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NFL Combine Notebook: What we learned from EDGE rushers, linebackers and defensive linemen the Chicago Bears might be scouting

Will DeWitt Avatar
March 1, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Scouting Combine is an exciting time to learn more about each prospect entering the draft. This goes not just for the teams, as the media uses this time to gather as much information as they can on these players, too.

In a span of three hours, over 70 players spoke to the media on Wednesday. As one person, I didn’t have the ability to listen to everyone, but I tried my best to gather some notes on some players the Chicago Bears could be interested in.

Here is a note dump on edge defenders, linebackers, and defensive linemen I had a chance to cross paths with. Some players have more notes than others, but that’s just the nature of the beast of having multiple interviews being conducted simultaneously.

EDGE

Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson (DL49) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • He’s “real close” to 100 percent after undergoing foot surgery, which did require a screw.
  • Wilson will give it a full-go at the Texas Tech Pro Day and believes he’ll also conduct a personal workout before the draft.
  • Highlighted his power and speed to win inside and out.
  • Looks to JJ Watt and Myles Garrett to mold his game after.
  • Met with the Bears twice and believes the coaching staff is “great.”
  • Talked up his passion and love of the game. Said that it’s evident on film and that he makes hustle plays due to that intensity.

Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

  • Watches a lot of Nick Bosa tape.
  • No matter what happens, he tries to keep the same mindset.
  • Alabama’s coaching staff and defense allowed him to become a versatile player.
  • Loves to “Get on the edge and go!”
  • The one item he’s working to improve before the draft is his flexibility.
  • His overall major goal as an edge rusher is to simply affect the quarterback in different ways. Understands there’s more to it than sacks, and even hits. Forcing a quarterback to throw the ball away is a win.

Myles Murphy, Clemson

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson defensive lineman Myles Murphy (DL42) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • Said he can dominate in any gap due to his great speed, strength and size.
  • Mentioned that he’s a leader and that helps him communicate on the field.
  • Was a left-handed pitcher in high school that could throw up to 90mph.
  • Has not met with the Bears.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

  • Talked up his ability to bend the corner and that he’s been working hard on it since high school as he believes it’s the top trait to have as an edge rusher.

Dylan Horton, TCU

  • Spent a good chunk of time talking about film and how he’d scout opponents to learn how to best attack them.
  • Referenced his game against Michigan as a prime example where he studied hard, recognized looks on film, made the proper adjustment and came away with a sack.

Nolan Smith, Georgia

  • Smith has contagious positive energy.
  • Said he likes to play like his hair is on fire.
  • Understands that a part of becoming great is working hard and being coachable. Wants to be coached hard.
  • Doesn’t worry about what others think and has worked hard to create an “iron mindset.”
  • Believes that adversity is just a part of everything and it’s all a matter of pushing through it.

Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame

  • Foskey said his strength is power and that he’s good at converting speed into power with his aggression.
  • Plays with passion.

Zach Harrison, Ohio State

  • Emulates his game to mirror Myles Garret and Chandler Jones.
  • One accomplishment he is proud of is being voted team captain.

Ivan Pace, Cincinnati

  • Looked a little smaller than I thought he’d be.
  • Says he has the skills and plays with plenty of effort to help make up for it.

Derick Hall, Auburn

  • Models his game off Von Miller.
  • More of a true speed rusher to start his career, but worked hard to become more of a power rusher and loves using the “stab” move.
  • Eberflus would like to hear this quote: “I’m big on effort.”
  • Understands that he needs to add counter pass rush moves.
  • Spoke about his family being singers and was forced to sign in the church choir. Also played tuba in high school.

EDGE ANALYSIS: Tyree Wilson’s size, stature, and mindset were massive standouts. I wrote an article as to why he could be the Bears’ new draft target. Smith’s personality was a bright spot of the morning.

Linebacker

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe (LB24) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Owen Pappoe, Auburn

  • Mentioned teams see him as a Mike or a Will linebacker in the league and he looks up to Bobby Wagner, Fred Warner, and Eric Kendricks.
  • Extremely hard worker who will put in “extra work” to be the best he can be for his team.
  • Wants to gain the respect of the building when he’s drafted and become a leader for his defense.
  • Works hard preparing mentally, too and said he’s vocal and makes sure to call things out and get his teammates on the same page pre-snap.
  • Can be a “sideline-to-sideline” linebacker that excels in pass coverage: “I can run with the best of them.”
  • Has endured a lot of coaching changes. Had three head coaches in high school and played for three different defensive coordinators at Auburn. Taking it in stride and tries to take the best of what he’s learned from each coach and combine them to help him be as good as possible.

DeMarvion Overshown, Texas

  • Looks up to Darius Leonard and Michah Parsons. Bringing up Leonard is interesting as it’s a player Eberflus developed in this city.
  • A quote that the Bears would like: “I love being physical.”
  • As a player that transitioned from safety to linebacker, he is confident in his coverage skills.

Trenton Simpson, Clemson

  • Dad has a military background of 26 years.
  • His favorite thing to do on the field is spy quarterbacks, which is becoming more necessary in the NFL. Mentioned Lamar Jackson by name, but not Justin Fields.
  • Talked up his versatility and speed, and said he is a 4.4-guy. Went on to add that his speed will help him chase down and tackle running backs.
  • Disciplined on and off the field.
  • Graduated in three years at Clemson and that classroom grind has earned the respect among NFL teams.

LINEBACKER ANALYSIS: It surely feels as if the Bears will have options to add a Will linebacker in this draft if they choose to address that position with Overshown potentially on the top of the list.

Defensive Line

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin defensive lineman Keeanu Benton (DL01) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin

  • Understood that he was one-dimensional early on during his college career as a true run-stuffer, but worked hard to become a better pass rusher.
  • Was asked to get after quarterbacks more this year and said the results speak for themselves.
  • Former wrestler and said that his experience has “translated phenomenally” to football.
  • Proud of the fact that he was the first player at his school to go D1 in 30 years.
  • Coachable and knows he has work to do in order to reach his full potential. Has added some extra pass-rush moves, but wants to add more and to find how high his ceiling is.
  • He’s a friendly person but has the switch in his mindset as soon as he steps onto a football field.

Jalen Carter, Georgia

DEFENSIVE LINE ANALYSIS: Benton kept me engaged throughout his time at the podium. So much so that I didn’t navigate to talk to some of the other prospects. He could be an interesting Day 2 option for the Bears.

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed my notes from Wednesday at the NFL Combine. Tomorrow we get to talk to the defensive backs. Make sure to follow CHGO Bears on Twitter for our complete coverage. You can also find me on Twitter — @Wi11DeWitt.

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