The Chicago Bears had a disappointing start to their 2023 season, being walloped by the Green Bay Packers 38-20. In this game, it was evident that the Bears need to upgrade several areas of their roster next season, despite adding several key free agents this past offseason. One area the team will need to address in the 2024 NFL Draft is their pass rush, which struggled to get to Jordan Love on Sunday. A player who could fill this role is Florida State defensive end Jared Verse.
In addition to taking a look at why the Chicago Bears should draft Jared Verse with their first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft this week’s article also highlights ten draft prospects who shined in week two. It also examines a prospect who will have the toughest test of his season this upcoming Saturday, identifies a few members of the Inside the War Room All-Underrated team who had big weeks, and much more.
Chicago Bears Draft Target Jared Verse
The Chicago Bears made several key additions to their roster starting with wide receiver D.J. Moore and also including picking up Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards in free agency. However, one area the team did not invest in enough was at the defensive end.
At one end the team has DeMarcus Walker who the team signed to a three-year 21 million dollar contract. Walker is coming off the best season of his career in Tennessee having picked up a career-high seven sacks. However, he is also a bit of a gamble since he has been with four teams over the past four years, and his only season when he had over 4.5 sacks in a year was last season.
Chicago also recently added Yannick Ngakoue to play on the other side of Walker. There is no doubt Ngakoue is a proven pass rusher having a total of 65 sacks during his career. However, he is a liability vs. the run and has also been with four teams over the past four years. In addition, he only signed a one-year contract with the team so there is a good chance he will be gone after the season.
These two defensive ends are part of the reason why Pro Football Focus forecasts the Bears to have the worst defensive line in the NFL this season. It also means the Bears will look to address this position in the 2024 NFL Draft. Thankfully for Chicago, the team has two first-round draft picks this year which could be top-ten selections.
This year’s defensive end class is a strong group and is led by the fifth-best player in the 2024 NFL Draft Jared Verse. Vesre started his career off at Albany where he was named an FCS Freshman All-American and piled up 14.5 sacks in his two years with the team.
This past season Verse transferred to Florida State, and he quickly showed he could dominate against the top level of competition. In his first season with the Seminoles, he picked up 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks both of which ranked second in the ACC. He was also named to the All-ACC team and received more votes than any other defender on this unit.
One of the main reasons the Chicago Bears should target Jared Verse is his ability to get after the passer. In this area, he shows an explosive first step which constantly allows him to beat the offensive tackle off the ball. In addition to his quickness off the ball, he gives great effort play after play which has allowed him to get to the quarterback on numerous occasions on his second or third move.
In addition, to being a strong pass rusher he also holds up well against the run, which makes him one of the more complete players in the 2024 NFL Draft. As a run defender, he shows an excellent punch which often jolts the tackle trying to block him. His effort also helps him in this area consistently set the edge.
While there is no question Jared Verse has the traits to significantly upgrade the Bears’ defensive line, the question is will the team draft high enough to pick him? Going into the season the Chicago Bears were projected to have the 12th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft by Tanlathon. The team also has the Carolina Panthers first-round pick and the Panthers have the eight worst odds to win Super Bowl 58. While neither of these picks would put the Bears in the top five picks, more than likely either the Bears or the Panthers will underachieve this season, which will give Chicago a better draft pick. Even if both teams live up to expectations having two picks in the top 12 of the draft, along with having an extra pick fourth-round selection should give Chicago enough flexibility to move up in the draft if they view Verse in a similar way to how I do.
Top NFL Draft Performances of Week Two
The following is a list of pro prospects who shined during week two of college football
1. Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami
Miami quarterback looked like the potential high draft pick people saw him as going into the 2022 season. In the Hurricanes’ big win against Texas A&M, he tossed five touchdown passes, which makes him only the second quarterback in school history to complete this task. He also threw for 374 yards and completed 70% of his passes.
2. Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire
Dylan Laube showed yet again why he is one of the most dangerous multi-dimensional players in the 2024 NFL Draft. In the team’s close loss to Central Michigan, he set the University of New Hampshire single-game receiving yards record with 295 receiving yards for two touchdowns. It is also worth pointing out that Laube is an excellent return man averaging 26 yards per kick return and 14 yards per punt return last season.
