Bears Scouting Tour: PSU, SIU, MSU

The Chicago Bears were on hand for recent pro days at Penn State, Southern Illinois and Michigan State, where scouts paid particular attention to a potential first-round pick.

Michigan State

The Chicago Bears sent defensive backs coach Ed Donatell to Michigan State’s pro day this week to get an up-close look at cornerback Trae Waynes.

Waynes (6-0, 186) ran the 20-yard short shuttle in 4.19 seconds and stood on the rest of his numbers from the combine, where he led all corners with a 4.31 40-yard dash. He reportedly looked very good in his workout, validating his worth as a potential Top-10 pick in this year’s draft.

Waynes has good size, great speed and he excels in man coverage. He’s the prototypical No. 1 cornerback for Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who relies on solid press corners. Waynes has the skill set to replace Charles Tillman and is far and away the best cornerback in this year’s class.

The Bears currently have a glut of front-seven players, yet depth at cornerback is a serious concern. Tim Jennings, who will turn 32 before end of the season, has no more guaranteed money in his contract beyond this year and the jury is still out on Kyle Fuller.

Waynes is higher on the Bears’ draft board than most realize.

On the other side of the ball, two potential third-round picks worked out: WR Tony Lippett and RB Jeremy Langford.

Langford (6-0, 208) ran the fastest 40 time (4.42) of any running back at the combine. At his pro day, he recorded a 4.27 short shuttle and 19 bench-press reps. He played wide receiver and cornerback his first two years for the Spartans and showed very good hands out of the backfield during his workout. His speed and pass-catching ability may push him into the second round but if he falls to the Bears in the third, Chicago will consider him as Matt Forte’s long-term replacement.

Lippett (6-2, 192) started at both receiver and cornerback in 2014. He’s a tall, long-strider similar to Alshon Jeffery. He ran a 4.59 40, up from his 4.61 at the combine. He’s not an elite athlete but Lippett is a hard worker and is extremely competitive. There are concerns about his hands but he dropped just one pass during his workout.

ILB Taiwan Jones (6-3, 245) is a mid-round thumper who could be very good as a 3-4 inside linebacker. He’s weak in coverage and will need to come off the field on passing downs but his size and power, as well as a knack for creative havoc as a blitzer, would make him solid value in the fifth round. The Bears need a downhill interior linebacker and Jones fits the mold.

S Kurtis Drummond (6-1, 208) chose not to run at the Spartans’ pro day and sat on his disappointing 4.65 40 at the combine. He looked fluid and showed good hands in the workout. Drummond is very good in coverage and even covered slot receivers last year. Yet he’s a liability as a tackler, which is why he’ll likely fall to the fifth round.

Penn State

The Bears were one of 19 teams who sent scouts to the Nittany Lions’ pro day, where two potential third-round picks worked out: TE Jesse James and OL Donovan Smith.

James (6-7, 261) is a big target who did very well at the combine (26 bench-press reps, 37.5 vertical, 10-1 broad jump) and improved his 40 time this week (4.66 and 4.71, up from 4.83 in Indianapolis). James is stiff in the hips but he’s long and powerful. The Bears need a strong backup in-line tight end and James, if he falls to the fourth round, would be a decent option.

Smith (6-6, 338) played tackle in college but projects as a guard in the NFL. He has good functional strength but lacks the athleticism to pass block on the edge. With leverage, his size allows him to road grade, while his long arms (34 3/8) should help him in pass protection. He ran a 4.98 40-yard dash but could not continue his workout after straining his hamstring.

LB Mike Hull (6-0, 237) lacks ideal size but last year’s Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year is smart and instinctive. His short arms and small frame will likely relegate him to backup duty in the NFL. Hull pulled his hamstring during his 40 run and did not participate in field drills.

S Adrian Amos (6-0, 218) improved on his 40 time (4.4, up from 4.56 at the combine) and posted 21 reps in the bench press. He’s good in coverage and covered slot receivers at Penn State but he’s not physical and won’t fit in the box at the next level.

Southern Illinois

The Bears were one of six NFL teams at the Saluki’s pro day, along with the Bengals, Broncos, Texans, Jets and Rams.

TE Mycole Pruitt (6-2, 251) stood on his numbers from the combine, where he put on a show. In Indy, he led all tight ends in the 40-yard dash (4.58) and vertical jump (38 inches), while also testing well in the broad jump (9-10) and short shuttle (4.37). Pruitt reportedly looked outstanding in his workout and has likely worked his way into the third-round conversation.

RB Malcolm Agnew (5-9, 202) ran a 4.6 40-yard dash and showed good hands as a pass catcher. This was the second time the Bears got a close look at Agnew, who also worked out during the recent Northwestern pro day. He’s a late-round or priority free-agent option.

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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.

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