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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Chicago Bears, Jer'Zhan Newton
Chicago Bears, Jer'Zhan Newton / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

3 Defensive tackles the Chicago Bears should be watching on Thursday

Jer'Zhan Newton - Illinois

Football fans in the state of Illinois should be well aware of how Jer'Zhan "Johnny" Newton could provide an immediate boost to the Bears' defensive front. At 6'2", 295 lbs, Newton is a cannonball that can plug up holes in the running game and attack the quarterback in the passing game. With over 5.5 sacks in each of his final two collegiate seasons, Newton could come in and immediately help the Bears at the 3-technique position.

Adding Newton would certainly add complexity to any team's defensive front, especially for the Bears. Newton could take snaps at any position across the line, depending on the situation. There were situations last season where the Bears used two 2i-alignment DTs, meaning there is no "true" nose tackle over the center. Newton would fit well in this situation, and could even play as a 5-technique edge player, a role Dexter filled in spots last season.

Chicago Bears, Darius Robinson
Chicago Bears, Darius Robinson / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Robinson - Missouri

Robinson may end up being one of the biggest risers throughout the pre-draft process. At Missouri, the defensive lineman accumulated an impressive 12 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons, but what jumps out about Robinson is his impressive versatility. Robinson spent considerable time at both defensive end and tackle, fluctuating his weight from 285 to 305 accordingly.

It will be interesting to see how Robinson tests out at Thursday's combine session, but it could be the perfect opportunity to showcase everything he can do, both on the field and in the classroom. Robinson's versatility is matched by an unwavering attitude of chaos regardless of where he lines up, and he could be a fun piece to complicate the look across Chicago's defensive line.

Chicago Bears, DeWayne Carter (90)
Chicago Bears, DeWayne Carter (90) / Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

DeWayne Carter - Duke

Unlike the other two defensive tackles on this list, Carter possesses prototypical size for an interior defender. At 6'3" and 305 lbs, Carter is a larger, physical presence who accounted for 10 sacks in 25 games from 2021 to 2022. Carter's production as a pass-rusher dipped last season, but the 23-year-old remained a quality run-stopper, finishing the season with 41 total tackles as a defensive tackle.

Chicago Bears, Jaylan Ford
Chicago Bears, Jaylan Ford / Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

On the field, Carter has a lot to like as a reserve defensive tackle to develop, but he is exactly the kind of person off the field that the Bears should want to add to their locker room. 2023 was Carter's third consecutive season as a Duke football captain, marking the first such occurrence in school history. Especially for a young team like the Bears, adding the right type of people is just as important as the right type of players, and Carter appears to be good on both counts.

1 Linebacker the Chicago Bears Should Be Watching on Thursday

Jaylan Ford - Texas

Ford likely won't be at the top of many teams' draft boards, but the Chicago Bears could find a diamond in the rough with the Texas product. Ford's size isn't staggering at 6'3", 240 lbs, but he plays with the physicality and aggression necessary to succeed as a linebacker in the NFL. In two years of starting for the Longhorns, Ford accumulated an impressive 220 total tackles and six interceptions.

With the Bears, Ford likely wouldn't be able to pry a starting spot away from any of the returning players, but he would be an interesting late-round addition to add more depth in the position group. Linebacker is a physically demanding position, meaning that injuries are bound to happen, so having a player like Ford waiting in the wings could be great insurance long-term.