Bears

Bears select California S Conte in Round 3

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Bears select California S Conte in Round 3

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 9:09 p.m. Updated: 9:48 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Conte draft capsule
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For the second straight draft the Bears drafted a safety with their third-round pick when they tabbed Californias Chris Conte with the 93rd pick of the 2011 draft.

Last year it was Major Wright with the 75th pick, who projects as a starter this season if he can avoid the injury bug that kept biting him almost from the start of training camp.

Conte, 6-2, 197 pounds, doesnt fit the starter mold at this point, although he projects as strong competition for Chris Harris, who struggled at times at free safety despite starting all 16 games at the position.

Its not going to surprise me if he comes in and earns some play time, GM Jerry Angelo said.

What Contes selection does strongly point to is the end of Danieal Mannings
Bears career, given that they have Conte, Harris and Wright in place at this
point.

Conte was a reserve cornerback for his first three seasons at Cal but did emerge as an All-Pac 10 first-teamer in his first season at safety. He totaled two interceptions in four seasons, one as a sophomore at cornerback and the other last season at safety.

But Contes combination of cornerbacksafety experience appealed to the Bears.

Hes a pure free safety, GM Jerry Angelo said. Its a no-brainer and he still has a lot of football ahead of him

We see him as a free safety but he has the size to come down low at strong safety. We really liked him for the value of the position.
A plan that worked

How truly good or bad the draft ultimately was for them will take months if not years to play out. But the Bears came into the 2011 draft with the hope of addressing four positions and they had players they wanted at two of those by the close of draft business on Thursday.

They took care of those two with an offensive tackle in Wisconsins Gabe Carimi for Round 1, and a defensive tackle in Oregon States Stephen Paea in Round 2.

In something of a draft rarity, both times the Bears made moves to trade up. They fortuitously failed to execute a deal with the Baltimore Ravens that would have cost them their fourth-round pick but still left them with Carimi, one of their targeted players.

Then they did move up in Round 2, an indication of both the priority they placed on adding on the defensive line and also how highly they regarded Paea, who at 53rd was the highest-selected defensive lineman by the Bears since they chose Tank Johnson with the 47th pick of the 2004 draft.

The concern was that Paea would be grabbed if the Bears waited until their slotted spot at No. 62, particularly after the Giants selected Marvin Austin at No. 53.
Starters and free agency

Angelo stated at the outset that the goal of the draft was to obtain four starters. Carimi and Paea are virtual locks to become starters, although Paea will need to beat out a developing Henry Melton at the three-technique spot alongside nose tackle Anthony Adams.

What Paea does is dial down at least slightly the need for a defensive lineman in free agency. The Bears rate Green Bays Cullen Jenkins highly but with the labor uncertainty, Jenkins status may remain unsettled along with several hundred other potential free-agent veterans.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on if Bears', 2020 NFL season will start on time

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on if Bears', 2020 NFL season will start on time

On Saturday, President Trump talked to several commissioners of professional sports leagues and reportedly told them that he believes the NFL season will start on time despite the ongoing pandemic. A day later, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about that possibility.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Jake Tapper asked Pritzker if the Bears would be playing in Soldier Field in September, and if there would be fans. Pritzker did not give a definitive prediction.

“Well, the Bears are a great team whether they’re playing or not, but I will say this, it’s not up to us,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know. None of us really knows. But what I do know is this; if the researchers are able to come up with a treatment, something that will save lives, something that will keep people off ventilators, maybe even keep them out of hospitals, then that will be an enormous development for our country and for the future. It may allow us to open things up in the way the president is describing. But the truth is that no one predicts now that we’re going to have that treatment any time in the next few weeks or even in the next month, and no one really knows if we’ll have it by September.”

“What we do know is that if you have a vaccine, that ultimately will help us deal with the problem,” Pritzker said. “Because it’s either going to be a treatment and herd immunity that ultimately allows us to open everything back up, or it’s a vaccine.”

The sports world will continue to hold its breath until there are more answers.

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Open competition might be what Mitch Trubisky needs to salvage Bears' career

Open competition might be what Mitch Trubisky needs to salvage Bears' career

I used this space on Friday to explain why I see Nick Foles as the clear favorite to be the Bears’ starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2020 season. Based on the information we have, it’s easy to see why Foles should beat out Mitch Trubisky in the Bears’ “open competition.” 

And I very much believe that'll happen. But I do want to acknowledge something here, an unknown of sorts: We don’t know how Trubisky will handle a legitimate competition. 

“The competitor that Mitch is, the way that he was with us was really neat to see because he embraced it,” Matt Nagy said. “It wasn’t about excuses, it wasn’t about anything other than, ‘OK, I understand that, I’m gonna give you everything that I’ve got, we’re gonna compete, and you’re gonna get that best that I’ve got.’”

Nagy and Ryan Pace both talked up Trubisky’s competitive nature when discussing the Foles trade over about 40 minutes on Friday. It’s all they can talk up at this point — anything else about his game or past results would’ve been hot air. Maybe the competitiveness thing is hot air, too. 

But this brings up a question that’s lingered as Trubisky’s career has drifted into disappointing territory, so follow my tangent: Why wasn’t he North Carolina’s starting quarterback sooner in college?

Trubisky sat behind Marquise Williams for two and a half seasons before taking over as the Tarheel’s QB1 in 2016. Williams spent one training camp with the Green Bay Packers before being cut and spent the next few years as a backup in the CFL, AAC and XFL.

Trubisky — the second overall pick in 2017's draft — couldn’t beat that guy out? Huh?

The thing is, though, there wasn’t really a competition in Chapel Hill for the Tarheels’ starting gig. Williams QB’d five consecutive wins to get North Carolina to a bowl game in 2013, then was pretty good in six-win 2014. North Carolina went 11-1 in 2015, Trubisky’s third year on campus, with Williams as their guy. 

Former UNC quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf explained to me after the 2017 draft why there wasn’t truly a competition for Trubisky to win. 

“That success we had as a team with Marquise made it hard for us to pull him out of the lineup,” Heckendorf said. “And I think if (Williams’ success in 2013) hadn’t happened, there may be a completely different conversation. It was not for a lack of talent, it was not because (Trubisky) wasn’t capable, but it’s hard to take a guy who had the success — not only as the team winning but individually — as Marquise had and put him on the bench for an unproven commodity.”

Of course, if Trubisky were lighting things up in practice and limited game reps, he would’ve forced UNC’s hand. He didn’t.

But the point is Trubisky’s failure to win a starting gig in college sooner wasn’t necessarily the product of him losing an open competition. He pushed Mike Glennon as a rookie in 2017, but he didn’t show up to training camp in a true “battle” (especially as he QB’d the third-team offense so much). He took over for Glennon because, first and foremost, Glennon was a disaster.

So we don’t really know how he’ll handle a competition the Bears are framing as fair and even.

Could Trubisky all of a sudden grow with the challenge to his job? