April 14, 2024

The quarterback dialog will dominate chatter for the Chicago Bears main as much as the NFL draft in three months, and that should be a significant focus this week on the Senior Bowl in Cellular, Ala.

Despite the fact that prime prospects reminiscent of USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy should not within the sport, it is going to 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 might be an intriguing bunch of passers in any draft cycle.

The Bears will be capable of see Penix and Nix up shut 4 weeks earlier than the scouting mix, and normal supervisor Ryan Poles seemingly has an in depth plan to vet all choices.

Penix threw for 9,504 yards over the past two seasons at Washington, and groups may 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 sort out Darnell Wright (first spherical, tenth choose), cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (second spherical), defensive sort out Zacch Pickens (third) and working again Roschon Johnson (fourth). Additionally they signed undrafted quarterback Tyson Bagent, who improved his inventory with every week in Cellular.

The Senior Bowl was loaded with expertise final yr, when 36 of the primary 100 draft picks participated within the sport. Total, 100 gamers who have been in Cellular have been drafted, accounting for 39% of all picks.

Whereas it’s unlikely the primary choose on this yr’s draft shall be in Cellular, you’ll be able to’t rule out the chance the ninth choose — which the Bears additionally personal — shall be on show.

UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu is without doubt 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 may have an opportunity to see him carry out in follow and the sport.

They’ll have numerous 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 along with his well being, he may 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 a terrific draft for move rushers total, however Alabama’s Chris Braswell, coming off a ten 1/2-sack season, is considered a possible Day 2 choose and is taking part in within the Senior Bowl.

Middle figures to be a main want for the Bears, and there’s an fascinating crop of hopefuls. Earlier than we dive into the names, it’s value questioning what philosophy the Bears will take. In the event that they plan on drafting a quarterback, would they hesitate to have a rookie snapping the ball? Given the choice, numerous groups would like a veteran middle to assist a rookie quarterback with pre-snap reads and calls.

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But when Poles and the teaching workers imagine there’s a savvy prospect who could be an asset to a younger quarterback — assuming the Bears draft one — maybe they like the thought of extra youth on the road.

Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson during a game against Arizona on Oct. 8, 2022, in Tucson, Ariz.

In that case, West Virginia’s Zach Frazier, Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson and Duke’s Graham Barton — a left sort out in faculty who is predicted 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.

High vast receivers not often head to Cellular, and also you gained’t see any of the elite prospects reminiscent of Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze. However it’s not solely a top-heavy vast receiver class; there’s additionally great depth. And that’s the place gamers reminiscent of 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. Contemplating the wealth of choices, the draft would appear to make extra sense than a splurge in free company, the place confirmed choices shall be accessible.

Miami's Kamren Kinchens breaks up a pass intended for Clemson's Brannon Spector on Nov. 19, 2022, in Clemson, S.C.

Free security looms as a query on protection, and Miami’s Kamren Kinchens shall 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 sort of vary he has.

Groups are at all times in search of expertise for the line of defense, and Texas’ Byron Murphy is an undersized participant (6-foot-1, 297 kilos) who could possibly 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.