Bears GM Poles evaluates Daniels, Nabers, Thomas at LSU pro day

Bears general manager Ryan Poles, assistant general manager Ian Cunningham and coach Matt Eberflus were all present at LSU pro day Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Representatives from teams across the league converged on Baton Rouge to watch quarterback Jayden Daniels and receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. work out. Daniels, the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner, is considered one of the top quarterback prospects and a potential top-five pick in the 2024 draft.

The Bears hold the No. 1 overall pick in the draft on April 25. They are widely expected to select USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who held his pro day last week. Even if the Bears are set on drafting Williams with the top pick, they are certain to do their due diligence on all of the top quarterback prospects.

Daniels is expected to be one of those top QBs, along with North Carolina’s Drake Maye and Michigan’s JJ McCarthy. Some analysts expect Daniels might go second overall to the Washington Commanders. First-year Washington coach Dan Quinn was present Wednesday as well, as was first-year New England coach Jerod Mayo. The Patriots hold the No. 3 pick.

Daniels didn’t throw in front of scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine a month ago. On Wednesday he threw for about 25 minutes. He completed 52 of his 56 pass attempts in the highly choreographed workout.

Earlier in the day, Daniels measured in at 6-foot-3⅝ inches and 210 pounds, with 9⅜-inch hands. His size might be one of the biggest concerns. He’s not a stout quarterback and he worked out in flowy long sleeves during Wednesday’s indoor workout. In comparison to Williams — who measured in at 6 feet, 217 pounds — Daniels is taller, but Williams is thicker.

Daniels is probably the best dual-threat quarterback in this year’s draft. He led all FBS quarterbacks with 1,134 rushing yards in 2023, while also throwing for 3,812 yards with 40 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Per the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Daniels was expected to hold meetings with the Patriots, Commanders, Giants, Vikings, Broncos and Raiders following his pro day. In an interview with the NFL Network broadcast, Daniels noted that he’ll be excited to play for whoever values him.

“I mean, it’s really just who wants to invest in me,” Daniels said. “Somebody that wants to go out there and say this is our guy. Whatever it takes to make me successful. Whoever drafts me is going to get a hard worker. I’m ready.”

Daniels ended his workout with a pair of deep tosses to Thomas and Nabers. Many scouts and GMs were likely just as eager to see the two receivers as they were to see Daniels.

LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers runs the 40-yard dash during LSU's NCAA football pro day in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) AP

Nabers is expected to be one of the first three receivers taken, along with Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Washington’s Rome Odunze. It’s up for debate exactly which order those three will be selected in.

Thomas is also considered a first-round prospect, but he’s more likely to be selected in the middle of the first round or somewhere in the 20s. Thomas doesn’t have as much college playing experience as some of those top targets, but he had a major breakout season in 2023. Both Thomas and Nabers had 1,000-yard seasons in 2023.

On Wednesday, Nabers ran his 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds and recorded a 42-inch vertical jump. Thomas ran a 4.33 in the 40 and recorded a 38½-inch vertical.

Nabers believes he’s the best receiver in the draft. Harrison, who is probably the favorite to become the first receiver drafted, did not participate in the combine and did not partake in Ohio State’s pro day. He prefers to work out for teams individually.

LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. catches a pass during LSU's NCAA football pro day in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) AP

“For me, everybody says receiver one, receiver two, receiver three. I’m always the one that I say, ‘I’m the best,’” Nabers told the NFL Network on Wednesday. “The main thing, I came out here to set the record straight that I’m the best. When I woke up, we had to be here at 8 [a.m.], I was up at 5 [a.m.] and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was ready to get out here.”

Per the NFL Network, Nabers met with the Giants, Patriots, Titans, Jets and Jaguars on Tuesday. He also had a meeting with the Cardinals scheduled.

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