The Bears on Monday visited at Halas Hall with some serious speed at wide receiver, including a player who has shown it on the stop watch and another who shows it in games.
Michigan State's Jalen Nailor and Baylor's Tyquan Thornton, the fastest receiver at the 2022 NFL scouting combine, made top-30 visits with the Bears according to a Pro Football Network report. Both could be Day 3 choices in the draft or possibly Day 2, because of some perceived flaws in their games. However, there is no mistaking their speed.
It was Thornton who ran the 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the combine which first was shown as 4.21 by NFL Network during the combine telecast. The 4.21 would have broken the NFL combine record of 4.22 by John Ross, but the recheck of times showed it was 4.28.
The funny thing about Thornton is that while he was the combine's fastest receiver, he wasn't even the fastest player from his own school as Baylor cornerback Kalon Barnes ran 4.23 for the second fastest time ever. UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen also was faster (4.26).
Thornton isn't just a fast runner. He has produced at Baylor with 143 receptions and 2,242 yards in a four-year career. He managed career highs of 62 receptions, 948 yards and 10 touchdown catches in 2021.
The combine didn't just show Thornton to be fast. He has a 36 1/2-inch vertical leap and 79-1/4-inch wing span, and at 6-foot-2 1/2, 181 pounds he has a very large catch radius.
It isn't a big enough catch radius to satisfy scouts he is an X-type of receiver, and might be a Z-receiver because of his lack of physical strength.
"Once he gets even with a DB he stacks with his excellent speed and long strides," NFL Draft Bible wrote in its assessment of Thornton. "Good downfield tracking ability, and will high point the ball with good hand catching technique."
They also pointed out he's not going to be the type of receiver who merely steps into the NFL as a starter and doesn't need to play special teams.
"Has the speed to play gunner on special teams and will need to play teams at the next level," NFLDB's scouting report says.
Thornton is not on Kiper's top 10 for wide receivers but did make the NFLDB list of top outside receivers at No. 12 overall.
Nailor was thought to be a burner, as well.
"You know what you're getting with Nailor and it's home run ability on go routes," NFLDB says of the Michigan State receiver.
However, at the combine he ran 4.5 for the 40.
It's a case where he plays faster than he times. He averaged 16.9 yards er catch with 86 receptions for 1,454 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"Nailor adds some value in the run game, where he is always in a good position (despite not being the most physical player), as well as with the ball in his hand on end-arounds," NFLDB reports. "Will get you yards if he has space."
While he has deceiving speed and an ability to get open, he's definitely no X-receiver and probably not even a slot because of one real issue.
"Nailor is god awful in contested catch situations and didn't haul in a single contested catch in 2021," NFLDB says.
So it's Z-receiver all the way for Nailor, although he has shown he can be highly productive at this spot.
Nailor is not on the Kiper top 10 at receiver.
NFLDB estimates he'll be a possible fifth-round type, which is also the round where the Bears found Darnell Mooney.