Bears Combine Notebook: Defense

The weeklong meat market in Indianapolis has concluded. Here’s what the Chicago Bears learned about the defensive players at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine officially ended yesterday. More than 300 former collegiate football players were poked, prodded, measured, timed, tested and scrutinized in the one of the biggest meat markets on the planet.

After four days of workouts, all of the measurements have been recorded and all of the drills have been conducted.

NFL teams will now go back to their respective war rooms and attempt to process the voluminous amount of data the combine spits out.

That includes the Chicago Bears.

GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox will soon begin building the team up out of the rubble left behind by the previous regime. The foundation of the forthcoming roster will be built this offseason through the draft and, to a lesser extent, free agency.

If the Bears are to enjoy long-term stability going forward, Pace and Fox need to knock it out of the ballpark in this year’s selection process.

With that in mind, let’s break down the defensive players who stood out in Indianapolis and how they might affect Chicago’s draft board.


NT Danny Shelton, Washington (6-2, 339)
Shelton showed off his immense size, which includes two tree trunks attached to his hips, and uncanny quickness. He solidified himself as a Top 10 pick and the No. 1 target for the Bears in the first round.

NT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma (6-5, 329)
Phillips didn’t have an overwhelming combine but, like Shelton, he showed off a nice blend of size and power. If Shelton is gone before the Bears pick in the first round, Phillips would be a nice consolation prize if he falls into the second round.

NT Carl Davis, Iowa (6-5, 320)
Davis demonstrated good athleticism, as he did at the Senior Bowl. He had just 3.5 collegiate sacks but he clearly showed the potential for more. The powerful run stopper would be great value for the Bears if he drops to the second round.

DE Arik Armstead, Oregon (6-7, 292)
Armstead is an unrefined football player who relied on his athleticism in college. Yet he didn’t light up the combine like most felt he would, which lends credence to the concerns about his potential.


OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson (6-3, 246)
Beasley weighed in nearly 20 pounds heavier than his playing weight last year and then blew the top off Lucas Oil Stadium. He posted 35 bench-press reps and ran a 4.53, which is freakish. He also shined on the field. With his performance at the combine, Beasley is firmly in the conversation for the Bears at No. 7 overall.

OLB Dante Fowler, Florida (6-3, 261)
Fowler had a strong 4.61 40, which is great for a 261-pound player. More impressive was his 1.59 10-yard split, which matched that of Beasley. Fowler looked quick in the drills as well and may not be on the board for the Bears in Round 1.

OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska (6-5, 235)
Gregory was fast (4.64) and explosive, yet he weighed just 235 pounds, which was lighter than most expected. Teams are now concerned about his slight frame. It appears both Beasley and Fowler are now ahead of Gregory, which means he’ll likely be available at 7th overall.

OLB Danielle Hunter, LSU (6-5, 252)
Hunter, a physical specimen, ran a 4.57. He also has 34-inch arms, which give him serious potential as an NFL pass rusher. If the Bears still need an edge rusher in the second round, Hunter would be great value.

OLB Paul Dawson, TCU (6-0, 235)
Dawson ran a 4.93, which is slower than Manti Te’o. He also appeared stiff and out of shape in the field drills. He did nothing in Indy other than fuel concerns about his dedication to football.


CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State (6-0, 186)
Waynes was rated the top corner in this year’s class heading into the combine and then lit a fire on the track in Indy, running a 4.31. He solidified himself as a Top 10 talent in this year’s draft and could be on Chicago’s radar in the first round. Pace and Fox will most likely address the front seven but Waynes may be that sleeper pick no one sees coming. With his size and speed, he could quickly replace Charles Tillman.

CB Ronald Darby, Florida State (5-11, 193)
Darby ran a 4.38, had a 41.5-inch vertical jump, was fluid in the on-field drills and had the best hands of any secondary player at the combine. He would be outstanding value in the second round, as Darby looks like an NFL starter.

CB P.J. Williams, Florida State (6-0, 194)
Williams showed good explosion with a 40-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump, yet he ran a disappointing 4.57, which will likely drop him out of the first round. The Bears met with him in Indianapolis, so there’s interest in Williams, who is an “island” cover corner.

S Damarious Randall, Arizona State (5-11, 196)
A hybrid cornerback/safety, Randall was very impressive in Indy, posting a 4.46, a 1.56 10-yard split, a 38-inch vertical, and top times in the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle, demonstrating his quick twitch athletic ability. Randall also looked good on the field. He’d make a solid mid-round option.

S Justin Cox, Mississippi State (6-1, 191)
A late-round prospect due to questionable instincts and vision, Cox is blazing fast and posted a 4.36 at the combine, along with a 38-inch vertical. A JUCO transfer, Cox is a project but one with considerable athleticism. He might be worth a sixth-round pick, as he has serious range in center field.



Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of 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.

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