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Bears picks measure up well — for most part

Interesting tidbits can be gleaned from poring over athletic index scores of group

Dan Pompei

On the NFL

3:27 PM CDT, May 4, 2013

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They don't wear scientist smocks in the Bears' draft room, and the scouts understand that game tape isn't just something to wrap around joints on Sundays.

But since Bears general manager Phil Emery started the discussion during the draft when he talked about the athletic index scores of some of the newest Bears, the topic is worth exploring further.

There is no question the Bears drafted some players who are athletic and/or physical marvels. But not every draft pick was a workout wonder.

Here are how some fascinating numbers from the NFL scouting combine factored into some of the Bears' draft picks.

Kyle Long

A couple of measurements stand out about the Bears' first-round pick.

He had 11-inch hands — the largest of any player in the draft.

And he had 15.8 percent body fat. That easily was the lowest among all offensive linemen who were tested in the Bod Pod at the combine.

The six offensive linemen who were drafted ahead of him might not look as good in swim trunks. Eric Fisher measured 20.3 percent body fat; Luke Joeckel 20.4; Jonathan Cooper 21.5; Chance Warmack 21.4; D.J. Fluker 24.8 and Justin Pugh 20.6.

Long had 263 pounds of lean body mass. That was second highest among offensive linemen to Rogers Gaines, who signed with the Ravens as a free agent. Gaines had nine more pounds of lean body mass but, at 333 pounds, is 20 pounds heavier.

What does lean body mass matter? It helps with movement and power. A high percentage of lean body mass also makes athletes less susceptible to injury and helps them recover faster.

Jon Bostic

He was the fastest middle linebacker at the combine with a 4.59 40-yard dash. Among all linebackers, he was second fastest to Titans' third-round pick Zaviar Gooden, an outside linebacker who ran 4.46.

Why is this significant? In the Bears' defensive scheme, speed is critical for a middle linebacker. That's one reason they were drawn to him over other prospects.

Khaseem Greene

His fourth-round selection was proof that the Bears were looking at more than workout numbers.

Greene raised some concerns at the combine with a 30-inch vertical jump and a 7.58 three-cone time. Both were worst among linebackers.

At Rutgers' pro day, Greene tried the vertical again and showed a remarkable improvement of four inches. It wasn't overly impressive, but it was better than those of Jarvis Jones (30.5), Alec Ogletree (33.5), Manti Te'o (33), Bostic (32.5) and Arthur Brown (32.5), among others.

Greene didn't try the three-cone again, but it was easy for teams to look past his combine time because his short-shuttle at the combine of 4.20 was tied for second among all linebackers.

Cornelius Washington

Washington's athleticism at the combine was far superior than his production at Georgia, where he had a half sack last season. If the Bears can tap into some of his incredible power and explosion, Washington would be a sixth-round steal.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said he thought Washington would be a second-round pick, and categorized his fall to the sixth as the biggest surprise fall of the draft.

In the 40-yard dash, Washington ran a 4.54. Among defensive ends, that ranked tied for third at the combine. Only Barkevious Mingo, the Browns' sixth overall pick and the Bengals' Margus Hunt, the 53rd pick, ran faster. Each had a 4.53. Dion Jordan, who the Dolphins picked third overall, also ran a 4.54.

Every front-seven player at the combine is tested on speed of pass rush moves. In swim-rush right, Washington timed at 1.85. Among linemen, that was the second-best time after Mingo, who had a 1.84.

Washington also had a vertical jump of 39 inches. Only one front-seven player at the combine, Patriots' second-round choice Jamie Collins, did better at 411/2 inches.

Washington bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times. The only defensive end or linebacker who topped him was Hunt, with 38 reps.

Here's another quirk about Washington's workouts. He didn't run the three-cone drill or the 20-yard shuttle at the combine, wisely as it turned out. He later did both at Georgia's pro day.

His three-cone time of 7.47 would have placed last among defensive ends who ran the drill at the combine, and his 20-yard shuttle time of 4.74 would have been second worst.

So what that tells us is his change of direction ability and stop/start ability are well below average. But he can move forward pretty well.

The combine categorized Washington as a linebacker. But at 6-4, 265, he clearly has the size of a defensive end for a four-man front and was significantly heavier than both Mingo and Jordan. And given what his athletic tests reveal, his only hope in the NFL probably is as a player who moves forward on every play.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei