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Imperfect 10: First look at who might be available for Bears in NFL Draft

Imperfect 10: First look at who might be available for Bears in NFL Draft

With the NFL draft three months from this Friday, our Bears insiders JJ Stankevitz & Moon Mullin take their first look at the Top 10 picks and evaluate the Bears options with the 8th overall pick.

Quarterback picks could scramble the Top 10, which would work to the Bears' benefit by pushing talent at other positions down toward No. 8.

GM Ryan Pace has traded up to land each of his last two first-rounders (Leonard Floyd, Mitch Trubisky) and he will have options to move up or down and draft whatever he didn’t secure in free agency.

1. Cleveland Browns 

Moon: Sam Darnold, QB USC

Browns failed to restart their franchise with a QB in ’17. Darnold has flaws and has been a turnover risk, but Browns can’t be picky at 0-16.

JJ: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold seemed like a lock to be 2018’s No. 1 overall pick a year ago, but he went from a 31/9 TD/INT ratio in 2016 to a 26/13 TD/INT ratio in 2017. Still, the tools are there, and Cleveland could see in him the quarterback who finally leads them out of such a dark stretch of losing. 

2. New York Giants

Moon: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Eli may want to follow Brady and Brees in the longevity dream but Giants need a pipeline’er like Garoppolo was for Brady, and Rosen will need development.

JJ: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

How Darnold, Allen and Josh Rosen shake out is going to be fascinating to watch from now until late April, with two of the three likely going in the first two picks. Allen’s stock is high as draft evaluations begin, though that could change between now, the Combine, pro days and then the draft. 

3. Indianapolis Colts

Moon: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

GM Chris Ballard will want to give his new coach a jump start and a pass rusher on the fast Lucas Oil turf is a must for NFL’s 31st sack ‘D’ corps. Too high to take a flyer on LSU’s Arden Key with his concerns.

JJ: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Chubb is an absolute menace who instantly would give the Colts’ lackluster pass rush a disruptive jolt. With quarterbacks going off the board in the first two selections, Chris Ballard gets his pick of the best players available — and goes with the best one. 

4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston)

Moon: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

Letting Joe Haden go hurt in more ways than one and Browns need a shutdown force in division with elite defenses, all except for the Browns’ (7 INT).

JJ: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The thought of pairing Barkley with Darnold is awfully enticing for a Browns team that hasn’t ranked in the top half of the league in points scored since 2008. Barkley is as complete a running back as you’ll find in the draft, rushing for 1,271 yards but also catching 54 passes for 632 yards at Penn State last year. 

5. Denver Broncos 

Moon: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Since Peyton Manning finished, Broncos have had woeful QB results, and bringing back Brock Osweiler was a low point among several (Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian), all playing in ’17.

JJ: Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame

Nelson may be the best offensive player in this draft — and yes, that includes Barkley in this discussion — and has the physicality and athleticism to be a Pro Bowler from Year 1 to Year 10 in the league. Denver needs to address its quarterback situation, and they could opt for Rosen here, but Nelson seems too good to pass up in this spot. 

6. New York Jets 

Moon: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

RBs were devalued a few years ago. Not now, with 6 of top 8 rushers in playoffs, the need for a run game is back in vogue.

JJ: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Jets could be the landing spot for whatever quarterback is squeezed out of the top two, with 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg looking like a bust at this point. The Jets need to do more to improve their offensive structure around the quarterback with a better offensive line and running game, and could look for Texas tackle Connor Williams here. But in a year that could be a bumper crop of quarterbacks, the Jets get theirs. 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Moon: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward was a backfield mate of Marshon Lattimore and consistently solid. Bucs haven’t gone DL at No. 1 in 5 years and want to remain elite up front but Ward projects as day-one starter.

JJ: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

Fitzpatrick looks like the second-best defensive player in the draft, and the Bucs might be jumping for joy if he falls to them at No. 7. Fitzpatrick could be either a corner or a safety, but no matter where he is, he seems like a good bet to be great. 

8. Chicago Bears

Moon: Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame

Too high to take a WR. OL coach Harry Hiestand developed Nelson, and protecting Mitch Trubisky is a franchise-grade mandate. Texas OT Connor Williams is the other option, with more experience on the edge.

