Chicago Bears Early Bowl Game Players of Interest
It’s unclear which direction the Bears will take in their quest for talent during the playoffs, as they can’t be certain now who will lead them and what kind of ploys they will use.
It’s all intertwined, as they don’t recruit 4-3 outside linebackers for a 3-4 roster or defensive linemen for a two-gap system. The same is true on offense, where Matt Nagy’s offense seeks speed and less size among receivers, and more elusive versatile backs than single cut types.
Yet talent is talent and some Bears needs will exist regardless of the pattern.
In some cases, they just don’t have enough people in specific positions.
The wide receiver is where they only have one player on contract, to go with a few types of practice teams. Obviously, they need a cornerback.
The remaining bowl season includes more than National Semifinals matches and here’s a look at potential players of interest outside of National Semifinals and New Year’s Bowls.
Consider this a reason to worry about something while watching Music City Bowl or Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
DUKE MAYO BOWL
At Charlotte, 10:30 a.m., ESPN
North Carolina (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, Mel Kiper’s No.5 player is on display here, but also on the other side is a probably more interesting player for the Bears, Kingsley Enagbare of South Carolina, a college outside linebacker ranked fourth in his post by Kiper and an explosive 6-foot-4, 259-pound passer.
âA long pass runner who wins with active, active hands,â is the NFL Draft Bible’s assessment, which ranks him as a positional substitute on the edge. “Did not show the ability to set the advantage and play the race.”
MUSICAL CITY BOWL
In Nashville, 2 p.m., ESPN
Purdue (8-4) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
A player popular with many Bears fans on social media is David Bell, the Purdue wide receiver who is ranked 10th in his position by Kiper.
At 6-foot-2, 205, parts of his game are comparable to a young Allen Robinson.
“A big, full-bodied target, Bell excels with the ball in the air”, Robert Gregson wrote for NFLDB. “His ability to call and then attack the ball is impressive. Purdue knew he had a deep skill and often employed it in the fast play where he could put the ball in his hands.”
Bell isn’t Purdue’s only highly prized prospect, as defensive end George Karlaftis sits third on Kiper’s chart at his post. For Flights, Tennessee cornerback Alontae Taylor is the 74th player in the NFL Draft Bible’s big draw table, sixth on the Kiper’s sheet. The Bears have a clear need for both a cornerback and a wide receiver. Another player of note in this game is Tennessee’s return man Velus Jones JR., Ranked sixth in comebacks by Kiper.
In Atlanta, Georgia, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
Michigan State (10-2) vs. Pittsburgh (11-2)
A boules game with lots of prospects but few interesting positions for the Bears. Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III is Kiper’s second-best running back and NFLDB’s 43rd overall prospect. Michigan State teammate Jayden Reed is fifth among the ghosts on Kiper’s roster.
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett gets plenty of attention as the 26th best prospect according to NFLDB, and Calijah Kancey de Pitt is the 99th best player for the NFLDB as a 270-pound defensive tackle, but at that weight he doesn’t. would never play in the Bears’ current defense. pattern unless he has changed his position and played standing up.
BOWL LAS VEGAS
In Las Vegas, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Wisconsin (8-4) vs. Arizona State (8-4)
The Vegas Bowl should be of great interest to the Bears due to the Wisconsin teammates at inside linebacker. The Bears need an inside impact on the linebacker to put on the field as Roquan Smith’s sidekick. Anyone who’s ever seen Jack Sanborn play knows that he can be that type of player, a Nick Kwiatkoski type. At 6-3, 245 pounds, he’s got the size and speed in a straight line, though he’s not going to impress anyone in passing coverage. It also comes from Lake Zurich, just down the road from Halas Hall.
âAn old-fashioned LB hopeful with intriguing instincts that keep him close to the ball always. When defending the run, Sanborn instinctively walks in the direction of the ball and shows quick processing skills to read the touches offensive linemen and running backs in traffic, ” wrote Jordan Pun of the NFLDB.
