A player the Bears have been linked to in many mock drafts has made a step forward in the run up to the NFL Draft.
It's a fast step forward.
Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman is a player who would project as a potential replacement for Allen Robinson if the Bears lost their veteran standout in free agency. According to Josh Edwards of CBS Sports, Bateman ran a laser-timed 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the EXOS combine.
It was hand-timed at 4.37, the times cited in Edwards' story by Bateman's agent Blake Baratz. It's a very fast time for an X-receiver type.
There is no scouting combine this year due to the pandemic. Instead, pro days are being relied on greatly for scouting. However, pro days are notorious for 39-yard dash times. The times come in far faster than at the combine, where it's objective and laser-measured.
Because there is no scouting combine, the athletic training company EXOS is holding a two-day event of this type with many of the prospects they have. According to SI.com, those include possible first rounders like Bateman, LSU's Ja'Marr Chase, Alabama's Patrick Surtain and Miami’s Greg Rousseau. In all, there are 133 players working out at EXOS facilities in Pensacola, Fla.; Carlsbad, Calif.; Phoenix and Frisco, Texas; and Phoenix, and those players have been holding a combine this weekend.
Bateman is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver who caught 147 passes for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons for the Golden Gophers.
The Bears can put a franchise tag on Allen Robinson any time before the March 9 deadline and prevent him from bargaining with other teams, or at least guarantee themselves draft pick compensation if he does leave. There's also the possibility they could tag him, which would guarantee him about $18 million this year, then trade him to another team.
Bateman would have a long way to go to be on a level with Robinson, but if those times are anything close accurate then he already is ahead of where Robinson was in terms of speed.
Robinson ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.