Just a year ago at the NFL Draft Combine, all eyes were on Jared Goff as the football world watched and scrutinized the future No. 1 pick in the draft (remember the teeny 9-inch hands?). This time around, however, Cal’s representatives at the combine aren’t in the spotlight at all.
But the Bears’ 2016 quarterback Davis Webb and wide receiver Chad Hansen will take the opportunity as a chance to prove themselves as worthy of early-round picks, and Bradley Northnagel hopes to prove he should be only the fourth long snapper drafted at all since 2010.
Let’s take a look at how the Bears will perform.
Davis Webb (2016: 4,295 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, 13 interceptions)
This quarterback class has been largely panned by draft experts for being both shallow and weak at the top. This leaves just about everyone past UNC’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson’s draft positions in flux. Webb finds himself in a class with Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Miami’s Brad Kaaya, all unsure of where they’ll land.
If the Cal star can establish himself as belonging at the top of the pack, he could go as high as the back end of the first round, but a disappointing combine outing may push Webb into the middle rounds. Webb seems destined to thrive at a setting such as the combine.
His drive will appeal to coaches in interviews — which are arguably the most important piece of the puzzle for quarterbacks — and his arm strength is undeniable. Whether Webb can show an ability to take snaps from under center and the acumen to make teams comfortable with his ability to learn a pro-style offense after leading spread offenses at Cal and Texas Tech should decide his draft fate.
Projection: second-round pick
Chad Hansen (2016: 92 receptions, 1,249 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns)
Given this draft’s receiving class, which is deep but not top heavy, it would behoove Hansen to separate himself from the pack with some impressive combine numbers. An impressive 40-yard dash would go a long way to doing just that, and Hansen should certainly be able to run in the 4.4-second range. That speed, along with his 6-foot-2 frame and body control, makes Hansen an exciting prospect.
Some evaluators’ main concerns with Hansen, however, are with his strength — a key to solving press coverage, which he struggled with. His ability to change directions effectively is also under question, as Hansen’s route running was not wholly efficient over his two years at Cal. Look for the bench press and shuttle to speak more to Hansen’s actual performance at the next level, even though his 40-yard dash time could be most important for his draft placement.
Projection: third-round pick
Bradley Northnagel (played in 29 career games)
Just getting invited to the combine as a long snapper is a feat in its own right — Northnagel is one of only two at the position to score an invite this year. Northnagel will look to show teams he belongs in a group of esteemed names such as Joe Cardona and Jon Condo in the NFL, where long snappers often have long albeit unheralded careers.
Given the rarity with which this position is recognized, expect Northnagel to go undrafted and join a team after the draft.