Combine Names to Keep an Eye On

Not everyone can be a top ten pick, but buzz at the NFL combine can turn a player into a first round lock. On the hand, a poor showing can send a fringe prospect plummeting down draft boards. Here's a look at five different players at five positions the Bears could look at in the draft.

  • Florida WR Chad Jackson is someone the Bears talked to at the Senior Bowl even though he's a junior. If wideout isn't addressed in free agency, Jackson could be a potential first round target.

    In a weak draft crop, no receiver has secured the top spot. The combine could be where Jackson proves he should be the first player taken at the position or slips toward the bottom of the first round.

    The six-foot-1, 202-pounder didn't post big numbers until 2005. The jump could be a result of Urban Meyer's spread offense, so there's a question if he's a system player.

  • Pittsburgh OL Charles Spencer projects to guard at the next level. The Bears talked to the six-foot-5, 335-pounder at the Senior Bowl, where he generated a vast amount of interest from teams around the NFL.

    With Terrence Metcalf possibly leaving as an unrestricted free agent, the Bears need an insurgence of young talent on the interior of the offensive line. Ruben Brown has just one-year left on his contract as he enters his 12th year in the league. While Roberto Garza proved to a good addition, he's playing with no cartilage in his right knee.

    A year to learn behind Brown, who is an eight-time Pro Bowler and fellow Pittsburgh Panther, could be enough for Spencer to step into a starting role. A first round choice might be a reach at this point, but the combine could solidify him as a second round choice.

  • Don't be fooled by the fact that Danieal Manning played at Division II Abilene Christian. He originally signed with Nebraska and has all the athletic tools to make it in the NFL. The six-foot, 205-pounder can play cornerback and safety. He also can make an immediate impact in the return game.

    The Bears need depth in the secondary and Manning could provide it at two positions. He's a little raw, so depending on him to play a major role on anything except special teams as a rookie could be a stretch.

    The combine is always a major factor for small school prospects. If Manning goes out and has great measurables, he could shoot up draft boards. An average performance will make him a pick at the end of day one or a possible steal early on day two.

  • Colorado LB/S Brian Iwuh is a hard-hitter no matter what position he lines up at. He's not natural in pass coverage, yet has the speed and athleticism to adapt given time to develop.

    The starting linebacker trio is set for the time being. Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are arguably the best duo in the game. Hunter Hillenmeyer has turned into a reliable starter. Depth is the major question and Iwuh can fit into the scheme. He also has the added benefit of being able to play some safety if need be.

    The six-foot, 225-pounder is a possible second day pick. However, a solid performance in Indianapolis could up his value.

  • USC TE Dominique Byrd has fallen under the radar because of the depth at tight end. He's currently ranked as the sixth best prospect at the position, but reaffirmed he can catch the ball at the Senior Bowl. When UCLA's Mercedes Lewis took a step back, Byrd impressed all week and then went out and proved it on the field with four receptions for 67 yards.

    If the Bears decide to go in another direction with the 26th overall selection, Byrd could be headed to Chicago if he's still on the board in round two. At six-foot-3, 260 pounds, he's not physically imposing. Although his blocking could be an issue in Ron Turner's run oriented offense, he would be an upgrade at a position the Bears lack talent.

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