Bears

Bears position battles forming along O-line

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Bears position battles forming along O-line

The final position – guard or tackle – for Kyle Long may not be determined until pads come on in Bourbonnais. He is still working exclusively at right guard, the position at which he earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his first two NFL seasons, but positions are fluid until pads come on, particularly on the offensive line.

But the Bears’ selection of Hroniss Grasu, Long’s former teammate at Oregon, sets up perhaps the more intriguing position question, albeit at a position where casual observers can have difficulty accurately determining quality of play.

It also sets up a possible position battle reminiscent of an epic one for the Bears, one that was unpleasant for both competitors for reasons having nothing to do with any problems between them.

[MORE BEARS: Ryan Pace continues scouting department overhaul]

Bears GM Ryan Pace said after the draft that Grasu can play center and guard. But Grasu’s best position is center and he is far closer to a fit there than at guard, based on the Denver Broncos template under John Fox and now-Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. The Broncos utilize a zone-blocking scheme that requires mobile offensive linemen, particularly on the interior.

“I know we got Will Montgomery there,” Pace said. “But they’ll all be competing, all fighting for starting jobs.

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Montgomery anchored the Denver line at 304 pounds. He was flanked by two 320-pounders: Orlando Franklin and Manny Ramirez. Long played last year at 330 pounds but with an enviably low body fat percentage. He can play tackle but has voiced some feelings about wanting to stay at guard, and the chance to play alongside Grasu may strengthen that preference.

Jordan Mills, who struggled last season to the point of coaching weighing a shift of him to guard, is still the right tackle. But Denver lined up the 6-foot-7 Franklin at right tackle until last year, and he played at 330 pounds. The Bears thought enough of Tayo Fabuluje to use a sixth-round pick on the massive (6-7, 330-350 pounds) tackle and Mills will be pushed after two seasons starting alongside Long.

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under his DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from enjoying a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Believe it or not, the Chicago Bears are in good shape for the 2020 NFL Draft even without a first-round pick.

This year’s class of prospects runs deep with talent and several players chosen between picks 33-50 will have upside similar to first-rounders from years past.

The Bears have two picks in that range — No.s 43 and 50 — and have a great opportunity to add two starting-quality players by the end of Day 2.

But which players are likely to be available when they’re on the clock? 

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. published his new mock draft Friday and it offers a good look not only at who the potential first-round picks will be but also the cluster of highly-ranked prospects who will fall into Round 2.

Here are five players who didn’t make Kiper’s first-round cut that the Bears will give strong consideration to. 

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Fromm is likely to be the highest-rated passer still on the board when the Bears are on the clock in the second round. And while he doesn’t have elite traits, his experience as a starter in the SEC adds an element to Chicago’s quarterback room that’s currently missing. Plus, his accuracy on short and intermediate routes is a good fit for Matt Nagy’s offense.

Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

The best tight end at the 2020 Senior Bowl and arguably the top tight end in the draft class slips out of Kiper’s first round and potentially into the Bears’ lap at No. 43 overall. Hopkins is an athletic yet undersized pass-catcher at the position who would immediately challenge for the starting job in Chicago.

Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

Lewis certainly looks the part of an NFL edge rusher and with questions surrounding the future of former first-round pick Leonard Floyd, the Bears are likely to target a player who can help add some juice on the outside rush track. Lewis’ production (only seven sacks the last two seasons) will likely create enough questions about his upside to push him into the second round.

Austin Jackson, OT, USC

The offensive line was a big weakness in 2019 and there’s no doubt it will be a high priority in the 2020 NFL draft. The pressing question is whether the Bears will attack offensive tackle or guard first, but with a player like Jackson making it to the second round in Kiper’s mock draft, Chicago would be hard-pressed to pass him up.

Lloyd Cushenberry, iOL, LSU

Cushenberry was one of the top offensive linemen at the 2020 Senior Bowl and will be a riser throughout the draft process. He may end up being the best interior lineman to slip to the second round, and like Hopkins, would be an immediate upgrade and potential starter on Day 1 of his rookie season.