Bears

After trade flirtations, Bears invest No. 7 pick in WVU WR Kevin White

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After trade flirtations, Bears invest No. 7 pick in WVU WR Kevin White

Ryan Pace took the next major step in his young tenure as Bears general manager on Thursday, using the No. 7 pick of the 2015 draft to select West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, expected to start opposite Alshon Jeffery as well as replace the production traded to the New York Jets in the person of Brandon Marshall.

Pace and the Bears had options. The first six picks saw teams take two quarterbacks, a wide receiver, an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman, plus valued pass rusher Dante Fowler.

So when the Bears’ turn came, they had the options of White and edge rushers Vic Beasley from West Virginia and Kentucky’s Bud Dupree.

[NFL DRAFT PROFILE: Bears WR Kevin White]

White is 6-3, 210 pounds, and caught 109 passes for the Mountaineers last year for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“I’ve been through so much,” White said. “I’m ready to turn this city around.”

The process was not without some drama, real or imagined.

The Bears were a big part of the pre-draft blizzard of rumors and speculation. General manager Ryan Pace had said on Wednesday that he and the Bears had talked to all of the teams above them and some of those below No. 7, so it was not a complete surprise that the Bears were reported to be one of the teams talking to the Tennessee Titans and their No. 2 overall pick.

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One scenario had the Bears looking to deal quarterback Jay Cutler as part of a package to move up in order to pick Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, whom the Bears had brought to Halas Hall as one of their pre-draft visits. The Titans reportedly did not want Cutler in the deal, although Tennessee GM Ruston Webster denied the reports.

Multiple options

The Bears’ pick at No. 7 could have been used justifiably on either side of the football.

The Bears finished 30th in yardage allowed last season and 31st in points given up, coming on the heels of a dismal 2013 in which they also were 30th in both points and yardage allowed. They ranked no higher than 16th in any of the main defensive categories last season and the problems were both deep and consistent: 11 Bears opponents scored 20 or more points, including three with more than 40.

The offense failed to average 20 points per game for the first time since Kyle Orton and the 2005 playoff season. Over the final five games the Bears scored 17-15-14-9 points, with the lone exception being 28 against the Dallas Cowboys when the Bears trailed 38-7 before scoring 21 points in a throwaway fourth quarter.

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

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Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.

He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.

When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.

He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.

“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”

Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.

“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.

Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.

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Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5

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Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5

If Mitchell Trubisky has the kind of break out year in his second season under Matt Nagy that Bears fans are hoping for, he should have no problem cashing an OVER 26.5 passing TDs ticket for bettors who want to back him.

Per Bet Chicago, Caesars is rolling out division props and they set Trubisky’s touchdown pass total for 2019 at 26.5 and his pass yard total at 3,744.5.

While both those marks would be career highs for Trubisky, this number will surely be seen as a slight by the hometown fans and continue to add to the polarizing nature of the quarterback formerly known as the Pretty Boy Assassin.

In Chicago, and if you’re team Mitch, this number is ridiculously low and you’re probably already pounding the over.

Outside of Chicago, and with some analytical support, there’s a lot of doubt about Trubisky’s future as a viable option as an NFL starter, so I’d guess the Pro Football Focus crowd is probably gonna take the under.

We rolled out some props of our own on the Under Center podcast last week including:

Will Mitch Trubisky pass for 10 or more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (Including playoffs for both)

26.5 regular season passing touchdowns probably gives Kimbrel the edge, but it’s right in range. 

And that Trubisky – Kimbrel prop prompted this bold response from our own Bears insider JJ Stankevitz:

I don’t think I’m in the 40 club with my guy JJ, but the OVER certainly feels like the move here. At least it better be if the Bears are gonna make any sort of NFC North title defense.