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Rotoworld mock draft 2.0: Why UCLA's Myles Jack is perfect fit for Bears defense

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Rotoworld mock draft 2.0: Why UCLA's Myles Jack is perfect fit for Bears defense

NBCSports' and Rotoworld's NFL Draft expert Josh Norris released his mock draft 2.0 on Thursday. Here are the Top 11 picks. Also, be sure to check out the entire mock draft here:

You will notice a few of these projections are the same as my last mock draft. That is because they make sense… for now. Less than five percent of you are actually reading this introduction. Thank you to those who are. These “projections” will change frequently. Don’t take these guesses as “X player is projected in the first-round.” It is too early to make such a statement. I suggest using early mocks as watch lists.

1. Tennessee Titans - FSU DB Jalen Ramsey - Everyone is mocking Laremy Tunsil here. For years it has been accepted that left tackle is the most important offensive line position. In the past, it seemed all of the top pass rushers played opposite the left tackle. That played into the importance of the position. Now pass rushers are deployed from all different alignments. Basically I’m trying to explain why tackle will not be the pick here, since Tennessee’s interior seemed to struggle just as much as the edge. The Titans likely want to trade this pick, but a versatile, aggressive defensive back with size and athleticism is not a bad consolation.

2. Cleveland Browns - Cal QB Jared Goff - New head coach Hue Jackson already stated the team will take a quarterback if one is worthy of the second selection. The question if one will be, or even if one will be forced. Just thinking out loud here, but I’m interested in what the process of labeling grades to quarterbacks is like with each team. I’m not sure how a quarterback needy team could list a quarterback at a random ranking like, say, No. 7. If a passer is listed that highly, they are either a quality starter or not, right? If so, they should be atop the board.

3. San Diego Chargers - Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil - Philip Rivers has also displayed functional mobility and an ability to win in a confined pocket. Common thought would be that Rivers’ ability to succeed in such a situation would continue to decline with age. This entire offense would improve with a better offensive line. Tunsil has an aggressive demeanor to go along with his athleticism.

4. Dallas Cowboys - Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell - Treadwell and Dez Bryant on the same team? Why?.... Why not. Terrance Williams’ contract is up after 2016 and he is an average talent at best. Jason Witten is very close to transitioning from Dad Running to Dad Power Walking. Treadwell is an ultra-physical receiver both before and after the catch.

[ROTOWORLD: Complete NFL News]

5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ohio State EDGE Joey Bosa - But they took an edge rusher last year?... So. The Jaguars will likely lose three edge rushers this offseason (Clemons played 675 snaps, Branch played 616 and Davis played 250) and were in dire need of pass rushing productivity this year. Bosa is all explosion and power, shedding his opposition with strength and extension. He is one of the best run defending edge players I have seen.

6. Baltimore Ravens - Notre Dame T Ronnie Stanley - Eugene Monroe only turns 29 in April, but he has only played in 17 games over the last two seasons. The Ravens cannot count on him to play a full season. On top of that, Kelechi Osemele is a free agent and 2016 is the final year of Ricky Wagner’s deal. Getting a talented left tackle in a rookie deal is a great proposition.

7. San Francisco 49ers - Baylor WR Corey Coleman - This pick will test Chip Kelly’s and Trent Baalke’s roster relationship. Coleman checks in under 6’0”, and Kelly has leaned towards size at the position. However, I think COleman plays bigger than his size and obviously offers speed and yards after catch capabilities. The 49ers’ offense needs a jolt, and Coleman would offer it. Especially if the 49ers sign Sam Bradford.

8. Miami Dolphins - Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves - Hargreaves’ 2015 season did not match 2014, but it was far from bad or even average. I was a big Jamar Taylor fan out of Boise State, but he has not played well. Unless the team really believes in young corners Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett as full time starters, expect them to address this position early.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander - I can see why a lot of people like Alexander. In fact, many love his game. Hate it or love it, corner is now a position of size and stature. It can be difficult to find sub 5’10” corner who successfully plays the ball in contested situations. Jason Verrett was one, and Alexander needs to follow that path.

10. New York Giants - Oregon DL DeForest Buckner - I’m not completely sold on Buckner’s pass rushing success early on. However, I am sold on Buckner's individual traits that can result in a powerful pass rusher. Let me explain. Buckner has desired size and length. He is not slow off the football. He has strength in his hands and uses length. All of these show up as a run defender. Once he shows urgency and intent to play behind the line of scrimmage and shed against the pass, he can be a huge factor on a defense. The Giants might see a Justin Tuck comparison here.

11. Chicago Bears - UCLA LB Myles Jack - As of now, I consider Jack the top prospect in this draft class. Jack can play like a 260 lbs power linebacker or move like a 230 lbs coverage specialist. He moves differently than most players at the position. John Fox has invested in linebackers throughout his coaching career. Jack is on track to participate in the Combine.

Read more at Rotoworld.com.

Unfinished Bears job a 'bitter pill' for John Fox, but the legacy lies beyond just the W-L record

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Unfinished Bears job a 'bitter pill' for John Fox, but the legacy lies beyond just the W-L record

When John Fox succeeded Marc Trestman in 2015, neither he nor the Bears were looking at the situation and Fox as any sort of “bridge” hire – a de facto interim coach tasked with winning, but just as importantly, developing and getting a team turned around and headed in a right direction.

