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Bears: Winners and Losers from the Combine

The Bears won’t select any players in the first two rounds, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t paying attention to last weekend’s Scouting Combine.

After the four-day bonanza in Indianapolis ended, I went through each major position of need (running back, edge defender, safety, and corner) and came away with the biggest winners and losers from the combine. In other words, this list consists of prospects the Bears could potentially target who helped or hurt their draft stock with their athletic testing.

Winner: Ryquell Armstead, Running Back, Temple

Ryquell Armstead caught my eye in a number of Temple games that I watched while scouting other prospects. He displayed some eye-popping contact balance and good lateral quickness.

The one issue: I just didn’t know how explosive he was. On top of that, no one else was really talking about him either, so I decided to hold off on his film until I saw him test.

Well, he answered my explosiveness questions by running the 40 yard dash in 4.45 seconds at 220 pounds! Now that I know he has burst in addition to the intriguing flashes of contact balance/wiggle he flashed on tape. I am extremely eager to do his full film assessment. Bears fans definitely need to keep him in the back of their minds.

Loser: Elijah Holyfield, Running Back, Georgia

There wasn’t another running back in this year’s class that I had more athletic questions about than Elijah Holyfield. Those athletic questions turned into concerns, to put it bluntly, because he had a terrible day at combine.

His 40 yard dash time (4.81 seconds) was in the fourth percentile (out all of the running backs that have participated in the combine since 1999 according to MockDraftable). This means only 4 percent of running backs ran a slower time. That ain’t great!

He also left a lot to be desired with his jumps and decided to not do any of the agility tests. In the drills, he looked pretty clunky as well and dropped a pass or two.

All of that said, this doesn’t mean I think Holyfield can’t play in the NFL. You can only put so much stock into testing, especially with running backs. However, I don’t think he will be high Ryan Pace’s board. If Jordan Howard isn’t dynamic enough to fit Matt Nagy’s system, then neither is Elijah Holyfield. They are both big power backs, and that is clearly the type of player from which the Bears are trying to move on.

Winner: Ben Banogu, Edge Defender, TCU

I have watched a decent amount of Ben Banogu’s tape and I didn’t see much. He still has a long way to go with his technique and no athletic traits jumped off of his film.

However, the combine completely contradicted what he illustrated on tape, because he tested off the charts. His jumps and 40 time were all elite and his agilities were well above average.

I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that he was this special of an athlete, but here we are.

He is the perfect kind of prospect that the Bears should target early day three (rounds four and five). He probably won’t make an instant impact, but has the physical traits to be developed into something special by year two or three.

Loser: Jalen Jelks, Edge Defender, Oregon

Like Banogu, Jalen Jelks’s film is rough. He isn’t nuanced with his hands and never flashed any traits worth harvesting. The difference between two is that Jelks’s combine told the same story.

He performed poorly in every single test, so there isn’t a lot to work with in terms of developmental upside. He is simply a bad athlete who isn’t very good technically. Therefore, I don’t see the attraction to him as a prospect and can’t imagine him being very high on Ryan Pace’s board.

Winner: Mark Fields, Corner/Nickel, Clemson

I had never heard of Mark Fields until the Senior Bowl. He made a ton of plays in the one on one drills, and really caught my attention throughout the week. I thought to myself “how could I have not heard of a Clemson corner?”

When I tried to find film on him there was nothing. It turned out he was pushed down the depth chart because Clemson had many 4 and 5 star recruits in their defensive backfield (big surprise). As a result, Fields was kind of a forgotten man.

He only played on a situational basis, which means he doesn’t have a lot production. Yet he has helped himself tremendously throughout the pre-draft process.

Not only did he have a solid performance at the Senior Bowl, he blazed the 40 yard dash by running a 4.37. He didn’t participate in any other test, yet he looked plenty explosive and fluid from the little tape that I was able to see.

Regardless, there seems to be much unseen potential with Fields and I think he projects favorably as a slot corner. Keep an eye on him as a potential mid day 3 pick if Bryce Callahan departs in free agency.

Loser: Montre Hartage, Corner/Nickel, Northwestern 

Many people like Montre Hartage as a late round option at nickel, and that makes sense when you watch his tape. Hartage is a feisty competitor who makes plays on the ball. However, some technical and athletic red flags definitely pop up on tape.

The technical flaws are fixable; lack of athleticism is not. Therefore, the the combine would obviously make or break him. Unfortunately, it seems to have broken him because he did not test well.

He ran a 4.68 40 yard dash (second percentile), and he tested below average in the three cone drill and broad jump. If he had the speed, the other tests wouldn’t be as big of an issue, but 4.68 just won’t cut it at the next level.

Winner: Amani Hooker, Safety, Iowa

I loved Amani Hooker’s film, but I had major concerns about how stiff he looked. He also didn’t illustrate enough range to play single-high free safety.

I was completely wrong about that, because he blew every athletic test out of the water. He erased all of my agility concerns by testing in the 80th percentile in both the 20 yard shuttle and the three cone. His 40 time was excellent as well – 4.48 is more than enough speed to run sideline to sideline.

Hooker was clearly one of the combine’s biggest winners, but that ultimately hurts the Bears’ chances of selecting him. Very few players with Hooker’s film, production, character, and testing fall to the third round, so I have a hard time believing he is going to be around by the time the Bears are on the clock.

Fortunately for us, Ryan Pace has never shied away from being aggressive in the draft. If Hooker is still there in the back end of the 2nd round, Pace should do what he can (within reason) to go get him.

Loser: Jaquan Johnson, Safety, Miami

Jaquan Johnson had a lot of fans before the year started. Some even deemed him the best safety in the class (before guys like Nassir Adderly, Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, etc. emerged).

However, he failed to take the next step this season. I wouldn’t say he got worse, but he certainly didn’t improve.

He didn’t make enough plays on the ball to overly excite me and he is undersized. This is why I thought he projected favorably as a solid starer with low upside. I never had any major athletic questions with him, but probably should have because his athletic testing was nothing short of horrendous.

He ran a 4.69 in the 40, and his jumps were pedestrian. He didn’t even participate in agility tests, meaning he was probably going to time poorly in those drills as well. Those results just aren’t good enough at 5’10, 191 lbs to be a starting caliber player.

Follow Thomas on Twitter (@tomkavanaugh44) for more Bears news and opinion


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