Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy are scheduled to speak to the media gathered at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday. And while I don’t expect them to share their full offseason plans, there’s a good chance they’ll offer up something of substance that we can chew on.
Until then, let’s dig into some prospect stuff.
- Jeff Dickerson (ESPN) dives into a handful of prospects to keep an eye on from a Bears perspective as Combine Week kicks off. Naturally, each plays a position of need and could conceivably be selected by the Bears at some point in the upcoming NFL Draft. Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet is ESPN’s top-rated tight end, but might slide into the second round. K.J. Hamler was a stand-out receiver and returner at Penn State, and the Bears could use this speedster on the outside or in the slot. Alabama’s Shyheim Carter is a defensive back prospect who’s easy to envision lining up alongside fellow Crimson Tide product Eddie Jackson in the secondary. John Simpson is ESPN’s highest-rated guard in this draft class after starting 29 games at Clemson. It would be neat if the Bears could land a starting-caliber offensive lineman in the second round, but that developmental curve can be a tough one. As we learned with James Daniels, sometimes even the best interior line prospects need time to get pro ready.
- The inclusion of Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts is intriguing. Hurts isn’t getting much draft buzz, and both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have put fourth-round grades on the 2019 Heisman finalist. But Hurts has a winning pedigree and showed his smarts by picking up Lincoln Riley’s offense without a problem. He isn’t the perfect prospect, but overlooking Hurts because he might not fit (what might be considered a narrow viewpoint of) what an ideal developmental quarterback looks like would be foolish.
- You already knew this, but the SEC is loaded:
2020 NFL Combine invites:
Big Ten: 57
Big 12: 29
Sun Belt: 7 pic.twitter.com/dbwiP8rU2E
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 24, 2020
- Tony Pauline (Pro Football Network) lists tight ends, “speed” receivers, defensive backs, and linebackers as position groups the Bears are expected to focus on this draft season. There’s no better place to check them out than at the Combine!
- Daniel Jeremiah (NFL Network) has a newly minted top-50 prospect rankings. These have been updated since his first batch, which included six quarterbacks. The updated big board sees Washington’s Jacob Eason as the one quarterback who drops out of the top-50. Meanwhile, Georgia’s Jake Fromm is hanging on to that No. 50 spot. My favorite line in Jeremiah’s write-up of fFromm is “he throws a very catchable ball.” That seems like a good thing to have in your arsenal as a quarterback prospect.
- As for Eason, a recent Pro Football Focus mock sends him to Chicago. Unsurprisingly, PFF views the Bears as the type of team that could go after a quarterback prospect with some upside. It leads to an interesting discussion, which you can take in below:
— PFF (@PFF) February 11, 2020
- I feel as if PFFs analysts are asking the wrong questions here. We shouldn’t be asking if Eason can start over Mitch Trubisky right now, because a prospect as flawed as Eason probably isn’t beating anyone out in a training camp competition. Heck, these guys aren’t even sure if Eason is much of an upgrade. But one thing I feel as if we can all agree on is that the Bears need to take some swings at getting the position right in the draft in order to safe-guard itself in case Trubisky doesn’t right the ship.
- My gut tells me we’ll hear more about Eason as the build up toward the draft rolls on. Remember, he was an elite prospect coming out of high school, but eventually transferred out of Georgia after losing his gig to Jake Fromm (another draft-eligible quarterback to keep an eye on in the pre-draft process). With his frame (6-6, 227 pounds), arm talent, and prospect pedigree, NFL executives are going to be intrigued by the untapped potential. It might not be enough for them to roll the dice on using a first-round pick on Eason, but that he has been in the first-round conversation in some circles is worth jotting down for future reference.
- Eric Eager (PFF) offers up Anthony Gordon as an under-the-radar quarterback prospect who could be a quality option for the right team.
- Chad Reuter (NFL.com) has a new three-round mock draft, and this one features trades. Part of me was bummed that the Bears weren’t one of the teams Reuter projected to move up to snag a guy, but part of me believes they should be looking to move down and collect draft assets to bolster their draft class. Reuter has three quarterbacks going in the first four picks and five going in the first round. The aforementioned Eason is mocked to go to the Colts at No. 13, while Utah State’s Jordan Love is plucked by the Panthers with the 23rd pick after a projected trade with the Patriots. The Bears don’t have a first-round pick, but that isn’t going to keep me from enjoying possible movement around the board.
- As for Chicago’s picks, Reuter mocks some familiar names to go to the Bears. With the 43rd pick, Reuter has the tam selecting LSU guard Damien Lewis. Flanking Pro Bowl center Cody Whitehair with a pair of young guards could do wonders toward solidifying the middle of the offensive line. I like it, in theory, though I’m not sure I want to be around Bears Twitter if Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins is passed up. And with the 50th pick, Reuter has Chicago going with salty Kyle Dugger, who we discussed as having met with the team during Senior Bowl week. Don’t look past Dugger as if he was just another Division II prospect. The Lenoir-Rhyne safety has the look of a versatile playmaker, who could grow while playing along side Eddie Jackson. Dugger has talked about what an honor it would be to play with Jackson, Khalil Mack, and the rest of the star-studded Bears defense. Wouldn’t it be something if he got a chance to play along?
- The developmental curve for offensive lineman is a challenge:
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 24, 2020
- Draft Wire has a list of prospects who should light up the Combine. That’s fine and dandy. And there’s a decent chance the Bears won’t be in position to draft any of these prospects, as a strong Combine showing could catapult them into the upper reaches of the first round. But remember that there is more to the Combine than how fast a prospect can run the 40, how much they can lift, and how high they can jump.
- In search of a receiver prospect? There should be plenty to choose from:
I was actually surprised at how few WRs got early-round grades from me. I think I'm gonna have a lot more 4th-round guys than 1st-3rd guys. Still a deep class, but the depth is different than I originally anticipated. https://t.co/s9rNSFxi5q
— Luke Easterling (@LukeEasterling) February 23, 2020