I'm a little wary of the GM always seeming to get excited about guys with "potential" and "special athletic ability." I realize you have to have superior athletes, but why doesn't he concentrate on pure football players to reboot the roster? Rather than always taking a flier, I'd like to see him concentrate on guys who simply make plays. Blockers. Guys who can run a route and catch a ball. Tackling machines. Your thoughts? -- Ken F., Parts Unknown
It sounds like you're referencing the selections of wide receiver Kevin White in the first round in 2015 and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in the first round in 2016. It certainly has been difficult to evaluate White because he simply has not been able to stay on the field, missing 43 of 48 games over the last three seasons. Floyd was better this past season, and his athletic ability makes him the player offenses probably are most concerned with when game planning. I get what you're saying, that Ryan Pace has aimed for players with high ceilings in the first round. Pace has a solid record in Round 2 with draft picks such as defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and center/guard Cody Whitehair. The bottom line is the Bears need to do a little better in the draft, and it's fair to say the performance of quarterback Mitch Trubisky will go a long, long way toward shaping how Pace is evaluated. The Bears have another high draft pick this year, their fourth consecutive top-10 pick.
I see a lot of mock drafts with the Bears taking Tremaine Edmunds, and that fits what Ryan Pace usually goes for in high-ceiling picks. The thing is, from reading mocks, he seems to be more athlete than football player who has those football instincts. How often does that work out, players who lack football instincts and develop them in the NFL? -- Elijah, Chicago
For starters, I'd tap the brakes on mock drafts that are produced before the start of free agency. Mock drafts are a fun exercise and it's interesting to project which players will potentially be available when and how things will fall. The most accurate mock drafts produced in the weeks leading up to the draft always have a lot of picks wrong, my own included. There were probably more questions about the Virginia Tech linebacker Edmunds this week than anyone else. In this instance, I'd remind you that Edmunds is only 19 and when you watch highlight tapes of him, he certainly looks instinctive. Is that his strong suit? Maybe not. He has a freakish combination of size (6-foot-5, 253 pounds) and speed (4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash). Reality is you might feel differently about Edmunds' instincts when he's 21 or 22.
I just can't see Calvin Ridley as the eighth player in the draft, but I like D.J. Moore. I think having him, Tarik Cohen, Jordan Howard, maybe Adam Shaheen -- we don't know yet -- would really be difficult to game plan against, especially if the Bears picked up Allen Robinson. Will Moore still be there in the second round? Certainly could improve the defense with the eighth pick. Better value. -- John R., Parts Unknown
I agree that the eighth pick might be a little too rich for Ridley, the most polished route runner in the draft. The thing you need to keep in mind is the lack of elite receivers in the draft could push some of the top guys in this class up a little bit. Scarcity will put a premium on them. Moore had a good showing at the scouting combine. The Maryland receiver is 6 feet, 210 pounds and jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 39 1/2 -inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump. He ran the 40 in 4.42 and definitely helped himself. Moore is probably a second-round pick, but if a team really likes him, you can't rule out action at the back end of Round 1.
I would like the Bears to trade for Jarvis Landry. He is a proven wide receiver, secure hands and a hard runner after the catch. I don't know how much leadership comes into the equation, but he plays hard every game, every play. That is crucial when considering the Bears have a young quarterback they are developing. Let's talk price: Yes, we hate to give away draft capital, but Miami shouldn't have a high price considering it doesn't want to pay Landry. A fourth-round pick for Landry and a fifth might be possible. I often hear you want to take players in the draft who will make immediate impact at a much-needed position. Getting Landry for a swapped fourth will make significant impact. Lastly, I would rely on Matt Nagy maximizing Landry in his offense. Keep in mind all wide receivers with the Bears, whether already there or being acquired, will need to learn this new offensive scheme, with the exception of Albert Wilson, although I'm not a fan of Wilson's size. Landry is still just 25 years old. -- Rogelio B., Parts Unknown
The one thing we don't know is what the Dolphins are seeking in exchange for Landry. I tend to agree with you that the price might not be prohibitive, but the one thing you didn't address is the salary Landry would command. He reportedly turned down an offer from the Dolphins that averaged $13 million per year. I've already written that Landry would instantly be the best receiver on the roster. That's a low bar to clear. You're right, he's a very physical performer and has been durable throughout his career -- he hasn't missed a game in four seasons. The issue with Landry is he's a slot receiver without a lot of game-breaking ability. He averaged 8.8 yards per catch last season. I don't know if a slot receiver is worth $13 million per season or something in that range. Landry is a really good player but I'm not sure he's elite. For what it's worth, the Dolphins don't own a 2018 fifth-round pick, so the swap you propose wouldn't work. It will be interesting to see what happens with Landry, but I think the Bears would prefer Allen Robinson if they can get in the running for the Jaguars wide receiver.
