Bears

Early look at 2017 Bears depth chart

Early look at 2017 Bears depth chart

After a 3-13 season, Bears GM Ryan Pace left no stone unturned trying to upgrade the franchise during this past offseason.

With an abundance new faces at several key positions, the Bears will head into training camp this summer with some key positional battles to keep an eye on.  

Here's an early look at the 2017 Bears depth chart in order of positional ranking:

OFFENSE

QB

Mike Glennon
Mark Sanchez
Mitch Trubisky
Connor Shaw

It would be shocking to see the Bears come out of the Soldier Field tunnel in Week 1 with anybody but Mike Glennon leading out the starters. Even after an impressive rookie minicamp, Mitch Trubisky is still a work in progress that the Bears coaching staff will need to handle with care if they want him to succeed in being the long-term quarterback of the future. Mark Sanchez's veteran presence gives him a leg up on Connor Shaw to make the final 53-man roster come September.

RB

Jordan Howard
Benny Cunningham
Jeremy Langford
Tarik Cohen
Ka'Deem Carey
Joel Bouagnon

Coming off a Pro Bowl rookie season, Howard is entrenched as the Bears' starter heading into the 2017 season. The Bears added a sorely needed speed dimension to the group with Darren Sproles clone in rookie running back Tarik Cohen. The Bears also brought in veteran Benny Cunningham who could unseat Jeremy Langford as Howard's backup. 

WR

Cameron Meredith
Kevin White
Markus Wheaton
Kendall Wright
Josh Bellamy
Deonte Thompson
Daniel Braverman
Rueben Randle
Tanner Gentry
Titus Davis
Jhajuan Seales

It won't be easy for the Bears to replace Alshon Jeffery's production, but Pace added depth to the group with the signings of Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton. If Kevin White can bounce back from injury and show flashed of why he was a Top 10 pick in 2015, and either Wheaton or Wright emerges as a solid No. 3, the Bears could have a formidable group behind last year's breakout star Cameron Meredith.

TE

Zach Miller
Dion Sims
Adam Shaheen
Daniel Brown
Ben Braunecker
MyCole Pruitt
Franko House

The Bears got much stronger at tight end with the signing of Dion Sims and the selection of "Baby Gronk" Adam Shaheen in the second round of last month's draft. It will be a crowded group in Bourbonnais, and if Zach Miller can stay healthy, the Bears have the personnel that can cause major mismatches for opposing defenses. 

FB 

Freddie Stevenson

Undrafted free agent Freddie Stevenson is the lone wolf at fullback after Paul Lasike was waived. Stevenson served as the lead blocker for All-American running back Dalvin Cook. He had 292 total yards and seven touchdowns with the Seminoles.

RT

Bobby Massie
Tom Compton
Mitchell Kirsch

RG

Kyle Long
Cyril Richardson

C

Cody Whitehair
Hroniss Grasu
Taylor Boggs

LG

Josh Sitton
Eric Kush
Jordan Morgan

LT

Charles Leno Jr.
Bradley Sowell
William Pohels
Joseph Dieugot

If the Bears are fortunate enough to make it through preseason without any key injuries, they will go into Week 1 with all but one — Cody Whithair took over for Ted Larsen in Week 4 — of the same starters that they began 2016 with against the Houston Texans. The Bears have reliable backups in Eric Kush, who could play both guard positions, and veteran Tom Compton. The wildcard on the offensive line is third-year pro and former third-round pick Hroniss Grasu who missed all of 2016 with a torn ACL.

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DEFENSE

DE

Akiem Hicks
Jaye Howard
Mitch Unrein
Jonathan Bullard
C.J. Wilson
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Rashaad Coward

If free agent signing Jaye Howard can rebound from a hip flexor injury that cut his 2016 season short, the Bears could have lethal end duo in Howard and Akiem Hicks (7 sacks in 2016). The Bears also have quality depth in veteran Mitch Unrein and 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard.

DT

Eddie Goldman
John Jenkins

When healthy, Goldman has been a dominating presence on the interior of the Bears defensive line. If Goldman were to miss any time, the Bears have mammoth nose tackle John Jenkins (6-foot-3, 359 pounds), lurking in the background. 

OLB

Pernell McPhee
Leonard Floyd
Willie Young
Lamarr Houston
Sam Acho
Dan Skuta
Roy Robertson-Harris
Hendrick Ekpe
Isaiah Irving

Injuries aside, Leonard Floyd looked every bit the part of a Top 10 pick with seven sacks in his rookie season. Health questions remain, but the Bears have a deep stable of outside linebackers behind Floyd in Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. The final spot on the 53-man roster could come down to a three-way battle between veterans' Sam Acho and Dan Skuta, and second-year pro Roy Robertson-Harris.

