Bears

CSN Chicago's 2017 NFL Mock Draft: Version 1.0

CSN Chicago's 2017 NFL Mock Draft: Version 1.0

As we put the 2016 season in the rearview mirror, we look ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft as 31 teams try to build a roster that can compete with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

It's early in the process with free agency still over a month away, and the NFL Scouting Combine yet to take place, expect a lot of change to take place in each mock draft we unveil.

So without further adieu, check out CSN's 2017 NFL Mock Draft version 1.0:

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett (EDGE), Texas A&M

The Browns have a history of screwing up so it wouldn't be shocking to see them pass on a generational talent like Garrett, but in the end smarter heads will prevail and they'll build their defense around the next Julius Peppers.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Trubisky (QB), North Carolina

Kyle Shanahan's first order of business will be finding the right quarterback for his offense. The draft's top three QBs are all very interchangeable as of now, but Trubisky has the right combination of arm strength/athleticism that the former Falcons offensive coordinator could be looking for in his first big move in San Francisco.

3. Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas (DL), Stanford

If you haven't watched Thomas play and you're enamored with Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen (I don't blame you because this was a difficult decision for me), I'd advise you to clear off your schedule for a few hours and find the time to do so. Thomas will get knocked for his size because he is a bit of a tweener at 6-foot-3 and 273 pounds, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a time where he looks overmatched against bigger offensive lineman. Thomas is an athletic freak with a non-stop motor whose play at times will remind you of a smaller version of three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. In the right system, Thomas could become a perennial All-Pro defensive end. My reasoning for not going with a quarterback here is because I believe the Bears will deal their second-rounder, plus a 2018 third-round selection to the Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams (S), LSU

Inserting Jamal Adams in the same secondary as Jalen Ramsey would give opposing AFC South quarterbacks nightmares.

5. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Allen (DL), Alabama

The Titans have plenty of needs in their secondary, but Allen — who some would say is the second-best defensive player in the draft — would provide too much value to pass up if he's still on the board at No. 5. 

6. New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore (CB), Ohio State

There's about 10 different directions the Jets could go come April. Grabbing a corner to replace the artist formerly known as Darrelle Revis would be a smart first step.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker (S), Ohio State

The last time the Chargers dove into the Ohio State well in the first round it couldn't have worked out any better for them as Joey Bosa captured the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Hooker would join Jason Verrett and Casey Heyward in an already-dangerous Los Angeles secondary.

[RELATED: Complete 2017 NFL Draft coverage]

8. Carolina Panthers: Dalvin Cook (RB), Florida State

I'd be shocked if the Panthers don't use their first pick on a running back. Fournette is the consensus No. 1 running back, but for my money I'd put all my eggs in the Cook basket. The multi-dimensional Cook would thrive in the Panthers system and give quarterback Cam Newton exactly what Carolina's offense has been missing.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster (LB), Alabama

Foster has the tools to be either a 3-4 inside linebacker or 4-3 outside linebacker. The Bengals could use a replacement for Rey Maualuga and Foster has the talent to step in and start Week 1.

10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams (WR), Clemson

This is an obvious fit for the Bills if they don't draft a quarterback with at No. 10. Sammy Watkins can't stay healthy and Robert Woods is entering free agency. The Bills need playmakers on offense and Williams would provide exactly that.

11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett (EDGE), Tennessee

I was tempted to give Drew Brees another weapon in O.J. Howard, but in the end I think defense is the right route for the Saints. Barnett was one of college's premier edge rushers as he had 33 sacks at Tennessee. A tandem of Cam Jordan and Barnett would be troublesome for opposing offensive lineman in the NFC.

12. Cleveland Browns: DeShone Kizer (QB), Notre Dame

The Browns are in an excellent position to find their long-term answer at quarterback as they hold two picks in the Top 12. Kizer isn't the perfect prospect, but he possesses all the tools to become an above-average or better QB at the next level.

13. Arizona Cardinals: OJ Howard (TE), Alabama

Howard is one of the best tight end prospects to come out of college in a long time. I expect the Cardinals to go for it once again with their current core, and Howard could be the ideal weapon to help get Arizona back into the playoffs.

