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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Bottom of the Fifty-Three (40-59)

| July 19th, 2018

Most of the guys battling at the bottom of the roster either played for the Bears or another team in recent seasons. They have talent and have stuck in the league for a reason. Outside of the specialists, however, none are ideal starters.

59. Jonathan Anderson, LB

It’s kind of weird that the team lists Anderson as an outside linebacker. Was a college safety who has played inside up to this point in his career. Solid special teamer.

58. Marlon Brown, WR

The Bears love their Georgia guys. Brown is 6’4” — listed at 6’5” for some reason — but hasn’t been able to find a job in the NFL. He caught 49 passes as a rookie with the Ravens in 2013, but hasn’t caught a pass since 2015.

57. Cre’von LeBlanc, CB

LeBlanc can do some good things, but his shortcomings have hurt the Bears too many times the last two years.

56. John Timu, ILB

Ten years ago, Timu would’ve been a stud. He has great size and instincts, but his lack of speed and athleticism has killed him in pass defense.

55. Kasim Edebali, ILB

28-year-old who spent most of his career with the Saints. Had five sacks in 2015, but hasn’t done much since. Played for the Broncos and Lions last year, appearing in 13 games with one tackle.

54. Hroniss Grasu, C

Might be Ryan Pace’s worst draft pick. No single player more negatively affected the Bears run offense last year.

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Ranking The Entire Bears Roster: The Long and Longish Shots (60-90)

| July 18th, 2018

The Bears report to training camp this week with a large number of guys you probably don’t need to know.

This is my third year ranking the entire roster and the bottom of the roster is as much of a guess as it’s ever been. There are very few known names, as the team brings in a great many high-upside UDFAs to replace roster spots formerly used for vets like Rueben Randle and Taylor Boggs. What that tells me is that the Bears are more confident in who their final 53 is going to be so they’re more willing to take risks.

It’s entirely possible that one of the guys listed below becomes a player at some point, even if it isn’t this year. It’s also possible — and far more likely — they’ll be out of the league by this time next year.

Because I know you don’t want to research every player, I went ahead and did it for you. You’re welcome.

90. Colin Thompson, TE

Second-year player from Temple couldn’t break five seconds in the 40 coming out. How many tight ends who are that slow succeed?

89. Josh Woods, LB

Listed as a linebacker, Woods weighed just 211 pounds at his Maryland Pro Day and ran the 40 in 4.66. He earned a trip to camp after trying out after the draft, but this is likely as far as he’ll get.

88. Jeremi Hall, OG

Kind of an interesting signing for an offensive line that values athleticism. The Bears list Hall at 340 pounds, but he weighed in at 307 in March and really isn’t a good athlete.

87. Brandon Greene, OG

Second-year player from Alabama. Lengthy (6’5″, 295 pounds) and not very athletic. How’s that for a breakdown?

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Which Reid Offense Will Chicago Most Resemble?

| July 9th, 2018

There’s been a good deal of talk this offseason about how the Bears will model their offense after the Kansas City Chiefs, which makes sense given that new head coach Matt Nagy spent his last several years in Kansas City learning from Andy Reid.

But I think Chicago’s offense will end up looking more similar to what Philadelphia has run the last two years under Doug Pederson, another branch on the Reid coaching tree. Even though both offenses are similar, there are some subtle yet important differences that are worth looking at. So today I want to start by looking at personnel to see which one Chicago matches better, and then I’ll compare and contrast offensive styles.

Personnel

Kansas City’s offense was built around three main producers: running back Kareem Hunt, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce. Those three combined for 4,069 of Kansas City’s 6,007 yards from scrimmage, meaning they were about 2/3 of the offense.

Quite frankly, the Bears just aren’t built to be that reliant on a small number of players. Outside of Jordan Howard and Allen Robinson, nobody has been a high-volume producer, and even Robinson has only hit 1,000 yards in a season once in his four years.

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The Most Important Bears: Defense

| July 3rd, 2018


Returning most of their defensive roster, the common thought is the Bears are going to take a big step up next year. That’s only true if their key players stay on the field and improve.

