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Complete Bears' 2017 seven round NFL Mock Draft

Complete Bears' 2017 seven round NFL Mock Draft

When NFL free agency kicks off on March 9, we'll finally have concrete answers as to which direction the Bears will go in bolstering key roster positions this offseason. 

As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Combine, we'll try to predict — looking at the current roster without any additions — what the Bears should do with all seven picks they hold in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

With that said, lets's look ahead to the Bears' full seven-round mock draft:

Round 1 (No. 3 overall) - Solomon Thomas (DE/EDGE), Stanford

As I did last week in version 1.0 of the CSN 2017 NFL Mock Draft, I'm sticking with the Bears using the third overall pick on Thomas. Is Thomas an EDGE rusher or is he a defensive end in a 3-4? It won't matter. The Bears will find room on the field for the best defensive player in this draft not named Myles Garrett. Thomas' athleticism is off the charts and he possesses the tools to become an elite player at the next level.

Round 2 (No. 36 overall) - Traded to New England Patriots along with a 2018 second-round pick for QB Jimmy Garoppolo

No decision looms larger for Bears GM Ryan Pace than finding the team's QB of the future this offseason. The Bears have/will continue to exhaust all resources until making that final decision. While the Patriots may want a first-round pick for Garoppolo, ultimately they'll likely settle for two second-round selections which is a modest return on investment for a player they would lose for nothing in free agency next offseason. Garoppolo has the potential to be an above-average starting quarterback, but he's far from proven and won't command the type of return the Eagles received last August when they traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings — a desperate team in dire need of a quarterback after losing Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending injury. After holding the clipboard for future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Garoppolo would finally get the chance to prove himself to the rest of the league and start for the Bears in Week 1.

Round 3 (No. 67 overall) - Obi Melifonwu (S), Connecticut

The Bears hoped that Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey would take the next step last season and become a tandem to build around in their defensive backfield, but the exact opposite happened as lackluster years from the two second-year players have the Bears searching for answers at both safety positions. Melifonwu is a player the Bears coaching staff got a firsthand look at when they coached the ascending prospect on the North squad at the Senior Bowl last month. At 6-foot-4, Melifonwu has elite size to match up with tight ends and bigger wideouts. While he currently lacks the coverage skills to play free safety, Melifonwu could wreck havoc as the last line of defense in the secondary.

Round 4 (No. 108 overall) - Taywan Taylor (WR), Western Kentucky

If Alshon Jeffery bolts Chicago on March 9, it's going to leave the Bears with a gaping hole at wide receiver. Cameron Meredith was a pleasant surprise and looks to be a solid No. 2 wide receiver, but other than him the cupboard is barren at the position. The jury is still out on Kevin White who has missed 28 out of 32 games with injuries after he was selected seventh-overall by the Bears in the 2015 NFL Draft. Besides the two aforementioned players, there isn't any wide receiver on the Bears that you could confidently say is a lock to make the 53-man roster in 2017. At some point this offseason, the Bears need to make it a priority to find some speed coming out of the slot. Taylor, who had 98 receptions for 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior year at Western Kentucky, is an ideal slot candidate with elite speed and explosiveness to thrive when getting the ball in space. 

Round 4 (No. 114 overall) - Jake Butt (TE), Michigan

When he's on the field, Zach Miller is a highly productive player in the Bears offense. But for the 32-year-old Miller, staying off IR has been a problem throughout his career. The Bears need to find stability at the position and the 2017 NFL draft (extremely deep at tight end) presents an ideal opportunity. Before tearing his right ACL in the Citrus Bowl, Butt looked to be a Day 2 lock, but the injury has dropped his stock to a possible Day 3 pick. While Butt isn't a finished product as blocker, he should see the field early in his career as he's sure handed and knows how to find a seam in the defense as an intermediate target. If Butt still on the board in the fourth round, you'd be hard-pressed to find better value at the tight end position.

