In three years as the Chicago Bears general manager, Ryan Pace has drafted eight players from the Senior Bowl. While that number doesn’t show he’s completely relying on this all-star game for scouting draft prospects, seven of Pace’s 12 third day picks have been Senior Bowl participants. So in preparation for this week’s annual game in Mobile, Alabama; here are some names (third day or otherwise) to look for as potential Bears targets for the 2018 draft.
Christian Campbell, cornerback, Penn State- A potential late bloomer with only one year as a starter, Campbell has ideal measurements for an outside corner at 6’1”, 194 pounds, and long arms. He could use work in press coverage but will get some of that this week in Mobile. Campbell is a potential riser after the combine.
Tyrell Crosby, offensive tackle, Oregon- Rated the top pass blocking tackle in the PAC-12 according to Pro Football Focus, Crosby was charted as allowing just three hurries this season with no sacks or quarterback hits allowed. The Oregon offense also had the 11th best rushing attack with 264 yards per game on the ground. Crosby will clearly be on the Bears radar as his former college coach (Mark Helfrich) is now the offensive coordinator in Chicago.
Michael Gallup, wide receiver, Colorado State- An extremely productive receiver with nearly 2700 yards and 21 touchdowns in two seasons, Gallup is a high floor NFL talent. He doesn’t have any elite skills, but does everything well and looks like a day one contributor outside or in the slot at the next level. Gallup is average size at 6’1”, 200lbs.
Will Hernandez, offensive guard, UTEP- If not for Quenton Nelson, Hernandez would likely be the consensus top interior lineman in this draft. He was an absolute standout run blocker for a 0-12 team. He also has pretty good feet in pass protection as a 6’3”, 330-pound mammoth. Hernandez will be a day one starter at left guard for an NFL team.
Chukwuma Okorafor, offensive tackle, Western Michigan- A physical prototype at 6’5”, 330 pounds, Okorafor is a raw blocker despite being a three-year starter in college. Okorafor has all the makings of an elite pass blocker, with quick feet and athleticism. He is a good fit in a zone-blocking scheme, as he doesn’t get much push in the run game, but provides a massive wall for defenders to have to go through for a tackle.
Brian O’Neill, offensive tackle, Pittsburgh- This year’s top athletic blocker, O’Neill went to Pitt as a wide receiver, grew to tight end size, and eventually to a 6’6”, 305-pound left tackle. His athleticism has been on display when he was tossed a lateral on three occasions in the last two seasons, totaling 39 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a runner. Raw, and likely a mid-round pick, O’Neill would be a moldable piece of clay for offensive line coach Harry Heistand.
Darius Phillips, cornerback, Western Michigan- An undersized, projected zone corner, Phillips possesses the necessary athleticism and ball skills to contribute at the NFL level. He finished his career with 12 interceptions, four forced fumbles and 35 pass breakups in 3 years, after putting up nearly 500 yards as a freshman wide receiver. Phillips also is one of the nation’s top returners with over 3,400 career return yards and at least one kickoff return touchdown in each of his four seasons.
Wyatt Teller, offensive guard, Virginia Tech- At 6’5”, 305 pounds, Teller is the type of player that modern passing teams like to have on the interior of their lines. Teller is a former defensive end with good length and balance in pass protection. He doesn’t display a ton of power in the run game, so he fits in a zone blocking scheme. Teller is likely a mid-round pick, with starting potential.
Kemoko Turay, edge, Rutgers- After a freshman All-American debut, Turay looked poised to be the next elite pass rushing prospect by this time. But after 7.5 sacks his first year, Turay only totaled four in his next 19 games, including being shutout in the sack column over the last 8 games of his sophomore season. This will be a huge week for Turay who still wants to prove he can at least be a situational pass rusher at the next level. His situation is somewhat similar to former Vic Fangio prodigy, Aaron Lynch.
Sean Welsh, interior offensive line, Iowa- Welsh doesn’t have great movement skills, so he may be relegated to the center position in a zone blocking scheme, but he’s a nasty run blocker who is adept at getting to the second level.