As badly as the Bears were hurt by injury last season, they managed to keep most of their key defensive players on the field. They had injuries to players like Quintin Demps and Jerrell Freeman, but those are two positions at which they proved to have great depth.

Three of their four starters in the secondary played at least 80% of snaps, the fourth was Adrian Amos, who played every snap in eight games. Their best defensive lineman played 85% of snaps. Their best linebacker came in at 67.4%.

The biggest injury loss last year came when Leonard Floyd went down, but they were fortunate it happened toward the end of their schedule when they played several horrendous teams.

A repeat of last year’s success is far from a guarantee, but it’s also possible they take a huge step up. In any event, these five players just might be the most crucial:


5. Bryce Callahan

In the modern NFL, the slot corner is basically a starter. Callahan played just under 50% of the team’s snaps and they missed him when he wasn’t out there.

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Who Could Be The 2018 Breakout Bears: Offense

| June 27th, 2018

The revamped and retooled Chicago Bears offense certainly has a fair amount of buzz surrounding it, but some of the “breakout” players just may be guys who were already on the roster. Yes, the team spent a lot of money and some prime draft assets on the offensive side of the ball and those players are largely expected to carry the load. But an entire offense can’t be built in one off-season. They’ll need some of last year’s players to step up. There certainly aren’t a lot of options to pick from, but the players and coaches the Bears added could help some of the returning talent take the next step.


Charles Leno Jr.

The hiring of Harry Hiestand created a lot of hype around a few different players, but the young left tackle may benefit more than anyone. Leno has already become a good starting tackle, steadily improving each year, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue and even be accelerated under the tutelage of one of the sport’s best OL minds.

While he was a late round pick, Leno is a very talented player and less than a year older then Cody Whitehair. The superior coaching he is going to get from here on really could make him one of the ten best left tackles in the league. If that happens, you can expect the Bears to have one of the best offensive lines in the league.


Kevin White

I know, I know, you’re sick of Kevin White. But what if Ryan Pace was right when he made White the seventh overall pick in 2015?

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Getting to the Quarterback Key To Goldman’s NFL/Earning Potential

| May 23rd, 2018

Eddie Goldman was one of the first key defensive additions for Ryan Pace and Vic Fangio as they rebuilt the unit. But his staying and earning power could depend upon his ability to get after the quarterback.

First, nobody questions whether or not Goldman is a good player. He is a very, very good player. But the Bears have to decide exactly how much they value a run-stuffing defensive tackle in a passing league. But Goldman, according to media reports, is primed to become one of the league’s higher-paid defensive linemen. In order for that to happen, he’ll have to convince the Bears they don’t need to take him off the field on passing downs.

Goldman has shown the ability to get after the quarterback.

  • As a rookie he managed 4.5 sacks and regularly generated pressure up the middle.
  • In his second season he added 2.5 quarterback take downs in just five games.
  • His total dropped to 1.5 in 2017, despite playing significantly more snaps.

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If Bears Want an Elite Defense in 2018, They Will Need Multiple Rookies to Contribute

| May 16th, 2018

The Bears did not invest many high draft picks on the defensive side of the ball last month, outside of top selection Roquan Smith. But there’s a good chance the team will need multiple rookie defensive players – all acquired day three or later – to play prominent roles in they want to be an elite unit in 2018.

  • Smith is a given. His ability to cover all parts of the field is something the Bears haven’t had since Brian Urlacher and, like Urlacher, the general expectation is that Smith will be one of the top rookies in the league.
  • Kylie Fitts is going to have the easiest path to the starting lineup. Sam Acho and Aaron Lynch have proven to be nothing more than journeymen and Fitts has the ability to be a top-tier pass rusher. If not for a series of injuries in college, he would’ve been selected significantly higher in the draft. While much of the focus is on pass rush, Bears scout David Williams said the team thinks Fitts can play the run from Day One and has upside as a pass rusher.
  • Another Bears scout, Chris Prescott, was confident in Bilal Nichols:“You’re talking about a guy you expect year one to come in and probably immediately backup at all three positions,” Prescott told the team website. “I think this is a guy who can come in and help you right away.” Nichols has the size and strength to take on blocks in the NFL and combines that with rare athleticism for the position. Nichols is bigger than current projected starting defensive end Jonathan Bullard and nearly as athletic. With Roy Robertson-Harris being smaller and not likely able to take on blocks in the team’s base defense, Nichols could be Bullard’s primary competition for a starting job. Even if he doesn’t start, Nichols will probably take the role Bullard had last year, playing 25 to 50 percent of the snaps weekly.

