May 27, 2022


Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield: Bears OL coach Juan Castillo ‘taught me a lot’

When the Big Ten postponed the 2020 football season last summer, Michigan junior offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield had already made up his mind that he would enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

That didn’t stop him, though, from returning to the field when the Big Ten reversed course later in the fall.

Mayfield is one of the least experienced tackles in a draft loaded with tackles. He started only 13 games prior to 2020 and added only two more starts last fall because an ankle injury kept him off the field. He’s leaving Michigan a year early with a grand total of 18 games played, including 15 starts.

“Once football was reinstated for the Big Ten, it was a no-brainer for me,” said Mayfield, who won’t turn 21 until nearly two months after the draft. I felt like just getting more playing time and more snaps under my belt could really help me.”

Even so, the NFL seems to love his potential. At 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, native looks the part. At Michigan, he has been surrounded by NFL-level coaches. There is, of course, head coach Jim Harbaugh. But in 2019 there was also offensive analyst Juan Castillo.

The Bears hired Castillo as their offensive line coach in January 2020. Castillo is plenty familiar with Mayfield, who could be a first-round draft target for the Bears.

“He taught me a lot, just that year he was there,” Mayfield said Wednesday ahead of his Friday Pro Day. “I can’t thank him enough for helping me develop into the player I am today. He was a great guy. I have a lot of memories with him and I’m just really happy for him that he got back in the NFL.”

Mayfield projects as a late first-round or second-round draft pick. His inexperience might drop him down a notch compared to some of the other tackles available in the first round.

The Bears, at No. 20 overall, should have multiple tackles to choose from if that’s the direction they decide to go in the first round.

Castillo, whose Bears offensive line improved as the 2020 season went along, is all about the fundamentals. Mayfield said Castillo worked with him on being more consistent in his sets.

“Just constantly ... getting me in position to make my blocks,” Mayfield said. “I think once you get in position, that’s 80% of the battle. If I could be the most consistent I can be in that, I’ll win a lot of battles.”

Alabama Pro Day part one: Alabama hosted its first of two Pro Days on Tuesday. Quarterback Mac Jones showed off his arm. Jones is a potential first-round draft pick. He also could be a Bears target, if he’s still around at No. 20.

Some draft analysts have him as the fifth-best quarterback in the draft, but there’s at least some discussion that he could go higher.

“He’s not No. 5 for every team,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “He’s up a little higher for some. I think you’re going to see a different order of these quarterbacks no matter who you talk to.”

Jones will also participate in the second Alabama Pro Day on March 30. Jeremiah said he didn’t think a Pro Day setting does Jones justice. It’s important to note that his top two receivers, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle were not running routes Tuesday.

“[Jones] moved around well,” Jeremiah said. “He’s an above average athlete. He’s not a poor athlete. Now, he doesn’t have a ton of twitch and horsepower to be someone who’s going to show out in this type of setting. There’s some guys you watch and, man, the ball jumps out of their hand or you see some dynamic movement with him. I don’t really think that’s how [Jones] plays the game.”

Meanwhile, Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II was impressive. Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley has been the popular choice for the No. 1 cornerback in this year’s draft. However, news broke this week that Farley is having surgery on his back.

Jeremiah believes that Surtain could gain from that. Either way, both are first-round prospects.

“You look at the testing stuff, outstanding numbers,” Jeremiah said of Surtain. “You put him up side-by-side with [Rams All-Pro cornerback] Jalen Ramsey, just from a testing standpoint, it’s eerily similar.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.