The NFL Scouting Combine Comes to an End Today and Other Bullets

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The NFL Scouting Combine Comes to an End Today and Other Bullets

Chicago Bears

Because rumors, news, and transactions are expected to be flying furiously over the next few weeks, we’re going to try something new (that’s actually kind of old) by sharing Bullets in the morning. So hang with us during this brief experimental phase and we’ll see where it goes.

  • Monday marks the final day of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which has been equal parts entertaining and informative. I try not to put a ton of stock in glorified underwear Olympics, but it’s hard not to be impressed with some of these athletic accomplishments.
  • Today is the defensive backs’ time to shine, and considering the Bears’ needs at cornerback, we’ll need to watch this group closely to see if anyone separates from the pack. Chris Emma of CBS Chicago/670 The Score tweets the Bears have already met with the draft’s top two cornerback prospects in Ohio State’s Denzel Ward and Iowa’s Josh Jackson. Not only are both top-tier corners, but both have been mocked to go to the Bears with the eight pick at one point or another.
  • Good luck separating the two. Jackson has a size advantage, while Ward grades out higher in man-to-man coverage. Perhaps this could be some sort of tie-breaker:

  • An improved pass rush will make whomever is roaming the secondary look better. With that in mind, I found myself in awe of some of the raw combine numbers posted by top prospects this weekend. UTSA edge rusher Marcus Davenport has been busy since the college football season ended, having participated in the Senior Bowl and now the Combine – his second run in the 40-yard-dash checked in at 4.59 seconds. He has a first-round grade and had some top-10 hype before an inconsistent showing at the Senior Bowl. Houston Chronicle reporter John McClain caught up with Davenport at the Combine, where he compared himself to four stud defenders: Calais Campbell, Von Miller, JJ Watt, and Myles Garrett. That’s good company if you can live up to it.
  • For what it’s worth, these measurements for Davenport are legitimately impressive:

  • Whether it’s pass rush or pass defense, the Bears’ best option to find long-term solutions at both might come in the draft. Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner cobbles together a list of free agents teams would be wide to avoid this offseason, which includes Trumaine Johnson – a high-profile corner who has been given the franchise tag in each of the last two years but hasn’t quite played to that level. But based on GM Ryan Pace’s history, Johnson is the kind of big-bodied, physical cornerback the team targets in free agency. Of course, what happens with Kyle Fuller will likely dictate which direction the Bears go when it comes to addressing their cornerback issues.
  • Over at NBC Sports Chicago, John “Moon” Mullin takes a step back and provides a bigger picture look at the Bears’ cornerback situation. It’s a much-needed deep dive as we approach the franchise tag deadline that could decide Kyle Fuller’s future with the team. Mullin reports the Bears want Fuller back (they should, he was great last year) though the “aggressive” negotiations (as described by Pace last week) could mean different things for each side of the negotiating table.
  • Let the record show that the franchise tag deadline is Tuesday and only two players – Landry and Ezekiel Ansah – have been designated as franchise players. There are a handful of tag-worthy candidates, such as running back Le’Veon Bell (Steelers), defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (Rams) or teammate Lamarcus Joyner. The Vikings aren’t expected to give quarterback Case Keenum the franchise tag as they try to pursue Kirk Cousins, while the Panthers might extend the tag to kicker Graham Gano.
  • We’re still awaiting something on Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson, who says his ACL injury is no longer believed to be an issue. Robinson and the Jaguars have yet to publicly engage in contract talks, which means nothing is happening … or it’s all happening behind the scenes. Robinson could be tagged, though Jacksonville would need to clear space elsewhere to make sure they have room for a new deal for Robinson and money to upgrade other positions on the roster.
  • Whether it’s via the draft and free agency, the Bears are expected to aggressively attack the market in their search for improvement is wide receiver. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders whether how strongly the team should consider using the eighth overall pick on Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley. The Bears met with Ridley over the weekend and the Crimson Tide standout said all the right things publicly. Ridley is viewed as the draft’s best receiver prospect – “by a mile,” yet isn’t projected to be worthy of a top-10 pick. Jahns notes that NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock projects Ridley as “predominantly a slot receiver in the NFL” despite being rated as the highest-rated receiver on his draft board.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
  • One thing that could help boost the production of the Bears’ skill position players is improved offensive line play. That could all begin with the return of a healthy Kyle Long. Over at Pro Football Weekly, it was the Bears’ GM offering up a confident-sounding status update regarding the health of his three-time Pro Bowl lineman. “We feel good,” Pace said via PFW’s Bob LeGere. “Kyle is working hard. We feel good about his progress. That’s part of the equation.”
  • I’m no mathematician, but the equation that could add up to success for the Bears offense is improved line play + a developing Mitch Trubisky + upgrades at wide receiver = more yards and points. We could tweak the formula later if necessary
  • Because the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view, especially this time of year in the NFL, I guess we could say the Bears are TOTALLY trendsetters:

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.