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Data Entry: Establishing Ryan Pace’s draft profile, day 1

| April 3rd, 2018

 

Now that Ryan Pace has been here for a while, we can start to look at his past drafts to see what lessons we can learn from his approach. This can help us cautiously look ahead to the 2018 draft to see what he might be thinking.

With that goal in mind, I’m going to spend the next three weeks looking at how Pace has approached the three days of the draft, and then applying that approach to 2018 to see what players are likely being considered for the Bears this year. We’re starting today at the top of the draft. Let’s look first at the history, and then we’ll examine lessons learned.

Draft History

2015: Kevin White, WR, 7th overall

2016: Leonard Floyd, OLB, 9th overall (trade up from 11)

2017: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, 2nd overall (trade up from 3)

Trend 1: Go get your guy

The first thing we should observe is that Ryan Pace is not shy about trading up in round 1 to get the player he has identified as his main target. So keep that in mind as we look at mock drafts with players who might be good fits for the Bears but are projected to go higher than #8.

It’s worth noting that these have all been relatively minor trades just moving up a few spots, which keeps the cost down. Despite reportedly exploring moving up to the top of the draft for Marcus Mariota in 2015, Pace has not been willing to give up multiple high picks in these moves.

Trading up becomes a bit more difficult this year because the Bears are already without a third round pick due to trading up for Trubisky last year, but they do have an extra fourth round pick they could use.

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ATM: Harold Landry Is The Best Player the Bears Aren’t Likely To Take

| March 28th, 2018

Boston College pass rusher Harold Landry projects as a dynamic player at a position of need for the Bears. While an ankle injury slowed him last year (before ending his season completely) he still managed 21.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons at BC. He also forced ten fumbles in his collegiate career and added an interception for good measure.

After dominating on the field, Landry put on a show at the combine last month. According to MockDraftable:

  • Landry tested in the 87th percentile or better in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
  • His broad jump was in the 72nd percentile.
  • Many consider the agility drills to be the most important for pass rushers and Landry tested in the 91st percentile in 20-yard shuttle, 95th in three-cone drill and 99th in 60-yard shuttle.

That elite athleticism and shows on tape.



While his technique may still need some refinement, he’s incredibly active, bouncing around the edge and attacking offensive tackles before getting to the quarterback. He’s an impressive player to watch.

And the Bears will likely pass on Landry without a second thought. His arms are too short.

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ATM: Three Reasons The Bears Shouldn’t Draft Quenton Nelson

| March 21st, 2018

Quenton Nelson is widely considered to be the best guard to enter the league in several years and the Bears have a big hole at that position. But here are three reasons they shouldn’t draft the Notre Dame guard with the eighth pick.

3. Generational prospects are rarely generational players.

It seems like we have a player who is considered a generational prospect every year, but those guys almost never pan out.

It’s too early to make a call on either of the last two drafts, but look at recent history. Jameis Winston isn’t a generational quarterback like he was thought to be. Jadeveon Clowney is terrific, but hardly generational. What about Reggie Bush? Ndamukong Suh? Even Andrew Luck has been brilliant when he’s on the field. But generational? No.

The guys who end up being generational players are the ones no one — or at least very few — thought would be. JJ Watt and Aaron Donald both went closer to the middle of the first round, Randy Moss barely cracked the top-20, Aaron Rodgers went 24th.

The draft is a crap shoot. There is no such thing as a sure bet. This isn’t even the first time this decade we’ve heard someone described as a generational guard. Remember Chance Warmack? He went 10th and he’s a backup for another team now.

Nelson is bigger, stronger and more athletic than Warmack, but their predraft profiles are almost identical. It’s so rare that players who have the predraft hype of Nelson actually pan out.

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