Bears

Five takeaways from the Bears’ 53-man roster, which is good enough to win a Super Bowl

Five takeaways from the Bears’ 53-man roster, which is good enough to win a Super Bowl

The Bears unveiled their initial 53-man roster Saturday evening, which may only be a rough draft of sorts. General manager Ryan Pace and his front office will actively scour the waiver wire and see if one or a few of the 1,000-plus players released in the last 24 hours could improve their roster. 

But with an abbreviated game week looming, the main guys on this roster will be the ones you see suit up Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers. So with that in mind, here’s five thoughts on the 53 players who made the Bears’ roster today: 

1. Eddy Pineiro, as expected, made the cut. 

The thought here is Pineiro will still be on the Bears’ roster tomorrow after the NFL’s waiver wire frenzy settles down. Not only do the Bears have the 24th waiver priority — behind a number of teams, like the New York Jets, that need a kicker — but Pineiro earned his spot on the roster over the last few weeks. Kaare Vedvik, who was waived by the Minnesota Vikings after they traded a fifth-round pick for him, could be an option but also might be claimed before the Bears could get to him. And even if the Bears do: Why would they want a guy who hasn't kicked at Soldier Field over someone who has in Pineiro?

Yes, Pineiro missed a PAT on his first attempt Thursday at Soldier Field. But he rebounded with made field goals of 32, 34 and 37 yards, showing the kind of resilience and confidence the Bears have come to appreciate over the last few months. 

So the first kicker to attempt a field goal in a game that matters at Soldier Field since Cody Parkey’s double-doink will be Pineiro. The Bears’ long, winding, often bizarre search for a kicker is over — for now. 

2. The deepest unit? Defensive line. 

This isn’t anything we didn’t already know, but with the roster settled, let’s highlight Jay Rodgers’ unit as the best on the team. 

That the Bears parted with Jonathan Bullard, a third-round pick in 2016, speaks to how good this group is. Abdullah Anderson, an undrafted free agent from Bucknell who was on the practice squad last year, also earned a spot on the roster. 

Akiem Hicks is one of the very best defensive linemen in the NFL. Eddie Goldman is an unsung hero on this defense, the guy who does the dirty work in absorbing double-teams while others rack up pressures and sacks. Bilal Nichols proved to be an adept run-stuffer who enters his second year in the league with good upside. Roy Robertson-Harris is a versatile, athletic player who presents challenges for opposing defenses on third down. 

Behind those four guys is Nick Williams, who had a solid preseason and earned his way back on to the roster. He could be active on gamedays this year as a reserve lineman and special teamer. 

Every other unit has a star on this defense — Khalil Mack at outside linebacker, Roquan Smith/Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker, Kyle Fuller at cornerback, Eddie Jackson at safety — but no unit has both the star power and depth of the Bears’ defensive line. This is the kind of group that can significantly help the Bears overcome any coordinator-switch-based regression over the next few months. 

3. Questions linger with tight end, tackle and outside linebacker and cornerback depth. 

We covered the Bears’ need for good health at those four positions on Friday — top-end depth is not a problem at any of them. 

But what if something happens to Adam Shaheen, who’s missed 13 games in his two-year NFL career? Can Bradley Sowell, the converted offensive lineman, ably step in? Who plays tackle — Rashaad Coward or Cornelius Lucas, who somewhat surprisingly made the team over Alex Bars — if the Bears need a sub for Charles Leno Jr. or Bobby Massie?

At outside linebacker, Aaron Lynch is back after a few questions were raised by his participation in Thursday's preseason finale, but James Vaughters, who had three sacks and two forced fumbles in presason play, was cut.

At cornerback, Kevin Toliver stuck over John Franklin III and Michael Joseph. Expect the Bears to be active on the waiver wire to try to address these four positions. That activity could continue into the regular season, too, if an upgrade is needed. 

4. There are even more weapons for Mitch Trubisky. 

If you’re trying to come up with a list of the Bears’ top five offensive weapons, who do you take from this group:

-David Montgomery
-Tarik Cohen
-Mike Davis 
-Allen Robinson
-Taylor Gabriel
-Anthony Miller
-Cordarrelle Patterson
-Trey Burton
-Adam Shaheen

We’ll say the team leaders in targets this year will be, in order: Robinson, Cohen, Burton, Gabriel and Miller. Montgomery will lead the team in carries, followed by Davis. Patterson may only play about a third of the Bears’ snaps but will be all over the place when he’s on the field. Shaheen’s level of success — and ability to stay on the field — could be a sneaky key to this offense. 

There may not be any true star power in that group — Robinson and Cohen are the closest — but that’s nine players the Bears believe could go off any week. 

From a depth perspective, the Bears essentially made the following replacements in the offseason:

Patterson replaced Kevin White
Riley Ridley replaced Josh Bellamy
Montgomery replaced Jordan Howard
Davis replaced Benny Cunningham
Kerrith Whyte Jr. replaced Taquan Mizzell 

Those represent five upgrades, at least on offense (Bellamy and Cunningham, at the least, were core special teamer). So as the Bears’ offense enters 2019, it’d be foolish to say the pieces aren’t in place around Trubisky. 

5. This is a Super Bowl-caliber roster. 

There wasn’t a single battle for a starting gig on offense or defense during training camp and preseason games. Ryan Pace assembled the deepest, best group of roster talent this Bears franchise has seen in a long time, with no glaring weaknesses and All-Pros and Pro Bowlers littering this group. 

This is not a prediction that the Bears will win Super Bowl LIV. But it is an acknowledgement of the talent that’ll report to Halas Hall to begin practicing for Week 1 on Sunday. 

