Dannehy: Four Things to Watch at Combine

| March 1st, 2023

With the first pick and the possibility of getting more selections, all eyes are going to be on the Chicago Bears in Indianapolis this weekend.

In the second year of the Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus regime, we have a better idea of what kind of players the team is looking to add. Beyond just the standard answer they give regarding players who fit the mental makeup they want, the Bears brass reiterated some of the physical attributes for which they are looking.

Here are four things to look for:


The Bears once again refused to offer unwavering commitment to Justin Fields as their quarterback and on Tuesday morning Poles made it sound as if the team is keeping its options open.

The door might only be open a crack, but if the Bears weren’t at least considering drafting a quarterback with the first overall pick, there would be no reason not to slam it shut. The idea that they need to make teams think they’re going draft a quarterback simply for leverage doesn’t make any sense. The only team that might panic is Houston, which would be more nervous about the idea the Colts are going to take a quarterback.

Compare it to the Eagles last year who, when rumor about interest in Russell Wilson or drafting a quarterback surfaced, said “there’s no doubt about it” when asked if Jalen Hurts was the team’s future at the position.

Nobody honestly expects the Bears to take a quarterback, but their refusal to say “this is Fields’ team” is weird. When teams are confident in their quarterback, they are almost always willing to broadcast that to the world.

The most likely explanation is that the Bears would be happy going forward with Fields as the quarterback, but would like to see if they can upgrade. There’s nothing wrong with that.

“Big, long and fast”

Eberflus wants defensive linemen who are “big, long and fast.”

Well, this is the draft for him.

Is Will Anderson big enough? While he certainly showed the strength to hold up against the run – even playing some four technique at Alabama — the Bears might be concerned about Anderson’s overall size. Will he top 250 pounds? Will his arms be longer than 33 inches? While Eberflus was with the Colts, the team drafted four defensive ends, all weighed at least 250 pounds, had arms at least 33 inches long, ran sub 4.7-second 40-yard dashes and had 35-inch verticals. Last year, the Bears took Dominque Robinson who had a 41-inch vertical, at six-five, 252 pounds with a 40-time of 4.72.

The consensus third best defensive lineman in this draft, Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson also won’t work out, but we already know he has the “big” and “long” aspects, measuring at six-foot-six with freakish 35 5/8-inch arms at the Senior Bowl. He’ll likely be drafted inside the top five, but there are other options.

How long is Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness? Is Clemson’s Myles Murphy explosive enough? Is Nolan Smith big enough to be considered in the second round?

We know Pitt defensive tackle Calijah Kancey is small, but how small is he? Is he athletic enough to overcome that?

Hogs Who Can Move

Poles didn’t touch the offensive line until the fifth-round last year, but when he did, he drafted almost exclusively high level athletes.

Braxton Jones, Zachary Thomas and Ja’Tyre Carter all had 40-yard dash times lower than 5.2 seconds at more than 300 pounds, with arms at least 33 inches long. Doug Kramer ran a 4.95 40-time at 299 pounds, though his arms were shorter at 32 inches.

If the Bears weren’t willing to take a chance on a less-athletic player late, they probably won’t early. The Bears offensive scheme asks offensive linemen to get out in space and make blocks at the second level.

We should watch to see how long Peter Skoronski’s arms are. If he comes in at less than 33 inches, it’s possible the Bears wouldn’t even consider him at guard — though might at center.

How athletic are these offensive tackles? Is O’Cyrus Torrence an option after a trade back or in the second round?

We’re going to learn a lot about the options this week.

Veteran Buzz

The combine is mostly about the draft, but there always seems to be tidbits about veterans.

Poles kind of started a fire himself when he noted that the Bears might trade the first pick before free agency begins in order to secure the services of a veteran. Could the Colts be offering Buckner? Might the Panthers send Brian Burns?

Or may we learn about some players who are going to unexpectedly hit the free agent market?

Tagged: , , , , , ,