ILB

Jerrell Freeman
Danny Trevathan
Nick Kwiatkoski
Christian Jones
Jonathan Anderson
John Timu
Alex Scearce

Jerrell Freeman, and his No. 1 Pro Football Focus grade, return to anchor the Bears' inside linebacker group. Danny Trevathan's ruptured patellar tendon could cause result in missing the start of training camp. If Trevathan misses any time during the regular season, he'll be replaced in the starting lineup by Nick Kwiatkoski who showed promise in his rookie season. Christian Jones has the edge for a roster spot over Jonathan Anderson and John Timu due to his ability to impact the game on special teams.

CB

Prince Amukamara
Marcus Cooper
​Cre'Von LeBlanc
Kyle Fuller
Bryce Callahan
Sherrick McManis
Johnthan Banks
Rashaad Reynolds
B.W. Webb

The Bears will likely have two new starting cornerbacks in 2017 with free agent acquisitions' Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. Both Cre'Von LeBlanc and Bryce Callahan showed growth in 2016 and could battle it out for the starting nickel corner job. Unless he has a big preseason, former Phil Emery first round pick Kyle Fuller could be the odd man out in the secondary.

FS

Adrian Amos
Eddie Jackson
Deiondre' Hall
DeAndre Houston-Carson

Adrian Amos took a step back in 2016 and will be challenged by fourth-round pick Eddie Jackson for the team's starting free safety position. One intriguing player to watch will be Deiondre' Hall, who is expected to make the switch to safety after playing cornerback during his four years at Northern Iowa and in his rookie season with the Bears.

SS

Quintin Demps
Harold Jones-Quartey
Chris Prosinski
Deon Bush

Free agent signing Quintin Demps will provide a dose of veteran leadership in the Bears secondary. Demps, who turns 32 later this summer, should serve as a stopgap until the Bears find a long-term solution at strong safety. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

K

Andy Phillips
Connor Barth

P

Pat O'Donnell

LS

Patrick Scales

Connor Barth recovered after a shaky start to his Bears career in 2016, but he'll be challenged in camp by undrafted free agent kicker Andy Phillips. A former member of the United States National Ski Team, Phillips converted 84 percent of field goals and missed just one extra point during his time at Utah. If he performs well in preseason, there's a good chance he'll dethrone Barth as the Bears starting kicker due to his age and contract status. As of now, neither Pat O'Donnell nor Patrick Scales have any roster competition to worry about. 

NFL mock draft roundup: Who are the experts predicting the Bears to take in the first round?

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USA TODAY

NFL mock draft roundup: Who are the experts predicting the Bears to take in the first round?

Quenton Nelson? Tremaine Edmunds? Denzel Ward? 

At this point, who the Bears will select in the first round of tonight's NFL Draft is up in the air. Between the numerous mock drafts published online by NFL experts, there is no unanimous prediction for who the Bears will take No. 8 overall.

In any case, the Bears are poised to land a tremendous talent tonight, no matter who they draft. Until then, though, let's take a look at who the experts predict the Bears will select in the first round tonight.

John "Moon" Mullin--NBC Sports Chicago: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Moon's analysis

J. J. Stankevitz--NBC Sports Chicago: Quenton Nelson

J. J.'s analysis

Matt Miller--Bleacher Report: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Miller's analysis: "If Quenton Nelson is gone, look for the Chicago Bears to go defense and select one of the draft's biggest upside players in Tremaine Edmunds."

    Jason La Canfora--CBSSports.com: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    La Canfora's analysis: "This is the absolute lowest he goes. Too many great evaluators have thrown around the term "future Hall of Famer" with me for him not to go top 10, even if he is a guard. If the Colts keep their pick, then I see him off the board there. "

    R. J. White--CBSSports.com: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    White's analysis: "The Bears benefit from what may be their best-case scenario at No. 8 with Nelson, a plug-and-play guard who should garner multiple All-Pro distinctions in his career, especially if he gets a little better in pass blocking."

    Mel Kiper--ESPN: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    Kiper's analysis: "Nelson has a chance to go in the top five, and I don't think he drops past Chicago at No. 8. At 6-5, 335 pounds, Nelson causes destruction in the interior."

    Mike Mayock--NFL.com: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

    Mayock's analysis: "Chicago can't believe Roquan Smith fell to them. Runs a 4.5, goes sideline to sideline, he might be a four-down player."

    Daniel Jeremiah--NFL.com: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

    Jeremiah's analysis: "The Bears could go with Denzel Ward or Tremaine Edmunds right here, but I think Smith would be too tempting to pass up."

    Bucky Brooks--NFL.com: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    Brooks' analysis: "The rugged interior blocker would help the Bears keep Mitchell Trubisky upright in the pocket."

