The first set of college football all-star games will take place tomorrow and we’ll have our eyes on potential standouts who could jump onto the Bears radar. And don’t you dare overlook the East-West Shrine Game or the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. They’ve been playing the East-West Shrine Game since 1925 and last year, it featured Bilal Nichols. As for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, one of the teams will be coached by new Bears DC Chuck Pagano (with an assist from Ed Reed), and we’re only two years removed from a guy named Tarik Cohen participating in that one. I hear he’s quite popular now.
With that in mind, let’s highlight some potential targets worth keeping an eye on:
EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME
Matt Gay, kicker, Utah – A two-time first-team All-Pac-12 kicker, Gay was a consensus All-American in 2017 and the Lou Groza award winner for being the nation’s best kicker. Gay made all 85 extra-point attempts during his two seasons at Utah and connected on 86.2 percent (56 of 65) of his tries.
Paul Adams, offensive tackle, Missouri – A two-time captain for the Tigers, Adams is a three-year starter at right tackle who helped lead one of the nation’s top rushing attacks. At 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, Adams looks the part of an NFL right tackle. Considering the Bears’ needs at the position, Adams could be worth keeping notes on.
Michael Jackson Sr., cornerback, Miami (Fla.) – The U has been developing NFL-caliber defensive backs for as long as I have been alive, so I’m definitely intrigued by someone like Jackson. He was second-team All-ACC in 2017 and earned honorable mention honors in 2018. Coming out of high school, Scout.com ranked Jackson as the No. 1 cornerback in the state of Alabama and Rivals.com had him pegged as a four-star recruit. There could be some untapped potential here.
Also, worth noting:
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) January 16, 2019
NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL
John Santiago, running back, North Dakota – Height doesn’t measure heart, which is one reason Santiago has our attention. He will also be on the Pagano-coached team, which means the Bears will technically get a good look at a potential draft sleeper. Santiago was a three-time All-American who led FCS players with 1,780 all-purpose yards in 2017 and has extensive experience as a return specialist. Being 5-9 and weighing 187 might make Santiago fly under some radars, but not ours.
Kyle Shurmur, quarterback, Vanderbilt – A coach’s kid who played in the SEC with a big enough brain to go to Vandy … what’s not to love? Shurmur threw for 3,130 yards, 24 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. Sure, the Bears are committed to Mitch Trubisky as their quarterback – and with good reason. But there is nothing wrong with looking at a potential developmental project with upside. We have seen the Patriots turn those guys into draft picks over the years and it’s a blueprint the Bears might be wise to follow.