JJ: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

In going through the first seven picks here, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears traded out of this spot, since I agree with Moon that it’s probably too high to take a wide receiver. Perhaps Ryan Pace is able to trade up for the third consecutive year to snag Fitzpatrick or Nelson; or maybe he’ll look to trade down to add some more picks and still have a shot at landing Ridley, a corner (like Ohio State’s Denzel Ward), an outside linebacker (like Texas’ Malik Jefferson) or a tackle (like Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, who played under OL coach Harry Hiestand in college) later in the first round. 

9. San Francisco 49ers

Moon: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Pairing a force player with Reuben Foster immediately creates a defensive core, and Smith is a hedge against Foster injury issues. But Alabama WR Calvin Ridley may be too good to pass up as complement to QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

JJ: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The lure of adding a go-to wide receiver to pair with Jimmy Garoppolo — who made a ragtag bunch of pass-catchers look pretty good after getting the 49ers’ starting nod in December — is too strong to pass up here. Sutton caught 62 passes for 1,085 yards with 12 touchdowns for SMU in 2017.

10. Oakland Raiders

Moon: Vita Vae, DT, Washington

Ridley would fit Raiders’ tradition for impact passing offense if he lasts this long, and Raiders very likely to go offense to muscle up for Jon Gruden’s program and support Derek Carr. But Gruden’s Oakland and Tampa Bay teams were stout on defense. 

JJ: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

In Smith, the Raiders could see the rock of their defense for years to come under Jon Gruden. This may be a little high for an inside linebacker, though, and Ward could be an option here as well. 

Coaching rumor tracker: Bears will double-dip interviews with Vikings coordinators

Coaching rumor tracker: Bears will double-dip interviews with Vikings coordinators

Updated, Jan. 3 at 3:16 p.m.

Our coaching search rumor tracker moves past Black Monday and into a week where teams are permitted to interview assistant coaches from four playoff teams that have byes: The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles. 

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio

The Bears announced Fangio was interviewed by Ryan Pace on Wednesday. Here's why he could and couldn't be a fit for the opening

Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards

The Bears are the first team we've seen Edwards' connected to, and it's sort of surprising he hasn't been the subject of more rumors before Wednesday. He's been a defensive coordinator for three teams: Washington (2003), the Buffalo Bills (2011-2012) and Minnesota Vikings (2014-present). The Vikings finished the 2017 season ranked No. 2 in defensive DVOA and have steadily improved (from 23 to 14 to 8 to 2) since Mike Zimmer hired him four years ago. The soon-to-be 51-year-old former All-ACC linebacker is the second defensive coach the Bears reportedly have requested to interview. 

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy

The 39-year-old Nagy has been on Andy Reid's staff in Kansas City since 2013, when he was hired to be the team's quarterbacks coach, and was previously an offensive quality control assistant under Reid in Philadelphia. Nagy was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016, and his offense ranked 4th in DVOA this year. An interesting wrinkle here: Given the Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft, Nagy probably has done extensive research on Mitchell Trubisky, which could either sway him to come to Chicago or keep him away, depending on how he evaluated him. 

Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo 

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported a timeline for the Bears to interview DeFilippo:

Check out the full breakdown of DeFilippo's credentials and fit for the Bears in the latest in our latest coaching confidential series. 

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels

Paul Aspan and I looked at McDaniels yesterday, and debated this: With Ryan Pace not relinquishing control of the 53-man roster, is he even worth a serious look? Read our breakdown here

Also included on the Bears' reported interview list is Shurmur, who was the mastermind behind a Vikings offense that had plenty of success despite losing its starting quarterback (Sam Bradford) and starting running back (Dalvin Cook) early in the season. If he can find a way to make Case Keenum a better-than-average NFL quarterback, surely he can do the same for Mitch Trubisky, right?

Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks

Wilks was the Bears' secondary coach from 2006-2008 under Lovie Smith and has been an assistant to Ron Rivera with the Carolina Panthers since 2012. While he only has one year of coordinator experience, he's highly thought of around the league, as evidenced by plenty of other teams already putting in requests to interview him. Check out our Coaching Confidential profile of Wilks here

This is worth noting, too, given Ryan Pace's connection to New Orleans:

And still dreaming about Jim Harbaugh coming to the Bears? There's this:

Arizona Cardinals

Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo

Briefly: So far, the Bears' only competition for DeFilippo is the Cardinals, who don't have a young quarterback in place yet. But perhaps the Cardinals could sell DeFilippo on drafting a young quarterback to develop, though the team might need to trade up from the 15th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to land that guy. But consider this: 

We'll see if that could pay off for Arizona in their pursuit of DeFillippo. But he's not the only name connected to the job opening in Glendale so far:

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz
New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia

New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels

Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks 

Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard
Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy

Briefly: If McDaniels makes the jump back into the head coaching ranks, Indianapolis makes a lot of sense -- so long as he's willing to not demand full control of the roster. General manager Chris Ballard is highly regarded around the league, though, and McDaniels could be lured to the Colts by both Andrew Luck (if healthy) and Jacoby Brissett (his former pupil in New England). 

This is the first place we've seen Richard, who helped create the "Legion of Boom" in Seattle, be mentioned, and it's a little surprising he hasn't been connected to more openings yet. Don't be surprised if Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub gets a look here, too. 

Detroit Lions

New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia

Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks

Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin

Green Bay Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss

Briefly: The Lions have put the most requests out for interviews so far, with most of these guys on the defensive side of the ball. General manager Bob Quinn has New England connections that make Patricia an obvious choice. 

Detroit, though, is giving its own a chance, interviewing Austin and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter on Tuesday:

Oakland Raiders

Current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden

Briefly: The Raiders seemingly fired Del Rio with the knowledge they'd be able to hire Gruden, but Gruden will be on the ESPN call of this weekend's Titans-Chiefs playoff game, so this could take a little while to get done. 

New York Giants

New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels

Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks

Former Denver Broncos running backs coach/assistant head coach Eric Studesville

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur 

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz

Briefly: The Giants are in an interesting position, with Eli Manning still there but holding the No. 2 overall pick to possibly draft his replacement. 

Intriguing scenarios still linger for Bears and John Fox's future

Intriguing scenarios still linger for Bears and John Fox's future

Shaking the last crumbs out of the post-Packers-loss notebook...

In the wake of the Bears’ embarrassing and bewildering loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, an inescapable thought was that the defeat very possibly foreshadowed the end of John Fox’s tenure as Bears coach.

But how soon? And honestly, should it?

The glow of the Bears before the Green Bay game was misleading. I wonder if the hysteria reaction in the wake of it might be, too.

On the “should” point, first – 48 hours ago the Bears had won two of their previous three games, against teams with a combined record of 17-10, and Fox was being fitted for a La-Z-Boy instead of a hot seat. None of that offsets the appalling performance by a Fox team that should have been accelerating into a game that represented nothing short of a season-changing opportunity.

Which should mean that, as tempting or natural as it may be, any judgement of Fox should not be finalized based on the 23-16 loss to the Packers. GM Ryan Pace may have a rolodex of replacement possibilities – every GM does – but he and the organization didn’t launch Fox on Monday, so they have not reached a decision that presumably can’t be reversed by the results of the Detroit game next weekend and the Philadelphia Eagles game the week after.

Put another way...

If the Bears handle the Lions (they defeated Detroit in Chicago last year with Brian Hoyer under center, and lost by three in Detroit with Matt Barkley last year and the Lions headed for the playoffs)...

...and the Bears stun the Eagles (they’ve beaten the AFC North-leading Steelers and 7-3 Panthers already this year)…

…what will be the narrative on Fox’s situation? Just a thought.


On the “how soon?” point: Well known is the fact that the Bears have never fired a coach in-season, and Fox’s presence at the Halas Hall podium on Monday said the Green Bay loss hadn’t done it. Nor had the resulting 3-6 season record, nor had the fact that it was to a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers, nor that the Packers were coming off a short week vs. the Bears fresh from their off-week, and so on.

