Bears LB Draft Preview: Offseason moves lower need level


Bears LB Draft Preview: Offseason moves lower need level Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2015 NFL Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what could be in store.

Bears pre-draft situation

No position group was addressed more aggressively by the Bears this offseason than linebacker in what will be the team’s iteration of a 3-4 scheme, as directed by new coordinator Vic Fangio. The priority signing was former rush linebacker Pernell McPhee from the Baltimore Ravens, with the Bears subsequently adding Mason Foster from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sam Acho from the Arizona Cardinals.

Along with that, GM Ryan Pace said that Lamarr Houston, recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, is ticketed for linebacker after spending his Bears’ half-season at left defensive end.

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

All of these moves come on top of three drafts by former GM Phil Emery that brought in linebackers Jonathan Bostic, Khaseem Greene and Shea McClellin.

Bears draft priority: Moderate

Pace, Fox and anyone in the NFL know the value of and priority placed on pass rushers. The change to a 3-4 simply shifted that priority from the linemen to the linebackers, and the Bears reflected that in their aggressive work to add linebackers (Acho, Foster, McPhee).

Notably, those moves make a strong secondary statement about the questionable results of the drafts that included McClellin in the 2012 first round, and Bostic and Greene in the 2013 second and fourth. None of the draft picks established themselves as impact linebackers regardless of scheme or specific position.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans]

Regardless of the offseason additions in the position group, however, the priority placed on pass rushers effectively sets the need level permanently at “moderate.” Fox and Pace come from organizations that built strong pass rushes.

Keep an eye on...

Vic Beasley, ClemsonWith 25 sacks over his past two seasons, Beasley flashed at the Combine as well.

Alvin "Bud" Dupree, KentuckyHas size (6-foot-4, 269 lbs.) and speed (4.56) that could be a find at No. 7 of round 2.

Lorenzo Mauldin, LouisvilleA pass rusher who won’t go high in the first round but has the length (6-foot-4) that Bears prefer.

Did Patriots owner Robert Kraft crush Bears' hope for Tom Brady?

Did Patriots owner Robert Kraft crush Bears' hope for Tom Brady?

The Bears are one of the first teams mentioned when speculation about where New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could play in 2020. The Bears are the most quarterback-needy club that also has a chance to make a Super Bowl run with a player like Brady under center, so it's logical to assume the soon-to-be free agent will at least entertain the idea of playing home games at Soldier Field next year.

Much of what happens with Brady will come down to how the Patriots view the 42-year-old (he'll be 43 at the start of next season). If all things are equal, and New England makes him a fair offer to come back, it's likely Brady would return to the only franchise he's ever played for. And if owner Robert Kraft's recent comments are sincere, it's more than likely that he will.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Kraft, who was in New York City on Tuesday, was asked by TMZ reporters whether the Patriots will re-sign Brady this offseason. His response? 

"We plan to," Kraft said.

Well, there you have it, right? If the Patriots plan to re-sign Brady, then the Patriots are going to re-sign Brady; assuming, of course, you believe what Kraft is saying in January before New England's decision-makers have had enough time to assess their quarterback situation with, and maybe without, No. 12 under center.

Brady is coming off of one of his worst seasons as a pro, which is saying something considering he's been playing for two decades. His completion percentage was the lowest it's been in six years, his yardage total was the second-lowest in the last 10 years, and his 24 touchdown passes were the fewest he's thrown in a season since 2006. 

It's natural to wonder whether Father Time has finally caught up to him. Maybe, however, his down year was a result of lacking talent at wide receiver and tight end. Regardless of the reason, his 2019 campaign has called into question where he'll be in 2020.

But there are those three words Kraft said — 'we plan to' — that can't be ignored. At the very least, Bears fans can't get their hopes up. The Patriots tend to get what they want, and if they want Brady back in 2020, they'll have him.

Bears showing strong interest in Dayton TE Adam Trautman

Bears showing strong interest in Dayton TE Adam Trautman

Add Dayton tight end Adam Trautman  to the growing list of tight ends the Bears have met with at the 2020 Senior Bowl.

After confirming Purdue's Brycen Hopkins and Vanderbilt's Jared Pinkney spent time with Bears scouts (in the case of Pinkney, nearly 35 minutes), Trautman told's Chase Goodbread that Chicago's scouts have expressed a strong interest in his skill set.

"They're interested in me," Trautman said of the Bears. "They tell me they like what they see."

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of 2020 NFL offseason

Trautman had one of the best lines of the week when he said he prefers driving opposing defenders into the ground against their will over scoring touchdowns, and at a well-built 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, he has the perfect physical makeup to project as a guy who will do that on the next level. He needs development in that area of his game (run blocker), but his 'want-to' is half the battle.

Trautman wasn't the best tight end this week, but he was far from the worst. He's been consistent, and for a team like the Bears who are searching for a tight end who can be relied on as a second-level target for whoever is playing quarterback in Matt Nagy's offense, Trautman's consistency will be viewed as a plus.

Trautman had 916 yards and 14 touchdowns for Dayton in 2019. Scouts wanted to see whether he could handle the jump in competition at the Senior Bowl, and he's answered that question with a resounding yes.

He projects as a Day 3 pick with upside to develop into a starting quality tight end.