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With the Bears season all but over at 5-7, it’s time to turn our focus to next year and what prospects might be available to fix our beloved Bears. With the draft being in Chicago this year, the it is even more exciting than most years for Bears fans. Even if the Bears manage to win out and sneak into the playoffs, they still have plenty of holes on both sides of the ball and need to build some quality young depth. I will be breaking down prospects at every position with some focus on players I think the Bears could target. At some positions that aren’t as glaring of a need for the Bears like RB (unless they trade Forte) and maybe guard, I will focus less on the players projected to go early and more on the mid-round prospects who the Bears presumably could target.
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If you are sick of watching the Bears, there is some really exciting football being played on Saturdays this season and these lists will identify some players to keep an eye on during the last few weeks of the college football season and the college football playoff.
1.) Marcus Mariota, JR Oregon
Attributes – 6’4, 211 pounds, 4.48 speed
Bears spin – Unless the Bears manage to lose every one of their remaining games (and even if they do) they will have almost no shot at Mariota who is projected to be a top three pick. There is always a chance the Bears trade up for the pick (with what assets?) so I’ll give a brief scouting report anyway.
Scouting report -Mariota has the size (6’4, 215), elite speed (4.48) and the cannon arm of a prototypical new age QB. His mid-to-long range accuracy has improved considerably the last two seasons and this year Mariota has shown the ability to put touch on deep lofts to his speedy receivers like freshman Devin Allen. Mariota has all the physical attributes to be a star and has shown improvement in both mental and physical aspects of the game every season. He has the size and speed to break long TD runs and the ability to make all the throws. Mariota may have been the #1 overall pick last year if he came out but has improved the weak spots of his game to the point where he is the clear-cut #1 QB in the draft.
NFL Comparison – Colin Kaepernick with a brain and humility.
Projection – 1st overall pick
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2.) Jameis Winston, SO Florida St
Attributes – 6’4, 235, 4.7 speed
Bears spin – Winston’s well documented off-field incidents will drop him completely off the draft boards of many teams regardless of need. On talent alone Winston is a top 5 pick but so was Randy Moss and he dropped to the 21st overall pick. If the Bears are serious about drafting a QB to develop behind Cutler, there is a legit change that Winston will be available when the Bears pick somewhere in the 6-16 range.
Scouting report – Has all the physical tools you want in a QB. Winston has good size, a thick build, a good enough arm to make all the throw and most importantly a natural poise in the pocket that you just can’t teach. You know how Aaron Rodgers just knows when someone is near him and takes a step or two out of harms way? Winston has that and has proved over the last two seasons that he can lead his team to victories in the clutch. His poise in the pocket and his confidence in clutch scenarios are rare traits that most QBs just don’t have. Winston has Pro Bowl potential, but also has the potential to be in jail by the end of his rookie year. There are some NFL execs who say that Winston’s personality issues are even worse than his minor off-field trangressions have shown. Someone will take an chance on him because he has legit All-Pro potential. Winston is a classic high-ceiling (Roethlisberger) / low floor (Leftwhich) prospect.
NLF Comparison – Ben Roethlisberger
Projection: 1st round, anywhere between 5-25
3.) Brett Hundley, JR UCLA
Attributes – 6’3, 227, 4.64 speed
Bears spin – Probably a more realistic option for the Bears because he may be available with their 2nd round pick and could use a year of development time behind Cutler.
Scouting report – Might have the best natural arm strength in the draft. It reminds me a little of Cutler how easily he can drive the ball down the field. Hundley can really run as well with 4.6 speed in the open field. He has shown an innate ability to sense pressure in the pocket which the great ones have, but Hundley needs to be able to reset after sensing pressure and continue to progress through his reads. Instead Hundley has a tendency to pull the ball down and try to avoid pressure which has resulted in him taking too many sacks. If he can side-step the pressure when he senses it, step up in the pocket and progress through his reads (ala Aaron Rodgers) Hundley could be special. I’ve seen some plays that make me think Hundley is the best QB in the draft and others that make me think he’s going to be a bust. Hundley has also had some issues with under performing in big games (like today vs Stanford). He could probably use one more year in college to work on his read progression, decision-making and footwork, but a year being taught by a solid NFL QB coach would work as well.
NFL comparison – Randall Cunningham (NFLDraftScout.com)
Projection – Early 2nd round