The quarterback dialog will dominate chatter for the Chicago Bears main as much as the NFL draft in three months, and that must be a serious focus this week on the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Even although high prospects equivalent to USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy aren’t within the recreation, will probably be an opportunity to get a detailed take a look at Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix.
Add Tulane’s Michael Pratt, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler and Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman — who aren’t candidates to be the No. 1 choose — and it will be an intriguing bunch of passers in any draft cycle.
The Bears will be capable to see Penix and Nix up shut 4 weeks earlier than the scouting mix, and basic supervisor Ryan Poles possible has an in depth plan to vet all choices.
Penix threw for 9,504 yards over the past two seasons at Washington, and groups can have loads of questions on knee and shoulder accidents that interrupted his first 4 years at Indiana. Nix additionally thrived after transferring, passing for 8,101 yards and 74 touchdowns with solely 10 interceptions at Oregon the final two years after three up-and-down seasons at Auburn.
The Bears drafted 4 gamers who participated within the Senior Bowl final yr, all within the first 4 rounds: proper deal with Darnell Wright (first spherical, tenth choose), cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (second spherical), defensive deal with Zacch Pickens (third) and operating again Roschon Johnson (fourth). They additionally signed undrafted quarterback Tyson Bagent, who improved his inventory with per week in Mobile.
The Senior Bowl was loaded with expertise final yr, when 36 of the primary 100 draft picks participated within the recreation. Overall, 100 gamers who have been in Mobile have been drafted, accounting for 39% of all choices.
While it’s unlikely the primary choose on this yr’s draft can be in Mobile, you may’t rule out the likelihood the ninth choose — which the Bears additionally personal — can be on show.
UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu is likely one of the highest-regarded prospects dedicated to the Senior Bowl. Latu had 23 1/2 sacks over the past two seasons for the Bruins, and NFL groups can have an opportunity to see him carry out in apply and the sport.
They can have lots of medical questions for Latu that can require due diligence on the mix, as he briefly retired from soccer with a neck damage after starting his faculty profession at Washington. Latu proved to be sturdy at UCLA, although, and for groups snug together with his well being, he might emerge as the highest edge rusher within the draft.
That’s definitely a place the Bears want to determine as they search a presence reverse Montez Sweat. It’s not an amazing draft for move rushers general, however Alabama’s Chris Braswell, coming off a ten 1/2-sack season, is thought to be a possible Day 2 choose and is enjoying within the Senior Bowl.
Center figures to be a major want for the Bears, and there’s an fascinating crop of hopefuls. Before we dive into the names, it’s price questioning what philosophy the Bears will take. If they plan on drafting a quarterback, would they hesitate to have a rookie snapping the ball? Given the choice, lots of groups would like a veteran middle to help a rookie quarterback with pre-snap reads and calls.
But if Poles and the teaching workers imagine there’s a savvy prospect who may be an asset to a younger quarterback — assuming the Bears draft one — maybe they like the concept of extra youth on the road.
In that case, West Virginia’s Zach Frazier, Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson and Duke’s Graham Barton — a left deal with in faculty who is anticipated to play middle this week — are fascinating potentialities. Add Georgia’s Sedrick Van Pran and Wisconsin’s Tanor Bortolini, and there’s no scarcity of choices.
Top huge receivers not often head to Mobile, and also you gained’t see any of the elite prospects equivalent to Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze. But it’s not solely a top-heavy huge receiver class; there’s additionally super depth. And that’s the place gamers equivalent to South Carolina’s Xavier Legette, North Carolina’s Tez Walker, Arizona’s Jacob Cowing, Louisville’s Jamari Thrash and Western Kentucky’s Malachi Corley come into play.
The Bears, for the primary time shortly, have the No. 1 receiver spot found out with DJ Moore. With Darnell Mooney popping out of contract, they don’t have a No. 2 and will use some competitors for Tyler Scott, who simply accomplished his rookie season. Considering the wealth of choices, the draft would appear to make extra sense than a splurge in free company, the place confirmed choices can be obtainable.
Free security looms as a query on protection, and Miami’s Kamren Kinchens can be within the highlight as a possible late first-round choose. He made 11 interceptions the final two seasons for the Hurricanes, and whereas there are questions on his consistency, few draft choices possess the type of vary he has.
Teams are all the time in search of expertise for the defensive position, and Texas’ Byron Murphy is an undersized participant (6-foot-1, 297 kilos) who may very well be a pleasant match for the Bears as a disruptive inside participant. He had 15 sacks in three seasons for the Longhorns with 8 1/2 this previous season.
It may be extra of a need than a necessity — and the Bears have been happy with the event of 2023 second-round choose Gervon Dexter — however there’s no such factor as too many high quality defensive linemen.