The Senior Bowl is Saturday (4 PM EST, NFL Network) and is the most prestigious of the college all-star games. Last year’s game included 8 first round picks (including Kyle Long). This year’s class won’t come close to matching that, but a couple of guys playing Saturday will sneak into the first round and there will be plenty of day 2 picks on the field. I’ve listed some players to watch at each position who could be good fits for the Bears based on positions of need and where I think the Bears will be drafting those positions. With so many holes on defense, I think Emery will use his first few picks on that side of the ball while waiting till late in day 2 or day 3 for offensive help.
Position overview: After re-singing Jay Cutler to a deal with 3 years of guaranteed money, the Bears now have a 3 year window to develop his eventual replacement. Not needing a QB to play the first few seasons expands the options for the Bears. Marc Trestman is considered a quarterback guru and deserves some credit for McCown’s best season of his career. After only 1 year at the helm, I don’t know yet what traits Trestman would look for in an ideal fit for his system, but I listed a few options below that have unique skill-sets but are a couple of years away from being NFL ready.
David Fales (6’3, 220) San Jose St – Salvaged a rough week of practice with a good performance on Wednesday. Fales lacks the arm strength of the other QBs at the Senior bowl, but his accuracy is impressive. Fales reminds me a bit of Eagles QB Nick Foles. His arm strength is just ok, but he is an accurate passer with nice touch and a good decision maker. Fales isn’t a mobile QB but has good enough feet in the pocket to avoid the rush. Fales put up big numbers in college (4,189 yards, 33 TDs) and just seems to know how to play the position. At worst he could be a solid back-up, but has potential to be a solid NFL QB in the right system. If Trestman thinks Fales is the right fit, he should be able to draft him in the 5th or 6th round after Fales sub-par week of practice at the Senior Bowl.
Logan Thomas (6’6, 260) Virginia Tech – Has all the physical traits you want in a QB: Great size, a cannon arm, Kaepernick like speed. All he is missing is the ability to throw the ball where he wants it to go. It sounds important right? Obviously it is, but Thomas’ terrible mechanics and lack of progression in college could be a blessing in disguise. Thomas has 1st round size and tools, but going by results and his performance at the Senior bowl he’s a late round pick. With Cutler’s new contract, the Bears have a couple years to develop a QB which would give Trestman time to mold Thomas into a fit for his offense. If they can get him with a 5th round pick or later, the risk is low and the upside in enormous.
*EIU’s Jimmy Garappolo struggled a little on day 3, but was still the 2nd best QB at the Senior Bowl after a very impressive week at the Shrine game. He will be long gone before the Bears are ready to use a pick on a developmental QB. Sorry Panthers fans.
Position overview: Matt Forte had a Pro Bowl season and seems like a perfect fit for Trestman’s offense. He’s only 28 and under contract for two more seasons, so the Bears don’t need a guy to come in and start right away. What they do need is a short yardage back or a change of pace back. Michael Bush is a good bet to be cut and the Bears have struggled in short yardage situations the last few seasons. Forte is a great receiver out of the backfield, but a Sproles / Woodhead type change of pace back would add a new dimension to the Bears offense.
Charles Sims (6’0, 214) West Virginia: Matt Miller compared Sims to Matt Forte, Matt Bowen compared him to Shane Vereen, and another analyst compared Sims to DeMarco Murray. That’s pretty high praise, but Sims showed a lot of good traits this week. He is a smooth runner who doesn’t look fast but runs by people. He’s a natural pass catcher as well and very shifty in space with the ability to make people miss and run through arm tackles. Sims impressed with his pass blocking as well. The problem is that Sims was so good that it would probably take a 3rd or 4th round pick to get him and I can’t see the Bears using that high of a pick on a back-up for Forte.
Antonio Andrews (5’10, 225) Western Kentucky: Short, squat back who is a powerful downhill runner and makes decisive cuts. Andrews also showed well in pass blocking drills. He’s a late round prospect who runs well between the tackles and could have value as a short yardage back.