Bears NFL Draft Preview: CB depth vulnerable vs. pass-first NFL

Bears NFL Draft Preview: CB depth vulnerable vs. pass-first NFL Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2016 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need, and what draft day and after could have in store.

Bears pre-draft situation

Tracy Porter would merit heavy consideration as Bears defensive MVP for 2015, apparent by the priority the organization placed on re-signing the veteran cornerback right at the outset of free agency. The three-year contract secured one starter, after he recovered from missing much of training camp and preseason with injuries, and Porter led the Bears with 22 pass breakups, high-pointed with five and an interception in the Thanksgiving night win at Green Bay.

Opposite Porter, Kyle Fuller has established himself with two seasons of 16 games, including 30 straight starts. Fuller struggled early last season, was admonished by veteran safety Antrel Rolle for his study and preparation habits, and finished the season strong, albeit with just two interceptions on the season.

The upshot is Fuller’s arrow pointing continually up heading into his third season, with a growing professionalism in the company of Porter and Rolle.

“[Fuller is] getting better and better,” GM Ryan Pace said during last month’s NFL owners meetings. “When we talk about Tracy, I think Tracy had a positive influence on Kyle. I feel like Kyle’s a guy that got more comfortable in the defense and got more confidence, so we feel like he’s still an ascending player who’ll be better in year two in this defense.”

Bryce Callahan was a pleasant surprise as an undrafted free agent, coming off the practice squad in mid-season to start three games as a third corner. Demontre Hurst has teased the lineup, starting at Tampa Bay, but hasn’t secured a regular role in his opportunities.

The Bears re-signed Sherrick McManis and gave him a shot at the third corner job, which he eventually lost to Callahan. Alan Ball was a bust after signing a one-year deal worth $3 million, opening the season as a starter but losing that job after three weeks and playing just 24 percent of the defensive snaps.

Bears draft priority: Moderate/high

There are 15 undrafted free agents in the Hall of Fame. A handful of those are cornerbacks (Willie Brown, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Willie Wood among them). The hero of New England’s Super Bowl win over Seattle was one – Malcolm Butler. And Denver’s Chris Harris Jr. never got a “we’re taking you” call during the 2011 draft but has been to two Pro Bowls

But relying on found-money prospects like Callahan, Butler or Harris is the exception rather than the rule, and counting on leftovers for top cover backs in a league tilted increasingly toward passing is at the very least dangerous.

Add to that the fact that Porter will be 30 on opening day and has only once in eight NFL seasons played all 16 games (2013, Oakland). He is on the post-peak side of his prime but playing with a savvy and style that could give him several more very productive years (the Bears are counting on it, based doing that three-year contract).

The Bears will have several top options available at No. 11 and multiple projects have them going for a cornerback that could challenge Fuller or Porter, a situation that would give the Bears three solid corners, more or less the NFL minimum given the volume of nickel snaps.

Keep an eye on ...

Jalen Ramsey, Florida State: Whether he’s the next Deion Sanders out of FSU remains to be seen but Ramsey has been projected anywhere from No. 3 overall to 10th. Prototype big (6-1, 200) corner but just 3 INT’s in three years.

Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida: First-round lock who also has been linked to Bears at No. 11. Consistent production through three seasons starting in elite SEC.

William Jackson III, Houston: Height (6+) and eye-popping speed (4.37 sec./40) may take him off the board before Bears’ turn in the second round.

Eli Apple, Ohio State: Another tall (6+) DB with mass (200) and production in two seasons starting. Expected to go in the first round after running 4.40.

Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

USA Today

Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

The play of Mitch Trubisky in his season-and-a-half under coach Matt Nagy is, for better or worse, an unfinished work. Whatever the final result, after this season or the next, the latter of which looming as a decision point on a long-term contract for Trubisky, the Bears may be best advised going forward to make Nagy the decision-maker on quarterback calls rather than GM Ryan Pace.

