Bears Scouting Tour: 3/7

The Chicago Bears sent scouts to the recent pro days at both the University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University, where a potential second-round safety worked out.

Pass the Bubbly

The Chicago Bears were one of 18 NFL teams at the University of Illinois pro day in Champaign. Seven players worked out, although only one is considered worthy of a draft pick.

Outside linebacker Jonathan Brown (6-0, 238), a potential seventh-round selection in this year's draft who was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, improved on most of his numbers from Indianapolis. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 and 4.87 seconds, had a 31.5-inch vertical jump, a 9-3 broad jump, a 4.59 short shuttle and 7.31 3-cone. He posted 18 bench-press reps of 225 pounds.

Brown was named second-team All-Big Ten his senior season, leading the team and placing second in the conference with 119 tackles. He ranked third in the Big Ten with 15 tackles for loss. He also added 5.0 sacks, four pass breakups, one interception and one forced fumble.

His stat line last year was solid but there are questions about Brown's field intelligence. He's also not an outstanding athlete, as his combine and pro day numbers show. In addition, he has the stigma of being a dirty player.

Still, Brown is an experienced player and a heavy hitter, one who was very productive in college. Linebackers often make the best special teams players, so the Bears may give him consideration in the seventh round, or as a priority free agent following the draft.

Two other players stood out during the Illinois workouts. Wide receiver Ryan Lankford (5-11, 163) ran a blazing 4.36 40-yard dash, which would have ranked third amongst wideouts, and fourth overall, at the combine. He reportedly struggled during his workout, showing sketchy hands, but that type of speed can't be ignored and will likely earn him an invite to an NFL training camp next season.

Tight end Evan Wilson (6-5, 250), another potential undrafted free agent, also had a strong day. He ran a 4.85 40-yard dash, while his 35.5 vertical leap and 10-4 broad jump would have ranked second and third respectively amongst tight ends at the combine.


Jimmie Ward
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY Sports

Huskies Highlights

The Bears were one of 32 NFL teams on hand at Northern Illinois' pro day this afternoon, where one of the top safeties in this year's draft class, Jimmie Ward, put on a show. Ward did not participate in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a fracture in his foot. He's scheduled to have foot surgery shortly, yet he still went through a full workout today.

Ward reportedly ran back-to-back 4.47 40-yard dashes, with a 10-5 broad jump and a 38-inch vertical jump, which would have tied for first amongst safeties at the combine. Coming off a 95-tackle, seven-interception senior season, Ward was arguably the most impressive defensive back at the Senior Bowl and his workout today only further solidifies his high status in this year's draft.

It's possible Ward may have pushed into the last first round after today but there's still a chance he'll fall to the Bears in the second round. If he does, it's tough to foresee GM Phil Emery passing on one of the top players at one of his team's biggest positions of need.

Also working out was quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch met with the Bears during the combine. Lynch reportedly showcased a strong arm, launching 50-yard passes with ease.

Lynch was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season after throwing for 2,982 yards and 24 TDs, while also rushing for 1,920 yards and 23 touchdowns. Yet scouts still aren't sure if he's cut out to play quarterback at the next level, with some feeling he's better suited at running back or in the defensive secondary.

As such, Lynch was asked to go through DB drills in DeKalb, which he did willingly. Lynch isn't expected to be drafted but could be a priority pickup for the Bears, who are in need of a developmental signal caller or depth in the backfield, whatever position they feel he can play.

"Skinny" Sun Devil

The big name at the Arizona State pro day was defensive tackle Will Sutton, the two-time reigning Pac-12 player of the year. After a dominating junior season, Sutton packed on weight last year and his played suffered. He was still very effective at times but the extra pounds sapped him of his balance and consistency.

The Bears met privately with Sutton during the Senior Bowl.

Sutton's weight is the biggest concern for NFL scouts but he's shown dedication in shedding pounds the last few months. Sutton weighed 297 today, which is six pounds lighter than his combine weight and 18 pounds lighter than his Senior Bowl weight.

A potential Top 10 pick had he come out following his junior campaign, Sutton has dropped to second- and third-round status amongst experts this year. His weight loss should firmly cement him as a second rounder, as his burst, strength and hand usage are NFL-level.

If the Bears address defensive end or the defensive secondary in Round 1 and Sutton is available in the second, they'll like give him strong consideration as the club's 3-technique defensive tackle of the future.


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is entering his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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