[RELATED: Complete 2017 NFL Draft coverage]

Round 5 (No. 148 overall) - Julie'n Davenport (OT), Bucknell

The Bears are set at both guard positions with Kyle Long and Josh Sitton and have their center of the future in Cody Whitehair. However, they could use depth on the offensive line at both tackle positions. After a rough start to the season, Bobby Massie emerged as dependable right tackle and should be the team's Week 1 starter on the right side, but the same can't be said for Charles Leno Jr. who has struggled in his two seasons at left tackle. Davenport, the cousin of NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, has elite length and physical traits to be a capable tackle in the NFL. Davenport possesses the kind of high upside you look for in a Day 3 prospect.

Round 7 (No. 226 overall) - Ben Boulware (LB), Clemson

Finding an impact player in the seventh-round is never an easy task, but Boulware is somebody who could become a special teams' stalwart in the NFL. A team captain on Clemson, Boulware was the heartbeat of the Tigers' defense over the last two years. While he lacks the size and quickness to become an every down player, Boulware could carve out a niche on special teams — an area in which he flourished in his first two years at Clemson. 

First and Final Thoughts: Does anyone really know what to expect this Sunday?

First and Final Thoughts: Does anyone really know what to expect this Sunday?

Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on the Bye Week 

J.J. Stankevitz: The Bears had a lot of soul-searching to do in their off week, specifically among offensive players and coaches not named Allen Robinson. But more important than anything else will be improvements on the offensive line — better protection and run blocking will go a long way toward helping this offense operate more effectively in the Bears’ final 11 games. That means better play from left tackle Charles Leno and center James Daniels, as well as counting on Rashaad Coward/Ted Larsen/Alex Bars to be better at right guard than a less-than-100-percent Kyle Long was. 

Fix the O-line and a lot of problems will be solved. Don’t and it could diminish how much better Mitch Trubisky is — if he is at all — upon  coming back. 

Cam Ellis: I'll be curious to see where the Bears' bye week preparation show up first. Between the offensive line, an uninspiring run scheme, absent tight end production and no real answers at quarterback (but otherwise it's fine!), they've got to start somewhere.  Is it fixing the run game in hopes that it takes the burden off Trubisky's return? Or is it getting Trey Burton: The Adjuster involved earlier? Speaking of getting the ball earlier, Anthony Miller lightly lobbied for a higher workload, which may not be a bad idea either. This is why they pay Nagy the big bucks, but man, coaching in the NFL seems kind of hard. 

First Thoughts on Week 7 

Stankevitz: I’m going to expand on this more later in the week, but New Orleans’ defense looks like a tough challenge for Trubisky to face in his expected return Sunday. 2018 first-round edge rusher Marcus Davenport is third in the NFL in pass rushing efficiency, generating a pressure once every 13.7 snaps (behind only Nick Bosa and Khalil Mack). Cam Jordan is one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL and doesn’t always get his due for how good he is. 

So New Orleans has an excellent defensive front, one that will take sound technique and strong communication for the Bears’ O-line to block. And then there’s cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who’s shut down the likes of Amari Cooper, Mike Evans and DJ Chark over the last three weeks. His lock-down presence — he travels in zone coverage to take out a team’s best receiver — allows the Saints to not need to always play a safety over the top, leading to extra men in the box to stop the run. 

So Trubisky will have his hands full on Sunday. It’s not like the Saints have an elite defense, but it’s good, and looks like a bad matchup for the Bears’ offense. 

Ellis: To almost directly contradict J.J., I actually think there are yards to be had against a Saints defense that ranks 13th in pass defense DVOA, ninth in yards per play and has allowed five plays of 40+ yards (T6). Marshon Lattimore's had a great month, but his season-long coverage numbers are more good than great. An average pass defense will be more than enough if the Bears' offensive line plays as poorly as it did in London, but if for some reason the combination of Rashaad Coward, a bye week breakthrough, and Taylor Gabriel makes everything snap into place, I think the Bears could move the ball better than people expect.