Pace owes his head coach a leading voice and vote in finding a quarterback (or two) in the Bears’ 2020 draft and/or offseason. Because a simple NFL fact is that Matt Nagy deserves a chance to develop his own quarterback, not simply have his tenure defined by a quarterback (Trubisky) that he inherited.

Plus, Nagy has arguably better credentials and experience for quarterback evaluations than Pace.

Nagy learned his craft from Andy Reid, whose head-coaching career began in Philadelphia with the 1999 drafting of Donovan McNabb. Reid also drafted four more quarterbacks during McNabb’s run, including A.J. Feeley (2001) and Nick Foles (2012), as well as bringing in Michael Vick to deepen the depth chart.

When Reid went to Kansas City (and brought Nagy with him) in 2013, the first thing he did was to trade for Alex Smith from San Francisco; Reid (and Nagy as QB coach) groomed Smith into a three-time Pro Bowler. But while Smith was being brought along, the Chiefs also drafted three more quarterbacks in the four drafts following the Smith trade. The third of those quarterbacks was Patrick Mahomes, whom Nagy had a one-year hand in developing before taking the Bears job.

Pace, who said at the outset of his GM reign that ideally the Bears would be able to draft a QB every year, has largely ignored the quarterback pipeline, as noted previously. Trubisky has been the only quarterback among Pace’s 32 picks over five drafts.

Nagy has been involved in acquisitions of Nick Foles, Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. Pace’s efforts have been toward Marcus Mariota (the Titans wanted too much for the 2015 No. 2 slot), Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon and Trubisky. Regardless of how Trubisky develops or doesn’t through the rest of 2019, Pace owes his coach a leading place in the quarterback-selection process from start to finish.

The search for depth or an upgrade from Trubisky may circle back to Mariota, who has now been benched in Tennessee and has never been the same player after suffering a broken leg in late 2016. Mariota played for Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon and obviously had high grades from Pace coming into the NFL.

Trubisky is largely the same QB he was for John Fox

Trubisky may yet prove to be the solution for the Bears quarterback situation. But results over his three – not just the two in Matt Nagy’s system – seasons say he is pretty much what he looks to be.

The cliché narrative, never particularly refuted by Trubisky, was that the young quarterback was shackled by a combination of John Fox’s conservatism and Dowell Loggains’ supposed incompetence. Two points suggest otherwise:

One, is that his first brace of coaches knew Trubisky’s limitations, both in general as well as those from simply being a uber-green rookie with only 13 college starts. Trubisky was deemed to have accuracy issues in the mid and deeper range, which has repeatedly proved to be the case, as recently as Sunday.

The second is that, in 2017 after his first three rookie games getting settled in, Trubisky in fact threw slightly more passes (31.3 per game) over his final nine starts under Fox/Loggains than he did through his 14 starts under Nagy in 2018 (31.0).

Parenthetically, in those first three in 2017, a governor was in place, with Trubisky throwing 25, 16 and 7 passes. The Bears also won the latter two. 

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Kurt Warner has no idea what the Bears are doing on offense

USA Today

Kurt Warner has no idea what the Bears are doing on offense

With the city of Chicago still reeling from the Bears recent 36-25 loss against the Saints, everyone from NFL analysts to your co-workers are offering up their hot takes on how the Bears offensive game, particularly QB Mitch Trubisky, could do better.

Kurt Warner, an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with an illustrious history, took to Twitter to give his two cents on why the Bears offense is struggling.

After twelve years in the NFL, taking both the Rams and the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, Warner might just know a thing or two about offense. However, Warner seems just as confused as the rest of us as to what’s not clicking for the Bears. Here’s what Warner had to say.

We all feel you, Kurt. It’s been a struggle to watch indeed. He later goes in to respond to comments in the thread, defending the much maligned Trubisky by saying that he is not the only thing wrong with offense this season.

It will be interesting to see how the Bears respond to this painful loss and the recent bought of criticism. Matt Nagy insists the team is drowning out all outside noise and focusing on their game, but we’ll see if this loss was the wakeup call the team needed when they face off against the Chargers in Week 8. 

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