Getting back into the combine we come to the coverage of some of my favorite players in all of football. The defensive front seven, war hogs of hell. I’ve grown up a Chicago Bears fan, so it’s easy to see that this is just naturally in my blood to root for and watch these gladiators. It’s simple really the Bears didn’t get the nickname “The Monsters of the Midway” from their history on offense.
With that said I plan to keep a close eye on the DEs and some of the LBs because whether Bears fans are ready to admit it or not it maybe time to start looking for a player who could push Urlacher for playing time, and perhaps be the future. Urlacher got old fast by football standards and we may only get one perhaps two decent years out of him production wise.
First up in the 40-yard dash is a player that has been mentioned a lot around here. DE Michael Johnson from Georgia Tech who has all the athletic measurables in the world by all accounts, but apparently needs a heart transplant. I however am of the opinion that if he has first round type talent and dips to far into the 2nd or maybe even the third round he may be to tempting to pass up. A lot of people questioned Simeon Rice’s heart for a number of years when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, but Rod Marinelli got a lot out of him during his tenure in Tampa Bay. Johnson’s measurables are similar in stature at 6-7 266-pounds.
As expected Johnson blows it up in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.66. That’s moving down the line for a player of his size. Most LBs can’t run that fast. He looks the part that they say, he’s built, cut, trim, well proportioned…he has it all…..lub dub, lub dub….lub dub aside.
Next up is a four-year starter at DT from Iowa Mitch King. Mayock instantly addresses the heart issue with Johnson by comparing him to King who is a white farm bred boy who’s 6-1 281. “I tell you what if did a heart transplant between Johnson and King you would have a Hall of Fame DE.” King is a kid who is really to small to play DT, to big to play DE, but he just flat out makes plays.”
King definitely looks good running his 40-yard dash doing so in 4.81, which is pretty darn good for a DT prospect. I’m with Mayock you can’t coach heart or work ethic so you’d like to hope that King winds up somewhere and has a good career. You root for the guys that just love to battle in the trenches and epitomize every work hard superlative compliment you can throw out there.
One of the heroes from the Sugar Bowl victory for the Utah Utes steps to the line for his 40-yard dash. 6-4 263 DE a RS Sophomore for the Utes. Mayock rates him as #5 on his list of top DEs in this draft. Paul “Freddy” Kruger runs a 4.84 in the 40-yard dash. Like what you see from a kid who has spent his entire career underrated, undre recruited, and under respected. Perfect fit as a later round selection if he lasts that long runs a 4.84 40-yard dash.
Someone that definitely triggers debate is up DT from USC Fili Moala 6-4 308-pounds. Loved by the likes of Mel Kiper Jr and especially Todd McShay. Played next to and benefited from the production of Sedrick Ellis from USC last year. A prospect that I haven’t always felt was as highly regarded as McShay or Kiper Jr crowed about. I’m able to separate USC generated hype from actual production. Moala IMO is that type of player not as consistent or as dominant as he should be for a player rumored to be as talented as he is.
Just as I finish typing this it’s precisely what the two ex scouts from the NFL Network get into. They talk about how he is a high level talented guy but you just don’t see enough out of him to be blown away. Moala gets down the line in 5.14 in the 40-yard dash. Average among DTs just another thing that says what I’ve been saying all along about USC football players. Are there great ones that come out of USC? You bet, Sedrick Ellis was one of them I had him ahead of the Glen Dorsey last year. However things in the NFL always tend to even themselves out amongst players and some of the Trojans end up being exposed.
As I finish typing about a Trojan yet another one steps to the line. Kyle Moore 6-5 272-pounds, yet another manufactured hype player from the Trojans. He goes out and runs an acceptable 4.82 40-yard dash.
So the question is why do the USC guys dominate so well in college week after week. Simple they don’t see even remotely good OTs on a week to week basis. They may see one to three good guys a year that measure up as talented OTs. But then they run into the Arizona State’s, the UCLA’s the Wassu’s the U-Dubs who don’t have even a remotely decent offensive tackle and they expose them. The Sun Devils and Bruins specifically have had O-Line problems for a number of years and last year was no exception. Plus people by default think that these two typically top of the Pac-10 schools would have a great OT. But they flat out don’t so the USC’s of the world expose that.
Next up is the stud from Texas Brian Orakpo who goes 6-3 263-pounds. Orakpo won’t be around long enough for the Bears to select and he immediately shows why by running a 4.63 40-yard dash. If scouts think he can play the OLB in a 3-4 defense they’re probably right when you can fly down the line in the 4.63 range.
BJ Raji is one of the most highly regarded DT maybe a nose tackle on the big board of just about everyone. Unfortunately if you make him take his shirt of you might be able to catch a wave off his stomach. Obviously at 6-1 337 he’s not going to be put together like a man of steel, but you would still prefer to see some sort of definition instead of a jiggle. He is built like a freaking tank though low squatty just thick throughout. I’ll give him props for throwing up 33 reps on the 225-bench.
This set of experts can’t get enough of busting Michael Johnson’s balls. They go in and show tape on the kid show how he got a pretty good push and defeated Eugene Monroe, but then gets taken out by a TE. Please let him fall in the draft just enough into the third round or so who knows. He could be valuable with running a 4.69 40-yard dash. Buyer beware, but Rod Marinelli just might be the guy to get something out of him.
Is it redundant with my reporting on Johnson? Yeah I should perhaps move on to others.
Okay so Robert Ayers from Tennessee 6-3 272-pounds goes out and runs a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash. Highly regarded and highly rated by Mike Mayock, Mayock says “I have to see where he was at before his senior year.” Ayers may be a potential prospect that slips to the Bears.
A Northen Illilnois boy Larry English a great edge rusher 6-3 255-pounds. Mike Mayock likes him a lot said he dominated the Minnesota Golden Gophers the first game of the season. Extremely talented edge rusher one of those tweener types that could play DE or LB in the NFL. A lot of the fast DEs in college are a wee bit undersized by NFL standards so there are a bunch of them that look like Lawrence Taylor, Devon Ware type 3-4 guys. English gets down the line in a pretty decent time of 4.77.
The intriguing thing is though these under-sized DE types seem to be the type of DEs that Lovie Smith favors even while running his 4-3 defense. Neither Alex Brown or Adewale Ogunleye are Bruce Smith or Reggie White type DEs.
In the end what the Bears need anyway is speed off the edge.
Everrette Brown from Florida State is another one that may just happen to fall to the Bears. If the perfect storm happens as the Chicago media mentions and all the OTs, WRs and Safties are off the board by the time the Bears select there is a plethora of pass rushers that would fall to them. Brown is 6-4 252-pounds and goes and runs a 4.63 40-yard dash. So while I say the Bears should not take a pass rushing DE on day one, if a great one happens to fall and keeps on falling and all the other high need prospects are off the board then take the needed value at 18 cut Ogunleye and save yourself some cap money in the process.
Connor Barwin from the Cincinnati Bear Cats goes 6-4 255-pounds and runs a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash time. Yet another tweener edge rusher type who if you put his hand in the dirt would be a good DE in the cover-2 defense where pass rushing is a must.
Barwin will be available later in the draft possibly outside the first round to where the Bears can snatch him up after they take an OT at 18 because guys like Orakpo, English, Brown will already be off the board by 18.