14. Indianapolis Colts: Leonard Fournette (RB), LSU

Fournette falling to No. 14 would be highway robbery. The Colts desperately need to find a long-term answer in the backfield as Frank Gore will be 34-years-old with the 2017 season begins. 

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Sidney Jones (CB), Washington

The Eagles need to find a corner who could line up against opposing No. 1 wideouts. Jones is one of the draft's most physical corners and could provide immediate help in Philadelphia's secondary.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Quincy Wilson (CB), Florida

The corners are starting to fly off the board. The Ravens saw what life was like when Jimmy Smith was out last season and it wasn't pretty. Wilson is another physical corner which is imperative in the smash-mouth AFC North.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

17. Washington Redskins: John Ross (WR), Washington

As both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson get set to hit free agency, the Redskins need to find Kirk Cousins — or whoever plays QB for Washington in 2017 — multiple weapons in the passing game. Ross is a big-play wideout capable of going the distance anytime he gets the ball in the open field. If last year's first-round selection Josh Doctson could rebound from a lost rookie season, him and Ross could form a dynamite wide receiver duo in Washington.

18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis (WR), Western Michigan

Want to make Marcus Mariota happy? Keep adding to his arsenal. Davis may not be as heralded as Mike Williams, but he has all the physical attributes to excel at a high level in the NFL.

19. Tampa Bay Bucaneers: Ryan Ramczyk (OT), Wisconsin

It took long enough for the first offensive lineman to come off the board. The Buccaneers had trouble keeping Winston upright last season, and need to find some solutions on the line.

20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson (OT), Alabama

Robinson's off-the-field issues have caused his stock to go from a possible Top 5 pick to a late-first/early-second round selection. It's no secret that the Broncos need help at offensive tackle, and Robinson could be a day-one starter.

21. Detroit Lions: Tim Williams (EDGE), Alabama

After an injury-plagued season and subpar season from Ezekiel Ansah, the Lions severely need to find some more help on the edge. Williams would give them just that. From a pure pass-rush standpoint, there may not be a better option in this draft than Williams.

22. Miami Dolphins: Takkarist McKinley (EDGE) UCLA

Cameron Wake is still a stud, but he'll be 35 next season. Outside of Wake, the Dolphins don't really have anybody on their roster that can consistently get to the quarterback. McKinley is a bit raw, but he's got the upside to be a star at the next level.

[MORE: Could Bears repeat QB mistake with Jimmy Garoppolo?]

23. New York Giants: David Njoku (TE), Miami

Imagine a tight end with elite speed and pass-catching ability lined up between Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Njoku is an athletic freak who draws comparisons to another former Hurricane great in Greg Olsen. Njoku will wow observers at the NFL Combine next month and put himself firmly into the first-round mix.

24. Oakland Raiders: Teez Tabor (CB), Florida

After one-year, Sean Smith's contract looks like it's going to be abomination for the Raiders. Tabor doesn't possess elite speed, but his size and athleticism should attract corner-needy teams picking at the end of the first round.

25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson (QB), Clemson

Watson's stock is anywhere from No. 1 overall to early in the second round. I wouldn't be surprised to see Watson plummet toward the back-end of the first round, but I can't see him falling past the Texans if he's still on the board at No. 25. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Brock Osweiler isn't the answer in Houston. Tom Savage ain't the guy either. The Texans would be a great landing spot for Watson's talent as they have threats in the passing game in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller who would make lifer easier for the rookie quarterback to come in and start Week 1. If Watson lands in Houston, and head coach Bill O'Brien can reestablish himself as the quarterback whisperer, watch out AFC.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles (OT), Utah

Russell Wilson took an absolute beating last season behind the league's worst offensive line. Expect the Seahawks to once again invest a high pick on the line as they need to do everything they can to protect their franchise quarterback.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Zach Cunningham (LB), Vanderbilt

When you watch Cunningham play, you can't help but see a younger version of Derrick Johnson. What better of a landing spot for Cunningham as he can learn behind Johnson and eventually become his heir-apparent in Kansas City.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton (EDGE), Michigan

It's imperative for the Cowboys defense to find multiple pass-rushers this offseason. Charlton brings all the EDGE traits that a defensive coordinator salivates over. A coach like Rod Marinelli would do wonders for Charlton and help him become a more consistent force than he was at Michigan.