His teammate Leo Chenal is actually ranked one place better than Sanborn by Kiper at No.7 and was at No.105 overall on the last big NFLDB draw. Another player of potential interest for the Bears is guard Logan Bruss of Wisconsin, according to the Bears bringing James Daniels back on guard. Bruss is ranked seventh in his place by Kiper.
Arizona State has some players the Bears may be interested in as well. Unless you’re convinced by undrafted free agent Sam Mustipher as a center for the next decade, Dohnovan West of Arizona State could be a player to watch. The Sun Devils center is # 100 on the big NFLDB draw, which puts him near the end of Round 3 or the top of Round 4. Kiper has deemed him third overall in his position. Another inside linebacker in this game judged even higher by Kiper than the two Badgers is Darien Butler of Arizona State. Also of note for the Bears, Arizona state tackle Kellen Diesch, ranked 10th in his place by Kiper. Arizona State’s Rashaad White is sixth among full backs according to Kiper.
In Jacksonville, Fla., 10:00 a.m., ESPN
Wake Forest (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)
It should be interesting along the offensive line when Texas A&M has the ball in it, especially for teams like the Bears who could still use help from both sides of the line. Texas A&M has a stable of professional leads, many of whom should be of interest.
Wake Forest arrives with the defensive tackle ranked No.1 according to Kiper, to DeMarvin Leal. NFLDB doesn’t disagree, placing him sixth overall and therefore well above what the Bears will pick. But also on the side of Wake Forest, center Zach Tom, ranked seventh on Kiper’s list of positions.
Texas A&M goalie Kenyon Green on the other side of the ball. He comes in at 6-3 1/2, 325 and is close enough to second-round material to interest the Bears. He is ranked 29th best player by the NFLDB and the No. 1 goalkeeper by Kiper. Nick Lamattina of the NFLDB sees a thick guard with “… elite traits to be a great pass protector to the next level right off the bat.” However, he cautions that Lamattina may never be a great run blocker who regularly reaches level two due to a lack of athleticism.
With the Bears losing Jimmy Graham in free agency or retired, A&M tight end Jalen Wydermyer could be a player of interest, as Kiper’s No.2 tight end. He’s the perfect size for a tight end at 6-5, 265. A&M wide receiver / running back Ainias Smith, the No. 82 NFLDB player, is extremely interesting for the Bears. At 5-9 1/2, 190, Smith is playing taller than his height and is a good enough catcher that some think he fits in better in this position. Kiper ranks it 10th among the best wide receivers in this class and it’s certainly within easy reach of the Bears for them to use any of their picks. The Aggies have a few other interesting players, like defensive end Michael Clemons, ranked ninth by Kiper in his post, and defensive tackle Jordan Peevy, who is 10th in his place on Kiper’s roster. Outside linebacker Aaron Hansford is No.10 on the Kiper’s board.
TONY THE TIGER SUN BOWL
In El Paso, Texas, 11:30 a.m., CBS
Miami, Florida (7-5) v Washington State (7-5)
Two players stand out here. Miami’s Will Mallory is ranked third among Kiper tight ends and should interest the Bears as a U-tight winger in this offense, but again, they might not be in this offense. Another is tackle Abraham Lucas, the Washington state tackle who is No. 9 in his post for Kiper.
In Tucson, Arizona, 3:30 p.m., Barstool Network
Michigan Center (8-4) vs. Boise State (7-5)
Austria’s Bernhard Raimann of Central Michigan is seventh among tackles according to Kiper. He has great athleticism as a former tight end and is 6-7, 305 so he could add weight.
“He still has a ways to go to develop his hands and overall technique, but he’s on a heavy upward trajectory which is exciting to watch,” The NFL Draft Bible staff wrote.
Bosie State wide receiver Khalil Shakir is 64th on the NFLDB list and tied for 10th on Kiper’s list. At 6’190, Shakir has done everything for his team, from receiving and exiting the backfied, to running the wildcat to the returns. NFLDB Fischer Smith sees flaws in his game.
âWhile there are aspects to love about his game, he’s not going to wow scouts with just one skill,â Smith wrote.
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