2012 NFL Combine: 20 Prospects Chicago Bears Coaches Will Be Tracking Closely

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IJanuary 29, 2012

2012 NFL Combine: 20 Prospects Chicago Bears Coaches Will Be Tracking Closely

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    This February, over 300 of the best college football players will be invited to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. For the Bears, this is a critical opportunity.

    Not every college player will attend, but this is where the Bears talent evaluators will get to see and hear from the players they hope to draft in April.

    The Bears have been represented at the Senior Bowl and have already scouted some players who have made an early impression. But now that they have named Phil Emery the new GM, it will be interesting to see how he scouts the Combine.  

    The Combine will be held from Feb. 22 through 28, and it is not open to the general public. The draft begins April 26, so this will be some teams' last chance to see players they are thinking about drafting.

    We know the Bears, like many teams, have needs. They need wideouts, offensive linemen and cornerbacks, to name a few of their more pressing requirements.

    Players who play those positions will all be available when the Bears start drafting. But to make sure they get the right players will be the key.

    Let's take a look at some guys the Bears ought to be looking at.

Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State

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    We already know that the Bears have their eye on Quick, as this ESPN report confirms. But will the new GM decide to change the focus of the Bears talent evaluators?

    That remains to be seen, but for now, the Bears like what they've seen of Quick at the Senior Bowl. He made my very first mock draft. I don't like him on day one, but as a potential second rounder, he might be fine.

    However, even the Bears talent evaluator that the report was talking to cautioned that despite "all his upside, he's really raw."

    Quick is from a smaller school and didn't play football until his senior year in high school. Still, he is rated as the eighth-best WR in the draft by Scouts, Inc. (ESPN's scouting arm) and the seventh-best wideout on CBSSports.com.

    Quick has ideal size, and this draft is chock full of big guys who could make an impact day one or two of the draft. So, there is no excuse for the Bears not to draft a WR.

    Of the receivers picked to be drafted in the first three rounds, 10 of them are at least 6'2" tall.

    I'm sure the Bears will be looking to see if Quick can continue to make an impression at the Combine.

Melvin Ingram, OLB/DE, South Carolina

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    The Bears need pass-rush help. Their rush was very inconsistent last season, and Israel Idonije had a disappointing follow-up to a nice year in 2010.

    For the Bears to improve that pass-rush, I believe they need a bookend to Julius Peppers. I feel they already have the right young guys at DT to generate inside pressure, so I am guessing they will be looking at a guy like Ingram.

    Ingram is explosive off the ball, and linemen have a tough time sustaining their blocks on him. He shows a variety of different moves and has a rare combination of agility and quickness.

    Ingram is also powerful and will be a first-round pick. He should be still on the board when the Bears pick at No. 19 in the first round, and I expect them to take a long look at this kid.

    Quinton Coples (North Carolina) and Andre Branch (Clemson) both will likely be taken before the Bears turn, so they should focus their attention on Ingram at the Combine.

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

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    Ingram made such an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl that many now believe he could be taken in the first 13 picks. If that's the case, the Bears will want to look at Upshaw.

    Upshaw will probably go in the first round—the Packers are expected to take him if he falls that far—and he certainly will be gone before the Bears pick in round two.

    So, it will be critical for Chicago to determine is this kid is good enough to be taken with the 19th pick in the first round.

    Upshaw lacked the explosive, quick burst that Ingram showed, but he did demonstrate a lot of power. Personally, I feel he fits best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, so I don't expect the Bears to take him.

    But they need to at least do their due diligence on Upshaw.

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

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    Floyd could be taken by the Jets at No. 16, but if not, he very well could be on the board when the Bears draft at No. 19. Since WR is perhaps the Bears greatest need, they better take a long look at Floyd.

    Floyd has ideal size for Chicago, at 6'3", and did not participate in the Senior Bow, so the combine will be the first chance that teams have to look at him.  

    Floyd has some alcohol-related off-field incidents in college, so I'm sure the Bears will be diligent about scouring a player's personal behavior before taking him with their first pick.

    Floyd's combination of size and agility will make him difficult to pass up in the first round if he is still available.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

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    Some mocks have Jeffery going before Floyd in the draft, and some have him taken after Floyd. Some even have Jeffery lasting until the early second round. It seems his draft prospects are all over the place, with some concerned about his speed.

