6 Hidden Gems the Chicago Bears Should Have Noticed at the Combine
All eyes are always on the stars at the combine. Everybody knows what Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel ran. Bears fans are likely locked in to defensive tackle Aaron Donald after his impressive showing, but who are the under-the-radar guys?
The combine helps the lesser known players the most. It gives teams a chance to see all these players in one place and it allows the players to show what they are made of on a bigger stage.
There were some hidden gems from over the weekend. On this list you will find six players not talked about, but the Bears should have noticed.
Missing from this group are the prospects from the secondary. They take flight on the last day of the combine for the chance to impress teams. Here are the guys you could see the Bears look closer at come draft time.
Defensive End Larry Webster
Bloomsburg defensive end Larry Webster checks in at 24 on our own Matt Miller's defensive ends big board. Webster helped himself at the combine by standing out in the midst of a talented pool of pass rushers.
Webster measured out at 6'6'' and ran a 4.58 40-time. He also had an impressive vertical jump at 36.5''. He needs to develop more upper body strength to compete in the NFL, but he is a very curious late round prospect.
You will find only two years of college football experience on Webster's resume. He had 13.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last year. The season before that he racked up 12.5 sacks and 16.0 TFL. Webster's father, Larry Webster Jr., played 11 seasons in the NFL.
As of now, Webster is not an NFL-ready player. He will need more coaching and development at the next level. The four-year basketball player has amazing potential to develop into an edge rusher or outside linebacker in the NFL.
The Bears could look to draft him with one of their sixth round picks or take a chance at seeing if he goes undrafted. One thing is for sure, Webster will garner some more attention after an impressive combine performance.
Defensive Tackle Tenny Palepoi
Future defensive starters are what the Bears will look for with their first three draft picks. Even with going that route, the team will still have a depth problem and will look to fill out some rotational roles with later picks or by bringing in a few rookie free agents.
Defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi is a prospect who could go undrafted. He just doesn't have the arm length or stout lower body most teams look for when drafting a defensive tackle.
Palepoi can be a solid rotational player brought in to stop the run and disrupt the line of scrimmage. He was able to run a 5.10 40-time even at 6'1'' and nearly 300 pounds.
His last season at Utah saw him rack up 53 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Palepoi is a quick and athletic player who can shoot the gap and get in the backfield in a heartbeat. He's a worthy player in limited snaps.
Wide Receiver Michael Campanaro
Michael Campanaro played in only eight games last season for Wake Forest but still managed to haul in 67 passes for over 800 yards and six touchdowns. He stood out at the combine among a group of very talented receivers.
Matt Miller has Campanaro ranked 28 on his wide receiver big board coming into the combine.
Campanaro is a small slot receiver who can make people miss in space and work underneath routes. He had an impressive 11.31 seconds 60-yard shuttle and put up 20 reps on the bench press.
Coaches will be impressed by Campanaro's willingness to compete. He's a tough kid who's always ready to make the tough catch and put his body on the line for the team.
The Bears are not in need of a wide receiver, but it will be hard to not dip into the pot if Campanaro is on the board late in the draft. He has the talent to be a very good slot receiver in the mold of Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.
Tight End C.J. Fiedorowicz
It's a thin tight end crop and the guys at the top didn't overly impress. Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro and Troy Niklas look to be at the top of the group leaving many to forget about Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz.
There's not much separating Fiedorowicz from guys who will be drafted in the first three rounds. He's quick, strong, an outstanding blocker and provides value as a big target who can also line up in the backfield.
Fiedorowicz impressed in the three cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and bench press. He finished with a career-high six touchdowns last year and hasn't missed a game over the past three seasons.
Yes, the Bears have a ton of holes on the defense but don't discount their need for a tight end. There is no depth behind Martellus Bennett and the offense can certainly benefit from a blocking tight end who can be a quality red zone target.
Quarterback Bryn Renner
Should the Bears allow Josh McCown to walk in free agency, they will need a new backup for Jay Cutler. The Bears could be in the market for a young quarterback come draft time and Bryn Renner is a Marc Trestman type of guy.
Renner missed a good portion of last season with a shoulder injury at North Carolina. He set the school record in 2012 for single-season total offense with 3,394 yards. In 2011, he set the single-season school record with 26 touchdown passes.
There's limited arm strength with Renner but the same goes for McCown. The two are similar in their ability to command a huddle, get rid of the football quickly and put a pass in a spot where only the receiver can get it.
Renner's two standout events at the combine were the 20-yard shuttle and broad jump. He finished with a 4.30 seconds shuttle run and 108.0" broad jump.
In terms of his draft status, he could go anywhere from a late-round pick to undrafted. The Bears would prefer the latter so they don't have to burn a pick.
Center Russell Bodine
Anybody want to challenge North Carolina center Russell Bodine in a bench press contest? The two-year starter for the Tar Heels put up 42 reps in the bench press.
What the Bears will like about Bodine is his ability to play a high amount of snaps. He averaged 73 snaps per game and was an honorable mention All-ACC selection.
Another quality the Bears will enjoy from Bodine is his gritty fire. He plays with an edge similar to Kyle Long. The Bears would like to pair the two together and really anchor down the interior of the offensive line.
Should Roberto Garza decide to call it a career, Bodine could be the kind of guy to step into his place. If Garza comes back for one more season, Bodine has experience at guard and could be a good swing player able to provide depth.
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