Bears scouting tour: Vanderbilt

Lovie Smith was in Tennessee for Vanderbilt's pro day to get an up-close look at eight potential draft picks, including a second-round CB, a mid-round SS and an impressive late-round DE.

On hand for the recent Vanderbilt pro day was Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Eight commodores worked out for representatives from 24 NFL clubs.

For Smith, it was a visit to scout three defensive prospects, all of whom Chicago could realistically select in the upcoming draft.

The highest-rated prospect was cornerback Casey Hayward (5-11, 185). At the NFL Scouting Combine, Hayward ran a 4.57 40-yard dash. He did not finish in the top 10 amongst cornerbacks in any single drill.

Athletically, Hayward doesn't stand out. Yet he's proven to be one of the better cover corners in the upcoming draft class. He started every game his junior and senior seasons, while playing in every game as a sophomore at nickelback. Durability is not a concern.

Hayward is a physical corner who uses his hands well to re-route receivers at the line of scrimmage. He's not a track star but has good game speed. He can keep up with most wideouts.


CB Casey Hayward
Jeremy Brevard/US Presswire

He's a lanky, smooth defender that plays with a ton of confidence. Hayward is also a reliable tackler.

While his man-to-man ability cannot be questioned, he often doesn't show well in zone coverage. He'll need to work on his read and react if he's going to be successful in zone sets at the next level.

He's a borderline second-round pick but will likely fall to the third due to his lack of ideal athleticism. Chicago needs a corner with man cover skills, something Hayward can provide. Yet his struggle in zone coverage are worrisome, especially for a team that plays a lot of Cover 2.

Safety Sean Richardson was also a participant at Vandy's pro day. Richardson (6-2, 216) is a late-round strong safety prospect that has just one year of starting experience.

Unlike Hayward, Richardson is an outstanding athlete. He put on a show at the combined. Amongst safeties, he finished second in the 40-yard dash (4.52), first in bench press (22 reps), first in vertical jump (38.5 inches) and first in broad jump (10-8). As far as natural talent, there are few safeties in the draft that can match him.

Yet Richardson is an experienced player that has major issues in both man and zone coverage. He was beaten repeatedly when asked to man up and often looked lost in zone sets.

His positional workout in front of scouts did not receive rave reviews.

In the box, Richardson is a quality player. He's a tough kid that sheds blocks and tackles well. Unfortunately, that's about all he'll bring to the table early on in his NFL career.

Yet his athletic ability makes him very attractive as a late-round special teams selection, which will likely keep him on Chicago's radar during day three of the draft.

The player that helped his draft stock the most at Vanderbilt's pro day was defensive end Tim Fugger, who wasn't invited to the combine. He measured 6-3, 248, ran a 4.60 40, posted a 34-inch vertical jump, a 9-7 broad jump, a 4.20-second short shuttle time, a 7.00-second three-cone drill and put up 29 reps in the bench press.

Now that's taking advantage of an opportunity.

Fugger worked out as both a 4-3 defensive and as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He reportedly did very well in both positional workouts.

Like Richardson, Fugger is a top-tier athlete with a lot of potential. He vaulted himself from undrafted status into the late-round conversation after his pro day showing.

The Bears are in need of a pass rusher but will likely address that need early on in the draft. Still, Fugger's talent can't be denied. If Smith liked what he saw, he might believe some time under the tutelage of Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli could turn Fugger into a productive NFL player.

At the very least, his size, speed and athleticism will make him a quality special teams contributor. He would make a solid day-three addition to Chicago's roster.

In addition to Hayward, Richardson and Fugger, tight end Brandon Barden, offensive lineman Kyle Fischer, defensive lineman T.J. Greenstone, quarterback Larry Smith and receiver Udom Umoh also took part in Vandy's pro day.

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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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