As part of their quest for a backup to develop in the pipeline behind Jay Cutler, the Bears reportedly hope to meet within the next couple of weeks with Southern Illinois quarterback Mark Iannotti, in addition to scheduling a visit with Mississippi defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche as part of the run-up to the draft in four weeks.
The Bears also were in attendance at the workout for linebacker/defensive end Victor Ochi out of Stony Brook. Ochi, 6-foot-1, 246 pounds, is a smallish pass rusher who flashed during the East-West Shrine game and has been projected as high as the second round this year.
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Iannotti, from Schaumburg, received an invite to meet with the Bears, according to About Inspired Athletes and the Daily Egyptian. Over the past two seasons after transferring to SIU from Eastern Michigan University, Iannotti threw for 46 touchdowns, completing 65 percent of his passes, and rushed for 12 more scores.
Nkemdiche has been rated a first-round talent but comes with character concerns tracing back to an incident this year when he admitted to being drunk after falling out of a hotel window in Atlanta. The Bears are one of 14 teams scheduled to meet with Nkemdiche, per NFLDraftBible.com.
Because of inconsistent production at Ole Miss, Nkemdiche has slipped from a top-five prospect to perhaps the second round, which the 6-foot-3, 294-pound defensive lineman understands, or says he does.
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“There are times I didn’t finish,” Nkemdiche said at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. “I was lazy on some plays at times, but I told [NFL teams] I’m going to keep growing as a player. I’m going to keep learning how to finish and keep becoming more of a student of the game and just focus on being the best NFL player I can be.”
The Bears and the NFL turn onto final approach for the draft every year about this time, following up group and private pro days with meetings.