By Chris Emma–
(CBS) The Bears will get an important scouting opportunity at the end of the month, with John Fox and his staff offered the chance to coach the Senior Bowl.
In a right awarded to teams at the top of the draft, the Bears will get the opportunity to look at some of the top prospects in this class up close.
“We’re excited for this opportunity to get a hands-on look at some of the top draft-eligible players in the nation,” Fox said in a statement. “The Senior Bowl experience will provide our coaches and personnel staff an extended chance to evaluate these players in a one-on-one setting, which could prove to be very valuable as we approach the NFL Draft. It’s a great opportunity to spend some extra time with these guys and see how they respond to our staff.”
The Bears have coached the Senior Bowl on three different occasions, with Dave Wannstedt’s staff last doing so in 1996. Mike Ditka’s staff coached the game in 1992, and Jack Pardee’s staff coached in 1979.
Hue Jackson’s staff from the Browns will coach the South team, while Fox and the Bears will lead the North.
Coaching this game has provided teams the opportunity to evaluate some of the game’s top prospects with their own personnel, offering a rare chance to look at the players before the NFL Combine.
Last year, the Cowboys coaching staff used its opportunity to evaluate Dak Prescott in the Senior Bowl. They selected him in the fourth round, with the quarterback becoming a Rookie of the Year candidate and leading Dallas to the top seed in the NFC for this postseason, one year removed from going 4-12.
Fox has never coached in the Senior Bowl before. His Bears finished the season 3-13, and he now holds a record of 9-23 after two seasons in Chicago.
On Wednesday, Fox and general manager Ryan Pace will meet with the media at Halas Hall for the first time since the end of the season.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.