A year ago — after the Bears traded for Khalil Mack — we thought the Bears might have a roster good enough to compete for the NFC North title. Mack’s monstrous impact and Nagy’s deft coaching touch hadn’t materialized yet. 

Now, going into 2019: We know this is a roster not only good enough to win the NFC North, but to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Florida this coming February. Starting Thursday, it’s time for this collective of talented players to make good on that potential. 

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Khalil Mack pays off holiday debts at Walmart in his hometown

Khalil Mack pays off holiday debts at Walmart in his hometown

Khalil Mack is doing good in his hometown during the holiday season.

Mack paid off more than 300 layaway accounts at a Walmart in his hometown of Fort Pierce, Fla. Mack paid through the Khalil Mack Foundation.

The Fort Pierce Walmart announced his good deed on their Facebook page:

“We have some wonderful news! If you have an active Holiday Layaway account at your local Ft. Pierce Wal-Mart, you account has been paid off!

“We here at Walmart would like to thank the Khalil Mack Foundation for your generosity, and for making so many families happy for the holidays!”

Mack has been a big play player for the Bears defense since joining the team last year. Here is an example of a big play off the field from Mack.

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

The 2019 NFL season is in its final quarter, and with the Bears essentially needing to win out while also getting some help around the league to make the playoffs, it's important to keep track of the trending NFL Draft narrative building around this team.

The funny thing, however, is that that narrative continues to change.

Just a few weeks ago, the Bears were considered a team that would potentially dip into the pool of quarterback prospects in the early second round, but with the emergence of Mitch Trubisky (he's thrown for 582 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games alone), it appears less likely that GM Ryan Pace will use one of his few draft assets on one.

Tight end was also considered a target for the Bears in the second round, and that could remain the case as the season marches on. But Jesper Horsted is beginning to look like a legitimate sleeper to emerge as part of the answer at such a critical position in coach Matt Nagy's offense.

So where does that leave this team's hierarchy of draft needs as the offseason inches closer? 

According to CBS Sports' new seven-round mock draft, the first two positions the Bears will address with their two second-round picks are cornerback and offensive tackle. In this mock, Chicago grabs TCU corner Jeff Gladney (No. 49 overall) and Iowa offensive tackle Alaris Jackson (No. 50 overall).

Gladney will participate in this year's Senior Bowl at the end of January after a standout career with the Horned Frogs. He was rated the No. 1 cornerback in the Big 12 by Pro Football Focus in 2018 and has been solid once again this season, although he's managed just one interception on the year. 

At 6-foot, 183 pounds, Gladney has an NFL frame and the kind of high-end coverage skills the Bears should be looking to add to the roster. Prince Amukamara's contract expires at the end of next season, and drafting a player like Gladney, combined with 2019 sixth-round pick Dukey Shelley, would strengthen the team's pipeline of young cornerbacks who will eventually be called upon to play.

Jackson, who the Bears take with their second second-rounder in this scenario, suffered an early-season knee injury but returned to earn Third Team All-Big 10 honors this year.

Jackson combined with Tristan Wirfs to give Iowa one of the best offensive tackle duos in college football, but Jackson offers a little less upside on the edge moving forward. Still, the Bears have suffered from underwhelming offensive line play all season and won't hesitate to add a player with Jackson's pedigree early in this year's draft.

As for the rest of the Bears' draft haul, here are some highlights:

Round 4 (projected compensatory pick): Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford

Parkinson began the 2019 season with some chatter that suggested he'd end the year as the top tight end in the class. And while he ended the season with 48 catches for 589 yards and a touchdown, it wasn't quite the production expected from a player who was supposed to be the next in the long line of promising Stanford tight ends. 

Parkinson's underwhelming season could be the Bears' gain, however. The best part of his game is his ability as a receiver, which is what Chicago is missing most from its offense right now. If he slides into Day 3 and the Bears end up with a compensatory pick in this range, he'd certainly be a viable target.

Round 5 (from Eagles): K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford

Why not tap into the Stanford program twice on Day 3? This time, the Bears go with the guy who was throwing passes to Parkinson. Costello is a solid Day-3 quarterback prospect who has some physical limitations and an awkward throwing motion, but it's critical that Pace adds a developmental passer to the roster even if it's just to become a long-term backup for Trubisky (assuming Trubisky keeps the job).

Costello's been injured all season and was limited to just five games in what was supposed to be a senior year that put him in the first-round conversation. Instead, he'll slide into the third day (at least, he should). He'd make a lot of sense for the Bears, especially from a public relations standpoint. He isn't quite good enough to legitimately challenge Trubisky in 2020, but he has enough talent to potentially develop into a respectable starter down the road.

Round 7: Tucker McCann (K, Missouri)

Kicker alert! Would the Bears dare using a draft pick on a kicker? It seems highly unlikely, especially since Eddy Pineiro is beginning to play better. He's made all of his field-goal attempts during Chicago's three-game winning streak.

That said, Pineiro is connecting on just 76% of his kicks this season, which ranks 25th in the NFL. Not good.

Pace is a pretty loyal guy, and with Pineiro kicking under some of the most intense pressure of any kicking situation in the NFL, one could argue he's weathered the storm pretty well.

The next three games will determine whether Pineiro's roster spot is safe in 2020. If he remains hot, he'll be back. It's as simple as that.

Here is the total Bears' mock draft:

Round 2: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Round 2: Alaric Jackson, OL, Iowa
Round 4: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford
Round 5: K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford
Round 5: Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
Round 5: Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt
Round 6: Tyler Higby, G, Michigan State
Round 7: Tucker McCann, K, Missouri

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