What to Watch for At 2017 Combine

| March 1st, 2017

The NFL’s annual meat market kicks off this week and here are a few things to watch for:

The Quarterbacks

In case you haven’t noticed around here, this off-season is about one thing: finding a quarterback. This week is going to be the Bears first real chance to sit down and talk football with the top four guys: Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky and Pat Mahomes.

The Bears know who Brian Hoyer is, have a good feeling about Jimmy Garoppolo and are at least relatively familiar with all of the other veteran options. Their pro personnel department has done their work. They don’t know the quarterbacks in the draft simply because they haven’t had the opportunity to study them beyond their game tape.

Does Watson have enough meat on his bones? What does Kizer attribute his inconsistency to? Is Trubisky really short?  Does Mahomes have any clue when it comes to reading coverage? These are some of the questions the Bears need to ask.

The most important part is going to be the interview process. The Bears need to find out what makes these guys tick. They won’t publicly broadcast that information, but we’ll hear the buzz. The Bears could fall in love with a quarterback here and that could change everything.

Length Is Still King

Two popular guys that have been mocked to the Bears just might not fit their standard when it comes to length.

I introduced this before the combine last year and, guess what? It held true. The Bears want guys who have long arms. Since John Fox was with the Broncos and Vic Fangio was with the 49ers, they have not drafted a single defensive lineman or pass rusher who had arms shorter than 33 inches. With last year’s additions of Lenny Floyd and Jonathan Bullard, the list grew to 15.

This is said to be a deep group of pass rushers and teams always need pass rushers. Is Jonathan Allen an option at three? What about Solomon Thomas? Well, we’ll find out more this week.

Replacing Mike Brown

By all accounts, this year’s safety class is strong and the Bears might finally be able to replace Mike Brown. Before coming to Chicago, Pace / Fox / Fangio were all with teams that invested heavily at the safety position. With that in mind, I’d say drafting a safety with the third overall pick is a legitimate possibility.

Jamal Adams of LSU is the consensus top safety and has been compared to Eric Berry. His ball skills on tape didn’t look to be anything special — certainly not worth the third pick — but the Bears will have a chance to see him go through drills, check his hands and see how athletic he is.

The consensus opinion on Jabrill Peppers seems to have dropped big time since the college season ended. The general thinking is that he’s closer to being an undersized linebacker than an oversized safety, but teams will get to see how well he moves and talk to him to see if he actually knows what he’s doing in coverage.

Malik Hooker might have been my favorite safety in the draft but having two surgeries after the season guaranteed he won’t go in the top-five. But the medical evaluation on Hooker could be crucial. Just last year, Myles Jack was a guy many thought was the best player in the draft, but he dropped to the second round.

Another name to watch at the safety position is Eddie Jackson. Jackson would be considered among the best safeties in the draft if not for a broken leg suffered late in the year. It’s unknown if he’ll be able to participate in the combine, but if his leg checks out, he could be a strong option for the Bears in the second round.

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