The number of postseason showcase games has grown in recent years.
And with more games comes more opportunities for players to strut their stuff and make a positive impression ahead of the NFL Combine and draft day.
Yet, Greg Gabriel – who spent nine years as the Bears director of college scouting in a nearly 30-year scouting career – writes at Pro Football Weekly that the added showcase games and overwhelming number of underclassman early entries has watered down the evaluation pool.
In other words, because so many underclassmen continue to forgo their senior seasons and enter the draft, fewer well-rounded prospects have made their way into games like the Senior Bowl.
Even still, the Senior Bowl provides teams with the chance to meet with lesser-known talents and allows lesser-known talents to make a name for themselves. There’s value to be had there. Let’s round up the latest, after Day Three at the Senior Bowl.
- The Bears are using their time at the Senior Bowl wisely, as they try to get a close look at the game’s top quarterback prospects – even though it’s an admittedly weak class. At the Chicago Tribune, Brad Biggs focuses on two of those quarterback prospects, namely: Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman and Iowa’s C.J. Beathard. Both quarterbacks are on the North team and are being led by Bears Head Coach John Fox and Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains.
- Peterman, the QB out of Pittsburgh, came in for some praise heavy praise from quarterback coach Ken Mastrole (who happened to be with the Bears during training camp in 2002). Mastrole refrains from calling Peterman a “safe-pick,” but inches right up against that (Tribune): “He’s a guy you draft and he’s not going to be the guy you go, ‘Why is he on the roster?'” Mastrole said. “He has the ability to win games and not just be a guy out there to fill a void.”
- Beathard’s numbers, on the other hand, took a hit as a senior, but his 21-7 record with Iowa and his familiarity with running a pro-style offense will carry him a long way.
- All that said, Adam Hoge (WGN Radio) strongly implies what many believe to be true is in fact true: the Bears’ next franchise quarterback is probably not currently in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl. Hoge writes it is “easily the worst” class of quarterbacks he has seen in the four years he has covered the event. After three days, Peterman is still the best thing going in practices, followed by strong-armed Cal product Webb Davis, Tennessee signal caller Josh Dobbs, Colorado’s Sefo Liufau, Tiffin’s (Ohio) Antonio Pipkin, and Beathard.
- But even though the quarterbacks are leaving much to be desired, Chris Emma of CBS Chicago writes that Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is shining, and has has been the star of Senior Bowl week. He has a combination of size and athleticism that makes him an impact receiver and steady blocker. Emma can even envision a scenario in which the Bears can grab the fast-rising Howard with their 36th pick, but also one wherein the team would have to trade back into the back half of the first round to grab him.
- Watch John Fox wrap up Thursday’s practice with his North squad:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 27, 2017
- Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly has a notebook full of Senior Bowl nuggets. Among the highlights, he caught up with Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, who’ll be the type of player that can really use the Senior Bowl to put himself on the map (after having spent his college career at a smaller school). Even though he is playing for the Hue Jackson-led South team, the Bears would be wise to keep track of how Garcia performs this week.
- Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Bears are using their time at the Senior Bowl well, as they’ve continued to acquire the sort of insight that’ll help their rebuild process down the line – especially when the draft rolls around in April. Among the tidbits unearthed by Wiederer, we find some worthwhile quotes from Michigan defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow – who grew up as a Bears fan in DeKalb. Glasgow re-iterated the need for players to make good first impressions (both on and off the field) for coaches and front office executives who could be their future employers.
- On another local front, meet Jake Elliott: the kicker from Lyons Township high school, who kicked for the Memphis Tigers in college, and has his eyes on continuing his kicking career in the pros. While most of the attention has been paid to the skill position players at the Senior Bowl, Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly caught up with this standout special teams player.
- Injured Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly – the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly – wasn’t able to participate this week because of a knee injury. However, it did not stop him from addressing off-the-field concerns that could impact his draft stock. Kelly has arm talent and NFL bloodlines, but has been plagued by inconsistencies and off-field drama. He hopes to throw at the upcoming NFL Combine