However, while chairman George McCaskey is committed to honoring and respecting the past, he is anything but a lockstep prisoner of it. He has put his imprint on many areas of the organization since succeeding brother Mike as the apex executive.

Why this could matter is that McCaskey would not be the first chief executive to break with tradition and in this case be agreeable to a coaching change if Pace wants to go that way, perhaps with an interim such as Vic Fangio to finish out the season.

The Bears are historically loyal and patient with their coaches, but McCaskey jettisoned GM Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman after two years. In the process, McCaskey became the first Bears chief executive to fire a head coach after only two seasons (Paddy Driscoll just went back to being an assistant coach under George Halas when Halas was ready to resume head-coaching after a two-year break in the last '50s.)

McCaskey and Pace would have some recent history as suggestive precedent. The L.A. Rams fired Jeff Fisher after wobbling to a 4-9 point with rookie quarterback Jared Goff in place last year. They lost their final three games but are 7-2 this year. The Buffalo Bills dumped Rex Ryan before the end of 2016; they are in the playoff discussion this year. Tennessee fired Ken Whisenhunt seven games into the 2015 season and went to 9-7 under Mike Mularkey in 2016 after the organization removed the “interim” label from Mularkey.

Nothing here should be taken even slightly as predicting or advocating that the Bears making a coaching change after this one game, which left them 2-3 under quarterback Mitch Trubisky. It is very, very unlikely that the Bears cast out John Fox without letting the rest of the season play out. The New York Giants, mired in a season considerably worse (1-8) than the Bears’, issued a statement of support for coach Ben McAdoo. The Bears and Giants are old-school organizations, the Maras and McCaskeys have similar values, and the Giants don’t fire coaches in-season, either.

But going the opposite direction from the earlier next-games scenarios: f the Bears sleepwalk again and are embarrassed by the Detroit Lions at home next Sunday, then have real problems in Philadelphia with the Eagles the following week, no one should rule out a historic “first” for an organization that can only be increasingly classed as desperate.


For those hoping the Bears jettison Fox after this year, a common citation is the fact that no Bears coach has held onto his job after a third straight losing season. That’s a little misleading, if only because it is a very small sample size, and enough exceptions in this case make the rule suspect.


Three of the nine coaches since the end of George Halas’ final stint were around for three straight losing seasons. Two were gone after two straight and one – Mike Ditka – was done after one. Under Chairman George McCaskey, Marc Trestman and Lovie Smith were dismissed without reaching the three-and-out standard.

Coach                        Fired after…

Marc Trestman          2 straight losing seasons (2013-14)

Lovie Smith               3 straight .500-or-better seasons (2010-12)

Dick Jauron               4 losing seasons in five (1999-2000, 2002-03)

Dave Wannstedt       3 straight losing seasons (1996-99)

Mike Ditka                 1 losing season (1992)

Neill Armstrong         3 losing seasons in four (1978, 1980-81)

Jack Pardee              (quit)

Abe Gibron                3 straight losing seasons (1972-74)

Jim Dooley                3 straight losing seasons

Besides the results in the standings, the undisciplined, sloppy play of the Bears in the Green Bay loss was the sort of thing that reflects very badly on coaching and coaches, even though none of the eight penalties assessed and three others flagged but declined were on the coaches.

“Lack of focus,” Trubisky said by way of blunt explanation after Sunday’s game. “It seemed uncharacteristic for us because we were locked in and ready to go.”

In fact, the Bears had become better behaved since Trubisky took over from Mike Glennon. They were assessed 10 and eight penalties in Glennon’s last two starts, then 8-5-5-4 in Trubisky’s before Sunday.

“Was it a real clean game, no,” Fox said. “I think we didn't line up properly as far as formation, we went in motion on a play, we went early. You know those are real, you saw 'em as well as I did. It created some behind-the-sticks series and that was a factor, especially on our third-down conversion ratio.”

As far as poor focus, Fox wasn’t copping to much by either coaches or players. “Well, I think you know it's all of the above,” Fox said. “You know there's no doubt about that. But I think there's some new people out there you know that, again it's not an excuse, it's just a reality.”