Was the Jimmy Johnson draft value chart revised after rookie deals became slotted? I'd think high picks carry more value now that the financials make more sense. -- Adam, Chicago
Good question. There is no question the draft chart Johnson created 30-some years ago has evolved. Every team has a version of its own draft value chart these days, and as you might imagine, no one is interested in sharing what they consider to be proprietary information. The chart has evolved because of the salary cap, and certainly the shift in contracts for the very top draft picks has also adjusted it. With teams now able to trade compensatory draft picks, that has probably tweaked charts a little bit too. Most trades will roughly align in value when you compare them, but sometimes when a team is driven to make a move, the compensation can increase.
What is the situation for Kendall Wright and Prince Amukamara in free agency? Could both be back for one more year in Chicago? -- @ariano_fonseca
I wouldn't rule out the possibility that either one could return, but I imagine the Bears are prioritizing other players at those positions right now. If Matt Nagy wants the team to pursue Albert Wilson of the Chiefs as a slot receiver, that could make it less likely Wright returns. The Bears are working to sign Kyle Fuller to a multiyear contract, and it will be interesting to see what they do at the other cornerback spot. Bringing back Amukamara might make sense, but it's possible the Bears pursue a cornerback high in the draft.
Given all of the Bears' major needs -- wide receiver, interior offensive line, edge rusher, cornerback -- which will be the most difficult to fill via the draft and free agency? -- @carl9730
Edge rusher. There are not a lot of great options available in free agency, which isn't a surprise. It's rare that teams allow healthy, productive pass rushers to reach the open market. The draft is thin when it comes to premium edge rushers too, and I'm not sure there will be an ideal fit when the Bears pick at No. 8. It would be shocking if North Carolina State's Bradley Chubb, who is a better fit for a 4-3 scheme, is still on the board. Cornerback is deep in free agency and deep enough in the draft, and the Bears can check one big box by locking up Fuller. There are plenty of interior offensive linemen to sort through in free agency and the draft, and while wide receiver isn't deep in free agency, I could see the Bears making a good move there. There will be interesting options to consider at the position in Round 2 of the draft.
What position must be resolved via free agency? -- @snoman1983
I don't know if the Bears want to "resolve" wide receiver and cornerback in free agency, but they can get a heck of a start on rebuilding those positions and they've already started that process by placing the transition tag on Fuller. I'd figure they at least will add a kicker and punter in free agency, and there are a host of other positions to consider, including guard and maybe a pass-catching tight end.
What's the backup plan if the Bears don't sign Kyle Fuller? -- @bradbaumgarten
The backup plan is the Bears have secured him for the 2018 season with the transition tag. I find it unlikely another team will sign Fuller to an offer sheet that the Bears decline to match. You can't rule that out, but unless a team is willing to pay Fuller substantially more than the Bears are, he will wear a "C" on the side of his helmet this season. In that instance, the Bears could then decide how to treat him after this coming season.
Would Tremaine Edmunds project as an outside linebacker or a pass-rushing middle linebacker like Jamie Collins was in New England? -- @crobbins52
That's a good question, and when I've talked to scouts, I've received a variety of answers. One national scout said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could deploy Edmunds as an outside linebacker. Others I have spoken to believe Edmunds will be best as an inside linebacker. He didn't rush the quarterback a whole lot for Virginia Tech and doesn't look natural doing it, but he's only 19 and he could probably learn. If the Bears were to draft Edmunds, they would have to decide where to play him and then probably leave him in one spot and allow him to learn.
Why does offensive tackle rarely get mentioned as a position that needs upgrading? Charles Leno Jr. is a solid player, but the Bears could upgrade at left tackle. Any chance he can move to right tackle if they choose to upgrade in the draft? -- @matt22880192
The Bears are pleased with the way Leno played last season, and he's the kind of natural athlete who is good on his feet that you want on the left side. Remember, the Bears tried Leno at right tackle in the 2015 preseason, and that didn't turn out so well. He's probably better on the left side than he would be on the right, where you want a little bit of a mauler. I believe the Bears will go into this season with Leno at left tackle and Bobby Massie at right tackle. Everyone likes to float the idea that the Bears could use an elite left tackle, and reality is you could say that for about 27 or 28 teams. There is only a small handful of those guys out there, and they are difficult to find.