29. Green Bay Packers: Charles Harris (EDGE) Missouri

The Packers could lose two of their best pass-rushers in Julius Peppers (possible retirement) and Nick Perry (free agency) this offseason. Harris will be next in a long line of Missouri EDGE rushers who've heard their name called in the first round.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marlon Humphrey (CB), Alabama

The Steelers found a solid corner in Artie Burns in last year's first round and could pair him with a player such as Humphrey in this year's draft. Humphrey's toughness could play well in the AFC North.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Forrest Lamp (OG), Western Kentucky

The Falcons need to find a long-term solution on the inside. Lamp, who was a four-year starter at left tackle, is projected as more of a guard at the next level. Lamp could start Day 1 in place of Chris Chester, giving the Falcons a lethal offensive line for their already-dangerous ground attack.

32. New England Patriots: Jabrill Peppers (S), Michigan

Picking last in the first round, the Super Bowl champions have the luxury to take the best available talent on the board. Peppers' stock has fallen off dramatically, but the talented safety could excel in Matt Patricia's defense in New England.

Bears offense opens up in 24-23 comeback win over Denver Broncos

Bears offense opens up in 24-23 comeback win over Denver Broncos

Preseason games are about isolated goods and bads, snapshots really, rather than sweeping overalls. All in the eye of the beholder. And for the Bears, after losses to Baltimore and Cincinnati in Matt Nagy’s first efforts as a head coach, getting out of Denver with a 24-23 win over the Broncos looked pretty good in the eyes of any Bears beholder.

Saturday’s preseason game three was a collection of snapshots for the Bears, playing their third “practice” game but the first with enough of the starters on offense and defense to matter, or at least as much as these can matter.

The Bears achieved their first win under Nagy on the right arm of No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel, pressed into extra duty when Tyler Bray was hurt in the third quarter, and who completed 19 of 28 passes for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game-winner just inside the 2-minute warning on a 12-yard throw to tight end Ben Braunecker. The win was preserved when cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc punched the ball out of the hands of Denver receiver Isaiah McKenzie and linebacker Isaiah Irving gathered in the loose football to end a potential Denver comeback drive at the Chicago 38.

Before all of that, in his longest appearance of the presesason, quarterback Mitch Trubisky started and directed a pair of sustained drives, the first covering 51 yards to a missed field-goal attempt, and a second going 75 yards and culminating in a touchdown. Combined with the work by Daniel, the Bears put up five drives 50 yards or longer. Trubisky completed 9 of 14 passes for 90 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and the No. 1 offense produced 10 first downs.

Notably perhaps, the Trubisky score came in a fashion that was previewed more than a few times throughout camp, and that projects as a template for a staple in the offense under Nagy:

A high-percentage flip going to tight end Trey Burton cutting across the field and going seven yards for Trubisky’s first TD pass of the preseason. The design of the play forced the Denver secondary to drop in coverage of Bears wide receivers and left rush linebacker Von Miller needing to choose between dropping into a short zone or going after Trubisky. Miller did the latter and Burton, who caught 4 of 5 passes directed to him for 45 yards, was alone in the underneath zone.

“I’m just trying to be who I am, do what the coaches ask me to do and go wherever that leads,” Burton told the FOX 32 broadcast. “Obviously, every week and every game is different so whatever my role is, I’m down for it.”

Trubisky did suffer his first interception over the span of two preseasons and 71 pass attempts, but appeared to be victimized when running back Tarik Cohen broke off the route on a short in-cut and failed to break back toward Trubisky. The throw was to where Cohen was supposed to be but was instead an easy pick for Denver safety Justin Simmons.

