Bears

Michigan's Josh Uche could be pass-rush answer Bears need

Michigan's Josh Uche could be pass-rush answer Bears need

Even with all-world outside linebacker Khalil Mack on the roster, the Bears are going to search for help in their pass rush this offseason. The 2020 NFL Draft is the best way to accomplish that goal, especially because of the price tag that even average edge defenders command on the open market.

One player who may have put himself on the Bears' radar this week at the 2020 Senior Bowl is Michigan's Josh Uche.

Of all the edge defenders in Mobile, Ala., it was Uche (6-foot-1, 243 pounds) whose burst and bend around the edge was nearly unblockable regardless of who he matched up against. Uche wasn't unleashed in the Wolverines defense but he did manage a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2019 and totaled 14.5 sacks over the last two seasons combined.

The Bears need to add more speed off the edge. Former first-round pick Leonard Floyd simply isn't that guy, and the sooner the Bears realize that the better off they'll be.

GM Ryan Pace has what seems like a pretty simple decision to make about Floyd's future this offseason; he can rescind the fifth-year option in his contract and save the Bears more than $13 million against the 2020 salary cap. It would be a choice that likely marks the end of Floyd's career as a Bear, but at this point, that career has been nothing more than an underwhelming disappointment that's totaled just 18.5 sacks over four years.

Chicago can't waste the prime years of Mack's elite pass-rush production. If they don't add a high-impact complement opposite him, that's what they'll be doing. Uche could be that guy.

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

The 2020 NFL Combine will go a long way in determining the final draft grade for each of the 337 prospects participating in on-field drills. General managers and scouts want to see whether their athletic testing matches the traits noted on film. If a player runs faster than he plays, scouts will question his on-field instincts and overall football IQ. In the alternative, if he runs slower than he plays, questions about level of competition and the ability to 'win' on the NFL level will be raised.

But in order to understand whether or not a prospect is having a good performance, you first have to know what the NFL is looking for as its minimum time/result required for each position and drill.

NFL Hall-of-Fame executive Gil Brandt, one of the legendary draft minds in the sport, shared what has become the standard breakdown each team uses when assessing a player's 40 time, 3-cone drill, broad jump, vertical jump and more.

Check it out:

Keep this page bookmarked this week and refer back to this chart as your favorite Bears prospects try to run and jump their way to Chicago. 

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2020 mock draft sends Bears OL, CB in 2nd round

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USA TODAY

2020 mock draft sends Bears OL, CB in 2nd round

The 2020 NFL Draft is front and center with the NFL Combine kicking off this week in Indianapolis. The week-long underwear Olympics represents the real start of draft season for the casual fan. Two months from now, we'll find out who the next class of Bears will be, and many of those players will make their case to GM Ryan Pace and the rest of the team's decision-makers over the next several days.

With the unofficial start of draft season comes the need to review the 2020 mock draft landscape. Pace has a chance to add two starters in the second round, and it's important to get a feel for which players could be within reach when Chicago picks at Nos. 43 and 50.

In Joe Marino's latest mock draft for The Draft Network, the Bears add a legitimate starting interior lineman and a cornerback who can challenge to do the same.

At No. 43, Marino sends Chicago Matt Hennessy, the standout center from Temple who can serve in the same capacity for the Bears if Nagy decides to kick Cody Whitehair back to guard. Hennessy was arguably the most impressive offensive lineman at the 2020 Senior Bowl. He routinely won his one-on-one reps and looked every bit the part of a decade-long starter in the middle of an NFL offensive line. 

What makes Hennessy so appealing is his ability to play either center or guard. We saw last season what a position change can do (both good and bad) along the interior of Chicago's offensive line, so depending on what the long-term outlook is for James Daniels and Whitehair, a player like Hennessy can fit any outcome. He'd be a great selection.

At No. 50, Chicago takes Mississippi State cornerback, Cameron Dantzler. This is the first mock draft that has Dantzler pegged to the Bears and it probably won't be the last that has Pace using one of his two second-rounders on a cornerback. The release of Prince Amukamara last week will move cornerback higher on the team's priority list.

Dantzler started 22 games for Mississippi State and totaled five interceptions over the last three seasons. At 6-2, 185 pounds, he brings good height and length to the pros. He projects like a fit in almost any defensive system and could come off the board much higher than the average fan is expecting at this point. How he performs in the athletic testing at the NFL Combine will be critical in his final evaluation. 

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