The heart of the matter is always winning, but in the overall, the mission statement also includes leaving the place better than you found it. Fox did that, which is very clearly the sentiment upstairs at Halas Hall as the Bears move on from Fox to Matt Nagy.

“It would’ve been nice to see it through,” Fox said to NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s kind of a bitter pill but you sort things out and move forward.

“I do think it’s closer than people think. We inherited a mess... but I felt we were on the brink at the end. I think that [Halas Hall] building is definitely different; they feel it. I do think that it was a positive.”

(Fox is probably not done coaching at some point, but that’s for another time, another story, and anyway, it’s his tale to tell when he feels like it. Or doesn’t.)

One measure of the Bears change effected: Virtually the entire Trestman staff, with the exceptions of receivers coach Mike Groh and linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, was jettisoned along with Trestman. By contrast, Nagy has retained not only virtually the entire Fox defensive staff under coordinator Vic Fangio, but also arguably the single most important non-coordinator offensive coach by virtue of position responsibility – Dave Ragone, the hands-on mentor of quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Obvious but extremely difficult decisions are coming, as to shedding personnel and contracts – Josh Sitton, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young being among the most difficult because of tangible intangibles that no organization wants to lose.

“Bridge” results

Fox was never intended as a bridge coach but the results point to that function having been served. To exactly what end remains to play out under Nagy and the quarterback whom Ragone and Fox’s handling began developing.

Rick Renteria was one of those “bridge” guys for the Cubs, intended to be part of pulling out of or at least arresting the slide into the Mike Quade-Dale Sveum abyss, and leaving something for Joe Maddon. The late Vince Lombardi effectively served as that, at age 56 and for an unforeseen one-year for a Washington Redskins organization that’d gone 13 years without a winning season before Lombardi’s 1969 and needed a radical reversal. The culture change was realized over the next decade under George Allen and Jack Pardee, much of the success coming with the same players with whom Washington had languished before the culture change.

The Bears were in that state after the two years of Trestman and the three years of GM Phil Emery, certain of whose character-lite veteran player acquisitions (Martellus Bennett, Brandon Marshall) and high-character launchings (Brian Urlacher) had left a palpable pall over Halas Hall. A Fox goal was to eradicate that, which insiders in Lake Forest say privately was accomplished even amid the catastrophic crush of three straight seasons of 10 or more losses, and with injuries at historic levels.

What happens next is in the hands of Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, after a third John Fox franchise turnaround failed to materialize. Or did it? Because much of the core, from Trubisky through the defensive makeover, came on Fox’s watch, like him or not.

“You wish some things would’ve happened differently obviously,” Fox said, “but there was a lot positive that happened.”

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Mitch Unrein (free agent), John Jenkins (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Jared Crick, Frostee Rucker, Dominique Easley

This unit was consistently the Bears’ best in 2017, with Akiem Hicks playing at a Pro Bowl level (don’t let his exclusion from the game fool you on that) and Eddie Goldman putting together a rock-solid, healthy year. 

Hicks signed a four-year contract extension just before the season began and rewarded the Bears with a dominant year, racking up 8 ½ sacks and 15 tackles for a loss. Goldman played in and started 15 games and was a key reason why the Bears limited opposing rushers to four yards per carry, tied for the 10th-best average in the league. 

But while the Bears’ defensive line was certainly good, it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. These words from Vic Fangio ring true for Hicks and Goldman:

“I think they all have a lot more to give to us than we’ve seen,” Fangio said. “And it’s our job to get them to improve and become even better players. That will be more important to us than anybody we can acquire between now and whenever our first game is. So, and I know it’s always sexy to talk between now and the first game, you know, who are you going to draft, who’s in free agency, etc., but we’ve got to get our so-called good players playing even better. And that will be critical.”

Hicks will enter Year 3 in Fangio’s scheme, while 2018 will be Goldman’s fourth. It’ll also be a critical year for Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris, who’ve flashed potential at times but haven’t been able to turn that into consistent success on the field. 

And that’s where we begin to look ahead to free agency and the draft. Is the Bears’ evaluation of Bullard -- their 2016 third-round pick -- positive enough to hand him a bigger role in 2018? That’s question No. 1 to answer, with No. 2 then being if the team should try to re-sign Mitch Unrein. 

It may be a bit risky to move forward with Bullard, given how popular Unrein was among the Bears’ defensive coaching staff. 

“He’s one of the glue guys on the defense and the team,” Fangio said last November. “Every team needs a few of those guys who are going to do everything right, full speed, hard and tough all the time, and that’s Mitch.”

Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers offered this up about Unrein back in October: “He allows those guys to play fast,” with “those guys” being Hicks and Goldman. 

Statistically, the 30-year-old Unrein doesn’t  jump off the page, but he did record a career high 2 ½ sacks in 2017. Perhaps there would be some benefits to continuity in the Bears’ base 3-4 defensive line.

Worth noting too is this position isn’t a huge need, given Unrein usually played between 40 and 55 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps on a per-game basis last year. Keeping Unrein for a relatively low cap hit would make some sense, as opposed to testing free agency to replace him.

Jared Crick is coming off back surgery and an ineffective 2016; Dominique Easley is coming off his third torn ACL this decade; Frostee Rucker is in his mid-30’s. The Bears could look to pick a 3-4 defensive end in April, but that would be a pretty quick re-draft of the position and would be an indication they don’t think much of Bullard. This seems like a position where keeping the status quo is likely, save maybe for replacing John Jenkins with a different backup behind Goldman.