Bears 2018 rookie class graded as one of best in NFL

Bears 2018 rookie class graded as one of best in NFL

Ryan Pace’s success in the NFL draft has been a big reason for the Bears success.

The team’s home-grown talent is developing and bolstering the roster on both side of the ball, even in their first season.

The 2018 class of rookies produced a few starters and a few more regular contributors, receiving an “A-minus” grade from’s rookie grades.

“Few clubs reaped a better haul from the first two rounds of the 2018 draft than Chicago,” Jeremy Bergman wrote.

The writer was complimentary of the Bears first three picks in particular, with Roquan Smith, James Daniels and Anthony Miller all playing big roles in the team’s breakout season.

He also gave Bilal Nichols the credit he deserved for his surprising season on the defensive line.

The only team that received a higher grade for their rookie class was the Indianapolis Colts, with a full “A” grade, and no other team in the NFC North was higher than a “B.”

First and Final Thoughts: The Bears head to Lambeau with the season on the line

First and Final Thoughts: The Bears head to Lambeau with the season on the line

Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games. J.J.'s on Paternity Leave, so Bulls producer Rob Schaefer is filling in. 

Final Thoughts on Week 14

Rob Schaefer: The Bears took care of their business last Thursday against Dallas. Unfortunately, when the Sunday and Monday slate of games had concluded, they weren’t any closer to the playoff berth they — somehow — found themselves within shouting distance of entering Week 14. In fact, they’re now further away. 

Perhaps the Rams and Vikings felt the Bears nipping on their heels, because both teams were dominant on Sunday. The Vikings (behind three Danielle Hunter sacks) made David Blough look like… well, David Blough, in a 20-7 victory over Detroit. Expected, but a gut-punch nonetheless. Even more concerning was the Rams returning to their early-2018 offensive form in beating down the surging Seahawks 28-12. Per FiveThirtyEight, the Bears enter Week 15 with a 2% chance of making the playoffs.

Still, you have to feel good about the way the defense responded against Dallas after losing Roquan Smith (on top of the starters they were already missing), and Mitch Trubisky’s four-touchdown (three by air, one by ground) performance, moving forward. Even if they don’t make an appearance on Wild Card weekend, the Bears can still salvage something from the end of the 2019 season if Trubisky and others continue to progress.

Cam Ellis: Lots of players were good against Dallas, but the only real thought I've had that's lingered since last week's win is this: good for Trubisky. Beating the Cowboys doesn't – or shouldn't – change how the Bears feel about him as their long-term solution, but it was great seeing him have his first real, positive moment of 2019. For what it's worth, the loudest Soldier Field got all night was when Trubisky scored on that 23-yard scramble. Let's watch it! 

The place erupts when he's still 20 yards out. Who knows what happens at quarterback after these next three games, but given the type of guy the Bears say he is, and how hard he works, it was nice to see him succeed in a big moment. 

First Thought on Week 15 

Schaefer: Green Bay’s defense started the year stingy, but has faded against premier competition as the season has worn on (they’re currently 20th in in league in defensive DVOA). If the Bears can’t pull this one out (or those competing with them for the last wild card spot continue to win), the first place to look for silver linings will be Trubisky. Improvement on his stat line from opening night (26-of-45, 228 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) is requisite to taking anything positive from this game.

Ellis: Imagine if the Bears had literally anything but the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL. The good news is that the Bears get the toughest one over with first? They've won at Lambeau twice in 10 years, although if you've scrolled down this far I imagine I don't need to tell you that. It's hard to decide whether getting Akiem Hicks back is better for this team's performance or their attitude – he'll probably be at least somewhat limited physically, but just having him out there, especially without Danny Trevathan or Roquan Smith, gives the Bears that returning-cavalry vibe that always adds a little extra juice this time of year. Aaron Rodgers has gutted them too many times to not expect it as this point, but if the Matt Nagy Era Bears have shown anything, it's that they tend to rally well in these type of situations. They'll be a tough out at worst. 

Bears injury report: Akiem Hicks returns to practice

Bears injury report: Akiem Hicks returns to practice

Akiem Hicks is still on the injured reserve, but he took a step towards making his return this week.

Hicks practiced in full on Wednesday as he continues to work his way back from landing on the IR with a dislocated elbow back in Week 5.

Hicks wasn’t listed on the Bears injury report because he is still on the IR. The defensive tackle will likely remain on the IR until just before the game. The Bears would have to make room for him on the active roster.

As for players actually listed on the injury report, six players were held out of practice.

Tight end Ben Braunecker (concussion), wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion), offensive lineman Bobby Massie (ankle), defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (foot), linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow) and wide receiver Javon Wims (knee) all missed practice.

Prince Amukamara, who missed last week’s game against Dallas with a hamstring injury, was a full participant in practice.

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