As the workout portion of the 2018 version of the NFL’s scouting combine starts out in Indianapolis Indiana today I’m going to recap some of the events that have happened that may impact the draft and may impact the draft from the Chicago Bears perspective in particular.
One such incident that occurred that may or may not impact the Bears is the likely pectoral tear to perhaps the drafts top center prospects Ohio State’s Billy Price during the bench press portion of the workouts. Most have him going in the bottom part of the first round of draft to the top half of the second round. That may push him further down now and possibly even day 3. This could impact the Bears as they may be able to draft Price at an incredible value slot. It also impacts the Bears as another player they may have eyes for gets pushed up the board and perhaps even out of their reach.
I would like to kind of journey back to yesterday where all of you have certainly either heard or read the comments from both Ryan Pace’s press conference as well as Matt Nagy’s from the Scouting Combine. There were some interesting things said that I would like to give my take on. Number one take is that there appears to be a little more emphasis on transparency. Partially because there is a certain amount of repair that needs to be done between the franchise and the fanbase after four pretty horrendous seasons in a row three of which were under Pace’s watch. We’ll see how that goes as we move along and some tough moments occur. Then we’ll see how willing they’ll be to own up to things and speak frankly on them.
The second thing that caught my attention was Pace basically saying that Cody Whitehair’s position is not yet set. Pace mentioned his versatility as being a tool they’ll definitely use if it benefits the team to do so. That means if they find a bargain in free agency that plays Center like Zack Fulton for example then it’s likely Whitehair will move to the next position of need. That goes for if they see a Center prospect in the draft they feel can step in right out of college and man the position. He did not specifically mention Guard either so that may include Right Tackle should they be confident enough in Jordan Morgan’s progress to insert him in at Left or Right guard. They also have super swing guard Eric Kush under contract who can slot in at guard very easily. They could also go with an internal solution like starting Hroniss Grasu at Center. Stay Tuned.
The second thing that caught my attention was the way Pace spoke of the collaboration of the offensive staff as well as the open-mindedness of Nagy. His being open to suggestions from his staff that gives the Bears a chance to blend many different influences to create an offense no one in the league can prepare for could prove beneficial. This could give the Bears a decided advantage over their opponents at least in the first half of the season and in individual games before they have a chance to adjust. This could create leads for the Bears to play with for a change and give their defense a chance to be more aggressive perhaps leading to more turnovers which have plagued this defense with its inability to get enough of.
The other interesting thing coming from Pace’s presser was the fact he mentioned how aggressive negotiations were going with Kyle Fuller. This tells me that they definitely prefer to get a deal done rather than slapping a tag on Fuller. So that also tells me they are satisfied with both Fuller’s abilities and his dedication. This could play out in a variety of ways. The Bears may have a set number of what they feel he’s worth and if Fuller feels it’s below his value he may not choose to sign a deal either forcing the Bears to tag him or letting him test the market. Should the latter play out it’s very possible Fuller gets a contract offer the Bears are unwilling to match and risk losing him creating yet another position of extreme need. It can also work to their advantage as Fuller may not get that giant deal he is looking for and thus giving the Bears a chance to sign him to a deal they had in mind all along after Fuller essentially set his own market price. However, a reliable media member Adam Hoge of WGN reported on his Sports Central show that a source told him the franchise tag is still a real possibility.
Also, both Pace and Nagy gave you a little profile of the type of Wide Receivers they want. When asked by a media member about the type of traits the Bears would be looking for in a Wide Receiver and after contemplating it for a few seconds Pace replied that football IQ would be a trait that would be coveted as the offense will have multiple options in them. Nagy reiterated the sentiment when asked what he looks for in receivers at the combine. Here was his reply.
“I like looking for guys that are just natural receivers, guys that know how to play football. It’s easy to get caught up in some of the other stuff, but at the same time that’s why we’re here. That can maybe move a guy because of a 40 time … It might move a guy because of another test that he has.
For me, it’s nice to be able to be in the interview process, get to see how they are as people. What’s their intel? How well do they reciprocate what you talk about? How do they recite what you say? Then you kind of get an evaluation of that. I’ll tell you, last year at this time, we had Mitchell. Again, he was quiet and introverted and scripted. And then we were fortunate enough to get him for six, seven hours afterward, and then we got to see the real Mitchell. So you’ve got to be careful with how much stock you put into these interviews.”
So expect to see a heavy dose of option routes in the Bears offense.
Speaking of Wide receivers Bears would like to get, Kansas City’s General Manager Brett Veach basically let the cat out of the bag that Albert Wilson will likely be a Chicago Bear. When asked if Wilson would leave the team in free agency Veach replied, “Well, Matt’s in Chicago.” Veach and Nagy are very good friends going all the way back to their relationship in Philadelphia. Sounds like they’ve talked about this beforehand.
Some people have automatically assumed this would mean Kendall Wright’s a goner and likely headed to Miami to play under Dowell Loggains but not so fast. Nagy and Pace have pretty much said their offense will be filled with option routes and Wright is very good with these routes and has a very high football IQ a trait Pace mentioned specifically as a need for the Wide receivers they will acquire. So expect them to make a run at resigning Wright as well as acquiring Wilson.
Today marked the start of workouts as the bench press was the featured event of the day beginning with Running backs and Offensive Linemen. There were some good marks put up including 29 by Penn State Running Back Saquon Barkley and Georgia’s Nick Chubb. 35 was the number of reps put up by Notre Dame Offensive Guard Quenton Nelson and his teammate Mike McGlinchey put up 27. An impressive 37 reps were put up by the Texas El-Paso Guard prospect Will Hernandez. Appalachian State Guard Colby Gossett put up an impressive 32. Auburn’s Braden Smith put up 35 and Wyatt Teller out of Virginia Tech did 30 reps which should hold up well on the interior in the NFL. Guard is a position the Bears may be interested in investing a draft pick in.
Measurements for every position also were featured at the combine. Here is an excellent resource for the numbers. I’m sure all of you are familiar with Walterfootball.com by now. I’ll leave the link to Walter Football’s combine page for your convenience. http://walterfootball.com/combine.php