2020 Senior Bowl: Jordan Love's 1st-round hype is real

2020 Senior Bowl: Jordan Love's 1st-round hype is real

MOBILE, Ala. — The Detroit Lions didn't gain any new fans after their questionable practice session (North team) on Day 1 of the 2020 Senior Bowl, but despite a lot of time warming up and working against air, there were a few prospect performances worth noting.

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love was the headliner, showing off his cannon of an arm in what was a clear display of starting-quarterback talent. Compared to fellow North team quarterbacks Shea Patterson (Michigan) and Anthony Gordon (Washington State), Love looked like the only quarterback who's capable of succeeding in the NFL. It wasn't even close.

Love has an effortless throwing motion. His passes are crisp, accurate and on a rope. Was he perfect? No. But he had the most impressive arm of the day. His first-round hype is very real and will only continue to build momentum as the week goes on.

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As for Patterson and Gordon? Bears fans need to temper their excitement for both of them. Patterson's quirky throwing motion looks labored and forced while Gordon's slight frame and underwhelming arm strength scream backup at best.

Tight end Brycen Hopkins (Purdue) had a quiet first practice. His opportunities to make plays were limited. But he'll need a strong finish to the week to maintain his standing as the top tight end at the Senior Bowl.

One player Bears fans should highlight as a name to watch is Michigan offensive lineman Ben Bredeson. He looked the part on Tuesday. He has strong hands and the kind of powerful playing style that tends to lead to success in the NFL. He showed pretty good feet, too. He has a chance to rise up the board if he stacks two more positive practices together.

On the defensive side of the ball, Syracuse edge rusher Alton Robinson flashed in drills. He showed a good first step and violent hands at the point of attack. He won several reps with ease. The Bears have to add pass-rush help in the middle rounds, and Robinson looks like a quality prospect worth keeping an eye on.

Ohio State defensive lineman Davon Hamilton had a nice day, too. He was almost unblockable at times and practiced with a level of intensity that scouts are certain to like. While not a need in Chicago, Hamilton looks like a player whose value could trump need come draft day. 

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Do the Bears plan to line up Cordarrelle Patterson at running back more in 2020?

Do the Bears plan to line up Cordarrelle Patterson at running back more in 2020?

The Bears' running game is a mess. They know it, I know it, you know it, David Montgomery probably knows it. Kyle Long definitely knows it. 

So what happened? Why didn't Montgomery click like the Bears thought when they traded up to get him? ("Could we have helped him last year by getting him the ball more? Yes, absolutely," Nagy said from the combine on Tuesday.) And why did Tarik Cohen set career-lows in rushing yards (213), yards per attempt (3.3) and touchdowns (0!)? 

"It’s hard to put one thing on that," Ryan Pace added. "I know [Cohen's] mindset is to come out and have a strong upcoming season. It’s hard because there’s a lot of players that feel like they need to be better. Me as a GM, us as coaches, we all need to be better, and I know Cohen will be motivated." 

So what's one answer? Cordarrelle Patterson, come on down! The Bears brought in Patterson to be a swiss army knife, and in the first season of his two-year contract, only used him to open their letters. The plan for 2020, apparently, is a little more multi-faceted. Can fans expect to see more Cordarrelle Patterson: Bears' Running Back when the team opens camp in late July?

"Yeah, that’s a guy Matt and I have talked about just making sure we’re maximizing his talent," Pace said. "Obviously he’s an explosive, talented player. That can be at running back, receiver, returner. We’re going to make sure we’re getting the most out to that player because he’s too talented not to."

Patterson was used sparingly as a runner in 2019, finishing the year with 17 rushes for 103 yards. There is *some* precedent for a heavier on-ground workload, though, as Patterson ran the ball much more frequently (48 times) and a tad more successfully (228 yards) while with New England in 2018. Pace pointed to that versatility when asked about the team's running back plans for this winter. 

"We’re comfortable there," he said. "We’re always looking to get better in every room but I think they all bring different things to the table, they all have different flavors and styles. That’s a well balanced room." 

Atlanta Falcons allowing TE Austin Hooper to test free agency

Atlanta Falcons allowing TE Austin Hooper to test free agency

Buckle up, Bears fans. One of the top free agents at Chicago's biggest area of need will, in fact, be available this March.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff confirmed on Tuesday from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis that Austin Hooper will be given the chance to test the open market. He's expected to be the most coveted free agent at his position and despite the hefty investment Ryan Pace made in Trey Burton in 2018's free agent period, Hooper qualifies as a must-add.

Hooper was one of the NFL's most productive pass-catching tight ends through the first half of the 2019 regular season before injuries slowed him down. He ended the year with 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games (10 starts). He was one of quarterback Matt Ryan's most important targets in the passing game. 

Compare Hooper's production with the Bears' tight end group, which was led by Trey Burton's 14 catches and 84 yards. Not good.

Hooper's projected market value, per Spotrac, will approach $10 million per season. And while that seems like a steep price to pay when there's already a tight end making $8 million per year on the roster, Pace may have no choice but to bite the bullet and give Matt Nagy the chesspiece his offense needs.