Chicago Bears: Top prospects to watch in Christmas weekend Bowl games

Chicago Bears (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bears, Malcolm Koonce
Chicago Bears (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

3. EDGE Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo

Staying in the same game on Christmas Day, we’re back to the Buffalo side of the ball. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: This guy is a high-motor pass rusher out of Buffalo. Don’t ever count out a pass rusher from Buffalo coming to Chicago with Khalil Mack on the roster.

Malcolm Koonce stands 6-foot-3, weighing roughly 250 pounds and is primarily known for using his long upper body to help get past opposing blockers. He’s definitely strong in his upper half, but could use a little more strength in his base.

Over the last two seasons, Koonce has averaged at least one tackle for loss per game (17.5 TFL in 17 games). He also has 13.0 sacks in that same time span. Last year, Koonce forced three fumbles — a career high. This season, he proved he could disrupt passes in the air, coming up with a pair of passes defensed.

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The senior has really come on as an NFL prospect over these past two years, and right now he’s looked at as a mid-round talent. It’s always tough grading pass rushers coming out of smaller programs, but as we’ve seen with an instance like Mack, it can work out well.

The Bears will have Mack and Robert Quinn locked in for next season, but still need that third, disruptive pass rusher at the position. Koonce could come in and challenge Trevis Gipson for that role, and he also has experience playing defensive end, should the Bears decide to switch him to the line up front.