The Senior Bowl is coming up this weekend. The all-important practices happen this week. Here are some players the Chicago Bears should look at.
Now that the Super Bowl participants are set, the rest of the teams look to the future. A new bowl season begins. Some of the top prospects get to show what they have until the draft. Teams like the Chicago Bears get to look at those prospects ahead of the draft in April.
Of course, the Bears own the top pick in that draft after a 3-14 season. Most people expect general manager Ryan Poles to trade that pick and pick up more of them. There are a lot of holes to fill in the roster. Also, Poles said on a number of occasions that he wants to rebuild through the draft. Now that he has the top pick and seven other picks, he has an opportunity to acquire a lot of picks that hasten the rebuild.
First up is the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will be the head coach of the American Team. He and two other Bears assistants, linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi and assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts, get to see the prospects firsthand this week. Being face-to-face and having them do what they ask makes it easier to see how good the prospects really are.
Last year, the Chicago Bears ended up drafting four players, Velus Jones Jr., Braxton Jones, Ja’Tyre Carter, and Dominique Robinson, who played in the Senior Bowl.
Here are some players the team should be looking at this week.
Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
Derick Hall could be a valuable pick for the Bears. They have a big need at EDGE. The defense put no pressure on the quarterback in 2022. Poles wants to change that. Hall has all the tools you want in that position. He is explosive at the snap and has long arms to keep blockers from getting to him and to deflect passes. Additionally, he does a great job of setting the edge in the run game.
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Bears have a lot of needs at the offensive line. Darnell Wright could be a good option at right tackle.
According to PFF, Wright allowed zero sacks and eight pressures on 507 pass-blocking snaps with an 80.2 pass-blocking grade in 2022.
Pass blocking is something the Bears’ offensive line unit desperately needs. The unit gave up 58 sacks in 2022 after giving up the same number in 2021.
Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia
Despite having the best rushing attack in the NFL in 2022, the Bears could be on the lookout for a running back. We don’t know if David Montgomery re-signs or not. However, with the high number of injuries among the running backs, having a good rotation is critical.
While it looks as if Khalil Herbert is in line to be the RB1, he doesn’t add much in the passing game. That is where Montgomery was valuable.
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That is where Kenny McIntosh helps. He had 150 carries for 829 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. In addition, he had 43 catches for 505 yards and 2 touchdowns.
McIntosh is similar to Montgomery in how he breaks tackles and breaks loose. In 2022, he had 505 yards after contact, which led the nation.
McIntosh has the size at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. Also, he has above-average speed. Furthermore, he has great vision and is a patient runner. He’d be a great complement to Herbert in the running game.
Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State
Poles is looking to find help for quarterback Justin Fields. He not only wants to protect him with quality offensive linemen but also wide receivers to target. The Bears’ leading receiver in 2022 was tight end Cole Kmet. The second-leading receiver was Darnell Mooney, but he missed the last five games of the season (and had no yards in the last game he played).
Xavier Hutchinson is a playmaking wide receiver the Bears’ offense needs. He measures 6-foot-3 and weighs 210 pounds.
In 2022, Hutchinson had 107 catches (ranking third in the country) for 1,171 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Hutchinson could be one of the underrated picks in the draft. Despite not getting a lot of attention, he’s been one of the most productive receivers in college football. In his three seasons with Iowa State, he amassed 2,929 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on 254 catches.
Hitchinson has great body control and makes incredible catches. Additionally, he has great hands and the football just sticks to them. He rarely drops the pass. He would quickly earn Fields’ trust with his play.
Cody Mauch, G/C, North Dakota State
Here is more protection for Fields. In 2022, the Chicago Bears signed Lucas Patrick to be the center. It was a disaster, however, as Patrick was hounded by injuries all season.
Even when he was healthy, the Bears played Patrick at guard. He only played one game as the center. It was the game in which he hurt his toe and missed the last 10 games of the season.
If Patrick returns, it could be at guard. He is a natural guard who moved over to center in 2021 because of an injury to the starting center.
That means the team would need a center because there is no way they enter a season with Sam Mustipher as the starting center.
Cody Mauch is the exact type of player that Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus want on the roster. He is a hard worker with a high motor. Additionally, as a lineman, he has a mean streak.
Mauch started out his college career as a tight end. He then worked hard and gained 80 pounds and moved to the offensive line. He can play all positions on the line, though many scouts peg him as an interior lineman.
Mauch is a mauler in the run game. He attacks the defender and stuns him with his punch. With his time as a tight end, he is gifted athletically. He has great feet and keeps up with pass rushers. He would be a quick fan favorite.
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