Bears

Why Trey Burton sees plenty of similarities between Carson Wentz and Mitch Trubisky

Why Trey Burton sees plenty of similarities between Carson Wentz and Mitch Trubisky

Ryan Pace placed a big bet on Trey Burton in March, guaranteeing $22 million to a guy who’s only played 697 offensive snaps in his career (Travis Kelce, for comparison, played 872 snaps in 2017 for the Kansas City Chiefs). But the Bears liked Burton’s upside as a “U” tight end in Matt Nagy’s offense, which is cut from the same cloth as the one Burton won a Super Bowl with in Philadelphia under Doug Pederson. 

More on those comparisons in a moment, but first: Nagy has seen that upside play out not only with how Burton has practiced during the offseason program, but with how he’s fit into the team’s locker room. 

“It’s so easy to feel his leadership,” Nagy said. “It’s not one that’s a rah-rah, always hear him talking type leader. He just leads by example. The guys see that and feel that because of the team he just came from. How he handled himself in Philadelphia, he brought that here. He’s really smart. 

“So, he understands this offense and what to do, so there’s not a lot of mistakes. When guys see that you’re a player that has experience in this offense and does things the right way, they really gravitate towards that style of leadership. It’s been everything and more with what we thought with Trey.”

There are a couple of players sprinkled into the Bears’ offense who know it — or, at least, a version of it — as the team works through the lengthy process of installing it. Burton is one of those guys, even though Pederson’s offense evolved differently in Philadelphia than Nagy’s will in Chicago. But plenty of the Andy Reid-based concepts are “pretty similar,” Burton said. 

For Burton, though, that’s not where the similarities end. He’s getting the same vibe from Mitch Trubisky that he got from Carson Wentz a year ago, too. 

“Really similar,” Burton said. “There’s just so many similarities between the both of them — a lot more similarities than opposites, (like) the way he takes command, he’s a natural leader, his arm strength, his ability to run, his elusiveness in the pocket. There are a lot of things that are similar.” 

That’s all good for now, when the Bears are running around in their “underwear,” as one assistant coach put it. The most important takeaways in terms of those similarities would be Trubisky’s command of the huddle and his leadership — essentially, players wouldn’t be following him if he didn’t consistently display a good understanding of the offense and weren’t eager to take on that role as a team leader. They're two different players with two different skillsets, but gaining teammates' trust is critical for a young quarterback. 

There’s still plenty of work for Trubisky to put in if he’s even going to come close to the MVP-type level of success enjoyed by Wentz before his season-ending torn ACL. But showing some of those signs in May certainly isn’t a bad thing. 

“I love the way that they just threw Mitch out there last year and he had the fight not really understanding what to expect in the NFL,” Burton said. “He did a great job and (I’m) looking forward to this year.”

Chicago Bears planning a run at free-agent tight end Austin Hooper

Chicago Bears planning a run at free-agent tight end Austin Hooper

The 2020 NFL Combine is revving up off the field as much as it is on the field as quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends kick off the on-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium. But it's what's going on inside the bars and restaurants in Indianapolis that should have Bears fans interested.

According to Jason Leister of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears are preparing to make a run at prized free-agent tight end, Austin Hooper. The Falcons playmaker is the top free-agent tight end on the market this year and according to Atlanta's general manager Thomas Dimitroff, he'll be given the opportunity to find out what his market value is.

That number is likely to come close to $10 million per season, which seems like an impossible price to pay for a Bears team that's already up against the salary cap. But with a new CBA on the horizon, everything we thought we knew about the salary cap could soon change.

Hooper would instantly provide the Bears with the kind of second-level threat the passing game's been lacking since, well, forever. Or, since Martellus Bennett left town in 2016.

Ryan Pace has to be careful, however. He's swung and missed on two free-agent tight ends since becoming the Bears GM. First, it was Dion Sims in 2017. Then came Trey Burton in 2018. 

Sims lasted just two seasons in Chicago. He totaled 17 catches as a Bears. Burton, who's battled injuries over his first two years in Chicago, had just 14 catches in 2019.

Pace doesn't really have a choice but to pay up at this point. If he hits on Hooper, the misses on Sims and Burton will be quickly forgotten.

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week that he is going to explore every avenue when it comes to upgrading the team's tight end group. The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great place to look for the pass-catcher Matt Nagy's offense needs at the position, and three prospects elevated their draft stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Sullivan, the wide receiver-turned-tight end, was one of the most impressive players at the 2020 Senior Bowl, and he continued his rise up the draft board with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

Sullivan, who weighed in at 6-5, 248 pounds, ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which tied for second-fastest among all tight ends. His 36.5-inch vertical jump is an elite number, too.

He was smooth in the on-field drills and showcased his effortless catching style. 

Sullivan won't be an early-round prospect. He's probably going to slip into Day 3. And if he does, the Bears have to give him a long, hard look. He has a chance to be the biggest sleeper in the draft (regardless of position) who can become an impact playmaker in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Hopkins, like Sullivan, ran a 4.66 and looked every bit the part of a move tight end. He was smooth on downfield routes and caught the ball cleanly (for the most part). One of the concerns surrounding Hopkins is his tendency to double-catch. He did a nice job quieting that worry just a bit.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert 'O' was the big winner with his blazing 4.49 40-time, which ranks among the 10-best 40-times for a tight end since 1999, per the Mock Draftable database.

'O' is coming off a very disappointing season when he totaled just 26 catches for 306 yards and six touchdowns. But he lost his quarterback from 2018 -- Drew Lock -- and never got into an offensive rhythm in 2019.

It wasn't a perfect day for him, however. He loafed the gauntlet drill and continued the narrative around his game that suggests he doesn't give 100% effort on every down. But it's impossible to ignore his speed at 6-5, 258 pounds.