Need for Speed Can Motivate Bears at the NFL Combine

Gene Chamberlain

When Abilene Christian's Taylor "Turbo" Gabriel was about to come into the NFL, he was reported to have run a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at a pro day.

Javon Wims ran 4.53, Riley Ridley 4.58, Anthony Miller 4.48 and Allen Robinson 4.6.

So the loss of breakaway speed for the Bears' receiver corps is obvious when Gabriel's concussions and uncertain future are taken into account.

Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson both ran 4.42, but Cohen was a running back and Patterson has never impressed with his ability to execute a route tree.

Obviously they need more speed at wide receiver. It's as obvious as being at or near the bottom in yards per catch the past two years. If they didn't realize it, playing the Kansas City Chiefs and the Legion of Zoom last season made it hit home.

For this reason they'll be among the most interested groups of scouts and coaching staffs at the 40-yard dash timings for receivers. They need speed, but it has to be from wide receivers who actually know how to play the position.

Cincinnati's John Ross ran a combine record 4.22 seconds but that was three years and only 49 receptions ago. The Bears need the speed and the production.

There are several receivers who bring possible 4.3-second speed and receiving ability to the draft, and are likely to be available to the Bears after Round 1.

The chief one brought up here in the past was Jalen Reagor of TCU, whose abilities have been brought up here in the past.

The son of former NFL defensive end Montae Reagor, he's viewed by numerous football analysts as an ideal Z receiver, the position the Bears really need to fill with a burner.

Reagor combines his speed with the rare ability for a shorter receiver of being able to go vertical and take passes from defenders.

It's his habit of looking away and dropping passes which teams would need to worry about, and would be one reason he could be available in Round 2 to the Bears.

Beyond Reagor, there are several other receivers with similar skill sets or in some cases with good speed, height and hands who might be watched closely in those 40 timings and the receiving drills.

Brandon Aiyuk

A very quick-twitch Arizona State athlete who is an excellent return man. There is a great debate on how tall he is for some reason, with numbers ranging from 5-foot-11 to 6-1. There is no debate on his speed and it's why he averaged 31.9 yards a kick return and 16.1 yards on punt returns last year. His ability to wrestle the ball from defenders has to be proven yet and his route running might be questionable. For these reasons, a few scouts have suggested he'd be a better slot receiver candidate and a pick for Round 2 or later.

KJ Hamler

Billed by Penn State as the Big Ten's fastest receiver, he is about 5-foot-9, 176. Gabriel is only 5-7, 168, so that size wouldn't necessarily rule out Hamler's chance of playing the Z. Hamler has been billed as Hollywood Brown 2.0, referring to Ravens receiver Marquise Brown. They're similar in size, with Hamler possibly a bit heavier. Hamler is also a potential kick returner whose route running has also been praised. Analysts have been largely divided on where he'll go, but the consensus is Day 2 somewhere.

Justin Jefferson

A complete receiver from LSU who has both the hands and capability to run in the 4.4s. He has open-field moves and great acceleration, and is well tested against the best competition. All of these could lead to a late first-round selection, but it is also possible he'd fall into Round 2. He only has to show better detail on running routes, but you can apply this to every receiver on this list because that's simply how college players are.

K.J. Hill

One of the more complete receivers with speed, he has decent size at 6-foot, 205 and his hands are said to be among the best in the draft. Route running isn't expected to be a liability for him, and he's had constant doses of facing good defenders. Walterfootball.com said Ohio State sources reported he can run a 4.42-second 40.

Kevin Duvernay

Bigger than most receivers who are expected to run 4.5 or faster, this Miami standout has been measured at a rock solid 5-11, 210 but ran one of the country's fastest high school 100 times in track at 10.27 coming into college.

Gabriel Davis

Although this Central Florida receiver is a big X-type at 6-3, 212, he's also shown an ability to run sub 4.5 40s and could be considered a deep threat. Underpublicized because he's not at one of the perennial football powerhouses, his physical tools could put him in the early part of the draft. His route running hasn't been viewed as an obstacle.

Tyrie Cleveland

Florida's 6-3, 205-pounder has ideal size but also was said to have run a sub-4.4 in the 40 as a high school recruit, according to Thedraftnetwork.com. The problem with his speed is it's more track time and doesn't always show in his play. He is seen as someone who can use his hands well both catching passes and at blocking.

Jeff Thomas

Another Miami receiver who has been labeled more of a slot receiver type at 5-10, 180, but has impressive acceleration. There are a couple red flags on his past of this East St. Louis native. He had a two-game suspension for violating team rules in 2019 and had been dismissed in November, 2018 from the program for a team rules violation but was reinstated.

Stephen Guidry

Mississippi State's lanky (6-4, 190) receiver isn't necessarily an X-type despite his height. He can move and 23.2 yards a catch in 2018. He's been an under-the-radar type who is likely to be available on Day 3. Dropped passes have been an issue at times, but not to an excess.

Darrell Mooney

A possible late Day 3 pick or undrafted type at Tulane who has shown breakaway speed but needs to fill out a 5-11 frame because he's only 176 pounds. Averaging 20.7 yards a catch in 2018 put him on scouting radar as a speed threat.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

Comments (2)
Gene Chamberlain
Gene Chamberlain

Editor

No. They need the speed and a better offensive line.

No. 1-2
LiquorPig
LiquorPig

So... Your saying that, speed, will compensate for a mediocre, at best, OL? Sorry, but I have to call BS on that one.


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