NFL Combine: Best defensive line options for Chicago Bears

Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal

While all eyes will be on the Chicago Bears this week because of potential trades, the NFL combine is still about the prospects. It is less about the number one overall pick and more about mid-round guys being able to set themselves apart by the way that they interview, test athletically, and pass medical checks.

With that in mind, the Chicago Bears will be all over the defensive line workouts. They need a nose tackle, a three-technique, and a pair of edge rushers. If they are going to look for these spots in the 2023 NFL draft, who are some players that may stand out at the NFL combine?

Nose Tackle Options for Chicago Bears

Siaki Ika, Keeanu Benton, Keondre Coburn, Nesta Jade-Silvera, Jaqueline Roy 

Siaki Ika from Baylor may end up the best pure nose-tackle in the draft class. For how big he is, he is pretty light on his feet, so his testing this week could be impressive. However, he may be limited to just nose tackle duties, while Keeanu Benton from Wisconsin may have a little more upside to move around along the defensive line. He had a nice Senior Bowl and may continue to build off of that.

Nesta Jade-Silvera joined Benton at the Senior Bowl, and looked like one the meanest players at the event. He hopes to continue to improve his stock.

Then, there is Keondre Coburn from Texas. His highs are so high, but you wonder if he can play consistently. He will have plenty to talk about and you can bet a lot of teams want to see how much more they can pull out of his huge frame. Finally, Jaqueline Roy from LSU is everything you want in a run stuffer. He holds things down, but you wonder if there is the extra gear that can unlock some pass rush in his game. He is expected to have the least juice in this group.

Three Technique Options for Chicago Bears

Calijah Kancey, Bryan Breese, Keion White, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Zacch Pickens

Clijah Kancey from Pitt is a name that everyone is going to be watching. Because of his college, size, and production, so many will compare him to Aaron Donald. He may not be that, but the same questions about being undersized will be under the microscope this week.

Bryan Breese has a lot of serious questions. In 2020 he looked like he would be elite as a freshman. He got injured as a sophomore, and his junior season was much more up and down. The medicals, the interviews, and the testing can answer questions across the board from his decline.

Keion White and Adetomiwa Adebawore may be tweeners, so it will be interesting to see exactly how they fit in and who the NFL wants them to work out with. Both of them had nice Senior Bowls, and both mainly played the edge, but it was when they lined up inside is when the pass rush was unleashed.

Finally, Zacch Pickens from South Carolina could be a perfect fit. He was a high-end high school recruit who had a nice career but also may have some athletic upside that was not untapped with the Gamecocks.

Edge Rusher Options for the Chicago Bears

Myles Murphy, Zach Harrison, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, MJ Anderson, Habakkuk Baldonado

If the Chicago Bears trade down but stay in the top half of the first round all mock drafts will shift from Jalen Carter to Myles Murphy. Murphy is a power edge who can hold his own in the run game but run over tackles as a pass rusher as well. Is his ceiling as high as someone like Montez Sweat, and does he check all the physical upside traits?

Zach Harrison is expected to be a huge riser after the NFL combine. He did not unlock everything at Ohio State, but so many thought he would be right behind Chase Young, and the Bosas in that group of Buckeyes rushers. His lack of production is not for athletic ability, so he may be rising after putting on a show.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah plays with great physicality and strength. For a team like the Chicago Bears, who need someone to hold up the edge, this is a great option. The question with him is how stiff is he, and can he create bend in the agility drills?

The same can be said for Habakkuk Baldonado. He profiles similarly to Tyquan Lewis, who Matt Eberflus drafted with the Indianapolis Colts. Baldonado can rush inside and outside and has the run defense ability.

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While all eyes will be on Will McDonald, he is a stand-up rusher who is too small for the Chicago Bears. MJ Anderson was the edge-setter of the Iowa State Cyclones. He is a worker bee as well and would provide great depth. The question is whether his athletic testing shows a starter upside, or if he is capped.