Linebacker with a Dual Purpose

In the season finale at Minnesota the Bears used more than one player on both sides of the ball. The theme seems to have carried into the draft scouting process, as the team recently asked a defender to show his offensive ability.

Rice had their pro-day late last month and John Syptak worked out well for scouts. The six-foot-1, 253-pound college defensive end ran the forty in 4.7 seconds. Fifteen teams were on hand including the Chicago Bears, who also worked out Syptak at fullback.

This is at least the second time the Bears have worked out a defender at fullback. Missouri LB Derrick Ming went through the same process in March.

Syptak earned an All-Conference selection as a senior after leading the team with 72 tackles, 9.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. He posted 69 stops, 15 for loss and 8.0 sacks as a junior after breaking into the starting lineup as a sophomore when he had 81 tackles, 12 for loss and 4.0 sacks.

While Syptak played end in college, he projects to outside linebacker at the next level. As a two-star player, rates him as the 49th best prospect at the position.

Being so far down draft boards will force Syptak to contribute in multiple areas in order to make an NFL roster. Along with potentially being able to fill in at fullback, special teams will also be crucial in his bid to impress a team.

Still, having a linebacker who can also be used as a rush end, fullback and play special teams would be a welcome addition when only 45 players are active on game day.

General manager Jerry Angelo has shown a knack for finding a diamond in the rough, such was the case with safety Chris Harris in the sixth round of last year's draft. Syptak will likely be a late round pick or potentially an undrafted free agent. Getting to know him now will give the Bears a leg up on the competition.

TFY Draft Preview Scouting Report
Hard-working collegiate defensive end with potential at linebacker. Quickly gets off the snap with a good first step, keeps his pads low and displays a fluid change of direction. Wedges between blocks and plays with reckless abandon.

Negative: Easily knocked from his angle of attack or handled at the point. Likes to pin his ears back, take off up the field and then overruns the action.

Analysis: A fiery competitor productive on the college level, Syptak must learn to be effective in reverse to have any chance of sticking at the next level.

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