Surprise! I’m leaving this morning on a train for St. Louis to watch my beloved Salukis play basketball. Hope the Dawgs make it worth my while.
• PFF, Jordan Reid and others (ESPN), Chad Reuter (NFL) and Jacob Infante (WCG) are among those with roundups of Thursday’s action at the Combine. But there were no bigger winners than those who were beating stopwatches at dizzying rates:
Official WR 40-yard dash times:
4.28 Tyquan Thornton
4.31 Velus Jones
4.32 Calvin Austin
4.33 Alec Pierce, Danny Gray
4.34 Bo Melton
4.36 Christian Watson
4.38 Garrett Wilson
4.39 Chris Olave
4.41 Skyy Moore
4.42 Isaiah Weston
4.43 Jahan Dotson, Khalil Shakir, Kevin Austin Jr.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 4, 2022
• ESPN’s Jeff Legwold notes that eight receivers ran sub-4.4 times in the 40-yard dash. I did not know humans could move this quickly and look so good while doing so. It turns out you can teach speed. Who knew?
• I often find myself reminding myself (and others) not to fall too much in love with a prospect due to what happens at what is widely referred to as the Underwear Olympics. Be wary of falling into the trap of going too hard one way or the other based solely on timed speed, bench press reps, or anything else along those lines. Bears fans have seen athletic freaks whose testing doesn’t result in football excellence so often that we don’t need a rundown of those names.
• David Bell could be a possible Bears draft-weekend target after a solid pass-catching career at Purdue. Unfortunately (?) he ran the 40-yard dash in a disappointing 4.62 seconds. This will ding him in the eyes of some. Perhaps this sub-optimal 40-time puts Bell squarely in Chicago’s draft plans where a stronger time might’ve put him out of reach. It is probably too early to give a firm draft prediction right now, but this is where consensus building tends to begin.
• For what it’s worth, whatever Bell was lacking in raw speed he made up for in patch-casting prowess in this drill:
— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) March 4, 2022
• On the other end of the spectrum, I think Chris Olave (even after the adjustment in the 40-time) is testing just out of the Bears’ range:
Ohio State WR Chris Olave ran a 4.26u in the 40 😳
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 4, 2022
• Like Olave, Bell seems down to link up with Justin Fields. Can’t say I blame either:
Purdue WR David Bell says he has not met yet with the #Bears. But did say it would be intriguing to play with a young quarterback like Justin Fields. Went on to say that he’s watched Fields a lot before while he was at Ohio State.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) March 2, 2022
• As a reminder, just because a team doesn’t meet with a player right away doesn’t mean they won’t. And it certainly doesn’t mean they won’t draft him. Just keep that as some perspective as we move through the pre-draft process.
• The Combine isn’t everything some folks make it out to be, but it does provide opportunities to learn about new players who weren’t previously on our radar. Take for example this receiver:
Keep your eyes out for this guy.
— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2022
• Bears scout Breck Ackley was one of 10 NFL scouts given the BART Award at the Combine, which recognizes the league’s best scouts. Say what you want about the front office’s former regime. But there is no denying the scouting talent at other levels of the organization. Here’s hoping Ryan Poles finds a way to keep some continuity by retaining some of the team’s best and brightest.
• Good timing: Colleen Kane (Tribune) unearths this quote from Poles where he shares his love for this current scouting staff:
“The meetings were incredible, and before we broke, I told them all how proud I was. Because as a new GM you come in, you’re like, ‘All right, you’re evaluating them, you’re evaluating the evaluators.’ At the end of it, the thing that stood out to me is there’s a group of really, really good people that worked really hard this fall to gather the information.
• Admittedly, some of this could be be a front. Unlike other NFL gigs, scout contracts run through the draft. Meaning that Poles could be public with his praise as a motivational tool. However, if anyone knows about how scouts can thrive despite change at the top, it is Poles — who worked for three different regimes in Kansas City.
• You know who else had 8.5-inch hands? Rex Grossman, who has as many NFC Championship Game wins as Aaron Rodgers. People forget that:
You know who else had 8.5-inch hands?
Rex Grossman, who has as many NFC Championship Game victories as Aaron Rodgers. https://t.co/sWrSprzvua
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 3, 2022
• The Bears aren’t in the market for a quarterback. But if they were, Malik Willis would be at the top of my list:
— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2022
• Want some positive vibes heading into the weekend? Jason Lieser (Sun-Times) believes Matt Eberflus is already off to a better start than his predecessor, whose first name is also Matt.
• Celebrating Chicago’s birthday with a favorite moment at an iconic city building:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 4, 2022
• Before taking a bad loss, the Bulls were given some good news:
DeMar DeRozan Has Been Named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month!https://t.co/87Pc201oNw
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) March 3, 2022
• Hate it when a guy plays so well that he plays his way out of town:
Dylan Strome snatches a puck out of mid-air and finds Patrick Kane for the one-timer and the lead late in the first period.
I wrote about Dylan Strome earlier, and how his recent play might have him on his way out of town: https://t.co/QValqp3z2N
— Patrick K. Flowers (@PatrickKFlowers) March 4, 2022
• No big leaguers? No problem. Let’s turn our attention to prospect watch:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 3, 2022