For this season the NFL changed the offseason calender slightly and pushed the NFL draft back about two weeks. In previous years the draft was the last weekend of April but now will the second weekend of May.
This isn't necessarily bad but it makes the offseason just that much longer and makes the the rumor mill work overtime to keep churning out stories.
By now the dust of free agency has all but settled and, other than where Chris Johnson is going to sign there, is not much going on. Most of the college pro-days are behind us and so now it turns to which prospects are teams hosting on private workouts.
Now, when it comes to drafting players, it's debatable how much interest a given team's attendance at a Pro-Day or a team having a certain player in for a private workout really means.
For example, it was noted that the QB-needy Cleveland Browns skipped a few top-QB prospects' Pro-Days and the media seemed concerned despite the fact that pro days aren't the end-all-be-all for player evaluation.
So the smokescreen effect is in full swing. A given team's interest, or lack thereof, is not directly related to the likelihood that they will draft a certain player. The Browns are holding private workouts with virtually every draft-eligible QB and the Patriots are just being thorough (and you can never rule out a trade up).
But what about our Chicago Bears? Which players are they working out and meeting with?
Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina - Quarles is seen as a round 2-4 pick and he weighs in at 6'4" and 297 lbs. He's seen as a good player who may have benefited from the extra attention Jadeveon Clowney got and could use a little more coaching. NFL.com reports that Quarles met with the Bears at the Combine.
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois - In the mold of former-Mid-American Conference quarterbacks Julian Edelman and Josh Cribbs, Lynch is a guy who put up gaudy stats against lesser competition and is not seen as a promising QB prospect at the NFL level. Lynch has worked out for teams at QB, RB, WR and DB. He is a man without a position but unlike Tebow, is willing to change positions if he has to. The Bears have a private workout scheduled with Lynch (allegedly at QB) and Walterfootball reports the Bears met with him at the Combine, too.
Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut - Smallwood is seen as a third round prospect who has scheme versatility and could play inside or outside. Smallwood met with the Bears at the Combine.
Walt Aikens, DB, Liberty - Aikens is a day three cornerback prospect who is raw and played against low-level competition at Liberty. He has athleticism but doesn't possess top end speed. The Bears hosted him on a private workout.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson - Boyd is one of those players that, over the course of a college football season, goes from highly sought after to afterthought. At one time he was discussed as worthy of a top 10 pick, now CBSsports.com lists him as a 7th-FA pick. He will need to overcome questions about his height and mechanics to make it in the league. Boyd met with the Bears at the Senior Bowl.
Xavius Boyd, LB, Western Kentucky - I couldn't find a scouting report on Boyd, but Walterfootball says the Bears are interested in him. He's listed at 6'2" and 236 lbs on CBSsports.
Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State - Bucannon is a second day pick who has been discussed as a fit for the Bears on WCG previously. He is a hard-hitter who has range but isn't quite as polished in his pass defense abilities. The Bears had a private workout with him.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt - If you're a regular on WCG and you don't know anything about Donald then you have been actively trying to avoid that information. He is considered the top DT prospect in the draft and is seen as a natural fit for the Bears in the first round, though there is the
false rumor that he would refuse to play for Chicago. (Wink, wink). Donald met with the Bears at the Combine.
Marqueston Huff, DB, Wyoming - Huff is a day three prospect who played CB before moving to FS as a senior. CBS lists him at 5'11" and 196 lbs. He has "tweener" traits and is a shoddy tackler. The Bears met with him at his pro day.
Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma - Ikard is seen as a developmental prospect at the center position. He is projected as a day three prospect and a guy whom Aaron Kromer could work with. The Bears met with him at the Combine but, with the acquisition of Brian de la Puente, it is worth wondering if the Bears would use a pick on another G/C prospect to compete with de la Puente and Taylor Boggs when the team has such pressing defensive needs.
Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama - At 6'2" and 198 lbs Norwood's scouting report sounds not unlike that of Marquess Wilson or Earl Bennett. Solid player, could use some strength, projects as a possession receiver who doesn't have game-breaking speed. The Bears met with Norwood at his pro day. He is a day three prospect. The Bears are stacked at receiver but adding another guy on day three probably wouldn't be met with too much resistance.
These are the reports that are out there now. Of course, with just over a month still to go before the draft WCG will be on top of any more visits and workouts that become news. Do any of these prospects intrigue you as someone the Bears should pick?