Bears RB draft preview: Depth thin for run-based offense


Bears RB draft preview: Depth thin for run-based offense 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

Matt Forte is entering the final year of his contract and has established himself as one of the great running backs in the history of a franchise with a number of elite runners to its credit. Since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2008, Forte ranks No. 1 in yards from scrimmage and set an NFL record for receptions by a running back (102) last season while still netting 1,038 yards rushing yards.

Forte gave and continues to give elite one-size-fits-all consistency at the position. He is a unique back with a record of success in myriad offensive systems: 1,000-yard rushing seasons under four different coordinators. He also has been the definition of durable, starting 16 games in five of his seven seasons.

The Bears used a fourth-round pick last season on Ka’Deem Carey out of Arizona but he was a virtual non-factor: 36 total carries through 14 games, then not seeing the field in the final two. He worked throughout the year on improving pass protection, which he did, but coaches were reluctant to trust his grasp of the playbook. His high point of 14 carries for 72 yards came vs. Green Bay but he was unable to establish himself as an adequate alternative or relief for Forte.

The Bears picked up Jacquizz Rodgers, a smallish (5-6) speed-back, originally a fifth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2011. He was Pac-12 offensive player of the year in 2008, a distinction also won by Carey (2013).

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Bears draft priority: Moderate

Forte’s outlook at age 29 (turning 30 in December) with some mileage is a question, and Carey had too few chances as a rookie to show whether he is or isn’t an NFL running back.

This all matters a great deal given coach John Fox’s stated intention to rely on the run game, something Marc Trestman paid lip service to but then was about 65:35 pass:run. Taking Fox at his word, the Bears may not have their long-term situation set at this position.

When Fox was at Carolina, the Panthers went heavily on defense with top picks but also placed enough of a premium on the running-back position to invest No. 1’s at the position in 2006 (DeAngelo Williams) and 2008 (Jonathan Stewart), and those after using at No. 2 there in 2005 (Eric Shelton). Perhaps more relevant to the Bears’ current situation, Fox’s Panthers used two No. 4 picks on running backs in 2009 (Mike Goodson, Tony Fiammetta).

The “value” running back position has been a debated topic (not as far as Forte is concerned, however) and the new Fox-Ryan Pace regime has some solid run offenses in its collective background.

[BEARS DRAFT PREVIEW: Looking for answers beyond Jay Cutler

Keep an eye on ...

Javorious Allen, USC: Likely gone by rd. 4 but a 221-pound producer in the Forte mold.

Dominique Brown, Louisville: Power back (234 pounds) in the mold of Michael Bush, alternative to Forte.

Jeremy Langford, Michigan State: Shorter (5-9) than the norm but had two productive seasons replacing Le’Veon Bell.

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos

The Chicago Bears will reunite with former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Denver this summer, as word broke Monday that the Broncos will host the Bears for joint training camp practices in advance of their preseason game in August.

The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs confirmed the news on Twitter.

This is the second time Denver will welcome the Bears for training camp sessions. The two teams held joint practices back in 2018.

Training camp won't be the first time the Bears will see Fangio since his departure last offseason. Chicago pulled off a last-second victory over the Broncos in Week 2 of the 2019 season when kicker Eddy Pineiro booted a 53-yard game-winner with time expiring in the fourth quarter. His kick was set up by the clutch version of Mitch Trubisky, who connected on a 25-yard pass to Allen Robinson on the play before Pineiro's conversion.

Fangio left a lasting impact during his time as the Bears defensive coordinator that reached its peak in 2018 when Chicago was widely regarded as the most ferocious defense in the league. The Bears finished third in yards allowed per game and ended the season with the top run defense. Their 27 interceptions were tops in the NFL, too.

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

The 2020 NFL Combine will go a long way in determining the final draft grade for each of the 337 prospects participating in on-field drills. General managers and scouts want to see whether their athletic testing matches the traits noted on film. If a player runs faster than he plays, scouts will question his on-field instincts and overall football IQ. In the alternative, if he runs slower than he plays, questions about level of competition and the ability to 'win' on the NFL level will be raised.

But in order to understand whether or not a prospect is having a good performance, you first have to know what the NFL is looking for as its minimum time/result required for each position and drill.

NFL Hall-of-Fame executive Gil Brandt, one of the legendary draft minds in the sport, shared what has become the standard breakdown each team uses when assessing a player's 40 time, 3-cone drill, broad jump, vertical jump and more.

Check it out:

Keep this page bookmarked this week and refer back to this chart as your favorite Bears prospects try to run and jump their way to Chicago. 

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