Chicago Bears 2015 Draft Prospects : Inside Linebacker


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With the Bears officially out of playoff contention, it’s time to focus on next year. With college football’s bowl season already under way, I will be focusing on college players who might be good fits for the Bears next season. I will be breaking down prospects at every position with some focus on players I think the Bears could target. They need all the help they can get on both sides of the ball.

At some positions that aren’t as glaring of a need for the Bears like RB and G, I will focus less on the players projected to go early and more on mid-round prospects who could provide depth for the Bears.  I’ve already covered all of the offensive positions, so will be looking at defense this week. With the draft being in Chicago this year and the Bears likely having a top ten pick, this year’s draft is even more exciting than usual for Bears fans.

If you are sick of watching the Bears (or morally disgusted with the NFL), the college bowl season is an exciting alternative and gives you a chance to catch a glimpse of some future NFL stars.  These lists will identify some players to keep an eye on during bowl season and the college football playoff. I’m also covering potential NFL prospects in each bowl game.

Position Summary: With the inevitable loss of Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams after the season, the Bears will go from having one of the oldest LB groups in the league to one of the youngest. Not only are Christian Jones and Jon Bostic younger, but considerably faster and more athletic. Both Jones and Bostic have played well enough the last few weeks that I think they will be the favorites for starting gigs next year and I’m cautiously optimistic about their potential. Bostic has played all three LB spots this year and Jones has played on both the strong and weak sides. Their versatility will allow the Bears to take the best LB available. If Bostic and Jones continue to improve and the Bears can find a solid LB in the draft, they could change the LB position from a glaring weakness to a strength in just a season or two.

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* These aren’t ordered rankings, just ILBs I think are good fits for the Bears

Inside Linebackers:

1.) Denzel Perryman, Miami – SR

Attributes – 6’0, 242, 4.7

Scouting report – Total package at MLB. Perryman is a tough, sideline-to-sideline run stopper with great play recognition and instincts. He has good short area quickness, closes on the ball well, and has shown the ability to shed blockers in traffic. Coming into the season his pass coverage skills were in question, but Perryman improved significantly in coverage to the point where it’s no longer considered a weakness. At only 6 feet tall, he will always be at a disadvantage against tall TEs, but that is the only weakness I can find in Perryman’s game. He’s my #1 ILB this year and a first round lock.

NFL ceiling – Ray Lewis

Projection: 1st round pick (hopefully by the Bears!)

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

2.) Benardrick McKinney, Miss St – JR

Attributes – 6’5, 249, 4.62

Scouting report – Has better size and runs better than Perryman, but McKinney lacks Perryman’s elite instincts. McKinney takes too many false steps due to incorrect reads, but has the speed to erase his mistakes at the college level at least. His play recognition has improved every year, so it may not be an issue for long but based on their 2014 tape it gives Perryman a slight edge. McKinney is a superb athlete for his size with excellent closing speed and long arms to keep blockers off of him. He relies on his athleticism a bit to much rarely using pass rush moves or aggressive hand play. That will have to change at the next level, but he is such a good athlete a little coaching should go a long way. McKinney is raw technique wise, but it’s impressive that he has been able to dominate on athleticism alone and with some technique refinement he could be hard to stop. With his height and speed, the talent is there to be a force in coverage as well, but he made too many bad reads and mistakes in coverage this year for it to be considered a strength yet. McKinney is likely a 1st or 2nd round pick based on his almost unlimited upside., but he may need a year or two of coaching before he makes an impact in the NFL.

Projection: 1st-2nd round

3.) Ramik Wilson, Georgia – SR

Attributes – 6’3, 237, 4.68

Scouting report – Underrated LB prospect who has had over 100 tackles for two years in a row. Wilson has the speed to be a sideline-to-sideline run stopper and the short area quickness to be a dangerous inside blitzer and fierce hitter between the hashes. His coverage ability was his biggest weakness going into 2014, but he improved considerably and is now a well-rounded prospect with few weaknesses. Wilson might be a little small for an ILB, but it won’t be an issue in some schemes. He could theoretically move over to the weak-side if needed. If Wilson falls to the 3rd or 4th round, some team is going to get a steal.

Projection: 3rd round

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4.) Terrance Plummer, UCF – SR

Attributes – 6’1, 241, 4.78

Scouting report – Old school run-stuffing MLB who plays with max effort and is a fierce hitter. He’s a little small for an NFL MLB, but his work ethic and fierce playing style could earn him a job. Plummer is one of my favorite MLBs to watch in the draft and reminds me a lot of Chris Borland. He has the same limitations in coverage, but has shown the ability to slip the blocks of interior lineman despite his size disadvantage. Plummer has been the leader of the UCF defense the last three seasons and been very productive with over 100 tackles every season. I watched two of Plummer’s games this year and has had 14+ tackles and forced a fumble in each game. He’s going to be a steal for some team on day 3.

NFL comparison – Chris Borland

Projection: 4th-6th round

5.) Mike Hull, Penn St – SR

Attributes – 6’0, 232, 4.63

Scouting report – Would be a lot higher on this list and draft boards if Hull could stay healthy. He has had a variety of injuries during his time at Happy Valley, but when he plays he is a force inside. Hull has shown elite play recognition which allows his to play faster than his already impressive 4.6 speed. He is a leader on defense and a fierce run stopper with great closing speed. He’s decent in pass coverage as well with good instincts, but will struggle covering tall TEs in the NFL. Hull is playing in the Senior Bowl and with a good performance and clean medical reports at the combine, he could be an early day 3 pick.

Projection: 5th-6th

6.) Jeff Luc, Cinncinatti – SR

Attributes – 6’1, 256, 4.83

Scouting report – Former 4-star recruit who transferred to the Bearcats from Florida St. Luc is a powerful run stopper known for crushing hits in the middle of the field. He has the strength to shuck blockers and the short area quickness to attack ball carriers, but doesn’t have enough speed to be a sideline-to-sideline guy and struggles in coverage at times. Luc is a classic 2-down run-stuffing MLB who is an intimidating presence inside and was very productive this year with 120 total tackles and 7 sacks.

NFL comparison – Brandon Spikes

Projection: 6th-7th round