Bears

Is Chase Claypool the ideal target for the Bears in Round 2?

Is Chase Claypool the ideal target for the Bears in Round 2?

Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool's 2020 NFL Combine experience began with an expectation that he'd make a position change to tight end. It was a logical assumption considering his physical makeup; he weighed in at 6-4 and a rocked-up 238 pounds. Then came his elite workout, and the death of the tight end narrative.

Simply put, Claypool's test results were elite. In fact, he's the first wide receiver over 230 pounds to register a sub-4.5 40-yard dash since Calvin Johnson. That, alone, is rarified air. And it's reason enough for the Bears and GM Ryan Pace to give Claypool strong consideration in the second round.

Claypool's complete workout numbers were:

40-yard dash: 4.42
Vertical jump: 40.5 inches
Broad jump: 10.5 feet
Bench press: 19 reps (225 pounds)

Claypool isn't just a workout warrior, either. He was highly productive for Notre Dame in 2019, registering 66 catches for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

Claypool would be the ultimate chess piece for Matt Nagy and the Bears offense. He'd be a true 'joker,' a term usually reserved for a pass-catching tight end. But in this scenario, Claypool could be virtually positionless. Just put him on the field and let him be a big and fast target for Mitch Trubisky (or whoever is under center). 

On film, Claypool doesn't always display the athleticism he flashed at Lucas Oil Stadium. His 4.42 was a surprise because his field-speed isn't on that level. In fact, the reason scouts were suggesting the position change is because he looks a little heavy-footed at times and there were concerns about his ability to separate from NFL defenders next fall. 

Those concerns aren't completely eliminated by Claypool's elite Combine showing. He's still not a sure thing when it comes to creating separation as a true boundary receiver. But that's what makes him such an appealing target for the Bears; he wouldn't have to be that guy in Chicago. He can be the Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz for the offense despite being listed as a wide receiver on the depth chart.

Here's the rub: The Bears can't wait too long to draft Claypool if he's their guy. If Pace doesn't pull the trigger on him with the No. 50 pick (their second of two second-round selections), he'll be playing elsewhere next fall.

If Chicago tabs Claypool as their guy, the instant knee-jerk reaction will be that Pace 'wasted' a second-round pick on a wide receiver, a position that isn't as much of a need as some others on this roster. But that's the beauty of Claypool; he isn't what he seems. He'd address the Bears' biggest need in the passing game while also possessing the massive upside to bring the offense to a more explosive level.



 

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.