Likelihood the Bears sign Allen Robinson and Albert Wilson? I think this would make wide receiver a strength. They need elite weapons for Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy. -- @_bear_fan_
I'd focus more on Robinson. He's the guy who could be a difference maker, provided he returns fine from the torn ACL in his left knee. Wilson makes sense because he knows the scheme and showed some promise last season. But let's remember Wilson had 32 receptions for the Chiefs entering the season finale last year before catching 10 passes for 147 yards against the Broncos with Patrick Mahomes starting at quarterback. He's a faster version of Kendall Wright with a little more explosive ability.
I have seen cornerback mocked to the Bears despite many elite free agents available. Given the lack of free-agent options at edge rusher and the Bears' large need at the position, how realistic is Marcus Davenport as their first-round pick? -- @schechschech10
I don't know I would say there are "many" elite free-agent cornerbacks available. There are some good options that will be on the market, and there is definitely some depth at the position. Davenport generated buzz at the Senior Bowl and showed well at the scouting combine, where he ran the 40 in 4.58 and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.41 at 6-foot-4, 264 pounds. I agree it is an acute area of need for the Bears, but Davenport is making a major jump in class moving from Texas-San Antonio to the NFL. It's a bit of a projection, and No. 8 might be a little rich for him. The one thing Pace cannot afford to do is reach for a player just because he fills a need. That's how you get into trouble.
Why is Markus Wheaton still on the Bears? -- @diesal3426
As I detailed in "10 thoughts" coming out of the scouting combine, the Bears don't owe Wheaton any money until the start of the regular season, when he has a base salary of $5 million. So they can choose to evaluate how Wheaton fits in Nagy's offense throughout the offseason, training camp and preseason before making a decision on him. They don't benefit from releasing him now, and Wheaton doesn't have a roster bonus they would have to consider. That doesn't necessarily mean Wheaton will be on the roster when the voluntary offseason program kicks off next week, but it's certainly possible the team waits to see if he's a candidate to have a bounce-back year.
With the transition tag, not franchise tag, used on Kyle Fuller, what do you think the chances are that another team makes him an offer? -- @chiruxindfs
You can't rule out the possibility another team swoops in and signs Fuller to an offer sheet, but the Bears are loaded with salary-cap space, so it's not like a deal could press them into a tough spot. If another team wants to pay Fuller substantially more than the Bears do, yeah, that could be an issue. But placing the franchise tag on Fuller probably would have made negotiations on a multiyear contract more difficult. It's tough to argue against the move the Bears made, and if a multiyear contract follows, it will certainly look like the right path.
Draft season is always my favorite season, but this year feels a bit different. There seem to be a few blue-chip players, but I'm failing to see many players who might be a "lock" for the Bears should they be there at No. 8. Who are some names you expect to be in the mix? -- @chicityslooper
I think the Bears can get a pretty darn good player at No. 8. Given the nature of the draft and the hit ratio for first-round picks, it's a little tricky to throw around the term "lock." Some picks that look like slam dunks when they're made turn into busts. I remember one general manager -- not employed by the Browns or Colts -- telling me Alabama's Trent Richardson had the best pro-day workout he'd ever seen by a running back. Richardson turned into an absolute bust as the third pick in 2012. Cornerbacks Josh Jackson (Iowa), Denzel Ward (Ohio State) and Mike Hughes (Central Florida), linebackers Roquan Smith (Georgia) and Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech), guard Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame), edge rusher Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio) and maybe even safety Derwin James (Florida State) are intriguing players who could be available when the Bears are on the clock.
Will the first-round pick be an offensive lineman or wide receiver? I'll take an O-lineman. Haven't the Bears had better luck drafting linemen? Leaving Kevin White out of this, anyone remember David Terrell? Was Curtis Conway the last wide receiver they took in Round 1 to actually play more than two seasons? -- @jasonjpost
The Bears actually got four seasons and 29 starts out of Terrell, but I would agree they have struggled picking wide receivers in the first round. I would say they are more likely to draft an offensive lineman than a wide receiver in Round 1, but you are leaving a whole bunch of other positions out of the equation here. It could be a defensive player.
