The Bears don’t pick until the third round. So spending time on the top prospects in next year’s NFL draft is a useless endeavor. Instead, over the next three months of Saturdays, this space will focus on prospects further down the line.
Jonathan Ledbetter, DE
at (24) South Carolina, 3:30 pm ET
PROS: Unbelievable frame with ideal, height, weight, length and muscle distribution. Powerful, heavy-handed defender in the trenches. Overwhelmed tight ends and fullbacks at the point of attack. Low pad level allows him to drop anchor and stack and shed blockers in a phone booth.
Nasty swim move to work over top of blockers as a pass rusher. Has powerful hands and has flashed the ability to create movement as a bull rusher. Varies his pace and can lull blockers to sleep before snapping into a plan of attack. Tough, physical football player billed as one of the defensive leaders going into 2018. Projects to inside pass rush work in the NFL, a growing role.
CONS: Overall athleticism and explosiveness is average. Not a true edge-bender, at his best working a linear rush path to the quarterback. Misses too many stops in space due to hip tightness and struggles to change direction. Range of impact on the edge, in terms of perimeter and behind the line of scrimmage stops, will likely be limited.
Stance is square most of the time at Georgia, so there could be some upside to his first step with different coaching. For now, won’t threaten tackles off the snap and does not have great pace up the arc. Pass rush wins are usually slow burn. Loses control of his frame at times and can get over-extended. Likely limited to a rotational role in the NFL, probably on the interior.
News & Notes
- Ledbetter has battled nagging injuries over the last two seasons and was arrested as a sophomore. So he’s not exactly going to enter the draft process next spring with a clean record.
- The Bears were going to head into next off-season with their most glaring need being an edge rusher. Well, that’s over. So a few places to keep the eyes focused are DE, OT, WR and across the secondary. Ledbetter is the kind of hole-filler the Bears might be able to find in the fourth or fifth round.
- The Bears put a lot of weight into what area scout Sam Summerville tells them about the southeast and the club clearly loves players from Georgia. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears have a few scouts at Williams-Brice Stadium.