There is no offseason in the NFL, at least not for personnel departments, coaches, and the media.
Which is why Da Bears Brothers will be in Indianapolis this week for the NFL’s annual festival of 40 times, failed drug tests, and fast-rising workout warriors: the NFL Scouting Combine!
Our goal is to be your eyes and ears in Indy on Saturday, so that everything we see and hear you see and hear.
Here is Part 1 in our ongoing DBB at the Combine series …
Greg Olsen, where art thou?
This year is considered the weakest draft class for tight ends in recent history.
Still, don’t be surprised if the Bears select one, as there are questions surrounding the return of both Zach Miller and Martellus Bennett.
The Bears would be ecstatic to find a player they can develop who might eventually produce at the level of Miller or Bennett. And maybe they can. Julius Thomas (4th round, 2013 and Delaine Walker (6th round, 2006) weren’t exactly heralded coming out of college, and they have developed into solid pros.
So while the ever-present dream of replacing Greg Olsen is unlikely to be realized with his group of tight ends, there is reason to pay close attention to what happens in Indy so you know what the Bears are getting if one of these names are called on draft day.
Bryce Williams, East Carolina
Williams has the ability to separate from the defender, especially in between the hashes. He could be a good target in the middle of the field as he can make the difficult catch in traffic. He reminds me of Greg Olsen, not just with his wavy blond hair, but also his play and size. Both are 6’5 and weigh around 260, and Williams is sneaky in the seam, just like Olsen.
Drills I’m watching: 40-yard dash, the gauntlet, over shoulder catch
Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky
Higbee is a little bit smaller than Williams (6’4, 243), but is a more polished receiver. He only had one drop last season, has strong acceleration and can work all three levels of the field. Higbee also does not go down easy and fights for extra yards. Probably has the best catching skills out of any tight end in the draft. Did have a knee injury, need to see how it looks Saturday.
Drills I’m watching: verticle jump, block explosion, the gauntlet
Ben Braunecker, Harvard
Listed at 6’4 Braunecker was the leading receiver for the Harvard Crimson in 2015. He finished off the season with eight touchdowns and 850 receiving yards on 48 receptions. I think he is quicker than some people may realize, but his 40 time will show us how quick he is. Braunecker is a solid blocker as well, still could use some improvement, but I have not seen too many players shed his blocks.
Drills I’m watching: 40-yard dash, vertical jump, the gauntlet
Austin Hooper, Stanford
Also standing 6’4, Hooper is entering the draft after his redshirt sophomore season. He is quite the athlete and has good hands to compliment his athletic skill set. I’m not sure if Hooper has fully grown into his body yet, meaning he can still put on some muscle and not lose a step down the field. He will be a big target to his future quarterback because of his tall frame and long arms.
Drills I’m watching: bench press, the gauntlet, over shoulder catch
Tomorrow we will break down the receivers that we find intriguing.
We don’t put it past Ryan Pace to draft another receiver this year, as he drafts “best available,” so certainly a wide out could be taken. Plus, it’s a position that could become a stronger need, dependent on how the Alshon scenario pans out.
And here is a special invitation for you …
After our day at the Combine, we will have a Special Combine Edition of Da Bears Brothers, where we will share our first-hand takeaways from throughout our day in Indy.
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We’ll talk to you soon! #BearDown