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Five Prospects I Like More Than I Should

Here are five players that I am keeping an eye on heading into the draft.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 Penn State at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every year, there are prospects that I watch that I find more compelling than their eventual draft position dictates. These are players that I find interesting enough that I want them to do well, or at least that I like thinking about what it might be like if they found their way into a Chicago Bears uniform.

Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State

Boise State v San Diego State Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Why I Shouldn’t Like Him: Ranked #99 on the composite board I assembled, the 6’ Shakir is actually not in the top 100 of any board I viewed except CBS Sports, which places him 54th. As nearly as I can tell, his drawbacks are that his physical measurements aren’t what some teams say they want and that he faced lower-grade competition. It’s true that he might struggle a bit being quite as dominant at the next level, but the real knock against him seems to be the tape measure and the underwear Olympics.

Why I Do Anyway: When I watch him play, I find the concerns about him to be a little baffling. He runs clean enough routes and absolutely fights for the ball by using his whole body. He makes catches, fights through contact, and positions himself to help his quarterback out. He’s always going and always driving. In interviews, he comes across as the sort of low-drama, high-character guy that teams at least say they want. I admit that I gravitate toward what I think of as “backyard football” receivers, guys who sort of use willpower and grit to make plays happen, but even still I think Shakir should be ranked higher than he is.

Parting Thoughts: If there would be one guy the Bears could get who I would be honestly smiling about besides a true blue chip first-rounder somehow falling to #39, it would be Shakir.

Dylan Parham, G, Memphis

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Why I Shouldn’t Like Him: Parham might be a little on the small side for the NFL, and even if he’s not, he plays that way sometimes. I do not like how he handles the bullrush from what I’ve seen, and the raw athleticism to make up for that lack of power is present, but it’s not used consistently enough to ignore concerns.

Why I Do Anyway: He has quick hands and he re-engages when beaten. He’s a former tight end, and the base athleticism is there even if it doesn’t always show up. Probably the thing that I like the best is that he plays as part of the line and he minds the guy next to him. In a scramble situation, he has the presence of mind to block what’s there, not what was supposed to be there. That counts for a lot as far as I’m concerned.

Parting Thoughts: He can play guard on either side and has four years of starting experience. The Bears could do a lot worse, and have in the past.

Jeremy Rucket, TE, Ohio State University

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Why I Shouldn’t Like Him: Ruckert is not a high-level tight end talent. He doesn’t get a ton of separation, he doesn’t show up as athletically on tape as most would want, and he probably will never be one of those guys who breaks past defenders and gets massive plays out of contested catches.

Why I Do Anyway: Ruckert is a truly aggressive blocker with legitimate hands, and he can serve as a receiving weapon without forcing the offense to tip its hand. He could be put in on offense and serve as both a threat in the passing game or an asset in the blocking game. He is also a much cheaper “security blanket” for Justin Fields than either of the high-end receivers who are out of reach anyway.

Parting Thoughts: I keep seeing a third-round grade on Ruckert, and that’s a problem for me. I feel like he’s got enough question marks that he is more of a fourth-round selection, and the Bears don’t have one of those. That means that either he’s a slight reach or he’s not going to be there. Bummer.

Nik Bonnito, Edge, Oklahoma

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Why I Shouldn’t Like Him: The Bears are moving away from a defense that would utilize Bonnito’s strengths, as he is far more of a 3-4 OLB than he is a 4-3 DE. He is weak against the run, especially for a player who would certainly cost a second-round pick. He’s a tweener who lacks power, and for all of his speed he is more fluid than sudden, and he doesn’t have the immediate impact that would elevate him into a risk worth taking.

Why I Do Anyway: He’s quick and dynamic. He gets around blockers in a way that reminds me of water at times. He finds the ball-carrier like it’s an instinct for him. The reality is that while the rational part of me knows that offense is more important than defense by about a 4:3 ratio, and that this offense needs more focus than the defense right now, I’m always going to like fast, explosive linebackers who make the quarterback hesitate.

Parting Thoughts: The Bears should not target him at all, but I think a team is going to get a steal when they take him.

Kalia Davis, 3T, UCF

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 23 Gasparilla Bowl - UCF v Marshall Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Why I Shouldn’t Like Him: He has not played a lot of football in the last two years due to Covid and injuries. Forget about getting him in NFL shape, he’s not even clearly in NCAAF shape. He needs to rebuild power just to get back to the point where he has a foundation to build on. Sometimes after a stiff block he doesn’t have a plan, and even when he does he sometimes lacks the conditioning to execute.

Why I Do Anyway: His initial step is quick, bordering on sudden, and he has the potential to be a rare interior pass rusher who can either create a gap for someone else or take advantage of a gap himself. He also has a good attitude and a passion for the game as a game. He seems to enjoy playing.

Parting Thoughts: Every defensive line needs guys in rotation in order to keep the real stars fresh, and Kalia Davis could easily be the kind of guy who picks up a couple of sacks a year because he surprises guards and centers who underestimate him. I like him for the Bears if he falls far enough.