The NFL Scouting Combine – rightly or wrongly – will cause the stock of some draft prospects to rise, and others to fall. Because of that, it’s important to round up some thoughts on football’s best prospects before the Combine kicks off, forming a bit of a baseline.
And that is precisely what Matt Miller did with his pre-Combine big board over at Bleacher Report.
Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is Miller’s second-highest-ranked player, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward is listed eighth, Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds checks in at No. 10, and Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley pops up as the 15th-rated prospect on the big board. All four have often been connected to the Chicago Bears during mock draft season. But that’s not the only thing tying them together.
Miller has Nelson, Ward, Edmunds, and Ridley as the No. 1 and the most NFL-ready prospects at their respective positions.
Considering the Bears’ needs along the offensive line, at cornerback, linebacker (both inside and out), and receiver, it’s probably no coincidence that the team would have its eyes on adding an impact talent who projects to be an immediate contributor. Further, Miller ranks each player as the best prospect in at least one important skills-related category.
For example, Miller has Ward as the best man coverage corner and sees Ridley as the best route-runner with the best hands. Miller also views Edmunds as the biggest riser and as the linebacker with the best potential as his draft stock continues to climb, while also listing him as the best linebacker in pass coverage.
And then there is Nelson, who Miller ranks as the best run-blocker and pass-blocker, as well as having the best potential to go along with being the most NFL-ready. In case you were wondering, that’s probably how Nelson came to be a top-5 prospect despite playing guard.
Using Miller’s pre-Combine player rankings along with the knowledge that four quarterbacks could be taken before the Bears go on the clock (Chris Trapasso’s latest mock projects Baker Mayfield (1st), Josh Allen (2nd), Sam Darnold (4th), and Josh Rosen (5th) all being taken before the Bears pick) then Chicago has a really good chance of winding up with one of with one of the four players listed above.
Put differently, if things break the way they’re more or less projected, the Bears should end up with someone who’s at least considered to be the best at his position.
That’s not usually something you can say when you’re picking eighth overall. And if things play out this way, the decision to draft a quarterback last season will seem all the wiser.