A Bear in Cowboy Territory
The Chicago Bears sent scouts to Wyoming's recent pro day. It was there the team met privately with defensive back Marqueston Huff.
Huff (5-11, 196) played three seasons at cornerback for the Cowboys before switching to safety his senior year. From the Wyoming football Web site:
"Huff concluded his Wyoming career among the nation's leaders in tackles in 2013. He led all Mountain West defensive backs in tackles with 127. That was 30 tackles more than any other MW defensive back, and it ties him for 11th on the Wyoming single-season tackle list. Huff averaged 10.6 tackles per game to rank No. 4 in the conference among all players at all positions. His 10.6 tackle average also ranked him No. 11 in the nation.
Huff was credited with 74 solo tackles, to lead the Cowboys in that category. He ranked No. 2 in the MW and No. 9 in the NCAA in solo tackles. Huff recorded six double-figure tackle games this season, including a career high 20 versus Utah State in the final game of the season. Those 20 tackles ties for the third best single-game performance in Wyoming history. He also had 18 tackles at Nebraska, which ties for No. 7 on the Wyoming all-time chart. "
Huff was one of the fastest safeties at the combine, running a 4.49 40-yard dash, and also was a top performer in the short shuttle (4.19 seconds). He has the speed and experience to cover wide receivers vertically and he's also a sound, aggressive tackler in the box.
Many scouts believe Huff is best suited at cornerback, where his explosiveness and physicality can be full utilized. Yet as an in-the-box safety, Huff could have a lot of value at the next level.
Bears GM Phil Emery has talked on numerous occasions about finding players that are "scheme-versatile" and can play multiple positions. Huff's experience and production at both safety and cornerback fits Emery's criteria.
Huff is considered a sixth-round prospect and it appears the Bears would be more than happy to grab him on Day 3. He has the potential to be a starter at multiple positions and his pure athleticism should make him a strong contributor on special teams.
Also at the Wyoming pro day was wide receiver Robert Herron (5-9, 193), who posted a 40 time that ranged from 4.24 to 4.33. That is blazing fast and a huge improvement over his disappointing 4.50 at the combine.
Herron was a solid performer at the Senior Bowl and could be on Chicago's radar as a slot receiver in the third or fourth round.
Hilltoppers on Display
The Bears were also on had for last week's Western Kentucky pro day, where 19 NFL teams were present. The event featured 14 NFL hopefuls, with RB Antonio Andrews the likeliest to hear his name called on draft weekend.
Andrews is an interesting prospect due to his ability in pass protection. At the Senior Bowl during 1-on-1 drills against blitzing linebackers and safeties, Andrews shined in protection, showcasing great balance, a strong punch and solid anticipation. Andrews did not allow a single sack during the 15-20 reps I witnessed.
He has average size (5-10, 225) and he's not fast (4.82 at the combine), which is why he's considered a fringe draft pick or priority free agent. Yet he was very productive in college, leading the nation in all-purpose yards in consecutive seasons the past two years, and his ability to block is very appealing to the Bears.
Consider Emery's response when asked two weeks ago the traits he desires in a backup running back:
"No. 1 quality of a running back for us is that he can pass protect," Emery said, "and that you feel confident he can provide a good anchor and he has the mental processing speed to pick up blitz with consistency at a good or better level. No. 2 is instincts. No. 3, his feet and his ability to gain positive yards."
Sounds like a quality pass protector who led the nation in all-purpose yards fits a lot of those criteria. The Bears currently have just Michael Ford, an undrafted free agent last season, as the only running back behind Matt Forte. So expect Emery to give Andrews a long look in the late rounds or, if he goes undrafted, as a priority free agent.
We're told the Bears are one of six teams who showed interest in Hilltoppers LB Xavius Boyd, another potential late-round selection. Boyd (6-2, 240) was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 after leading the conference in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (8.5). He ran in the upper 4.6/low 4.7 range at his pro day, with a 32-inch vertical jump.
Boyd was considered by many to be a combine snub and is an underrated, athletic linebacker. He's a solid tackler and has sideline-to-sideline range. He's also very adept at attacking the quarterback off the edge. His skill set will make him very attractive to Chicago in the late rounds as a special teams linebacker with upside.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.