Daniel Carlson, kicker, Auburn- Yes, kickers are people too! At 6’4”, 223 pounds, Carlson has the leg strength to match his great size. The All-American kicker has made 13 of 21 career kicks of 50 yards or more, which is the second-best conversion rate from that distance in NCAA history. It would require a draft pick to get Carlson but considering the Bears recent kicking woes….worth it.
D.J. Chark, wide receiver, LSU- The next in line of Tigers’ receivers whose numbers were suppressed by a run-heavy offense and terrible quarterback play, Chark is a 6’4” target with big upside. Chark is a raw receiver, who will be able to make an impact based on his pure speed while he develops the rest of his game. Chark only caught 40 passes as a senior but was second in the SEC with nearly 22 yards per catch.
Marcus Davenport, edge rusher, UTSA- Davenport is a long, athletic, and productive outside linebacker. He has experiencing standing up in a 3-4 defense, where he put up 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 2017. At 6’7”, 256 pounds, Davenport has good speed, bend the edge, and has shown natural strength as a bull rusher. With a good week of practice in Mobile and a strong combine showing, I think Davenport could be in serious play at the eighth overall pick for the Bears. He’s that talented.
Dallas Goedert, tight end, South Dakota State- My personal top tight end prospect, Goedert had over 1,100 yards receiving as a senior. Goedert physically profiles very similarly to the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. While a young tight end is not a need with Adam Shaheen on the roster, Goedert is a perfect fit for head coach Matt Nagy’s offense.
Shaquem Griffin, linebacker, UCF- I don’t know how well he fits in the Bears’ defense, but I can’t talk about the Senior Bowl without talking about Griffin. Best known for being “the player with one hand”, Griffin was one of the top stories of the 2017 college football season. He’s an undersized player who probably best projects as a hybrid nickel linebacker/safety, but I wouldn’t count him out for having a huge impact on defense and special teams at the next level. If a rare health condition didn’t cause him to lose his left hand at age four, he’d certainly be drafted higher than his twin brother Shaquill, who went 90th overall to Seattle last year.
Brandon Parker, offensive tackle, North Carolina A&T- When the Bears were watching Tarik Cohen last season, it would be impossible if they didn’t notice him running behind a 6’7”, 309 pound left tackle. Behind Parker, Cohen broke the school’s single-season rushing record, while the offensive line, in general, allowed among the fewest sacks in the country. Parker is a likely mid-round pick who could develop into a starter.
Tre’Quan Smith, wide receiver, UCF- One of the intriguing finds of the season from the Golden Knights’ undefeated seasons, Smith showed strong hands and smooth movement skills as his team’s leading pass catcher. He showed the ability to run various routes and some ability after the catch this year but is more of a developmental prospect than a day one contributor. Smith played at UCF under Scott Frost, former Oregon offensive coordinator under new Bears’ coordinator, Mark Helfrich.
Ian Thomas, tight end, Indiana- Only a one-year starter, Thomas is a developing route runner as a middle-of-the-field weapon, finishing fourth in the nation with 15 yards per catch from the tight end position. Thomas isn’t a freak athlete but is a pretty good route runner that knows how to get open. He will block enough in space to be a weapon in the short passing game.
Levi Wallace, cornerback, Alabama- It’s hard to be underrated as a major contributor on a national championship team, but that’s exactly what Wallace has become. The former walk-on was the most consistent defensive back for the Tide, bar Minkah Fitzpatrick, a group that includes other future 2018 draft picks like Anthony Averett and Tony Brown. Wallace has good height at an even six foot but lacks bulk. This week in practice will be big for him.
James Washington, wide receiver, Oklahoma State- While I’m not the biggest Washington fan, I’ll admit he could prove me wrong with a strong showing in the pre-draft season. The production is undeniable with nearly 200 catches and more than 4000 yards in the last three seasons. If he can show the agility to separate laterally and prove he’s more than a vertical threat, he will narrow the wide range of opinions on him to, at best, an early second-day pick.