ATM: Harold Landry Is The Best Player the Bears Aren’t Likely To Take

| March 28th, 2018

Boston College pass rusher Harold Landry projects as a dynamic player at a position of need for the Bears. While an ankle injury slowed him last year (before ending his season completely) he still managed 21.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons at BC. He also forced ten fumbles in his collegiate career and added an interception for good measure.

After dominating on the field, Landry put on a show at the combine last month. According to MockDraftable:

  • Landry tested in the 87th percentile or better in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
  • His broad jump was in the 72nd percentile.
  • Many consider the agility drills to be the most important for pass rushers and Landry tested in the 91st percentile in 20-yard shuttle, 95th in three-cone drill and 99th in 60-yard shuttle.

That elite athleticism and shows on tape.

While his technique may still need some refinement, he’s incredibly active, bouncing around the edge and attacking offensive tackles before getting to the quarterback. He’s an impressive player to watch.

And the Bears will likely pass on Landry without a second thought. His arms are too short.

Look at the edge players on the Bears roster, or even players they’ve brought in during the three years Ryan Pace and Vic Fangio have been in Chicago. There is a wide range of heights, weights and athletic ability. But they all have long arms. Arms at least 33 inches long, to be exact.

Of twelve significant players the Bears have brought in over the last three years, none had shorter arms than Leonard Floyd’s 33.125 inches. Of the players for which arm length measurements are not available, the only one in-question is Mitch Unrein, brought in to be a stop-gap player for John Fox.

But this trend goes back further than the Bears. The 49ers drafted one player with arms shorter than 33 inches and he was an interior defensive lineman. From 2007, when Pace got his first big promotion to the Saints, until he left, they didn’t draft a single line of scrimmage defender whose arms were less than 33 inches long.

Combined with the Bears, 49ers and Saints, that is 24 players. 23 of which had arms that were at least 33 inches long, including all 13 edge players. Landry comes in at 32.875.

It seems crazy to pass on a player because of less than an inch, but it’s exactly what the Bears did with Vic Beasley and any number of potential pass-rushing prospects they haven’t taken. At this point, it seems clear to me that it’s sort of a pass/fail grade. Either you have the required length, or you don’t. Landry does not.

If you’re looking for a glimmer of hope that it might be a coincidence, you can look at the Saints after Pace left. They’ve drafted three players the last three years who have had shorter arms. If Pace is simply following the scouting methods he learned from Micky Loomis and Sean Payton, there’s reason to believe it’s just a coincidence that Pace hasn’t been around for short-armed players. Of course, that would be one hell of a coincidence.

There is also a chance that Landry’s arm measurements from the combine are just wrong. We see it every year where players measure differently at the Senior Bowl and the combine. If you research for long enough, you’ll hear stories about Joe Thomas’ arm length being listed wrong. It happens, probably quite a bit.

The lack of length doesn’t mean Landry won’t be a terrific player. He compares to Clay Matthews in how active and athletic he is and Matthews had even shorter arms. So do Beasley and Melvin Ingram and any number of other players.

But the Bears are like guys who dig redheads and redheads only. They have a type and they tend to stick to it.

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