider him a second-round possibility because of his athleticism, passing skills and production at the college level.
"We still give him a late third- or early fourth-round grade, but the combine is definitely a chance for LeFevour to solidify himself as the leader of that second tier of quarterbacks behind (Oklahoma's Sam) Bradford and (Notre Dame's Jimmy) Clausen.
ESPN's Mel Kiper believes LeFevour already is a second-round talent.
"He certainly could be a possibility for someone in Round 2," Kiper said. "He's an incredibly smart kid. You keep hearing how vital that trait is at the next level, and LeFevour will be outstanding in terms of film study and game prep.
"He reminds me of Chad Pennington. LeFevour isn't really strong-armed, while Pennington was extraordinarily accurate, but the kid has the same kind of intangibles. LeFevour also matches him in terms of intelligence."
Some mock drafts have Clausen being picked in the top 10. Kiper has him going fourth overall, while others have him sliding into the second round.
Clausen will not throw or work out in Indianapolis because of postseason foot surgery, but he will interview with NFL teams and go through the obligatory medical evaluations, which are sometimes as important as the physical work at the combine. Clausen intends to throw at Notre Dame's pro day in early April.
Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate, Clausen's favorite target, is projected to go somewhere in the second round, and Northwestern 6-6, 270-pound defensive end Corey Wootton is projected to be a second- or third-round pick.
So is Illinois guard Jon Asamoah, who has been ranked between No. 3 and No. 5 among the draft-eligible guards. Asamoah, who is from south suburban Park Forest and played at Rich East High School, is a player who will draw interest from the Bears, especially if they decide to move Frank Omiyale back to tackle after he started at left guard last year.
Local players at the combine
OG Jon Asamoah, Illinois (Rich East)
WR Aurrelious Benn, Illinois
OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa (Marian Central)
QB Jimmy Clausen Notre Dame
QB Michael Kafka, Northwestern (St. Rita)
QB Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan (Benet Academy)
SS Kyle McCarthy, Notre Dame
CB Sherrick McManis, Northwestern
C Eric Olsen, Notre Dame
P Scott Ravanesi, Southern Illinois
WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame
DE Corey Wootton, Northwestern
OT Sam Young, Notre Dame