    So, for Jeffery, the combine will likely go a long way toward determining the draft order. Mel Kiper, Jr. has him going to the 49ers late in the first round.

    But no matter what, he is another WR who won't be there when the Bears draft in the second round, so they had better look at him while they can because they will only get one shot, if any, at him.

    I like Jeffery for the Bears. He may not have elite speed, but he is a beast, a big, solid WR who has good leaping ability and catches balls like a power forward grabs rebounds.

Mike Adams, OT, The Ohio State Univsity

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    His Senior Bowl performance and 2011 season has some scouts moving Adams up the draft board quickly. Originally projected as a third-round pick, he may even sneak into the late first round now.

    But the Bears will likely look at him in case he slips into round two, where he would be a nice value pick for the Bears. Let's say they grab a WR with their first pick and Adams with their second. Now, two of their biggest problems are solved.

    Adams is 6'7", 325 lbs, but has had a couple off-field incidents, including one involving drug paraphernalia, while another was for receiving improper benefits.

    Adams is a better pass protector than a run blocker. Not a first round pick for the Bears, but if he slips into round two, they will carefully consider him.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

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    We've debated the merits of taking a center with the first-round pick, but no matter what, I'm sure the Bears will take a long, hard look at the best center in the draft, Peter Konz.

    Konz will go in the first round or early second, so the Bears will get only one shot at him. With all of the big WRs in this loaded draft, one or two might still be around when the Bears pick day two, so drafting Konz isn't out of the question.

    Konz is 6'5", 315 lbs., but not a great athlete. He doesn't have great feet, but is able to pull well and is an excellent run blocker. Perhaps his best asset is in picking up line stunts and blitzes.

    Konz has had some serious medical issues, but they seem to be behind him now.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

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    Unfortunately, Sanu is the type of prospect who might be a bit of a reach at No. 19, but will be gone by the time the Bears draft in round two. Sound familiar?

    I really like Sanu as an underrated wideout.The Rutgers receiver creates space and stretches the field with his speed. He is a big-play wideout who should be able to contribute immediately.

    Sanu was double covered most of the season and played with a team that was juggling QBs and still put terrific numbers.

Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin

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    As those of you who have followed my mocks, I like this kid in the third round, if he slips that far. That is a real possibility due to a foot injury. Toon will need to prove he is healthy at the combine.

    Toon comes from a winning program, runs NFL-style routes and his father played in the NFL. He is smart and is a willing blocker.

    Toon does nothing really well, but he does everything well. Does that make sense? In other words, he isn't going to be an elite down-field threat, but will be a solid possession-type receiver who would be great in round three or four.

Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina

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    Jones is another in a line of taller wide receivers for the Bears to consider. Jones had 79 catches for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns and got into some trouble by allowing his name to be used to promote a party.

    ESPN reported that Jones' stock dropped at the Senior Bowl, so he could make for a value pick on day two, or even day three.

    Apparently, he looked shaky catching the ball and dropped some passes. But he has NFL talent and would be a great pick in the third and fourth rounds if he fell that far.  

Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa

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    Again, here is another tall receiver with good strength and hands. He is not very elusive, so he likely won't be a game-changer or a true No.1 wideout, but would be a solid possession-type receiver who runs excellent routes.

    He was recruited out of high school as a QB but switched to WR full-time in 2009. McNutt had his best season in 2011 as a senior with 13 starts, finishing with 82 catches for a conference-best 1,315 yards (16.0) and a school single-season record 12 touchdowns.

    McNutt doesn't have explosive speed, but has long strides and just enough speed to keep defenders honest. He is still learning the ropes as a receiver, so he would be better as a third-round pick who can develop into a starting wideout with the Bears.

Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

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    I would not draft Denard with pick No. 19, but if he somehow slipped into round two and was on the board when the Bears drafted, I would certainly take a long look at this kid.

    The Bears need a cornerback to pair with Charles Tillman, with Tim Jennings an unrestricted free agent. Denard is physical, but he got beat at the Senior Bowl by Jones and McNutt.  

    He has an excellent vertical jump to compensate for his lack of height. Denard also runs well with the ball in his hands, though he is inconsistent adjusting to low throws.

Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

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    Johnson is a guy I like in the third round, but not sooner. If he goes in round two, I would pass. Not because I don't like him, just because we have needs on the offensive line and at WR.

    Johnson has good size, at 6'2", and he has been productive for Montana.  He has 44 tackles, one sack, one interception and 11 pass breakups and a dozen pass deflections this season. He also forced a fumble.

    Johnson has the size, length and quick footwork the Bears could use at the position, and he also returns kickoffs.

    But he does not have elite speed, and he missed some games in 2008-2009. Still, he would make a solid press or zone corner in the Ike Taylor mold.

Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M

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    Judie is another corner I would like in the third round. Perhaps not as highly rated as Trumaine Johnson, but figures to be there in round three.

    Judie needs to prove that his hamstring injury is a thing of the past at the combine. He has already shown the ability to make the spectacular interception and fits well in a zone system.

    Judie does bite on pump fakes, but gets off blocks well and has the strength to be effective in run support.He is a good tackler, though not a real hard hitter.

Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame

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    If you are of the notion that Chris Conte is the free safety of the future for the Bears, and despite his relatively brief time on the field, he did play well, then strong safety is where the Bears will likely focus on.

    Major Wright has a lot of questions, so I expect the Bears to be looking for safety help from the third round on. And Harrison is 6'2" and 212 lbs., is strong and makes punishing hits.

    Smith is expected to go in round three, which could be a problem for the Bears, who are unlikely to take a safety until the fourth round or later.

    Still, he has good size and strength and loves contact. He plays a bit stiff and could use better mechanics in tackling, but is very productive, as he is the only player in Notre Dame history with more than 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups.

Rhett Ellison, TE, Southern California

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    I don't expect the Bears to even consider a tight end until the later rounds, so Ellison might get a look from Chicago in the fourth or fifth rounds if available.

    He is the tallest of the later-round TEs at 6'5", assuming Ladarius Green (LA-Lafayette) goes early as I expect.

    George Bryan (NC State) is also 6'5" and is expected to go fifth or sixth round, so the Bears may also want to take a look at him at the combine.  

Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

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    Another day two, second round possibility, Randle is suffering from his poor showing in the two games against Alabama, as 'Dre Kirkpatrick stuck to him like glue.

    But at 6'4", 208 pounds, Randle was the Tigers' most productive receiver in 2011. He led the team in catches (53), receiving yards (917), average yards per catch (17.3) and receiving touchdowns (eight).

    His rare combination of size and speed has him ranked as high as the sixth-best WR in the draft by at least one major outlet. He likely won't last beyond the second round and could be gone by the time the Bears pick in round two.

Keenan Robinson, OLB, Texas

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    A potential third or fourth-round pick, Robinson has the ability to change directions well, so even though he may not have the skills to sniff out a play, he reacts well on the fly.

    Robinson has sideline-to-sideline speed to chase down tacklers with good strength.

    Nigel Bradham (Florida State) is another guy the Bears will have their eye on. In the later rounds, I think the Bears will look at a guy like Tank Carder (TCU).

Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami (Fla.)

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    Another tall (6'4-5") wideout who should be available in round three. Streeter was expected to return to Miami, but surprisingly signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus.

    Depending on his showing at the combine, Streeter could move up into round two. But in the third round, the Bears should consider him as long as they either draft or sign an immediate impact receiver too.

    He had only five catches entering his junior year, but he exploded this season. He doesn't have a documented 40-yard dash time yet, so his workouts will be key.

    He's a late bloomer who could catch the Bears' eye.

    Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) is another 6'4" WR who will probably be available in round three.

B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga

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    I wasn't going to include a QB on this list, simply because they already have Jay Cutler, need a veteran to back him up and also have Nathan Enderle. But if this guy is on the board in rounds five or six, he might be worth a look.

    Enderle, after all, was Mike Martz's pick by most accounts, and Martz is gone, so maybe they will put Enderle on the practice squad or release him outright and instead groom Coleman.

    He has better size than most of the late-round QBs and has a rocket arm. He also has good mobility (unlike Enderle) and really looked good at the East-West Shrine game.

    In fact, I would be surprised if Coleman was still there in round five, as he is currently projected. But if he is, the Bears could do worse than taking a shot at him.

    Scouts like his passion and leadership ability too.