Linemen and Receivers Are All the Rage at the Senior Bowl

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Linemen and Receivers Are All the Rage at the Senior Bowl (You Seeing This, Bears?)

Chicago Bears

Down at the Senior Bowl, the Chicago Bears are well-represented.

GM Ryan Poles, Assistant GM Ian Cunningham, and Head Coach Matt Eberflus have been spotted. Same for receiver Velus Jones Jr., who was a Senior Bowl participant last year. And let’s not forget there is already a crew of Chicago assistants coaching in the game. Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy, Assistant Tight Ends Coach Tim Betts, and Assistant Special Teams Coach Carlos Polk are getting a first-hand look at some of college football’s top seniors. It’s a good group. And one I’m glad is out in full force in Mobile.

I’m excited about the possibilities that could come from this experience. It can’t go worse than when John Fox and his staff were there in 2017.

It Starts in the Trenches

A tweet like this warms my heart:

  • Rebuild those lines, please!
  • And I don’t mean a patch-work job either. I’m talking about draft, develop, and create an impenetrable force of blockers in front of Justin Fields, Khalil Herbert, and anyone else who has the ball for the Bears:
  • It felt like Poles drafted more offensive linemen in one year than Ryan Pace did during his tenure as Bears GM. I’d be down for an encore performance.

Cody Mauch Continues to Shine

  • Of course Cody Mauch keeps on making a strong first impression:
  • “North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch is about to become your favorite Senior Bowl prospect” is a thing I wrote the other day. Mauch has an “it” factor going for him. We’ll continue monitoring his progress with great interest.
  • I hope Mauch’s experience with “speed dating” at the Senior Bowl was better than my experience with it during my college years:

I Can’t Get Enough of Dawand Jones

Another offensive line prospect whose status is blowing up is Ohio State’s Dawand Jones. Go ahead. Put his name in a Twitter search and see what you come up with. It’ll look something like this:

  • Sam Mustipher’s 63.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus ranked 18th among the 38 centers who were qualifiers for the leaderboard. But his 55.1 pass-blocking grade was the seventh-worst at the position. And if the Bears want to upgrade their protection plans, maybe attacking the interior of the line is a way to go. If the Bears go after a new center in the draft, perhaps Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz should be on their radar:
  • And, as it turns out, at least Bears OC Luke Getsy had eyes on him:
  • The quickest way to get from one point to another is via a straight line. Therefore, the quickest way to get to the QB is by rushing hard from up the middle. It’s almost as if bolstering the interior line spots should be a priority for these Bears this offseason.

Receivers Running Wild

Every Senior Bowl I can ever remember following has had at least one standout receiver who went on to do notable things in the NFL. Maybe this year it will be Jayden Reed. And perhaps it will be with the Bears. It sure sounds like he’d want to ball out with Justin Fields:

  • Reed is a receiver/return specialist who played collegiately at Western Michigan (2018) and Michigan State (2019-22). A Naperville Central product and area native, Reed earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2021 and 2022. In 2021, the American Football Coaches Associated put Reed on their All-American team as an all-purpose player. Reed had 53 catches for 946 yards and 8 touchdowns to go along with 376 kick return yards and 213 punt return yards that season. I’ll always have an affinity for do-it-all players, so Reed is jumping on my early list of favorite prospects.
  • So is SMU’s Rashee Rice:
  • Rice followed a productive junior season in which he was named honorable mention All-AAC by going above and beyond as a senior. Earning first-team all-conference honors after sagging 96 receptions, 1,355 yards, and 10 touchdowns is a heckuva way to close out your college career. The Bears are a receiver-needy team with multiple Day 2 selections. Perhaps there is a fit here.

“I was studying all night and all morning,” he said. “I didn’t put the playbook down. I was like, I can’t take a nap. I had to get these plays down. I didn’t want to come out here and be like the guy who didn’t know what (he was) doing. Everyone out here is competing for jobs, and I didn’t want to be unprepared and look foolish.”

Hey, How about some Tight End Love?

If there aren’t receivers in play at certain spots the Bears are scheduled to pick, then I’d prefer they seek alternative pass-catchers instead of ignoring the need to upgrade in that area with young, up-and-coming prospects altogether. With that in mind, some of these tight end options intrigue me:

  • Cole Kmet deserves an extension. And there are free-agent tight ends who pique my interest as possible Bears targets. But if they don’t go that route, I wouldn’t be upset if they drafted a tight end with eyes on finding unique alternatives to building a room of competent pass-catching options. This appears to be a solid class of draft-eligible tight ends. Maybe this is an area Poles and his scouts can exploit.

Odds & Ends

  • This is a fun tweet to see:
  • Surely, some teams will see this and put Getsy on a head coach watch list. Don’t mind me. I’m just bracing for the possible inevitability of a Bears play caller getting snatched by another team because they see the amazing development in Justin Fields’ game.
  • We’ve spent an awful lot of time discussing offensive line options (and rightfully so, mind you). But the Trib’s Brad Biggs sees Georgia Tech DL Keion White as someone on the other side of the trenches who the Bears could have interest in on draft weekend:
  • I’m very much into what Nicholas Moreano (CHGO) had to say about Houston receiver Nathaniel Dell: “Let’s start with Dell. He is only 5-foot-8, 163 pounds. But, man, he is smooth with his routes and knows how to create separation. Defensive backs had a hard time covering Dell all practice.” You just love to see that, particularly if you’re a fan of a team that desperately needs receiver help.
  • Love it when receiver prospects from non-power conference schools pop up on my radar because of Senior Bowl. Because, when it boils down to it, that is one of the things that makes Senior Bowl Week special. It so often provides us the opportunity to see someone we otherwise wouldn’t have been on our scopes.

Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan is 100% a left tackle. He looked fantastic on the left side all day, but on the right side, he wasn’t great. He quickly lost a rep to Army’s Andre Carter on the right side in team drills, but on the left he barely lost. He’s light at 298 pounds, but he’s a smooth pass protector. If a team can fill out that frame without losing any foot quickness, watch out.

  • Another possible fit as a tight end tag team partner for Kmet:

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.