3. Gage Larvadain, WR, Miami of Ohio
In just his second game at the Miami of Ohio, Gage Larvadain had the second-most receiving yards in a game for the RedHawks. Against UMass, he caught eight passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns. His highlight of the day came in the first quarter when he scored a 99-yard touchdown and displayed game breaking speed.
4. Aaron Beasley, MLB, Tennessee
Going into the 2023 season Aaron Beasley was viewed as a playmaking linebacker after leading Tennessee in tackles for loss with 13. He backed up that talk in his game against Austin Peay finishing the night with nine tackles including five tackles for loss and two sacks. His five tackles for loss are the most from a Vol since 2004.
5. Quinn Ewers QB Texas
After looking like a very average quarterback against Rice, Quinn Ewers had one of the best games of his college career. In his game against Alabama, he displayed a nice deep ball, which was one of the biggest concerns with him going into the game. He also took good care of the ball not throwing into coverage which resulted in him throwing three touchdowns and zero picks on the day. In order for Ewers to be a high draft pick he is going to need to play at this level on a consistent basis.
6. Nick Gaes, DT, South Dakota
An FCS player who had a dominant week is South Dakota defensive tackle Nick Gases. In the team’s win over St. Thomas, he recorded seven tackles, including five tackles for loss and three sacks. The junior defensive lineman is also not a one-game wonder having led the Missouri Valley Conference in sacks in 2021 and also finishing third in the conference in tackles for loss.
7. Jason Henderson, MLB, Old Dominion
Old Dominion linebacker Jason Henderson is a linebacker Inside the War Room is very high on due to his nose for the ball and high football IQ. In his game against Louisiana, he showed both of these traits finishing with 17 tackles including 2.5 tackle for loss.
8. Jer’Zhan Newton DT Illinois
Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton showed why he is one of the top defensive tackles in the 2024 NFL Draft with his play against Kansas. In this game, he routinely found his way into the opponent’s backfield and finished the night with six tackles and two sacks. Against the Jayhawks, he showed the explosion that allowed him to lead the nation with 19 quarterback hits according to Pro Football Focus according to Pro Football Focus.
9. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
Last week Marvin Harrison Jr. had one of the least productive days against Indiana. In this game, he only caught two passes for 18 yards and zero scores. He followed that up though this week by having one of his most productive days against Youngstown State. Against the Penguins he hauled in seven passes for 160 yards and two scores.
10. Danny Stutsman, OLB, Oklahoma
A member of Inside the War Room’s All-Underrated team who had an impressive week is Oklahoma linebacker Danny Stutsman. In the team’s win over SMU, Stutsman was all over the field recording 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. For his strong effort, he was named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.
NFL Draft Prospect to Watch in Week Three
One of the most polarizing prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft is South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler. He started his career off at Oklahoma where he was named the National Freshman of the Year after throwing 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. However, he was also benched in 2021 which led to him transferring to South Carolina.
Last season in his first year with the Gamecocks he started slow only throwing for an average of 198 yards per game and throwing nine interceptions in his first ten games of the year. He finished the year strong though averaging 348 yards per game and tossing 13 touchdowns in the last five games of the year.
This season Rattler has looked like he did at the end of last year completing 55 of 66 passes for 698 yards in the Gamecocks first two contests. Unfortunately, South Carolina will face its toughest competition of the year on Saturday when they go up against Georgia who dominated them last year. In the team’s matchup in 2022, Georgia won 48 to 7 and held Rattler to 118 passing yards, and also picked off two of his passes.
In this year’s matchup Rattle will again face one of the toughest defenses in college football as Georgia currently ranks 3rd in pass efficiency and 14th in passing yards allowed. On the positive side though Georgia has not had a ton of success when it comes to getting after the pass having recorded only one sack this year.
While it is hard to see South Carolina winning this game, don’t be surprised if Spencer Rattler puts up impressive numbers. The main reason for this is how consistently accurate has been this year when not having pressure in his face. He also has several playmakers he can get the ball to led by wide receiver Xavier Legette who is averaging 19.7 yards per catch.
NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— One of the most impressive rookie performances was put on by Los Angeles Rams fifth-round pick Puka Nacua. On the day he caught ten passes for 119 yards which makes him just one of four receivers in NFL history to have ten receptions and over 100 yards in his first career game. While this is certainly an impressive feat, it shouldn’t come as a shock to Inside the War Room fans, due to him being named to the All-Underrated team.
