Bears

Rotoworld NFL mock draft 2.0: At No. 21, the Lions select...

Rotoworld NFL mock draft 2.0: At No. 21, the Lions select...

NBCSports' and Rotoworld's NFL Draft expert Josh Norris released his second 2017 NFL mock draft. Here are picks' 21-32. Also, be sure to check out the entire mock draft here:

This mock draft will change. Frequently.

The process is still young. Free agency is weeks away. The Combine has not kicked off. So as of now, I’m focusing more on current team needs and possible changes in the coming months. Prospect positioning becomes more clear as the process moves along. Future iterations will be more fleshed out.

Picks 14 and 15 will be decided by a coin toss at the NFL Combine.

21. Detroit Lions - TE O.J. Howard, Alabama - I know this will surprise many of you, but I think the Lions make tight end a priority this offseason. Not necessarily to replace Eric Ebron, but rather one to compliment him. Plus Howard is far more talented than Ebron.

22. Miami Dolphins  - EDGE Derek Barnett, Tenn - Mario Williams won’t be back. Cam Wake is 35 years old. Opinions on Barnett might be split regarding if his style translates into being a consistent pass rusher.

23. New York Giants - LB Haason Reddick, Temple - It was widely known that the Giants hoped to draft Leonard Floyd last year as an outside linebacker who also offered some pass rushing upside. Reddick offers a totally different frame but potentially could fill the same role.

24. Oakland Raiders - CB Quincy Wilson, Florida - The guarantees on the contracts of Sean Smith and David Amerson are coming to an end. While Teez Tabor received the bulk of the attention, I know many prefer Wilson as a prospect. Tre’Davius White is also a possibility here.

25. Houston Texans - T Cam Robinson, Alabama - Right tackle will likely be a priority for the Texans with Derek Newton’s injury.

26. Seattle Seahawks - T Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin - We will hear closer to Combine season how much Ramczyk’s hip surgery will impact his evaluation. The Seahawks need to continue to invest high picks in the worst position on the roster.

[RELATED: Complete 2017 NFL Draft coverage]

27. Kansas City Chiefs - LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State - The Chiefs depth and talent at inside linebacker has been lackluster for years, and whenever Derrick Johnson goes down with an injury it is even more apparent.

28. Dallas Cowboys - EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri - Charles Harris could be drafted much, much higher. He is a pass rusher with an amazing get off and a successful counter move. That is the skill set to create pressure and sacks in the NFL.

29. Green Bay Packers - CB Sidney Jones, Washington - The Packers care about size, so possible targets at corner will be more clear after the Combine. Jones has ball skills, which this team has coveted in the past.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers - EDGE Carl Lawson, Auburn - Look at Lawson and you see what many consider the Steelers’ prototype along the edge. Injuries continued to slow down his collegiate career, but Lawson is one of the best edge players in the class. He has burst and strength.

31. Atlanta Falcons - DL Jaleel Johnson, Iowa - I was expecting more from Johnson during Senior Bowl week, but that says more about my expectations than his evaluation. Few defensive linemen exit college with his hand use and understand of balance and counter moves.

32. New England Patriots - LB Zach Cunningham, Cunningham is going to be a draft favorite in the coming months. The Patriots linebackers could look quite different next year, depending on how contracts play out.

Read more at Rotoworld.com.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Can Trubisky handle the Vikings defense?

11-7mitchtrubisky.jpg
USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Can Trubisky handle the Vikings defense?

Hub Arkush, Mark Carman and Gabe Ramirez join Kap on the panel.

0:00- 3 days away from the huge NFC North showdown. Can Mitch Trubisky handle the Vikings defense? Will the Bears defense disrupt Kirk Cousins? And did practicing a Soldier Field help Cody Parkey?

16:00- Christian Yelich is the NL MVP. Javy Baez finishes second. Can he perform at a MVP again next season? And what position will he play? Plus the guys discusses Bryce Harper’s latest name dropping of Chicago. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe:

Next step for Mitchell Trubisky: Becoming a closer

trubisky-1115.jpg
USA TODAY

Next step for Mitchell Trubisky: Becoming a closer

The leadership qualities of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky have taken shape and root through the Bears’ 6-3 start, one that has included two three-game win streaks. Nothing succeeds at making believers like success. 

But beyond specific developmental steps the second-year quarterback has made, is making and will make in an evolving offense, and beyond coaches’ and teammates’ believing in him, is a crucial next step that the elites at the position take:

Becoming a closer. In fourth quarters.

The Bears are 5-2 when leading after three quarters, but only 1-1 when trailing after three. In his 21 games, Trubisky has delivered two late game-winning drives – for a winning field goal in overtime last year at Baltimore, and for a winning field goal at Arizona this year.

But in the Bears’ three 2018 losses, irrespective of defensive failures, Trubisky and the offense managed just three points in the fourth quarter at Green Bay, and one fourth-quarter touchdown each in the losses to Miami and New England. The Bears were outscored in the fourth quarters against Detroit and Tampa Bay but were already sufficiently far ahead (35-3 vs. the Buccaneers, 34-10 vs. the Lions) that late scores weren’t really necessary.

Trubisky is clear on the situational needs: “Coming out with a positive drive starter, no negative plays and then have an explosive play,” he said. “And then usually that results in good plays for us. So we can get that and keep getting better and finish in the end zone or finish with points, whatever the situation is, that’s what we need to do.”

Trubisky has been significantly better this year in fourth quarters than he was in 2017, in every quarter, actually: 64.4 percent completion percentage, 8.03 yards per attempt, a 97.7 passer rating, ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith and Case Keenum, among others.

The problem is that his level of play ranks just 20th among fourth-quarter passers. Minnesota will come to Soldier Field on Sunday behind Kirk Cousins, the No. 5 crunch-time passer, with a 1.1-percent interception rate, compared to Trubisky’s 3.4.

A focus this week has been third-down efficiency, against a Minnesota defense ranked No. 1 in fewest third-down conversions (25.7 percent). Trubisky ranks 13th in third-down passing, with a 99.0 rating.

But a blowout is unlikely, meaning that sometime late Sunday evening, the Bears and Trubisky will have the football in a situation needing a finishing kick. At that time, they will be pressed to answer some of Matt Nagy’s core questions.

“When you’re winning in a game, how do you finish?” Nagy said. “When you’re losing in a game, how do you come back? All those are occurring to us.

“You’re seeing that when you put together a team of good people, that responds to adversity, it helps you. We’re drilling to these guys aggressive, aggressive, aggressive, finish, finish, finish. If we don’t do that as coaches, then what are we teaching?”