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Four Bears who need to improve over final 11 games of 2019

Four Bears who need to improve over final 11 games of 2019

Chicago Bears fans entered the 2019 season with expectations that, admittedly, may have been a bit too high. After last year's 12-4 finish, NFC North title and what should've been at least one playoff victory, it's easy to understand why. The defense was returning all of its key pieces and the offense was set to emerge in Year 2 under Matt Nagy.

And while a 3-2 start certainly isn't the end of the world, the Bears haven't looked like a team that can realistically win a Super Bowl. Sure, the defense is championship caliber, but the offense is nowhere close. 

But that was all pre-bye week. Is it fair to demand better results now that the coaches and players have had some time to step back and evaluate what's worked (and what hasn't)? Absolutely.

In order to really feel good about this team's chances at a Super Bowl run in 2019, a handful of players need to step their game up.

Here are four of those guys:

QB Mitch Trubisky

Trubisky represents the Bears' 2019 season perfectly. He's the classic case of in-season play not living up to the preseason hype. But, much like this team in general, he can quickly flip the narrative into a positive one if he gets off to a hot start in Week 7 against the Saints and over the next five weeks in general.

Trubisky is expected to start Sunday after injuring his shoulder in Week 4 against the Vikings, an injury that forced him to miss Week 5's loss to the Raiders. His absence was felt in London; backup quarterback Chase Daniel wasn't atrocious, but he showed he isn't the kind of player who can elevate his teammates and finish a rally. Trubisky has proven he can be that guy — at least, in spurts — and now has to put this offense on his back, carry it to more production, points and victories.

Statistically, Trubisky could be worse. He's completing over 65% of his passes, and while his yardage and touchdown totals aren't the kind that fantasy football owners desire, he's kept the Bears above water. It's time for him to turn the corner and start proving to Nagy and this fanbase that Chicago can win games because of him and not just because of the defense.

WR Anthony Miller

Miller was supposed to be the Bears' breakout star on offense. He was supposed to challenge wide receiver Allen Robinson for targets. He was supposed to be a touchdown-scoring playmaker. Instead, he has just eight catches for 80 yards and no touchdowns through five games. He's on pace for just 256 receiving yards this season. This, from a player the Bears invested a second-round pick in in 2018. 

Miller flashed his playmaking ability in Week 5 when he hauled in four passes for 52 yards against the Raiders. But he hasn't eliminated bone-headed penalties and still appears, at times, like he lets his emotions get the best of him. Miller has to mature as a route-runner and he needs to maintain a team-first attitude between the lines in order to reach his full potential. If he falls behind wide receiver Javon Wims in the pecking order after the bye, concern for his role in this offense moving forward is very, very real.

The Bears need Miller to emerge as an explosive after-the-catch mid-level target for Trubisky. Otherwise, the offense won't come anywhere near reaching its potential.

LT Charles Leno, Jr.

Leno has been one of the most consistent and reliable Bears players over the last few seasons, but he's off to a rocky start in 2019. He has Chicago's fifth-lowest grade on offense (via Pro Football Focus) and has been penalized a team-high eight times. Aside from Kyle Long, Leno's been the worst offensive lineman in the run game, too.

There's no reason to worry that Leno has suddenly regressed to a fringe starter. Sometimes, players go through a slump. But the left tackle is one of the most important positions on offense, and the Bears need theirs to be better down the stretch.

OLB Leonard Floyd

Week 1 seems like a long, long time ago for Floyd. He registered two sacks in the opener and it felt like we were finally seeing the emergence of the former first-round pick's pass-rushing upside. Now entering Week 7, Floyd is still sitting on two sacks.

To be fair, Floyd has been his usual solid self. He's playing sound football against the run and in coverage, but edge defenders will always be judged by how often they get to the quarterback. With each passing week, Floyd continues to cement his reputation as just-a-guy in that department.

A breakout from Floyd would put the Bears defense in a tier of its own over the final 11 games. In fact, if he can be that double-digit-sack guy to complement Khalil Mack, Chicago's defense will be of the quality that can win a Super Bowl with or without above-average play from Trubisky.

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