Prospecting for Gold: Dwight Bentley, CB

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 17: Dwight Bentley #5 of the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns is tackled after making a catch for a first down on a fake punt by Mahbu Keels #21 of the San Diego State Aztecs during the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 17, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Today for my "Prospecting for Gold" post, the latest in my series looking at prospects for the Bears, I will be looking at an athletic but undersized cornerback prospect from a small southern school. Where have Bears fans heard that before? Well, every NFL team hopes to find themselves a brand new Bentley on draft day and with this guy, the Bears or some other team might find them selves a sleeper who could turn into that nice luxury ride down the road. Follow me and we'll look at CB Dwight Bentley.

Bentley played his college ball Louisiana-Lafayette, just like Charles Tillman. He is smaller than Tillman but could be a hidden gem like his fellow Ragin' Cajun in the middle grounds, however he might be more of a project. It's hard to get a good read on Bentley as a prospect because everyone seems to have him all over their board. CBSsports.com has him ranked 62nd overall and eighth at the CB position, projecting him to be a 2-3 round pick, whereas NFL.com's report makes it sound like he'll be lucky to be drafted in the 6th or 7th round.

Here's what they all had to say; first NFL.com:

Bentley has started for four years at Louisiana-Lafayette and is a classic, undersized corner from a small school that has displayed the athletic ability to contend for an NFL spot. He is very quick in short movements and is an instinctual player. He could definitely be knocked for his size and the conference he played in, but he is a good option for a team that needs to bring corners into camp and let them compete. He could have trouble in man coverage, but teams might take a flier on him in late rounds to see if they can continue to develop a good athlete at the position.

Here's what they said about his strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths: Bentley is athletic and it shows once the ball is thrown to his area. He is able to jump and adjust his body to make a play on the ball. He is very natural when working on the line of scrimmage and in zone coverage. He is aggressive to drive his foot and move toward the ball when working the flats in cover 2. He is a "blanketer" at the top of routes, and is very good at staying with his man to contest the ball once it's thrown.

Weaknesses: Bentley struggles in man coverage at his level, so it could be a huge issue for him in the NFL. He wasn't given many opportunities to play straight up at Lafayette, and he played a lot of zone coverage in which he didn't have to rely on his footwork to play on an island. He is basically non-existent in run support. At his size, he struggles to play physically and this could hurt his NFL development given that he will undoubtedly have to play special teams to stick early on.

So he's got issues which is probably what leads him to be all over draft boards. However, since the Bears run a mainly zone scheme there could be a place for him. He could learn from Jon Hoke and certainly perhaps Dave Toub could get him to buy into special teams.

Here is what Walter Football writes about Bentley:

Dwight Bentley turned some heads at the Senior Bowl. He continued to do so in Indianapolis, where he ran a 4.37 in the 40. I feel stronger about slotting him in the third round of my 2012 NFL Mock Draft.

His 4.37 was among the fastest at his position, so it's fair to say that he could be had in the third round. I think if the Bears addressed WR and DE in the first two rounds I might be OK with Bentley in the third. What do you think?

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