What Bears Fans Learned from the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Marc Anthony of the University of California participates in the vertical jump during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine finally done, we will soon be turning our attention again to free agency and April's draft and away from guys doing things they will never again be asked to do on a football field while in their underwear.

However, before we put all this in the rear-view mirror, there are still some things Bears fans should take away from the events at Indianapolis.

Keep these things in mind as me move deeper into the offseason and towards the draft.


Chicago Should Skip Offensive Line in the First Round

Normally I bang on the table all throughout the draft process for the Bears to draft offensive line players. It's a need, has been a need and there are days when it feels like it will always be a need.

This is not that year.

That's not to say there aren't some fine offensive linemen in the draft—there are. However once Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson are gone, I'm not sold that the talent level at the end of the first is worth a pick.

Sure, you could take a guard like North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper or roll the dice on D.J. Fluker, but the guard position, while in need of improvement, isn't in dire straits and the Bears don't need the risk of getting yet another potential first-round left tackle who ends up at right or guard.

It makes much more sense that at 20, the Bears look to the value of an inside defender, another edge rusher or tight end.

The value is much more stable at those positions right now, than it is along the offensive line.

Is it disastrous if they grab a lineman? No. There's just better value elsewhere.

Speaking of inside linebackers....


Stay Away From Manti Te'o

I covered this briefly on Saturday, but I really didn't like Te'o's non-answer about the Alabama game. It started out fine, saying his play was "all on me" but went south from there.

As I said Saturday, I don't need a film breakdown, but give me an inkling of what really went wrong. "They executed better" is obvious. How can you learn from it? How can you overcome it? What did it show you that you need to work on?

Otherwise you leave us to figure it out on our own and, I have to say, the results won't likely be flattering.

My other problem with the answer is, he was so well prepared to deal with the fake girlfriend stuff, that he didn't seem prepared for a question about actual football.

Maybe that's more on his handlers than Te'o.

But he questions don't end there.

Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post wrote that while he applauded Te'o's honesty that exhaustion due to the combine grind was a reason his 40 time was slow, that's the point of the combine.

As Fortenbaugh says:

The Combine isn’t about creating a warm and cozy environment. It’s an interrogation in the form of an interview. NFL executives want to see who will crack and who will thrive. The mental portion of this challenge is just as integral as the physical......

...He admitted to everybody watching that the Combine process got to him. The interviews, pressure and lack of sleep prevented Te’o from performing at his absolute best. And that’s a problem for a guy who will at some point in the future be asked to plug a hole on fourth and one with less than a minute remaining.

It's a fine line because we slam guys for being honest, but there is sometimes a thing about being too honest.

Finally, it sounds like Te'o didn't impress teams all that much in interviews. Now, you can take this all with a grain of salt because this time of year is thick with smokescreens and bullcrap, but this last bit comes from CBS's Bruce Feldman.

Generally, Feldman is very accurate.

In his recent piece on post-combine storylines, Feldman quotes a coach who said Te'o was "rehearsed and disingenuous."

Now we don't know the coach's motivations or anything, so you take it with that aforementioned grain of salt. Also, as Feldman points out, all players are rehearsed to some extent and a guy like Te'o, with the drama around him, might seem more rehearsed than most.

However, the interviews were a big part of what Te'o had to nail this past week and it's sounding like he didn't.

As "slow" as he was, Te'o's combine wasn't awful. He's not as good as his early "top 10" press made him out to be, but he's also not horrible. Teams will have to decide where in the late first a solid, but unspectacular middle linebacker is worth a selection.

There is a lot that makes me itchy about Te'o and if he's worth the 20th pick.

Bears fans should probably feel the same way.


It's a Deep Receiver Class

I have heard some folks say they feel the Bears are still short a wide receiver. Brandon Marshall is an outstanding receiver, but we're not sure on Alshon Jeffery yet and while Earl Bennett is solid, he's been way too banged up the last few years.

That said, there's no need for the team to go out and grab a receiver early.

Certainly you saw some exciting prospects last weekend, guys like Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson. That said, what fans should take away from the combine is that there are plenty of solid wide receivers—some with a lot of upside—who are going to be there for the taking in the second and third rounds and quite a few later as well.

I don't think most Bears fans are thinking wide receiver early, but knowing that Chicago can be in a good spot to grab a talented receiver at almost any time is a good thing.


Backing Up Cutler Won't be Easy

I had hoped a quarterback would jump out at me who could be a nice mid-round addition to back up Jay Cutler, but that didn't really happen.

There are a few interesting guys—Tennessee's Tyler Bray, Miami-Ohio's Zac Dysert, Arizona's Matt Scott—but nobody who really stood out so far above the rest.

This might be in part because the "top" quarterback prospects are themselves underwhelming and it taints the whole class.

Unfortunately for the Bears, it is unlikely they will be in a position for a value-added backup this time out.

There's some buzz on Scott post-combine, by the way, according to Feldman. A while back CBS had him ranked as a fifth-round prospect.

Is this buzz enough to move him up? Maybe. Otherwise I would say Dysert and Scott are the two quarterbacks I'd look at early on Day 3.


With that, the combine coverage for the Bears is pretty much done. I'll be shifting to some prospect-specific articles about guys the team could look at throughout the draft as well as general free agency and team analysis.

What stood out to you from the combine? What should the Bears and fans have learned last weekend? Let me know in the comments.


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