Bears schedule two private workouts

The Bears have begun scheduling private workouts for potential draft picks in the upcoming draft. Chicago will start by getting a closer look at a tight end and an offensive tackle.

As part of the process for evaluating prospects in the upcoming draft, teams are allowed to bring potential draft picks for individual workouts. These private sessions give clubs the chance to evaluate collegiate players up close and speak them face-to-face.

The Chicago Bears have begun that process, scheduling private workouts with two former Oklahoma players.


DT TE James Hanna
Joe Robbins/Getty

Tight end James Hanna (6-4, 252) will be the first to workout. Hanna did not have a very productive career as a Sooner. He caught just 52 total passes during four collegiate seasons. As a senior, he hauled in 27 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns.

He's a crafty receiving threat but must improve as a blocker. He runs good routes and is fluid in and out of his cuts. A smart player with good hands.

Hanna struggles beating the jam at the line, which is the reason he'll fall into the last couple rounds of the draft. He can make the catch in traffic but isn't tough over the middle and has been known to throw out alligator arms when he knows a hit is coming.

His lack of toughness, mediocre production and poor blocking will likely keep him out of the draft's top five rounds, and he may not get drafted at all.

Or so that's what everyone said before this year's NFL Scouting Combine.

At the big meat market in Indianapolis, Hanna demonstrated top-tier athleticism and speed. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash (4.49 seconds) and 60-yard dash (11.05) of any tight end at the combine, and was second at the position in the three-cone drill (6.76), third in the broad jump (10-2) second in the vertical jump (36 inches) and fourth in the bench press (24 reps).

He obviously has all the physical tools necessary to play at the next level. The Bears now must get a closer look to decide how well athleticism will translate to the game field on Sundays.


DT OT Donald Stephenson
Jackson Laizure/Getty

The Bears next will workout former Oklahoma offensive tackle Donald Stephenson (6-6, 312) – another projected sixth rounder. He's versatile, with experience at both right and left tackle. More of a finesse blocker, he relies on quickness and competitiveness more than brute strength. Good in space as a run blocker. Shows solid lateral agility. Quick down the line on pulls and traps, and performs well at the second level.

His lack of strength is an issue. He can get off the line in a hurry but he hardly ever blows back the defender. Bigger defensive linemen can work him over, which limits his potential at the next level. He's athletic, so he could develop into a decent swing tackle.

He ran the fastest 40-yard dash (4.94) at the combine, which apparently has coordinator Mike Tice intrigued.

Chicago typically uses their private workouts to get a closer look at potential late-round or undrafted players – many times with prospects that did not get invited to the combine.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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