Bears

Rotoworld NFL mock draft: At No. 3, the Bears select...

Rotoworld NFL mock draft: At No. 3, the Bears select...

NBCSports' and Rotoworld's NFL Draft expert Josh Norris released his first 2017 NFL mock draft. Here are the Top 10 picks. Also, be sure to check out the entire mock draft here:

This mock draft will change. Frequently.

The process is still young. The full list of underclassmen declarations is still not finalized. The All-Star circuit has not started. Free agency is months away. So as of now, I’m focusing more on current team needs and possible changes in the coming months. Future iterations will be more fleshed out.

1. Cleveland Browns: EDGE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M - Likely viewed as the draft’s top prospect. Reportedly dealt with a high ankle injury this season. NFL teams have to rush the passer, and drafting players like Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib don’t prevent you from adding Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers: EDGE Derek Barnett, Tenn - This is a difficult one. The 49ers likely won’t draft Jonathan Allen after adding Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner over the last two years. Maybe they like a quarterback. If not, Barnett could be viewed as the second-best edge rusher.

3. Chicago Bears: QB Mitch Trubisky, UNC - If you think previous years included conflicting quarterback opinions, just wait on the 2017 NFL Draft. Trubisky was a starter for one season. It is vital to evaluate his play when pressured and forced outside of structure, since so much of UNC’s offense is about rhythm.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama - This would be a great selection, and many teams might view Allen as the No. 1 player in the draft. The Jaguars invested cash and picks into the defensive line, but a team can never have enough disruptors.

5. Tennessee Titans (via LA): FS Malik Hooker, Ohio State - Some might render football down to turnovers and big plays. Hooker can create big plays and turnovers thanks to his extreme range from his safety spot.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

6. New York Jets: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama - Yes, back to back linebackers in the first round for the Jets. But this allows the Jets to have both types of backers as Foster is an aggressive missile.

7. San Diego Chargers: S Jamal Adams, LSU - I could see the Chargers going with an offensive lineman, but instead I’ll choose a safety who many view as a top 10 talent in this class.

8. Carolina Panthers: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU - The head coach has said the offense needs to evolve. That likely means fewer slow-developing downfield shots. For a team that emphasizes the run, the Panthers have invested very little at running back in the last four years. Jonathan Stewart’s current contract is winding down.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: EDGE/DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford - Thomas is a really, really, really good football player. For the Bengals, he can immediately fill their edge to tackle role. He wins as a pass rusher most often from the guard spot.

10. Buffalo Bills: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson - If Doug Whaley identifies a target, he goes out and gets them (see E.J. Manuel and Sammy Watkins). All signs point to the Bills moving on from Tyrod, which I view as a mistake.

Read more at Rotoworld.com.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Laurence Holmes (670 The Score) and Phil Rogers (MLB.com) join Kap on the panel.

The crew discusses Bobby Portis’ suspension, Edzo’s return to the booth and the Bears' chances against the Panthers. 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: