Bears CB Draft Preview: Competition coming for Tim Jennings


Bears CB Draft Preview: Competition coming for Tim Jennings Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2015 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store.

Bears pre-draft situation

Landing Antrel Rolle was a priority and signing the veteran safety represented a major upgrade even with Rolle’s best years behind him. Ryan Mundy was the Bears’ second-leading tackler last season and tied with Kyle Fuller for team honors with four interceptions. Between Mundy and Rolle, with Brock Vereen in the pipeline, the Bears have perhaps their best combo of experience and talent in the deep secondary in a decade.

Fuller was a certified hit with the No. 14 pick of the draft, flashing early with interceptions in the win at San Francisco and quietly playing beyond his rookie year and already is viewed as a foundation block in the secondary.

[DRAFT PREVIEW: Offseason moves lower LB need level]

“The way he played instinctually, as well as the physical skills, I saw a guy that improved as the season went on,” said coach John Fox. “He’s a guy that we’re excited about, have a good grade on, and looking forward to working with him looking forward.”

Less secure is the spot opposite Fuller, where Tim Jennings had eight pass breakups but went without an interception for the first time in seven years. “I think Tim will tell you the same thing: I don’t think he had one of his better years a year ago, No. 1,” Fox said. “I think he can play outside and play inside as far as experience. I think our biggest thing is to get him to perform better than he did a year ago.”

If he doesn’t, the Bears have added both depth or a possible replacement. They re-signed promising nickel back Demontre Hurst and corner Al Louis-Jean to two-year extensions and Alan Ball for one year.

Jennings was given a four-year deal worth $22.4 million, half of it guaranteed, coming off his second straight Pro Bowl season. But he turns 32 in December and will be under some roster pressure throughout this offseason.

[DRAFT PREVIEW: OL Rebound in 2015 a must but not via draft]

Bears draft priority: Low

The level of need, as with certain other positions (DL, OL), doesn’t completely mean that the Bears have what they need in this position cluster, only that it is well off the “critical” list it was on last year before the Bears secured Fuller. The Rolle signing projects to make Fuller a better corner as well as improve the entire back end of the defense.

The Bears can be expected to grab a corner or safety if a surprise is still on their board in Round 3. The ages of Jennings and Rolle aren’t a concern, and Rolle in particular is in that class of safety reminiscent of Gary Fencik and Shaun Gayle who were effective deep into their careers based on savvy and style of play.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans]

Keep an eye on ...

Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio)Relatively inexperienced but physical (5-11, 195) MAC defensive player of the year.

Eric Rowe, UtahLikely gone by the end of Round 2 but has ideal size (6-1) for CB.

P.J. Willliams, Florida State: Big (6-0, 195) physical corner likened to Charles Tillman.

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

The Chicago Bears will kick off the fourth season of "Meet the Rookies" on June 25, a series that profiles four of the team's 2018 draft picks for a behind-the-scenes look at their journey to the NFL.

The four-episode series will air on at 7:00 p.m from June 25 - 28 and will feature one rookie per night. 

Monday's episode will cover the Bears' first-round pick, Roquan Smith. Selected with the eighth-overall pick, Smith is expected to become an instant-impact player on defense. He's expected to make an impact off the field, too, as a high-character leader. Smith's linebacker-mate Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the focus of Tuesday's episode, with Anthony Miller (Wednesday) and James Daniels (Thursday) rounding out Season 4.

For a deeper dive into what's in store in "Meet the Rookies," check out this description.