— Kansas running back Devin Neal had an impressive night against Illinois, who had one of the best-run defenses in the NCAA last year. On the day he accounted for 120 rushing yards on just ten carries with one of his touches going for a touchdown. He also picked up 47 yards through the air. In this game, he proved to NFL decision-makers that he possesses elite quickness for a 210-pound back, and can also be counted on as a receiver out of the backfield.
— Former Iowa Western and current SE Missouri State wide receiver Ryan Flournoy is a player to watch this NFL Draft cycle. Last season, Flournoy led the Redhawks in both receiving yards and touchdowns on his way to being named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference team. This season he has also put up strong numbers including catching 10 passes against Kansas State in the season opener. In addition to his impressive production, he also possesses some pretty good testing numbers according to Tony Pauline. These strong numbers include a 41-inch vertical jump and 4.4 40-dash.
— Another small school wide receiver to watch this year is Monmouth’s Nate Thornton. Thornton is one of a few Division III prospects that should be on scout’s radar due to both his size and production. Last season, Thornton caught 59 passes for 1,042 yards which averaged out to over 17 yards per reception. He also had two games with over 190 receiving yards last year, and this season already has one. Thornton will also get looks due to his 6-foot-4 195-pound size. While he will likely not get drafted look for some team to bring him in as an undrafted free agent.
— Indiana’s Aaron Casey has had back-to-back strong weeks for the Hoosiers. In week one against Ohio State he picked up 11 tackles, and this week he recorded 7 stops against Indiana State. The trait that really sticks out about Casey is how aggressively he plays downhill against the run. This skill allowed him to pick up 10.5 tackles for loss last year, and he has already made several big stops this season. Unfortunately, this can also lead to him getting out of position at times since he will over-pursue. At the bare minimum look for Casey to be a good contributor on special teams, which has been an area he has excelled at since he was a freshman at Indiana.
— It is easy to see what the Kansas City Chiefs draft needs in the 2024 NFL Draft, and that will be wide receiver. Starting wide receiver Kadarius Toney had three drops on the day and received the worst grade a receiver has gotten in the history of Pro Football Focus. Skyy Moore also didn’t do anything in this game being held catchless on the night. One receiver who could make sense for the Chiefs first-round pick is Washington’s Rome Odunze. Odunze possesses the speed that would be an ideal fit running the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds according to Bruce Feldman. He has also produced at a high level catching 75 passes for 1,145 and seven touchdowns in just eight games last year.
NFL Draft Quotes of the Week
"“What sort of writing utensil should I use to write Caleb Williams’ name down at the No. 1 spot? Should I use a Sharpie then? Because I need to use something that you can’t erase, that can’t wash away. You need to write Caleb Williams’ name down as the No. 1 overall pick in as many ways as you can write it. I don’t care if you use a smoke bomb.”"
ESPN’s Ryan Clark on USC quarterback Caleb Williams
"“I didn’t want to do what I was doing at Clemson. I didn’t really like what we did there scheme-wise. I didn’t think we did very much. I thought it was very basic. It didn’t help me out as a quarterback and play to my strengths. I wanted to go somewhere that would play to my strengths and go somewhere that would develop me for the NFL. Play-action, work under center, throw the ball deep.”"
Quarterback DJ Uiagalalei on why he left Clemson for Oregob State via The Athletic
"“He’s a really good player. He’s done a great job with their offense. He read coverages really well, he’s accurate with the ball, got really good skill guys outside, and they’re able to take advantage of that.”"
Nick Saban on Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers
"“Matt Eberflus wants consistent pressure with four so they can play zone behind it. I don’t know that they can do that. I would feel I could take away Ngakoue with a slide and challenge everybody else to win their one-on-ones.”"
An NFL scout to the Athletic on the Chicago Bears defensive line
"“I realized early in the game I need to get in better shape. I’ll definitely be ready for these next games.”"
Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter after the team’s loss to Duke
"“I don’t know if there is much more. He’s one of the biggest gym rats on our football team, he’s always catching jugs machines, footballs, tennis balls, watching film. All that work paid off, because you saw him doing a lot of different things.”"
Washington Head Coach Kalen DeBoer on wide receiver Jalen McMillan
"“I thought he tackled extremely well. He was violent. I thought you saw his speed, athleticism on some of his pressures, affected the quarterback. Had a sack, thought he played really well tonight.”"
Tennesse coach Josh Heupel on linebacker Aaron Beasley about his game against Austin Prey