The Chicago Bears are a team in transition. The new regime, led by GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox, will soon begin re-building a roster full of holes. Most of those are on the defensive side of the ball, yet the offense has positions of need as well.
New offensive coordinator Adam Gase has talent with which to work but the offense is getting old. Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Roberto Garza and Jermon Bushrod are all 30-plus, while Matt Forte will turn 30 before the end of the season. When you mix in the uncertain futures of both Cutler and Marshall, it wouldn’t be surprising if Pace and Fox put equal emphasis into upgrading the offense this offseason.
That includes the draft.
The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is officially in the books. Here are some of the standout offensive players who either helped or hurt their stock in Indianapolis.
Scout.com NFL Combine Coverage
QB Jameis Winston, Florida State (6-4, 231) & QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon (6-4, 222)
Winston and Mariota both threw at the combine, a rarity for top-rated quarterbacks. Both looked good in the field drills. Athletically, Mariota tested off the charts, running a 4.52 40-yard dash, while Winston was very good in the interviews. Both players will likely be off the board when the Bears pick at No. 7 overall, which will push a lot of talent down the board.
RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State (6-0, 208)
Langford was productive for the Spartans – 2,944 rushing yards the past two years combined – and then ran the fastest 40 at the combine (4.42). He’s a homerun hitter who could be a steal in the third round.
RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa (6-1, 224)
Johnson is a former wide receiver who showed off the best hands of any running back in this year’s class. He also ran a solid 4.50 – with a 1.59 10-yard split, second only to Langford at the position – and demonstrated explosiveness with a 41.5-inch vertical leap. Johnson showed he’s a fast, athletic, dual-threat back who could be on the Bears’ radar if he falls to the third round.
RB Karlos Williams, Florida State (6-1, 230) 4.48
Williams isn’t shifty but he’s very big and ran a 4.48. That combination of size and speed would make him well worth a fifth-round pick.
WR Kevin White, West Virginia (6-3, 215)
At 6-3, 215, White ran a 4.35. That’s silly. His freakish athleticism may have solidified him as the top receiver in this year’s class. That may mean more to the Bears than you think, especially with Brandon Marshall’s nebulous future. Pace believes in a best-player-available approach in the first rounds of the draft. If the top defenders come off the board before Chicago picks at 7th overall, and the team isn’t interested in a quarterback, White will very likely be the best player available.
WR Nelson Agholor, USC (6-0, 198)
Agholor was extremely productive during his USC career – 178 catches, 2,572 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns – but there were questions about his speed coming into the combine. He erased those by running a 4.42 and then demonstrating his trademark maturity and leadership during interviews. Agholor is a Day 1 NFL starter who should be available to the Bears at 39th overall.
WR Phillip Dorsett, Miami (5-10, 185)
Dorsett is an explosive slot receiver who ran a 4.33, the second fastest time at the combine. His straight-line ability would give Chicago’s offense the speed element it has been missing since Johnny Knox. Dorsett is a legitimate third-round target.
WR Kenny Bell, Nebraska (6-1, 197) 4.42, 41.5
Bell is a polished receiver who looked crisp in the field drills and showed good hands. He also ran a 4.42 and had a 41.5-inch vertical jump. A team leader with size, athleticism and speed, Bell could be a fourth-round steal.
TE Nick O’Leary, Florida State (6-3, 252)
O’Leary ran a 4.93, which is only slightly better than this year’s fastest O-lineman, which will hurt his stock. Yet he was lights out in the receiving drills, showing off his sticky hands. He’s not athletic but as a dependable complementary weapon in the passing game, O’Leary would be good value in the fourth.
T Ereck Flowers, Miami (6-6, 329)
Flowers has 34.5-inch arms and posted 37 bench-press reps, the most of any offensive lineman at the combine. He also showed great power on the field. Flowers is climbing up draft boards and many now predict he’ll be the first O-lineman off the board. Flowers has the quickness to play left tackle and the strength to play right tackle and could be a sleeper candidate for the Bears, who are desperate for an upgrade on the edge.
G/C Cameron Erving, Florida State (6-5, 313)
Erving played tackle, guard and center for FSU. He projects best along the interior in the NFL. He posted 30 bench-press reps and was one of the top linemen in both the broad jump and 3-cone drills, showing both explosiveness and quickness. His 5.12 40 was solid as well. As a second-round pick, the versatile Erving could be a steady long-term center in Chicago.
T/G Jake Fisher, Oregon (6-6, 306)
Fisher ran a 5.01 and tested well in every other drill, confirming his place as one of the quickest linemen in this year’s class. He also posted 25 bench-press reps. In a zone system, he can have a lot of success. For the Bears, Fisher would be a plug-and-play starter in the second round.
T D.J. Humphries, Florida (6-5, 307)
Humphries showed off great movement on the field, leading many to believe he can play left tackle in the NFL. He raised his stock in Indy and should be on Chicago’s radar in the 3rd round, possibly even sooner.
G Ali Marpet, Hobart (6-4, 307)
Marpet parlayed his breakout performance at the Senior Bowl into a strong showing at the combine. He was the only offensive lineman to run a sub-4.50 (4.98) and he also had 30 reps in the bench press. Marpet has size, strength and he can move. He’d make a quality mid-round option for Gase’s zone-block rushing attack.
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.