EDIT: This will now be your open thread to discuss the East-West Shrine Bowl (kickoff at 2:00 pm Central) and any other NFL/Chicago Bears related thoughts you may have. Keep in mind open threads are rated WCG-MA, but our community guidelines are still in affect.
With the regular season wrapped up and finished, now is the time that draft discussions really start to heat up.
Only three games remain before the season as a whole is complete, but in between those three games come a handful of collegiate all-star games, the East-West Shrine Bowl being one of them.
This year’s Shrine Bowl (not Shrine Game anymore) features many potential NFL draft picks that the Bears would be smart to target. Though they didn’t draft any players from the game last year, two of their undrafted free agents, Jesper Horsted and Mathieu Betts, played in the game. General manager Ryan Pace has used the game to find prospects in the past, as the likes of Bilal Nichols, Javon Wims, Deon Bush and Bryce Callahan have all been chosen to participate.
To give you a breakdown of whom to watch if you choose to follow the game on Saturday, here are eight prospects worth keeping an eye on.
Shyheim Carter, CB/S, Alabama
A two-year starter in a talented Alabama secondary, Shyheim Carter provides a lot of versatility for a defense.
His 6-foot, 191-pound frame offers length as either a safety or a slot cornerback. He has good closing speed when running downhill and is a physical defender who doesn’t shy away from contact. When Carter is able to process correctly, he does a great job of closing soft spots in zone coverage and making a jump on the ball.
He can be a bit hit-or-miss as a tackler sometimes, and his functional athleticism is pretty average, so he should be available early on Day 3 of the draft. For a team like the Bears that needs help anywhere in the secondary, Carter would be a versatile and physical defender worth targeting.
Jack Driscoll, OL, Auburn
The Bears’ offensive line took a step back in 2019, so they will likely end up adding a rookie to add some more talent to the unit.
Jack Driscoll starred at UMass in 2016 and 2017 before transferring to Auburn, where he spent two seasons as a starting right tackle. He has impressive grip strength and possesses raw power in his frame. He blocks with a high motor and specializes against the run, consistently sealing the edge and creating running lanes for his teammates.
His technique could use some refinement, as his hand placement is inconsistent and his pad level can be a bit high at times. His body control and athleticism in space isn’t very impressive, either. As a swing tackle with potential low-end starting potential, he would be a worthy target on Day 3 of the draft.
Alex Highsmith, EDGE, Charlotte
Leonard Floyd’s long-term future with the Bears is uncertain, and the depth behind him and Khalil Mack is shaky at best. An edge rusher would be a worthy investment in this year’s draft.
I mocked Alex Highsmith to the Bears in my first mock draft of the year, so at the risk of repeating myself, he is an explosive and bendy pass rusher with athleticism in space. He put up incredible numbers this year, tallying 15 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss in 13 games, and he also had 18.5 tackles for a loss for Charlotte in 2018.
Highsmith’s pad level and overall play strength need improvement if he wants to be a full-time starter off the edge. As an athletic, rotational pass rusher with value on passing downs, he would be an enticing Day 3 prospect the Bears would be smart to look into.
Giovanni Ricci, TE, Western Michigan
Many expect the Bears to select a tight end relatively early in this year’s draft, but if they choose to wait on doing so, a player like Giovanni Ricci could be worth the consideration.
A converted wide receiver, Ricci is a fluid athlete with good straight-line speed and body control. He displays impressive ball skills and is good at making adjustments with his body to make a play on the ball. He was also pretty productive this year, finishing in second in the nation among tight ends with 8 touchdowns, as well as placing in the top 10 with 51 catches and 642 yards.
As one would expect from a former wideout, Ricci’s technique and overall play strength as a blocker could be improved. He’s prone to the occasion drop, and he suffered a season-ending injury in 2017. As a sleeper receiving tight end prospect, though, he possesses value as a potential contributor late in the draft.
Darryl Williams, OL, Mississippi State
With a glaring hole at guard, the Bears will look to address their interior offensive line the year. Luckily for them, there are a handful of blockers in this year’s draft worthy of becoming potential starters.
A three-year starter with experience at both guard and center, Darryl Williams is a stout blocker with raw power in his frame. He has a well-proportioned frame and packs a powerful punch at the initial point of attack. He blocks with a high motor and does a good job of maintaining ideal pad level and hand technique. Williams is also an intelligent blocker in zone schemes who can execute double-team blocks and pick up blitzes, as well.
Though there is clear power in his game, he doesn’t have great athletic ability. His mobility when asked to pull isn’t very good, and his acceleration to the second level is a bit sluggish. Plus, at 6-foot-2, he lacks length that will surely seem him struggle with lengthy defenders every once in a while. Overall, though, Williams has starting upside along the interior and would be a solid selection on Day 3.
Calvin Throckmorton, OL, Oregon
Oregon put together one of the nation’s best offensive line units this year, so drafting a player on that line doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
An All-Academic, four-year starter with experience at tackle and guard, Calvin Throckmorton is a versatile lineman with some solid technique. His hand usage is pretty precise, showing solid timing and placement behind his strikes. He blocks with a high motor and is willing to fight to the whistle when engaged with a defender. Plus, at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, he has great length and a frame that has room to add more muscle.
Throckmorton isn’t a very athletic prospect, as he struggles with bending his hips and moving laterally. His anchor strength is a bit underwhelming, and his footwork in space isn’t ideal. He would make sense as a jack-of-all-trades backup lineman with potential to start a few years into his career.
Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami (FL)
With Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis all slated to hit free agency this offseason, the Bears will likely have to end up adding some sort of depth at inside linebacker.
Shaquille Quarterman is very much a throwback at the linebacker position. A hard-hitting defender with a physical, in-your-face style of play, he isn’t afraid to lower the shoulder and deliver a hit. He tackles with good form and plays with a high motor in run support. His production at the collegiate level is admirable, as he finishes his career with 356 tackles and 46.5 tackles for a loss in his four seasons as a starter at Miami.
With Quarterman’s physical playing style comes some drawbacks. He isn’t a very fluid athlete and can’t change direction well in space, affecting his value in coverage. His range as a tackler is average at best, and he has a tendency to rely on his reactions more than his instincts at times. As a late-round depth piece though, Quarterman could be worth a look for the Bears.
Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan
The Bears are currently pretty thin at the cornerback position, so any form of depth would likely be welcomed to their secondary.
Lavert Hill has experience as both a slot corner and on the boundary, giving him versatility as a backup at the next level. He has solid acceleration coming out of his breaks and has the raw speed to keep up with most receivers vertically. He packs a solid punch in quick-jam press coverage, plays with good physicality as a tackler and can deliver a solid hit with good closing speed. Hill has the NFL in his blood, too, as his brother Lano Hill is a safety for the Seahawks.
Hill’s injury history is worrisome, as he has battled through minor injuries for three consecutive seasons. He doesn’t have great ball skills and can’t track the ball down incredibly well, and he is susceptible to stems and receivers who can attack leverage points well. His instincts could also be improved, as he struggles with the speed of his processing at times. Worries aside, he has potential as a special teamer who can fit in at any cornerback spot, so that should help him stick on an NFL roster.