The NFL scouting combine cannot be understated in terms of its importance. Many teams use it as the primary measuring stick for top draft prospects. Not only due to their performance in the drills but also how they interview during the event. The Chicago Bears and GM Ryan Pace seem to place particular stock in this as many of their top draft choices have been combine standouts.
For fans though it’s difficult because they’re not sure which drills are supposed to mean more than others. Sure the 40-yard dash is the most popular but while it may be the most important drill for say wide receivers, it might not be for defensive linemen. After doing some research I wanted to see if I could find a particular drill that seemed to stand out in regards to any particular position the Bears have drafted frequently in the past.
I scored a hit on one: the 20-yard shuttle. Believe it or not, this drill has been a big tell in regards to who the Bears may or may not draft on the offensive line. Just look at their prior picks during the Pace era and how they all faired in it. The results are surprising.
Tayo Fabuluje (6th round, 2015): 4.77 seconds
Under normal circumstances, a 4.77 for the shuttle would be considered decent but nothing special for an interior offensive lineman as Fabuluje was projected to be. However, there’s one thing to keep in mind. The guy weighed 353 lbs. Laken Tomlinson, the eventual 1st round pick that year of Detroit, ran a 4.87 at 323 lbs.
Cody Whitehair (2nd round, 2016): 4.58 seconds
Among all offensive linemen at the combine, Whitehair has the 8th-best shuttle time. If people aren’t convinced of that, then here’s a fun nugget. The guy who had the 2nd-best time (4.44) was Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs. Some will remember that he was the name the Bears were planning to draft in the 2nd round before Green Bay traded up to get him.
Jordan Morgan (5th round, 2017): 4.73 seconds
Morgan was tied for the 12th-best overall shuttle time among offensive linemen at the 2017 combine and had the 3rd-best among projected guards. His iffy bench press though (21 reps) may have been an indicator that he didn’t have enough power for the NFL.
James Daniels (2nd round, 2018): 4.40 seconds
It took four years but Pace finally got the #1 guy in the shuttle drill in 2018. That was Daniels and it wasn’t all that close. His 4.40 beat out the next closest guy in Joseph Noteboom who had a 4.44. Just for a reminder, Indianapolis Colts All-Pro Quenton Nelson was 7th with a 4.62. So this drill can actually tell a lot.
If fans are curious about certain offensive linemen going into this upcoming NFL draft, then keep an eye on the 20-yard shuttle. That more than any other has been a true barometer for the type of blockers the Bears covet.