2020 Senior Bowl: Who will Bears scouts be watching?
2020 Senior Bowl
The 2020 Senior Bowl kicks off this week and marks the official start of NFL draft season. The Chicago Bears, like every other team in the NFL, will have an army of scouts and front-office personnel in attendance in an effort to uncover the next draft-day gem. Armed with two second-round picks this year, the Bears are almost certain to grab one of the standout seniors in attendance in Mobile, Alabama.
Here's a look at 15 players Bears fans should get to know.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
The dual-threat passer from Oklahoma has some first-round buzz, and a big week in Mobile will only help his cause. But he's more likely to settled in as a second-round pick and with the Bears owning two picks near the top of the round, he could be an appealing trade-up target if they fail to add a veteran in free agency.
Hurts isn't the most refined passer, but in today's NFL, having the ability to create outside of structure is a critical element of offensive success. Hurts is that guy in this year's class (outside of the blue-chip prospects at the top of Round 1).
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Love, like Jalen Hurts, has some legitimate first-round buzz and has a better chance than Hurts to solidify a top-32 grade by the time the Senior Bowl concludes.
Love has a high-end arm that will flash during practices, and if he can show consistent ball placement and complete passes against more talented defensive backs than he faced during his time at Utah State, he'll climb the board.
If he struggles, the Bears will be in play in Round 2. He's the ideal developmental prospect who can sit behind Mitch Trubisky in 2020 while still offering long-term starter's upside down the road.
Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
It should come as no surprise that the Bears will pay close attention to the tight ends at this year's Senior Bowl, and Pinkney is the most appealing in-line player who can make plays down the seam as a receiver.
Pinkney isn't the most athletic or dynamic option in this year's draft, but he's a legitimate starting-quality tight end who would immediately jump to the top of Chicago's depth chart in 2020. He should be on the board at No. 43; the Bears are going to give him a long look.
Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
Hopkins has a chance -- a really good chance -- to be the first tight end drafted in 2020, and the Bears are a good bet to be the first team to draft a tight end this year. Seems like a logical match.
Hopkins had 830 yards and six touchdowns for Purdue in 2019 and possesses the kind of well-rounded skill set that should get Matt Nagy excited about his potential fit in the Bears' offense.
Harrison Bryant, TE, FAU
Keep a close eye on Bryant this week and throughout the 2020 NFL draft process. He was an extremely productive receiver for FAU (1,004 yards and 7 TDs in 2019) and possesses an attractive blend of size (6-5, 240) and high-end athleticism.
If you're looking for a tight end who looks the most like the athletic pass-catcher the Bears are missing, it's Bryant. He's going to be a riser.
Nick Harris, iOL, Washington
The retirement of Kyle Long created a big void along the interior of Chicago's offensive line, and Harris is the best interior lineman in this year's Senior Bowl.
In fact, there's a chance Harris can sneak into the back-end of Round 1, although the top of the second round is traditionally when players like him come off the board.
John Simpson, OG, Clemson
Simpson projects as a Day-3 prospect with Day-2 upside if he excels during the pre-draft process. He probably won't be a target for the Bears in the second round, but if they trade back (as Ryan Pace loves to do), Simpson is a name to remember as a potential plug-and-play starter who will maul opposing defensive linemen.
Prince Tega-Wanogho, OT, Auburn
If Ryan Pace wants to address offensive tackle early in the 2020 draft, Tega-Wanogho is a name to remember in the second round. The veteran left tackle for the Auburn Tigers has the kind of frame and functional athleticism to project as a starter in the NFL. Landing that caliber of player in Round 2 would be a big win.
Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Like Prince Tega-Wanogho, Jones is a high-end prospect with NFL starters' upside. His athletic ability is praised by scouts, but he'll have to prove the praise is warranted in one-on-ones in Mobile. If he does, he could become a first-round pick.
Trey Adams, OT, Washington
Adams has dealt with a long list of injuries during his career as a Husky, but when healthy, he's one of the more imposing prospects at the position. The Senior Bowl will give him a great chance to showcase his upside as he attempts to restore his once first-round draft grade.
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State
No matter what the Bears do at quarterback in free agency, they should still make their best effort to add one in the draft. And if a veteran is added on the open market, a player like Gordon (who threw for over 5,500 yards in 2019) is a name to remember. He'll need to prove he has the arm talent to make NFL-level throws, and there's no better place to prove that than the Senior Bowl.
Kenny Willekes, Edge, Michigan State
The Bears could be searching for a new running mate for Khalil Mack on the edge, and Willekes is coming off of a 10-sack season in 2019 for the Spartans. He's a hard-nosed, high-motor pass-rusher who would instantly become a fan-favorite in Chicago.
Anfernee Jennings, Edge, Alabama
Jennings is overflowing with potential following an eight-sack season for the Crimson Tide in 2019. He'll have to answer questions about his ability to fit as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, and he'll get every opportunity to do that in front of Bears scouts this week.
Lamar Jackson, CB, Nebraska
Chicago's secondary could undergo a minor facelift this offseason with veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara potentially on the salary-cap chopping block. Enter Jackson, who aside from already having an elite name, possesses remarkable size (6-3, 215) for the position. If he moves well, he'll move up the draft board.
Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
Nick Kwiatkoski and Danny Trevathan are both scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, and regardless if one of them is re-signed, the Bears need to add depth to the roster. Enter Harrison, who was Ohio State's leading tackler the last two seasons.