The second day of on-field workouts at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine will commence on Saturday, with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here are eight players the Chicago Bears should be following during the skill-position workouts.
Bears GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox this week would not commit to Jay Cutler as the team’s starting quarterback. While talented, Cutler has been a disappointment in Chicago, so the new regime may be on the lookout for his long-term replacement.
Many analysts believe Mariota will be available to the Bears at No. 7 overall. He’s been one of the best collegiate quarterbacks in the nation that past two seasons yet there are concerns about his passing accuracy. If Mariota, arguably the best running quarterback in this year’s class, can pinpoint his passes, he’ll erase some of those concerns.
With a strong workout in Indianapolis, Mariota may convince Pace and Fox to put Cutler on the trade market.
Hundley is a dual-threat quarterback who posted monster numbers in two seasons as a starter for the Bruins. He’s extremely athletic and has an NFL-caliber arm. He can make every throw on the field.
Hundley lacked ideal pocket presence in college, often looking to tuck and run in the face of pressure. He ran a simple spread offense and took all of his snaps in the shotgun, so it’s unclear how he’ll perform in a pro-style offense.
Due to his big arm and ability to run, some have compared Hundley to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. While a bit raw, Hundley has plenty of upside and, as a second-round pick for the Bears, he could learn and develop for a year or two under Cutler.
Petty has very good size and he’s a strong on-field leader. He’s a competitor as well – he engineered a 21-point comeback win over TCU last season – and has a quality NFL arm.
Some believe Petty was a product of Baylor’s one-read, spread system. He needs to show he can work through his progressions and prove he’s a better athlete than most believe. If he does, the Bears may give him strong consideration in the second round.
Williams is a wicked athlete. He’s a chiseled 230 pounds and he’s expected to run a sub-4.40 40-yard dash. That combination of size and speed is rare, even in the NFL. As a straight-line runner, he could have a lot of value in a part-time role on offense and as a kick returner.
On film, Williams appears to have stiff hips and lacks good lateral movement. Those are two areas in which he needs to show improvement on Saturday. He also needs to convince NFL teams that his off-field problems – last year he was investigated for domestic assault and robbery, although no charges were filed in either case – won’t follow him to the NFL. If he does, Williams could end up a mid-round steal for the Bears, who lack speed at the position.
Funchess is one of the biggest wide receivers in this class and many believe he’s best suited to play tight end, or H-back, at the next level. He’s thick and has great presence over the middle of the field. In the red-zone, his size makes him a mismatch nightmare.
Funchess dropped 20 passes the last three seasons, so his hands are a serious concern. If he catches the ball well in Indianapolis, he could convince the Bears, who may part ways with Brandon Marshall this offseason, to snag Funchess in the second round.
Offensively the Bears are slow, particularly at the wide receiver position. Speed is one thing Coates has in spades. He’s expected to run one of the fastest 40 times at the combine, with some projecting in the low 4.3s. That type of speed, matched with a 6-1, 212 frame, is freakish. As a downfield threat, Coates will be able to blow the top off any NFL defense.
Yet he’s a bit of a one-trick pony, one that got by on pure athleticism in college. Coates has spotty hands and he’s a below-average route runner. If he can show he’s improved in those areas, his high ceiling and blazing speed could convince the Bears to part with a second-round pick.
Smith is another speed merchant who explodes off the line of scrimmage. At 6-0, he’s expected to run a sub 4.4 40-yard dash. Because of his burst, he creates good separation out of his breaks and his top-end speed forces safety help over the top. In addition, he was a great special-teams gunner in college.
He’s not a refined receiver and needs to work on his hands but Smith is an ideal candidate to fill the missing speed role in Chicago.
Dorsett may be the fastest player at the combine. A sub 4.3 40-yard dash would not be surprising, as he has elite speed. He leaves cornerbacks in his wake and has home run ability after the catch. As a slot receiver in the Bears’ offense, Dorsett would be a quality complement to the big bodies of Marshall and Alshon Jeffery out wide.
Dorsett is small and thin, and needs to show solid hands at the combine, yet his potential in three-receiver sets is scary. Fox and Pace should pay close attention to Dorsett, who could be the missing piece of the puzzle in Chicago’s offense.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.