NFL Combine Week was a whirlwind, especially as the time in Indianapolis set the groundwork for trade and free agent rumors. And because of that, it can be easy to look past the college prospects displaying their talents and athleticism in front of the adoring eyes of scouts, talent evaluators, and all sorts of front office types.
So let’s take some time to try and catch up on the week that was in the Bears’ world at the Combine.
Sorting through online reports (h/t Bear Report, Walter Football) and tweets, it turns out the Bears were quite busy at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here is a collection of the reported meetings (both formal and informal) the Bears reportedly had at the Combine:
- Bradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah
- “Jet” Anderson, RB, TCU
- Ben Bartch, OT, St. John’s
- K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
- Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
- Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
- Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
- Jonathan Greenard, EDGE, Florida
- Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
- La’Darius Hamilton, EDGE, North Texas
- Charlie Heck, G, North Carolina
- Matt Hennessy, C, Temple
- Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
- Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
- Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
- Logan Stenberg, G, Kentucky
- Gene Stone, S, Iowa
- Jabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida
The Bears are known to have met with a whopping 18 prospects at the Combine. Notably, the team met with six edge defenders, four offensive linemen, two receivers, two tight ends, two defensive backs, one running back, and one quarterback. Considering the Bears’ needs beyond the quarterback position, it should come as no surprise the team kicked the tires on as many prospects who do their work at the line of scrimmage as they did.
As for the lack of quarterback meetings, I am not surprised. GM Ryan Pace has kept a low profile during each of his significant quarterback searches. When it came to drafting Mitch Trubisky, Pace and the Bears kept it close to the vest. And their pursuit of Mike Glennon was one that was on the low. And I’m still not past how Jacob Eason declined comment when asked if he met with the Bears. Sounds like something someone would say when told not to tell anyone about a meeting.
(Michael: Plus, given what we know they’re looking for in a QB 1/2(ish), a prospect wouldn’t fit the mold).
A NOTABLE PROSPECT GETS HELD OUT
One of the most intriguing receiver prospects in this class is Van Jefferson. The Florida product is an acclaimed route-runner whose strengths include reading defenses and finding open areas. Reading up on Jefferson reminds me a bit of Allen Robinson, which is quite the coincidence because he and Robinson attended the same high school. That’s wild.
Unfortunately, Jefferson wasn’t able to participate in Combine workouts because of a fractured right foot that will sideline him for 6-8 weeks after surgery. That injury and timetable will keep him from participating at Florida’s Pro Day. But at least a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and some quality Combine interviews will help his stock.
QUARTERBACK STOCKS ON THE RISE
The Combine was made for someone like Utah State prospect Jordan Love – there’s no better place to show off your best attributes when they include arm strength and raw athletic gifts.
The love for Love was apparent:
From NFL Now: The Jordan Love, um, love is real at the Combine. pic.twitter.com/nJwZpkJCrf
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 28, 2020
Love unleashed some beautiful deep balls and impressed with his testing.
Jacob Eason was shown to be throwing heat:
Washington QB Jacob Eason reached a throwing velocity of 62 mph at the NFL Combine yesterday. Since 2008 (when the stat started being tracked) only Josh Allen, the #7 pick in 2018, has thrown 62mph.
— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) February 28, 2020
Mike Tanier (Bleacher Report) had an interesting assessment of Eason and Florida International prospect James Morgan, which were conveniently tied together.
“Morgan, like Eason, is a fastball hurler who can look great in shorts but will whiz the ball into traffic from a collapsing pocket.”
That a potential first-round prospect (Eason) is being compared to a projected Day 3 QB (Morgan) might scare some, but those words go a long way toward explaining how difficult it is to pin the tail on the ideal prospect. At a minimum, both did well enough to get expanded looks from teams in search of quarterbacks.
NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly chimed in with his quarterback evaluations:
— Charley Casserly (@CharleyCasserly) March 3, 2020
FROMM’S STOCK APPEARS TO TAKE A TUMBLE
PFF’s Kevin Cole did not mince words in his post highlighting the analytical winners and losers at the Combine when he wrote that Georgia’s Jake Fromm was “probably the biggest Combine disappointment” among quarterbacks. Yikes!
Fromm did not test well at the Combine, but that wasn’t unexpected. Freakish athleticism isn’t what got him a three-year starting gig at UGA. Instead, it was his accuracy, processing, and guile that has taken him to this point. Unfortunately, none of that stuff plays up at the glorified underwear olympics that the Combine has become. And to complicate matters, Fromm’s accuracy was inconsistent in drills, as he appeared to be overcompensating for a lack of arm strength. That’s a less than ideal way to go about impressing folks at the Combine, especially when a strong showing could have propelled his prospect status.
To be clear, all is not lost for Fromm. He could circle the wagons between now and Georgia’s Pro Day, then show off his skills in that environment. As things stand, Fromm is still a projected Day 2 pick, though I have doubts about him as a top-50 prospect.