The Big Board ranks the Top 10 prospects in terms of their value to the Bears in the first round of the draft. The Big Board on Feb. 3 stood as follows:
1. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
2. Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
3. Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri
4. Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
5. Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida
6. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
7. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
8. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
9. Landon Collins, S, Alabama
10. Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi St.
The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine concluded this week, which provided a lot of valuable information about these prospects. With the combine, as well as nearly a month of film study in the books, here is our updated Big Board.
1. Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson (6-3, 246)
Beasley was the standout performer in Indianapolis, posting positional bests in the 40-yard dash (4.53), 10-yard split (1.57) and bench press (35 reps at 225 pounds). Even more impressive was his weight, 246, which was 15 pounds more than his playing weight for the Tigers.
Beasley is the most explosive edge rusher in this year’s draft and the combine showed the world his elite athleticism. He could easily be Chicago’s pass-rush centerpiece under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, while the added pounds should help him improve against the run.
2. Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (6-2, 339)
On a field full of massive human beings, Shelton’s size still managed to stand out. In field drills, he showed the quickness that made him the most disruptive interior defender in the country last year.
Shelton very easily could be at the top of this board, as he’s an ideal anchor for Fangio’s two-gap system. Chicago’s run defense would immediately shoot to the top of the league. In addition, Shelton is much lighter on his feet than one would assume considering his girth and can provide consistent pass rush in the face of the quarterback.
If Beasley is 1A for the Bears, Shelton is a very close 1B.
3. Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida (6-3, 261)
Fowler ran a 4.60 40-yard dash, which is extremely impressive for a 261-pound linebacker. He also looked good in the on-field drills. NFL executives are drooling over his potential at the next level and some have him projected in the Top 3 overall.
On film though, Fowler is highly inconsistent and struggles to shed blocks, particularly against the run. He makes eye-catching plays, ones that show off his extreme athleticism, but he also disappears for long stretches. In addition, he doesn’t have a true position, having rotated between DE, OLB and ILB at Florida. And despite the glowing reports of Fowler from the combine, he didn’t finish at or near the top of his position in any single test – his 19 bench-press reps are particularly disappointing.
Fowler has the highest ceiling of any player in this draft, which is why he ranks third on this list, yet he also has the biggest bust potential.
4. Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky (6-4, 269)
Dupree was one of the most impressive prospects at the combine. At nearly 270 pounds, he ran a 4.56, which is downright freakish. For reference, Julius Peppers, who is listed at 267 pounds, ran a 4.68. Dupree may be three inches shorter than Peppers but he’s every bit the athletic monster.
Dupree also finished as one of the top performers at his position with a 42-inch vertical jump and an 11-6 broad jump. That type of explosiveness has a lot of value at the next level, which is why we’ll continue to see Dupree move up draft boards. A month ago, he was a borderline first rounder, now he’s widely considered a Top 20 pick. By May, he’ll be in the Top 10 conversation.
5. Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri (6-3, 245)
Ray didn’t perform at the combine due to a foot injury, so his stock has dropped. There are a lot of questions about his lateral ability and he was unable to alleviate those concerns at Indianapolis.
Still, film of Ray shows one of the most explosive pass rushers in this class. He’s lightning fast off the ball and turns the corner quickly. He was extremely productive playing in the SEC last season – 22.5 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks – so he’s shown the ability to produce against top competition. He’s slipping down draft boards due to the combine but Ray would still be great value at No. 7 overall.
Gregory wasn’t listed in our initial Top 10 as he was then considered a near-consensus Top 3 pick. Yet he weighed just 235 at the combine, which raises red flags about his ability to set the edge at the next level. With size similar to a big wide receiver, how will Gregory hold up against 300-plus-pound offensive tackle in the NFL?
It’s a legitimate concern, which is why he’s now considered a borderline Top-10 pick. Yet make no mistake, Gregory can play. He’s fast and smooth off the edge, and uses a full-arsenal of pass-rush moves. He also has 34-inch arms, which is ideal for an edge rusher, and his 24 bench press reps were five more than Fowler.
Gregory needs to add a few pounds but even at 235, he can still be a force on passing downs. If the other edge rushers are off the board, the Bears should give Gregory serious consideration in the first round.
White was a standout performer at Lucas Oil Stadium, posting a 4.35 40-yard dash and 23 bench-press reps, solidifying himself as the top receiver in this year’s class. He’s DeSean Jackson in Alshon Jeffery’s body.
The Bears don’t have a desperate need at wide receiver yet Brandon Marshall’s future with the team is unclear. If the club parts ways with the mercurial receiver, White may be too good to pass up, especially if new GM Ryan Pace stands by his best-player-available approach. White is a freakish playmaker that could take Chicago’s passing attack over the top.
8. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (6-5, 319)
Scherff is still considered the top offensive tackle on the board, one that could also play guard at the next level. He’s a versatile mauler in the run game and would provide an immediate boost for Chicago’s rushing attack. If the Bears are serious about upgrading the offensive line, Scherff could be the pick in the first round.
The Bears are much thinner at cornerback than most realize. Tim Jennings is 31 and regressed last year, while Kyle Fuller struggled mightily in the second half of his rookie campaign. Beyond that, the cupboard is bare for Fangio, who relies on solid man-to-man corners out wide.
Waynes, a physical press corner, ran an eye-popping 4.31 in Indy, erasing any doubts about his speed. If the Bears want the best cover cornerback in this year’s class, Waynes is their guy.
Flowers was quietly considered one of the top edge blockers in this year’s class coming into the combine and he validated that position in Indianapolis. He posted 37 reps in the bench press, the most of any offensive lineman, and showed great footwork and balance in the on-field drills. In addition, his arms measured 34.5-inches, which is ideal for an NFL left tackle. He’s a deep sleeper but pay attention to Fowler, who is quickly ascending to Top 10 status.
Mariota had a strong showing at the combine and ran the fastest 40 time of any quarterback (4.52). He demonstrated elite athleticism and looked good throwing the football. He’s unlikely to fall to the Bears at 7th overall but if he does, Pace may give him a long, hard look as the club’s long-term signal caller of the future.
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.