Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

2017 NFL Scouting Combine: Whose stock rose in Indianapolis?

Which potential Chicago Bears draft targets improved their stock during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine?

When evaluating the potential of an NFL draft prospect, game film is by far the most revealing. Yet the combine is a great way to finalize grades on athleticism and medical evaluations, as well as view how players perform under immense pressure.

It's also very valuable in determining a player's recent growth and drive to get better.

With that in mind, here are the draft prospects who helped their draft stock during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Watson built on his national championship performance in January with another solid showing in Indianapolis. He reportedly did well during interviews, then ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash, the third highest at his position. He looked good during the on-field drills as well, showing pinpoint accuracy on short and intermediate throws. His deep ball is still a work in progress but Watson rose up a number of team draft boards over the weekend. Aiding Watson was the fact no other quarterback stood out during field work, giving credence to those who believe this to be a weak QB class. If the Bears walked away enamored with Watson's performance, he may now be in contention for the third overall pick in the draft. 

CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

Lattimore reaffirmed at the combine why he is widely considered the top cornerback prospect in this year's draft. He looked very good during the on-field drills -- showing off his top-tier footwork, burst and fluid hips -- and tested at an elite level as well. He finished third among corners in the 40-yard dash (4.36), second in the broad jump (132.0) and third in the vertical jump (38.5). The only concern with Lattimore is his inexperience as a one-year starter for the Buckeyes but his showing at the combine should put those fears to rest. There is a scenario in which the Bears may not be willing to pull the trigger on a quarterback with No. 3 overall pick, nor on Alabama DL Jonathan Allen following the revelation he has arthritis in both shoulders. The biggest need in Chicago is arguably a lock-down corner and Lattimore (6-0, 193) has long-term Pro Bowl potential. It's rare a cornerback is taken at third overall but Lattimore's showing in Indianapolis may make him the best player available when it's GM Ryan Pace's turn to make his first-round pick. 

DE/OLB Solomon Thomas, Stanford

Thomas is considered a Top 5 talent in this year's class and many believe he's second only to Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett. Thomas (6-3, 271) is almost exactly the same size as Pernell McPhee (6-3, 273). Thomas also measured 33 inches in arm length, putting to rest concerns about his length. For the Bears, Thomas has the strength and anchor to line up at 5-technique in base 3-4 sets, with the pass-rush ability come off the edge on passing downs. He brings an all-day motor and a ravenous game-day mentality, which would add a needed level of toughness to Chicago's front seven. In the scenario mentioned previously with Lattimore, the Bears will give Thomas strong consideration with the third overall pick in the draft. 

TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss

Engram is a player I targeted as a potential fit for the Bears heading into the combine. He was an extremely productive pass catcher during his collegiate career and has the potential to be a mismatch nightmare at the next level. At the combine, Engram put on a show. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, the fastest among tight ends, and posted Top-5 results at his position in the vertical jump (36.0), 3-cone drill (6.92) and 20-yard shuttle (4.23). Engram confirmed the short-area quickness he showed on tape, while demonstrating the type of speed that could take Chicago's passing attack to another level. He was considered a fringe first- or second-round pick heading into Indianapolis. If he somehow falls to the Bears in the second, don't be surprised if Engram is playing in the navy and orange next season. 

S Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut

I highlighted Melifonwu as a player the Bears should be targeting during the combine and he rose to the occasion. He measured 6-4, 224 -- which is elite size for an NFL safety -- then ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, the fastest at his position, while posting a 44.0-inch vertical jump and an 11-9 broad jump, which were both combine bests in this year's entire class. Melifonwu is still raw as a football player but he has freakish size and athleticism. If he somehow lasts until the Bears pick in the second round, it's going to be hard for Pace to pass on a player with Melifonwu's blend of length, speed and range, who also just happens to play one of the team's biggest positions of need. 


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