Bears

Bears could be in position to land top TE in 2020 NFL Draft

Bears could be in position to land top TE in 2020 NFL Draft

The Bears are going to take a long, hard look at the makeup of their tight end room this offseason. Trey Burton, who's teetering on joining a growing list of free-agent busts signed by GM Ryan Pace since 2015, will be back because of his cap hit, but the rest of the depth chart offers more questions than answers moving forward.

Adam Shaheen, 2017's second-round pick, has likely played his last down in Chicago. He's regressed in his third season with the team and after an injury-plagued start to his career, it appears time to move on. Special teams standout Ben Braunecker is likely to be back, but he offers little upside beyond the game's third phase. J.P. Holtz and undrafted rookie Jesper Horsted have been pleasant surprises and may develop into the team's future at the position, but it's a risky proposition to rely on two players who were fringe-NFL guys at the start of the season.

It's highly unlikely Pace will invest more free-agent dollars into tight end because of the hefty paycheck being cut to Burton. He'll have an $8.55 million cap hit in 2020, which ranks among the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. As a result, Pace will be forced to dip into the 2020 NFL draft class to upgrade the talent level.

Fortunately for the Bears, the second round is where this year's top tight ends are expected to come off the board. In fact, Pace may end up having his pick of the litter if ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's prospect rankings bear out.

McShay, who teamed with Mel Kiper, Jr. to answer the 30 biggest questions at the start of the NFL draft season, doesn't have a tight end with a first-round grade. His highest-rated player at the position just happens to be in the range where the Bears' first selection currently sits.

"Over the past three years, there has been an average of two first-round tight ends, and Iowa's T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant were both top-20 picks last April," McShay wrote. "But don't expect a repeat. No one has really emerged this season like Hockenson, Fant and even Irv Smith Jr. did in 2018. The highest-ranked tight end in my rankings is Vanderbilt's Jared Pinkney at No. 49. Unless we see an underclassman rise through the process, I don't see a first-rounder in this group."

The Bears currently own the 45th pick (from Raiders) and 50th pick in the second round.

The bad news is Pinkney isn't the kind of pass-catcher the Bears are searching for Matt Nagy's offense. But the good news is there are a few players in this year's class who offer some upside as a receiver (we'll have a complete breakdown over the coming months). And if Pinkney is considered the best of the bunch, the Bears should have little trouble adding a player who fits their needs at a good value later in the draft.

Maybe Horsted will do enough over the final three games to convince Pace that Chicago already has its young ascending tight end on the roster. But if he doesn't, the Bears will have plenty of options to choose from in April.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Under Center Podcast: Kevin Clark & Robert Mays of the Ringer

nagy.jpg
USA Today

Under Center Podcast: Kevin Clark & Robert Mays of the Ringer

For today's podcast for Super Bowl week in Miami, host Laurence Holmes has two separate discussions with two great guests. Kevin Clark and Robert Mays of the Ringer join the podcast to discuss why the Chiefs and Niners are in the Super Bowl and what the Bears are missing that's holding them back from a Super Bowl.

Part 1 with Kevin Clark

(2:19) - All the NFL players wanted to talk about Kobe Bryant at Media Night

(5:58) - What is the Ringer?

(7:24) - There is a lot that can be learned from Kyle Shanahan

(11:16) - What is Matt Nagy doing wrong with the Bears

(13:36) - What should the Bears do with Mitch Trubisky?

Part 2 with Robert Mays

(20:21) - Interview starts with Mays/ innovation of offense with Reid and Shanahan

(22:31) - Shanahan had the coolest offense Mays has ever seen

(25:16) - Can Matt Nagy be Shanahan?

(26:55) - What are the Bears options at QB?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Under Center Podcast

Subscribe:

Under Center Podcast: Kevin Clark & Robert Mays of the Ringer

super_bowl_trophy_usa_today.png
USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Kevin Clark & Robert Mays of the Ringer

For today's podcast for Super Bowl week in Miami, host Laurence Holmes has two separate discussions with two great guests. Kevin Clark and Robert Mays of the Ringer join the podcast to discuss why the Chiefs and Niners are in the Super Bowl and what the Bears are missing that's holding them back from a Super Bowl.

Part 1 with Kevin Clark

(2:19) - All the NFL players wanted to talk about Kobe Bryant at Media Night

(5:58) - What is the Ringer?

(7:24) - There is a lot that can be learned from Kyle Shanahan

(11:16) - What is Matt Nagy doing wrong with the Bears

(13:36) - What should the Bears do with Mitch Trubisky?

Part 2 with Robert Mays

(20:21) - Interview starts with Mays/ innovation of offense with Reid and Shanahan

(22:31) - Shanahan had the coolest offense Mays has ever seen

(25:16) - Can Matt Nagy be Shanahan?

(26:55) - What are the Bears options at QB?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.