By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Bears coach John Fox playfully refers to the NFL Combine as the “Underwear Olympics,” a term familiar to many in football.
The Combine offers a chance for talent evaluators to fall in love with the physical skills of a prospect — but also to read too far into test numbers that may disappoint. In the case of Jamal Adams, some were looking to find reasons for why he shouldn’t be the first safety to go in the top five since Eric Berry in 2010.
Adams impressed at the Combine in every facet of his week in Indianapolis, and then came Wednesday’s performance at LSU pro day. He ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash, blowing away his 4.56 mark from the Combine run. The 4.33 time would’ve topped any safety at the Combine. While the school-provided number was more likely in the 4.4 range, Adams’ run secured his status as a top prospect in this draft class.
Adams came away from his pro day with scouts sold that he can be a special player in the league. When combining his impressive game tape with the tremendous speed and athleticism shown in his tests, there’s so much to like about Adams.
Perhaps the greatest factor working against Adams going in the top five is the other standout safety who projects high in the first round, Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. He posted seven interceptions in his one season starting with the Buckeyes, and any concerns over his limited experience in the Ohio State secondary can be answered by the game tape, which shows outstanding ball skills.
At No. 3 overall, the Bears would be the first team to consider a safety in the draft order, with the Browns all but certain to select defensive end Myles Garrett and the 49ers either going for a quarterback or defensive end. Bears general manager Ryan Pace and his team have done extensive work on both Adams and Hooker.
Teams like the Bears must weigh the all-around game and athleticism of Adams with the special ball skills of Hooker. That will be among the debates in the draft room at Halas Hall as the Bears decide their direction for the No. 3 pick.
Adams may go third overall and he could fall out of the top five, but he has certainly earned a place with the best in this draft class.