If Saquon Barkley drops to No. 8, what do the Bears do? Draft him, trade out of the pick or draft someone else? -- @bearfan02
If Barkley is available when the Bears go on the clock at No. 8, they turn in a card with his name on it as fast as they can. However, I'd be gobsmacked if he lasts that long. There's a very good chance Barkley is gone in the first four picks. He's not going to have to wait very long to hear his name called.
Assuming Kyle Fuller wants to stay in Chicago and the Bears are in the top five teams with the most cap room (after Mike Glennon and maybe a couple of others are cut), what motivation do other teams have in negotiating with Fuller? Unless they offer a huge contract, Pace will match it. -- @bertman41809
You're right. That's why it's highly likely Fuller plays for the Bears this season. I think chances are decent he signs a multiyear contract.
Is it realistic at all for the Bears to sign both Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson? -- @moran_evan
That seems unlikely. I think they prioritize Robinson over Watkins if both players reach the open market. I don't know that it would make a lot of sense to pour really big money into two wide receivers.
If the Bears started camp today, who are the top two wide receivers? Cameron Meredith and Kevin White? -- @jr34_
Fortunately for them, camp will not open until the middle of July. If Meredith comes back healthy, he should certainly fit into what they are doing. White needs to remain healthy before you can evaluate him.
There's been a lot of talk about Tremaine Edmunds, his physical gifts, his age (19) and the possibility of the Bears picking him in the first round. Amobi Okoye was also drafted at 19 in the first round by the Texans (and played for the Bears intermittently for two years). Can you explain why Amobi fizzled? Is that a cautionary tale for any team that selects a 19-year-old that high? Interested in your insights. -- Olaf, Memphis, Tenn.
Okoye is the youngest player to be drafted in the NFL, selected 10th by the Texans when he was 19 years, 10 months in 2007. Edmunds is slightly older; he will celebrate his 20th birthday the week after the draft. Okoye, now 30, last played in the NFL in 2012 for the Bears, appearing in nine games. He had a nice rookie season for the Texans with 5 1/2 sacks. You raise an interesting question, but it's important to note that Okoye's career was cut short by a rare illness. He was placed in a medically induced coma for three months in 2013 when he contracted an autoimmune disease called anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Fortunately, Okoye recovered.
The Bears recently used a series of lengthy interviews to find their new coach and they have already been able to interview draft prospects. What I'd like to know is do they get much of a chance to interview free agents early in the process, or is it a case of having to do extensive homework because the rush is on? We all remember the midnight trip to land Julius Peppers as soon as he was available for a pitch. Was any of that about getting to know him or was it all persuasion? Days and weeks later, I'm sure they can bring free agents in for workouts and interviews, but what about at the beginning? Does contact mostly go through agents? If so, do you see this creating any problems, maybe causing misses on things like preparation, work ethic, character, locker-room personality or injuries? -- Damian, Missoula, Mont.
Good question. Teams are not permitted to have contact with free agents until the start of the new league year. So when the negotiation window opens at 11 a.m. Monday, they will be permitted to talk only with agents. You're right that clubs have to complete their homework in advance of free agency. That's why teams do extensive scouting reports on all players coming out in the draft. Sure, they might not be a fit for what you're doing at the time or they might play a position where you don't have a need, but one day you might be running a different system and needs are constantly shifting. So they can refer back to those reports and rely on other intelligence they have gathered. When you consider the scouting department and coaching staff have people from all sorts of backgrounds with different work histories, you wind up with people in the building who have probably crossed paths with a player at some point. Yes, later in free agency, teams can bring in players for visits and get a gauge on them or answers to questions they might have. As far as injuries, all contracts are subject to a player passing a physical.
The Bears, as you have noted many times, are lacking true impact players on both sides of the ball, and it makes sense for them to try to draft one in the first round. Should they pass on drafting certain positions at No. 8 like guard or inside linebacker because the position is not a "high-impact" position, even if it's a position of need? I'm thinking of guys like Quenton Nelson and Roquan Smith. -- Mike M., Parts Unknown
I understand what you're getting at, but you can probably make a case that an elite guard or an elite inside linebacker can be a difference maker. If the grade is the same, I think you take a player other than a guard because they don't score touchdowns or stop touchdowns from being scored. Smith is interesting because he could step in right away. He has terrific instincts and range, and while he's not a pass rusher, he's an outstanding football player.