7 Prospects from Day 1 of the NFL Combine that could help the Chicago Bears in 2024

Chicago Bears, Laiatu Latu
Chicago Bears, Laiatu Latu / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2024 NFL Combine drills officially kick off Thursday with the defensive linemen and linebackers slated as the first position groups to take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. There, the Chicago Bears will continue their scouting analysis of some front-seven prospects, a key process as the team looks to add talent to their budding defensive front.

Specifically, the Bears should be looking to add a starting defensive end, a starting defensive tackle, and depth players at both positions and across the linebacker corps. Chicago's defense came to life during the latter half of last season, in large part due to the play of new Bears in Montez Sweat, Gervon Dexter, Tremaine Edmunds, and T.J. Edwards. The Bears have opportunities to add even more talent to this defensive group, starting with the following seven players who will be working out at the NFL Combine on Thursday:

3 Edge rushers the Chicago Bears should be watching on Thursday

Chicago Bears, Laiatu Latu
Chicago Bears, Laiatu Latu / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Laiatu Latu - UCLA

In 2023, Laiatu Latu enjoyed his best collegiate season, finishing the year with 21.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. At the end of the year, Latu was awarded the Ted Hendricks and Vince Lombardi trophies and was named a Consensus All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Quick and athletic at 6'5", 260 lbs, Latu has the frame and physicality to set the edge in Chicago's defensive scheme.

The only red flag with Latu's collegiate career is that he medically retired from the University of Washington following the 2020 season before joining UCLA in 2022. A neck injury nearly forced Latu's career to end far too early, but the star edge rusher has played healthy over the last two seasons. The Bears, and other teams, will certainly do their due diligence on his medical history, but it does not appear to affect the player's draft stock.