I enjoy prospect meeting season more than anyone should. It’s not as if these meetings are tipping the hands of secret organizational plans. But they are a sign of a team doing its due diligence, exploring what’s out there, and gathering information on the fact-finding journey that is the lead-up to the NFL Draft.
But in some cases, a team meeting a player sparks a stray thought in my head. This is one of those cases:
Texas DL Ta’Quon Graham tells me he has had multiple meetings with the #Bears.
Graham’s former head coach, Tom Herman, is in Chicago as an offensive analyst. He calls Herman an “offensive genius” and is definitely open to a reunion between them in the NFL.
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) April 13, 2021
Texas defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham reportedly says he has had multiple meetings with the Bears. Okay, I’m listening.
Graham projects to be a late-round defensive lineman. Perhaps someone who grows as a rotational player (think someone in the mold of Bilal Nichols). Considering how well that is going, I don’t think Bears fans would mind another spin at the wheel with a player of that caliber. Even still … on its own, the Bears having multiple meetings with Graham isn’t something you’d THINK was worth writing home about. Except maybe it is ….
The connection to Tom Herman piques my interest. It’s not necessarily because Herman coached Graham at Texas. And it’s not as if my intrigue is rooted in Graham calling his former coach an “offensive genius” either. Ultimately, I see the Bears hiring Herman as an opportunity to see into this crop of college prospect through a different lens.
Herman is only months into holding the title of Bears Offensive Analyst/Special Projects. It’s a vague title that doesn’t give us much insight as to what he will do for this team. But Herman was previously the Texas Longhorns’ head coach, which is quite convenient as we race toward the NFL Draft on April 29. In part, because Herman has hands-on coaching experience with prospects such as edge rusher Joseph Ossai, offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi, quarterback Sam Ehlinger, safety Caden Sterns, and other draft-eligible prospects who played their college ball in Austin. Beyond that, Herman has seen plenty of top prospects on the other sideline. And more importantly, Herman — as a coach in the Big 12 — has put eyes on prospects the Bears should be considering drafting.
For instance, it’s no secret Chicago needs offensive line help. The Big 12 was showcasing prospects such as Cosmi, Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State) and Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma). Secondary concerns should be a primary focus for the Bears at some point on Draft weekend. So with that in mind, it might be helpful to have Herman around to pick his brain. Surely, the former Texas coach has thoughts on TCU safeties Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington. And as an offensive guy, it’s possible Herman has some insight into receiver Tylan Wallace. Maybe there’s a deep sleeper who isn’t on our radar, but happens to be in Herman’s sights. This is why you make outside-of-the-box hires to improve each offseason.
None of this is to say that Chicago should draft a Big 12 standout just because Herman likes the prospect. But adding another layer to the analysis process could make for a more thorough collection of information. And if that’s something that helps the Bears make better decisions on draft weekend, then by all means, start picking away at the new guy’s brain. In fact, that process should’ve began a while ago ….