In QB search, Bears hope combine meetings are 15 minutes to fame

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Bears coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — The highest drafted quarterback of John Fox’s career came sight unseen — even to the coach.

The Carolina Panthers selected Notre Dame star Jimmy Clausen seven years ago, but only after the presumed first-rounder fell to them at No. 48.

“Personally, I never even watched him, because he wasn’t a targeted guy for me in our pre-draft assignments,” Fox said at the NFL Scouting Combine this week. “But I can say now I would hope we draft someone that I’ve actually gotten a chance to watch.”

That’s an understatement.

Fox and his Bears assistants are spending the week interviewing college players, one of whom might be their quarterback at the future.

Fox called the 15-minute, private, nighttime meetings beneficial — “It’s hard to feel what a guy’s all about when you’re watching -video,” he said — while general manager Ryan Pace compared them to speed dating.

Before a meeting, the Bears’ -college scouting department will brief coaches on the prospect. -After a short chat, coaches will ask quarterback prospects to draw plays on a whiteboard, or talk them through a clip of their film.

“You feel a guy when he comes in the room: Does he have that -charisma? Does he have -confidence? Is he naturally -football-intelligent?” Pace said. “I know it’s only 15 -minutes, but we have a plan in place to pull that quickly out.”

More than ever, agents prepare their clients for the meetings. That makes it more difficult to get to the core of a player’s personality, -Denver Broncos executive vice president John Elway said.

“You can’t hide,” said Elway, the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback who drafted Paxton Lynch in the first round last year. “You put a play up on the board and ask them to explain the play or put some tape up there and have them walk you through a play. You can generally find out how much they know about football.”

Elway looks for competitiveness and toughness, too, though that’s harder to uncover in a meeting.

“Fifteen minutes is actually kind of longer than you think,” Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “You can get a lot of information out of them. You can talk to them about their offense. You know, ‘Hey, what was going on in this game protection-wise? Are you directing the run game? Are you in charge of this? How did you handle this two-minute situation?’ ”

Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, who said he spoke to the Bears, said the whiteboard -sessions don’t lie.

“You know what you know,” he said. “That’s what the coaches like to see, you communicate how you ran things in college and your ability to learn things.”

Elway said there’s probably not “a ready-made guy” in this year’s draft, while Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians sees “five to six really good arms” at the -combine.

Teams must evaluate the -nuances of those players.

“I can see his arm strength, I can see his feet, I can see him jump,” Arians said. “But the two things he plays with — his brain and his heart — they’re very hard to evaluate.”

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@patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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