The NFL Off-season is underway and the first big event is the NFL Combine. The NFL Combine is our best chance to see upcoming NFL prospects as they get ready for the draft in April
Friday is the first day of the testing, and we will see the top offensive lineman, running backs, and special teams guys compete for a better draft position. There are quite a few prospects on this first day that Chicago will be interested in, and here are a few that Chicago Bears fans should pay extra attention to.
Quenton Nelson Guard Notre Dame
Can you really talk about potential Bears draft prospects without mentioning Quenton Nelson? Not only is Nelson the best offensive line prospect in this draft, he may be the best prospect period. When you turn on his film, you see a very entertaining player. His highlight reels are like watching a skill positions highlights because he makes so many great blocks. Offensive lineman generally doesn’t make flashy plays, but he finds a way to make you say “Wow!”
— Front Row Football™ (@FrontRowNFL) February 19, 2018
Quenton Nelson has already killed it at the combine and he hasn’t even done a workout. He came in and measured at 6’5″ and 325 pounds. While he showed great size, he showed a wingspan of 82 5/8 inches with 10 3/8 inch hands.
Now, what does this all mean?
These numbers are measuring up closer to an NFL tackle. While Nelson played guard most recently, it’s possible that he could play tackle as well. Now a tackle is of course much more valuable than a tackle, so this changes his draft value. In Chicago with the release of Josh Sitton, I think he should stick with guard, but it’s good to know that he may be able to make the switch.
With the coaching hire of former Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand to take over the same job in Chicago, we know more about what Nelson can do than any other team in the NFL right now. We will have that same advantage with Mike McGlinchey, Nelson’s teammate at Notre Dame, who should also get a look from Ryan Pace based on his relationship with Hiestand. With this great advantage, we have to look long and hard at taking him with our first pick. He could be a great selection for us, whether at guard or at tackle. The combine will help determine if he is more of a tackle or guard.
Orlando Brown Jr. Offensive Tackle Oklahoma
Brown Jr. had a very important role last season: Protect the blindside of the most valuable player in college football in Baker Mayfield. Brown Jr. did a heck of a job protecting him, as he was a finalist for the Outland award, given to the best lineman in college football.
Every year at Oklahoma, he was dependable. Brown Jr. started 40 games for Oklahoma in just three years at Oklahoma, and he got better each and every year. His final two seasons, he was named the Big-12 offensive lineman of the year Player of the year. He always showed an ability to not let anyone get close to his quarterback.
Orlando Brown buried OKST count: infinity pic.twitter.com/aFejKEXfrf
— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) February 12, 2018
Brown did well with the measurements, as he came in at 6’7″ and weighs 345. There is no denying that he is a big man, and with this insane size as long as he gets his footwork better, but with good coaching, he could be a great tackle. He is a big guy but he is not the strongest for his size, which could be a result of his length. The big news that came out of his measurements was his wingspan, which was about 85 1/8 inches. He has one of the biggest wingspans in this draft, and with how well he did at Oklahoma, he could be one of the first offensive tackles selected.
If Chicago gets into position to get Brown in the second round, it may be hard to pass up on the opportunity. Brown has shown the ability to protect his star quarterback in college, so with some time in the system, he could do the same for Trubisky. He has all the measurables, but it will be interesting to watch how he moves and uses his footwork, big guy. We could end up moving Leno to tackle if that is the final call, and our offensive line could be set for a long time.
Will Hernandez Guard UTEP
While watching the Senior Bowl practices, I tried to watch plenty of 1v1’s between the linemen. The guy that really stood out to me from that was Will Hernandez. Hernandez looked like the best guard at the senior bowl and might have made himself the second guard taken off the board after Nelson.
Hernandez is a very aggressive lineman that makes sure that he get’s his man. He has a very high motor that he uses to finish every play. He wears that cowboy collar that gives him that extra bit of intimidation. We saw a few times at the Senior Bowl practices this guy tries to embarrass some guys.
Pass Pro Rep of the Week? Our analysts like this one where Will Hernandez of UTEP decided to take the defensive player out of the rep! pic.twitter.com/92552KZaH0
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 26, 2018
One of the downsides to Hernandez is that he does not have the ideal height that teams want in their guards, as he measured in at 6’2″ 3/8 and weighs 327 pounds. While he does not have ideal size, at 327 pounds, he has shown that he has some quickness to him. The combine could be big for him if he shows the great quickness for his size.
Will Hernandez feels like a guy that would fit right in with our offensive line. He is a guy that genuinely loves the game of football and wants to succeed. He also is just a fun guy to be around. He has already shown that he can mesh well with a young quarterback.
— Will Hernandez (@willhernandez76) February 21, 2018
I think Hernandez would fit right in with our offensive line. I could see his personality being similar to Kyle Long‘s, which would be very entertaining to see. Of course, entertainment is not what wins football games, but if your offensive line has great chemistry, it can lead to better performance. Hernandez has a lot to show Chicago at the combine, and hopefully, he doesn’t impress so much that we won’t have the opportunity to draft him!
Daniel Carlson Kicker Auburn
Judging by this article so far, you probably assumed I was only going to talk about the offensive lineman. Chicago is looking for consistency at the kicker position. While most kickers do not run the 40 or do any of the drills that the rest of the prospects are doing, they still have to show off to the scouts their abilities.
In my opinion, the best kicker that will be competing at the combine will be Daniel Carlson. Carlson was a kicker that could’ve declared after their junior year and still get drafted. It is rare that a kicker can do that. He probably wishes that he did at this point because he had his worst season his senior year. He dropped down from making 87.5% of kicks his junior year to making only 74.2% his senior year. A drop like that can be concerning, but with how good he was the previous three years, I am not very worried about it., He was so good before that year that one bad year shouldn’t discount all of his hard work.
The kicking position in Chicago is a sore subject, as we watched Connor Barth lose games for us and we saw our former kicker Robbie Gould resurrect his career with the 49ers in front of our eyes. I don’t want to bring back bad memories, but Chicago does need to do something about the kicking situation. Cairo Santos or Mike Nugent might be decent replacements, but Chicago may decide to invest in a guy with a late round draft pick that we can have for a long time. I think that as long as Carlson can adjust to kicking in Chicago winter’s, he could be a fine pickup.
The Loops Sports will have great coverage of the combine this weekend. We will be posting combine previews and reviews for each day of the combine, so make sure to check back in with us!