Senior Bowl Wish List

Senior Bowl Wish List

This year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl has had me looking for a wishing star every night. All week long I watched practices on the NFL Network and finally the game on January 28th and  added players to my wish list. Some analysts complained that this year’s talent level wasn’t the very best. Perhaps. I think the overwhelmingly putrid crop at quarterback and offensive tackle led to the dour outlook. Aside from that I saw enough to think the Bears could take a leap forward if they could secure some of my favorites.

Guys That Dropped My Jaw

O.J. Howard, Tight End, Alabama

Yeah, the very best player at the Senior Bowl will not become a Chicago Bear even with the team owning the third pick in the draft. Ryan Pace won’t devote that high a pick on the Alabama tight end despite the extremely high ceiling the 6’6″, 242 pound, 22 year old has. All week long at the Senior Bowl, Howard had scouts buzzing. Why not. He does it all. Run, block, catch and electrify.

Howard had some drops during the drills, but fear not. This dude would perfectly compliment whomever is the Bears quarterback of the future.

Come game time Howard showed it all.

Tight end is a need position for the Bears. Unfortunately, the only way I see the Bears landing Howard is if they trade down a few spots.

Obi Melifonwu, Safety, UConn

Melifonwu might not be the perfect ball-hawking safety the Bears desperately need, but this guy is a physical freak with tremendous upside. Weeks ago he was a likely 3rd or 4th round pick, but his work throughout Senior Bowl week may have catapulted him into an early second round pick. Melifonwi is 6’4″ and 214 pounds. He showed he can lockdown tight ends in pass coverage and even lined up in the slot against receivers. Against the run, Melifonwu is an excellent wrap-up tackler. Pro Football Focus says he had only 26 missed tackles on 287 attempts in his last three years of college.

Melifonwu strikes me as the kind of player that could bring some more nasty to the Bears. I want him!

Kareem Hunt, Running Back, Toledo

I want running back depth (see here) and Kareem Hunt is the perfect compliment to Jordan Howard. Hunt can run, block and catch. He’s an instant fit. At the Senior Bowl he showed us something Jeremy Langford has not in his two seasons with the Bears, the ability to gain yards after contact. Pro Football Focus had him forcing “five missed tackles on 15 carries and picking up 87 of his 115 yards after contact.”

Hope the Bears coaching staff fell in love with Hunt as much as I did.

Zay Jones, Wide Receiver, East Carolina

After a season of seeing more pass drops than I can ever remember as a long-time Bears fan, I’m ready to see a sure-handed wide receiver on the team. Jones is the guy. In college he dropped only 17 of his 343 catchable opportunities, per PFF.  The fact he’s a swift moving  6-foot-2, 202-pounder doesn’t hurt either. Jones put up good stats at the Senior Bowl and would have had a sensational game had he a reliable quarterback throwing the ball. Nonetheless, Jones had 6 receptions for 68 yards and this touchdown.

 Tarell Basham, DE/LB, Connecticut

Get the quarterback! Basham does that and more. The MAC Defensive Player of the Year proved he can play well against better competition. He’s got size —  6’3 5/8″,  259 pounds —  and quickness to step in and make an immediate contribution. I think it’s fair to say he will come into the league with a greater array of pass-rushing moves than Leonard Floyd. Destined for the top 100 before the Senior Bowl… he may have moved up to top 50. (Darn.)

Other Guys I’d Welcome With Open Arms

Rasul Douglas, Cornerback, West Virginia – Might have had the best week of any cornerback. Comes from a zone defense background and that reminds me of the issues Kyle Fuller had transitioning to Fangio’s defense. Nonetheless a very intriguing defensive back.

Jordan Willis, DE/LB Kansas State – Willis should have easily made my top list, but I wanted to keep it down to five. He is a disruptor. In the game he forced two fumbles and added two sacks. He would add much needed speed as he was timed at 19.2 miles per hour during a practice session to lead all defensive lineman.

Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston – Frankly didn’t know the name prior to Senior Bowl week, probably because he missed five games last season with a broken bone he suffered in a fight with a teammate. (I guess he lost.) Anyway, when he measured in at 6′ 3″ and 244 pounds with 33-inch arms I was intrigued. He’s quick and explosive.

Carlos Watkins, NT, Clemson  – Lots of talk about Clemson’ quarterback potentially coming to the Bears. I might rather have nose tackle Carlos Watkins join Eddie Goldman. Watkins has played the best competition during the season and at the Senior Bowl and played very well.

Cameron Sutton – The Browns coaching staff moved cornerback Sutton around throughout the week, even safety. He’s got skills. Maybe he’s the ball hawking safety the Bears need. He had a poor 2016 season, playing in only three games. If he’s around in round five… take a good look at him. Round six? Turn in the pick pronto.


There are several other players who I’l like to see the Bears acquire, but I want to know who you like. Send me a tweet at @BearsBarroom

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.

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