“I think [Cohen] learned he can’t do that,” Nagy said.

But the passing offense overall was functional under Trubisky, not insignificant in the context of the quarterback in a new offense with a complement of receivers largely unfamiliar with him. And some who hadn’t graced stat sheets to date.

Kevin White came up with his first two catches of the preseason and followed each with some nifty running after the catches. White also drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty that accounted for about half the yardage on the Trubisky touchdown drive.

Rookie Anthony Miller caught 3 passes for 33 yards, with a long of 19 yards. Allen Robinson started by played sparingly in the first half in the first test of his surgically repaired left ACL and was not targeted. Taylor Gabriel, with a foot injury, did not play for the third straight game.

Thoughts from Bears-Broncos: Injury absences, special teams woes and a world of confusion over new helmet rule

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USA TODAY

Thoughts from Bears-Broncos: Injury absences, special teams woes and a world of confusion over new helmet rule

No Roquan Smith but Bears injury absences vs. Broncos far more troubling
 
No real surprise that coaches decided to hold linebacker Roquan Smith out, given that the rookie had exactly one practice in pad and two without pads last week after signing his contract on Monday. But it was not Smith’s absence that was concerning coming out of the Bears ____ loss to the Denver Broncos.
 
Linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has been hampered by injuries in each of this first two Bears seasons, went out midway through the first half with an unspecified hand injury and did not return. Tight end Adam Shaheen, starting his second straight game after three catches for 53 yards at Cincinnati, caught a first-quarter pass from Mitchell Trubisky but left the field on a cart after injuring his ankle during the ensuing tackle.
 
Along with Floyd’s absence, the pass rush was again without outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who hasn’t been on the field since the first practice of training camp, that after missing play time with ankle twisted in the first April minicamp practice and with a hamstring strain in a June minicamp practice.
 
The Bears did get a sack from Roy Robertson-Harris, his third in as many games and likely establishing him as the starting defensive end opposite Akiem Hick in the Bears’ base 3-4.
 
First quarter not-so-special teams
 
Repeating a pattern from some years past, Bears kick returns did the offense no favors early, with multiple mistakes in first quarter alone:
 
Recently signed running back Knile Davis took the opening kickoff six yards deep in the end zone and got it only to the Chicago 15;
 
After the first Denver three-and-out, Cre’Von LeBlanc fair-caught a punt at the Chicago 5 instead of gambling on a touchback. Three plays later Mitch Trubisky mishandled a high snap and was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
 
On the free kick, reserve tight end Ben Braunecker lost contain and contributed to a 17-yard return by Isaiah McKenzie, setting the Broncos up at their 40, from where they moved for a first-quarter field goal. After that field goal, Davis returned the Denver kickoff 43 yards but the runback was nullified by a holding penalty.
 
Throw in Cody Parkey’s missed field goal from 52 yards and Bears special teams combined for one of the poorer possible quarters short of allowing a touchdown return.
 
 
Helmet hi-jinks
 
And the league thought it had problems with the catch rule?
 
The NFL’s leading-with-the-helmet prohibition and its enforcement bordering on the bizarre reared its ugly head early  flag on Denver cornerback Isaac Yiadom for his tackle of Bears tight end Adam Shaheen defies explanation. Yiadom got his head in front of Shaheen’s quads in a textbook go-low tackle with minimal risk to either player but was hit with a 15-yard penalty. Not sure what Yiadom was supposed to lead with? His feet?
 
Then Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller drew a leading-with-the-helmet when he went shoulder-first into tight end Andy Janovich, while Denver left tackle Garrett Bolles went helmet-first into a basic cut block on linebacker Leonard Floyd and drew no flag.
 
 
Duly noted
 
Quirky rules and their enforcement don’t account for a worrisome spate of penalties (eight through three quarters) that cost the Bears more than 100 yards. 
 
In the first half alone, besides the Fuller flag, tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie drew holding penalties, and a holding penalty on the kickoff-return team negated a 43-yard return by Knile Davis. Tight end Ben Braunecker was tagged for pass interference.