    Charley Casserly--NFL.com: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

    Casserly's analysis: "One month after re-upping Kyle Fuller, the Bears shore up the other side of their pass defense."

    Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz--USA Today: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virgina Tech

    Middlehurst-Schwartz's analysis: "...his rare build (6-5, 253 pounds) and athleticism could provide defensive coordinator Vic Fangio a fascinating project."

    The possibility of trades and the fact that numerous quarterbacks could be selected early on makes tonight's draft quite ambiguous. Ultimately, the Bears' first round selection is somewhat up-in-the-air, so we can only wait and see what happens tonight.

    View from the Moon: Considerations, hypotheticals as draft time looms

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    USA TODAY

    View from the Moon: Considerations, hypotheticals as draft time looms

    As real-life Draft Day moves along, it’s hard not to have at least a passing interest in what’s happening up ahead of No. 8 with who may or may not be taking Bo Callahan.

    Presumably the Cleveland Browns (coincidentally with that No. 1 overall pick – is this Hollywood stuff or what?) know which and how many of teammates came to Baker Mayfield’s birthday on Sunday before last. Or maybe Sam Darnold is in freefall because nobody’s coming to his in June.

    And how about the task force dealing with Josh Allen’s tweets from high school, or the Miami Dolphins doing a one-off version of the Bears-Mike Glennon vignette, assuring Ryan Tannehill that he’d be the 2018 starter even if they draft a quarterback in Round 1, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero?

    “And appearing tonight in the role of ‘Vontae Mack,’ please welcome, everyone, Roquan Smith!

    But seriously, folks...

    Could the Bears in fact be thinking that, with good-but-not-great choices likely for an edge rusher this draft, might the better option be to go for coverage sacks, meaning a major upgrade at defensive back with their No. 1 pick?

    The name of Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward has floated quietly to the surface in the last 24 hours. But the Bears lavished $18 million guaranteed in a three-year, $27 million contract for Prince Amukamara, and chose/were forced to match the Green Bay offer of four years, $56 million to Kyle Fuller. So the notion of high-priced redundancy in depth seems a little head-shaking.

    Except that the Bears desperately need “elite” in their secondary, playing six games annually in a division that includes Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and now Kirk Cousins – three of the NFL’s less-intercepted passers over the past several seasons.

    Amukamara has gone 2,339 snaps without an interception, his last being of Cousins early in 2015. The Bears didn’t think Fuller was worth $14.9 million for one prove-it year initially (they used the transition tag at $12.97 million instead), but had to dig a lot deeper overall as it turned out.

    Ward or Minkah Fitzpatrick or whomever the Bears pick at No. 8 will command a deal in the range of $18 million guaranteed, which will make the Chicago secondary pricey for at least the next two years. But first-round contracts come with that fifth-year option, and the Bears have misspent guaranteed chunks before (Mike Glennon, Jay Cutler, Marcus Cooper, Markus Wheaton).

    -----

    When Bears GM Ryan Pace went all-in and then some last April to ensure beating everyone to Mitch Trubisky, he took more than a little second-guessing. The criticisms and doubts were over both whether he needed to trade up to secure Trubisky (personal text messages to him from some of the greatest NFL personnel guys said that he did the right thing leaving nothing to chance), and whether he’d gone after the right guy. The 49ers had in fact spoken to a second team besides the Bears in the moments before the trade with Chicago.

    The state of the 2018 NFL Draft may offer some early vindication of Pace’s move.

    Matt Nagy suggesting that he rated Trubisky the No. 1 quarterback last draft was pretty much what you’d expect him to say now that Nagy’s in Chicago. But the Chiefs were intent on landing a quarterback that they, too, traded up in Round 1 for theirs (Pat Mahomes). It wasn’t Deshaun Watson, either, for whom Houston also traded up.

    The point is, Pace and his department had incorporated early assessments of the 2018 quarterback class into their deliberations and decision to go for Trubisky. And looking at Allen, Darnold, Mayfield and Rosen, would the Bears 1) have preferred any of those four over Pretty Boy Assassin? (No), and 2) could the Bears have been even remotely sure of being in any position to be sure they got the QB they graded the highest? (No).

    Even with as badly as Mike Glennon performed, the Bears would’ve theoretically needed to lose three more games to have been at No. 2 this draft, instead of the New York Giants, who played a weaker schedule than the Bears and would’ve been No. 2 with a tiebreaker if the two were 3-13.

    Meaning: Pace was leaving nothing to chance last draft and even less than nothing at risk in his (belated) drive for a franchise quarterback. He needs Trubisky to be The Guy but if it weren’t Trubisky last year, it well could have been the third or fourth option from this quarterback class. Not special, and besides, Trubisky’s already a year ahead of all of them.