Bears

Bears fans prefer Khalil Mack over Aaron Donald by wide margin

Bears fans prefer Khalil Mack over Aaron Donald by wide margin

While most of the attention around Sunday night's showdown between the Chicago Bears (4-5) and Los Angeles Rams (5-4) has been on both teams' struggling quarterbacks and underperforming offenses, the defensive side of the ball will provide fans with a rare opportunity to watch two future Hall-of-Famers: Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald.

Mack, who despite falling into a bit of a slump by his standards, remains the Bears' headline player. His 5.5 sacks through nine games put him on pace for just under 10 on the year, which would be the first time since his rookie season that he failed to reach double digits. 

Donald, meanwhile, is also experiencing a regression in his production. He had a remarkable 20.5 sacks in 2018 but is on pace for just under 11 sacks in 2019, which is actually right around his yearly average. And let's face it: last season was his career-year.

The analytics paint a clearer picture for how well Mack and Donald have played this season. Mack's 89.4 grade from Pro Football Focus ranks him seventh among edge defenders, but keep in mind that third place is currently held by 49ers rookie Nick Bosa with an 89.7. Mack can easily end the year at or near the top once again. 

Donald, on the other hand, doesn't have to make a run to reach the top of the interior defenders' list. He owns PFF's highest grade with a 92.9. In fact, Donald's grade is the highest for any defensive player in the NFL entering Week 11.

So, yeah, the Bears' interior offensive line trio of Cody Whitehair, James Daniels and Rashaad Coward have their work cut out for them.

But even with Donald having such a fantastic season and Mack struggling a bit over the last month or so, Bears fans are still all-in on No. 52. We ran a poll on Twitter asking which of these two superstars fans would rather have in Chicago, and the results were overwhelmingly in Mack's favor.

Is this a because of fan bias? Maybe. But the annual conversation about who will win the league's defensive player of the year always includes these two guys; it's not unreasonable to think 81 percent of Bears fans would prefer the edge rusher over the interior disrupter. Although, with the way the NFL's passing offenses are evolving, we're seeing more and more evidence that interior disruption is as valuable (if not more valuable) as pressure off the edge. Let's see how a poll like this shakes out a year from now.

Mack and Donald represent the worst possible reality for a struggling quarterback. The last guy Jared Goff wants chasing him down is Mack, and Donald busting through the offensive line is a nightmare-turned-reality for Mitch Trubisky. It'll be must-see TV.

Kickoff between the Bears and Rams is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. CST on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Should the Bears trade for this Ryan Pace player?

Should the Bears trade for this Ryan Pace player?

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks wants out of L.A. It's no secret the Rams are trying to trade him, and he expressed his desire to be traded on Twitter on Friday.

The Bears have a need in their offense for a speed wide receiver, and Cooks has been one of the most explosive weapons at the position throughout his career.

Prior to last season's offensive meltdown in Los Angeles, Cooks recorded four-straight 1,000-yard seasons and averaged more than 15 yards per catch in three of those years. He's still only 26 years old and has plenty of juice left in his legs to offer his next team a similar level of production; he would be a dynamic complement to Allen Robinson and would round out Chicago's wide receiver corps.

And here's the thing: we know Ryan Pace loves his former Saints. He just rewarded Jimmy Graham with a two-year, $16 million contract despite a market that likely wouldn't have valued his services anywhere near that amount.

But Graham was one of Pace's guys from his days in New Orleans, and so is Cooks.

The Saints traded a first- and third-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft to move up for Cooks (they moved from No. 27 to No. 20 to select him). Pace was New Orleans' Director of Player Personnel at the time; his voice was a powerful one in the decision to acquire Cooks.

The biggest impediment to making a move for Cooks is his contract. He signed a five-year, $81 million deal with the Rams in 2018 and has a $16.8 million cap hit in 2020. With Robinson looking to break the bank on a contract extension in the coming weeks, it's highly unlikely the Bears will commit that much money to the wide receiver position. Any trade will have to include some kind of restructured contract or an agreement that the Rams carry a significant portion of Cooks' cap hit.

There's also the issue of compensation that the Bears could send to Los Angeles for a player as dynamic as Cooks. A trade would require at least one of Chicago's second-round picks. Maybe that's all it will take, but the Rams would be justified asking for more.

The dollars have to make sense and the compensation has to be appealing enough to get a deal done. But there's no doubt Pace is at least researching his options.

Cooks, unlike Graham, would be one of Pace's guys who Bears fans would welcome with open arms.

Bears land two potential starters in latest NFL.com mock draft

Bears land two potential starters in latest NFL.com mock draft

The 2020 NFL draft is less than four weeks away and now that the first wave of free agency is over, team needs have begun to crystallize.

For the Chicago Bears, that means youth at tight end and a starting-quality safety will be high on their draft wish list. According to Chad Reuter's latest NFL.com 2020 mock draft, the Bears check both boxes with potential starters in the second round.

At pick No. 43, Chicago adds LSU safety Grant Delpit, who prior to the 2019 college football season was considered by most draft analysts to be the most gifted defensive player not named Chase Young.

Delpit's final season with the Tigers wasn't the best for his draft stock. He lacked the splash plays that made him a household name last season, but he still displayed the kind of aggressive and fearless style that would make him a strong complement next to Eddie Jackson, who the Bears want to get back to playing centerfield. Delpit will slide to the second round because he's an inconsistent finisher, but he'd offer great value for a Bears defense that needs an aggressive run defender on its third level.

At No. 50, the Bears snag a potential starter at tight end in Purdue's Brycen Hopkins

Hopkins is a wide receiver in a tight end's body; he's everything Chicago's offense has been missing. Regardless of who wins the team's quarterback competition this summer, a player like Hopkins has the kind of playmaking ability to instantly become one of the early reads in the offense's passing game. 

With veterans Jimmy Graham and Trey Burton already on the roster, a player like Hopkins could be eased into the lineup with the expectation that he'd eventually become the primary receiving option at the position by the end of his rookie season.

Not a bad second-round haul. It's critically important that Ryan Pace hits on his second-rounders, too. The Bears' next pick doesn't occur until the fifth round, which is usually when special teams players and practice squad candidates are added.