MOBILE, Ala. – Four players the Bears selected in the 2022 NFL Draft improved their stock at last year's Senior Bowl.
The group consists of third-round receiver Velus Jones Jr., fifth-round tackle Braxton Jones, fifth-round defensive end Dominique Robinson and seventh-round guard Ja'Tyre Carter.
In a Feb. 5, 2022 article on ProFootballNetwork.com, writer Cam Mellor listed Velus Jones Jr., Braxton Jones and Robinson among 20 "Senior Bowl risers" based on their performances in Senior Bowl practices.
Velus Jones Jr. arrived at the Senior Bowl having appeared in 61 games with 21 starts over six seasons at USC (2016-19) and Tennessee (2020-21). He caught 120 passes for 1,434 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jones also averaged 24.4 yards with two touchdowns on 122 kickoff returns and 15.1 yards on 18 punt returns.
"As one of the fastest receivers out there, Velus Jones Jr. put on a display," Mellor wrote. "He was quick off the line in 1-on-1 drills and even quicker on straight-line routes. Jones blew by defenders with that speed and utilized that burst to create separation. What Jones did show that was new was an elite ability at the catch point and some terrific body control.
"Not every catch counted, but Jones made essentially a highlight reel's worth of clips with just his displays in 1-on-1s. He contorted his body and kept his feet in bounds while snatching the ball from defenders both in the end zone during red-zone drills and in the open field all the same. It was a great display of skills that translate to the NFL."
After playing in 34 games over five seasons at Southern Utah, Braxton Jones showed that he could compete with top-level prospects at the Senior Bowl.
"His reps during the first two days were outstanding," Mellor wrote. "He was strong and rigid when necessary. But he presented a great base and soft hands to keep engaged with his defender at others.
"Jones has some seasoning left to do, but his athletic traits are impressive. His strength and measurables are a great combination to start with his evaluation. But his performance on the field against some of the best edge rushers through Days 1 and 2 was a better sign of things to come."
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Robinson arrived at the Senior Bowl still looking to master a relatively new position. He arrived at Miami (Ohio) as a quarterback, switched to receiver as a freshman in 2017 and was moved to defensive end as a senior in 2020.
"Coming relatively out of nowhere, Dominique Robinson put on a pass-rushing clinic with an array of moves on Day 1," Mellor wrote. "He didn't look back from there, but that first day was truly something special for Robinson. A lanky edge rusher with a surprisingly solid frame, it wasn't just bend that Robinson showcased.
"There were back-to-back pass-rush reps where Robinson utilized a bend to get around a tackle before bull-rushing another tackle to sack the quarterback. It was a dominant performance for a player who needed to show out. And show out he did."
A four-year starter at Southern University, Carter also showed that he belonged with the nation's top Division I players at the Senior Bowl.
"I was proving to myself that, 'yeah, I can play with them,' Carter said last year after getting drafted by the Bears. "I've been saying it, and then I just went up there and proved it."
Bears assistant director of college scouting Breck Ackley, who was a kicker and punter at Southern, scouted Carter throughout his career at the school.
"At that level, you want to see a guy stand out," Ackley said after last year's draft. "The first thing you notice is he walks in the room to meet you and he looks the part. That's kind of step one. Well put together, looks like an NFL lineman. And just seeing him move. You go to practice and see him move live, that's the next check box. Then, obviously, you turn on the film after that and he's holding his own.
"His best game was [against] Troy, so I think that speaks volumes. When you're a guy at that level and they play a high competition, if they can play their best, that usually says a lot."