JP's Presser: My Bears draft wish list
Posted 12:32 PM February 17, 2015 by Jarrett Payton
The Bears went into the off-season with a handful of question marks to be answered. Now that general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox are in place, it’s time to start looking at the potential players the Bears could select with the 7th pick overall. I’ve been scouring through every mock draft. A majority of them have the Bears selecting a defensive lineman. The transition to a 3-4 defense seems inevitable and that will result in a shakeup of the current roster. Changing defensive philosophies means the Bears will not just have to get better on that side of the ball, but also more athletic. I am a big fan of the change in philosophy on defense. The new formation will make the Bears better equipped to handle the new direction of the offenses in the NFL.
The best thing about the 3-4 is the defensive lineman are able to put their hand down in the dirt, stand up rush or even drop back in coverage when needed. The Bears will be able to target D-Lineman capable of playing in the 3-4. As I said before, the defense will be more athletic and that should be a positive. What do you think? Watching highlights of these guys is great because we get to see all of their good plays, but watching full game film really shows you what you can get out of a player.
We all have our wish list of prospects when it comes to the NFL Draft. I’ve had my eye on two guys that I think the Bears should pursue if the defense transitions to a 3-4. Those two prospects are University of Washington NT Danny Shelton and University of Florida DE/OLB Dante Fowler. The last few days I have been breaking down their game film and have fallen in love with both of their skill sets. Here’s a breakdown of their strengths, weaknesses, current NFL players they remind me of and the return on investment (ROI) for the Bears. Let’s jump right into it:
- Danny Shelton – Nose Tackle
Shelton is what I would call a “Beast” in the middle on the defensive line. He is a man that can take up space and take on a double team. That is a great attribute to have when you are a nose tackle. Watching his film he has pretty good leverage with his pad level off the snap and is great with his hands/placement. His ability to keep his hands inside on contact is big when looking for separation on the offensive lineman. I love that he can see what’s going on in the backfield, shed tackles and get to the football or the QB. Watching his college film, he had a high volume of snaps while he was at Washington which illustrates that even though he is 6 foot 1 inches, 343 lbs., he has a motor on him. He is athletic and has the bench press credentials to be very effective against the run on the NFL level.
He has great leverage off the snap as mentioned, but he can be inconstant at times. When you look at his game film he is spectacular versus lesser to mid-range talented centers. But when he goes up against a top talent center he struggles. Can he get better with better coaching in the NFL? When you’re evaluating a 1st round talented guy that’s what you’re hoping for. When he does get blocked he sometimes gives up on plays. But I can turn on the film on most guys and you will see the same thing. That could be due to the high amount of snaps. Finally, managing Shelton’s weight is going to be must at the NFL level if he’s going to be successful.
Shelton draws comparisons to: Haloti Ngata
The bottom line is Danny Shelton has the potential to be a dominant force in the NFL. The Bears have Jeremiah Ratliff, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton under contract, and Stephen Paeaas is a free agent. The Bears selected Will Sutton and Ego Furguson last year in the draft. Both guys have some upside, but I didn’t see enough out of the two of them to say they are the future on the Bears D-Line. My feeling is they will end up being great rotational players in the NFL. If the Bears want a game changer, Danny Shelton could be that guy for them at the 7th pick.
Danny Shelton vs Stanford (2014)
Danny Shelton vs Hawaii (2014)
- Dante Fowler Jr. – Defensive End / Outside Linebacker
If you’re looking for a well put-together football player, Fowler is that guy. Standing 6 feet 3 inches tall and coming in at 260 lbs., he would be a great fit in the 3-4 defense. Fowler is very versatile and was able to play up and down the line for the Gators. He is very explosive off the ball and in last year’s game versus Alabama you witnessed his sprinter speed when he lead his teammate to the end zone on a fumble recovery. The one thing that jumps out at me is his ability to rush the passer from a two or three point stance. Fowler is also able to drop back in coverage, a plus, and combining that with his athleticism makes his upside promising. Fowler has a massive wingspan and he is good with his hand placement. He has a knack for engaging and then being able to get off the block and up field. Fowler has great feet and hips so changing direction is no problem for him.
Fowler is still a work in progress. He has plenty of room to improve as a pass rusher. Constantly moving around on the Gators front 7 is a big reason why Fowler has not flourished as a pass rusher. You see some wasted motion on his pass rush and good OT’s with length can lock him out. This past season he played a bulk of his snaps at outside linebacker in Muschamp’s defense. His lower body strength is a question of how well he will hold up on the edge against the run in the NFL. He has to get better against the run if he wants to be a factor and all-around player at the next level.
Fowler draws comparisons to: Khalil Mack
If Vic Fangio is moving toward a 3-4 then Dante Fowler Jr. is a guy I know can be a difference maker. Fowler is an aggressive pass rusher and with his athletic ability I believe that the sky is the limit for this young man. He has the potential to be a double digit sack guy in the NFL, but he has to work on his technique. The big thing is how he accepts coaching and can he take what he learns from the film room to the field. NFL scouts that I’ve talked to say he has a habit of taking off plays, but that this past year he played at a higher lever consistently. His versatile skill set is a perfect fit in a 3-4 defense.
Dante Fowler Jr. vs Kentucky (2014)
Dante Fowler Jr. vs LSU (2014)