Bears

Bears NFL Draft preview: Signing Dion Sims upgrades tight end but draft has quality options

Bears NFL Draft preview: Signing Dion Sims upgrades tight end but draft has quality options

CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2017 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store. Fourth in a series.

Bears pre-draft situation

The tight end position underwent major upheaval early last offseason with the trade of Martellus Bennett to the New England Patriots. The Bears still had Zach Miller in place as the starter, for 10 games, before Miller went on IR with a broken foot. The Bears made an unsuccessful play for Josh Hill from New Orleans but the Saints matched the Bears' offer sheet. The position ultimately was fortified with Logan Paulsen signed away from Washington, Daniel Brown picked up after his release by Baltimore, and Ben Braunecker arriving as an undrafted free agent.

Brown was a solid addition, with 16 catches over the final six games; he was re-signed early last month. Braunecker contributing on special teams. Paulsen contributed more penalties (6) than receptions (3) and more yards lost to flags (50) than gained on his catches (15). Paulsen now plays with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley for the San Francisco 49ers.

The biggest step at the position this offseason came in the form of signing former Miami Dolphins tight end Dion Sims to a three-year contract. Sims adds a physical presence (6-5, 262 pounds) to the position but also caught 26 passes, four for TD’s, and started 22 games over his four Miami tenure. "A guy who can block, a guy who has good-enough hands to be a threat in the passing game," said coach John Fox. 

Projected pre-draft starters

TE: Zach Miller

TE: Dion Sims

Reserves: Ben Braunecker, Daniel Brown, Zach Miller, Dion Sims, Daniel Brown, MyCole Pruitt, Justin Perillo
 
Bears draft priority: Moderate

The Bears had designs on Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry early in the 2016 second round but saw the San Diego Chargers snap him up four picks into Day 2 as the Bears waited eight picks later in the round. The Bears then traded down twice and came away with offensive lineman Cody Whitehair, another of their prime targets.

The position has some strength with the triumvirate of Brown, Miller and Sims in particular. The draft class has quality, and the Bears set up private meetings with Evan Engram from Mississippi and Alabama’s O.J. Howard.

But with other needs rated above tight end, and the position already having been addressed via free agency, a move before late on Day 2 (Round 4) would be a mild surprise.

Keep an eye on ...

Jake Butt, Michigan: Consistent, four-year contributor who tore ACL in Orange Bowl and needed surgery Jan. 10. May be worth a late-round flyer.

Evan Engram, Mississippi: Undersized for an in-line blocker (235 pounds) but held in high enough regard to be brought in for a Halas Hall visit. With Brown and Miller, Bears have pass catchers but Engram was first team All-SEC, ahead of Howard.

O.J. Howard, Alabama: The marquee name at the position in this draft, and with a distinct chance to be the first tight end taken in Round 1 since Eric Ebron by Detroit at No. 10 in 2014. "[Howard’s] got it all," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. via conference call. "He’s a matchup nightmare. He’s certainly one of the top five, six, seven players in this draft." 

David Njoku, Miami: 'Canes have history of turning out etop-shelf TE’s — Bubba Franks, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II. Njoku is a speed TE, who can be a matchup problem in right offense.

Bears to don throwback helmets Sunday against Giants

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CHICAGO BEARS

Bears to don throwback helmets Sunday against Giants

The Bears are throwing it back to the past this weekend at Soldier Field.

The Bears will rock 1960s throwback helmets Sunday when they take on the New York Giants. The helmet is navy blue and features a white "C" logo and gray facemask, whereas the current helmet has an orange "C" and white facemask.

A look at the throwback lid:

The Bears donned those helmets from 1962-72 during the playing days of  Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, now Hall of Famers. They won the 1963 NFL Championship along the way.

“I think a lot of Bears fans remember the ‘60s, especially the ’63 championship team winning at Wrigley against the Giants with those ‘Cs’ on our helmet,” Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said. “And of course Butkus and Sayers and all the great memories they provided. That small change I think means a lot to people.”

As 2019 is the Bears' 100th season as a franchise, they've been honoring a different decade at each home game. The Bears have also installed seven-foot tall bobbleheads around Chicago each week featuring players from that week's celebratory decade.

Unsurprisingly, this week's game will celebrate the 1960s, with Butkus and Sayers represented in life-size bobblehead form:

The Bears will give out bobbleheads of Butkus and Sayers to the first 20,000 fans who arrive at Sunday's game.

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Mitch Trubisky practiced in full on Thursday

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USA TODAY

Mitch Trubisky practiced in full on Thursday

As Chicago continues to analyze Mitch Trubisky’s hip and figure out if his benching was actually injury related or performance related, the injury report from practice makes it seem like he should play on Sunday.

Trubisky was a full participant in practice on Thursday, just as he was on Wednesday. Back-to-back full practices would seem to indicate he should be full go for Sunday’s game against the Giants.

If not, then chaos will ensue.


As for the rest of the injury report, offensive lineman Bobby Massie was not limited with his back injury while linebacker Isaiah Irving was limited with a quad injury.

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