The NFL Draft is just about two months away, which seems like a long time, but the NFL Combine for those draft prospects is coming next week. Our perception of draft prospects – NFL teams’ perceptions, in fact – will change after the Combine. Maybe not significantly for all prospects, but certainly for some.
From there, it’s a critical time for teams to align their offseason expectations with their draft plans, and I doubt too many front offices feel like they an abundance of time.
With that in mind, some draft notes for your morning perusal …
- The Jay Cutler Era is wrapping up quickly, meaning there is no better time to look at one of the draft prospects who could replace him under center at Soldier Field. DeShaun Watson is the latest draft prospect to go under the microscope in Dan Durkin’s On The Clock series over at The Athletic. Durkin highlights what Watson can do, and writes about the boxes he checks off as a prospect. Watson is a winner at the college level with leadership qualities and intangibles as a player with high character. The tangibles are there, too, including a strong arm, quick release, and the necessary mobility to do everything from simply side-stepping pass rushers to make big plays.
- But what Watson won’t be able do stands out. The days of tuck-and-run at the first sign of trouble, staying focused on one read until it gets open, out-running the 11 defenders are over for Watson when he takes the step up to the next level. Defenders are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter in the NFL than they were at college. And the coaching staffs are larger, with schemes that are more complex, and more obsessive about stopping their opponent’s best player. Even still, Watson has it. But whether it translates to the NFL remains to be seen.
- If the Bears went with Watson (or any quarterback, for that matter), the best way for the team to best set him up for success would be to hit on multiple draft picks. Over at the Washington Post, Michael Renner puts together a list of five prospects expected to dominate next week’s NFL Combine. Three names should be familiar to with safeties Jamal Adams and Obi Melifonwu, and wide receiver John Ross (who was recently mocked to go the Bears) on the list.
- Staying with the Combine, Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling has 10 players Bears should be keeping a close eye on when things get rolling at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. Senior Bowl standout wide receiver Zay Jones, Michigan defensive Swiss Army knife Jabrill Peppers, and Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen are among the names who should already be on the radar of Bears fans. However, don’t sleep on the likes of Youngstown State edge rusher Derek Rivers, Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia, or Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans.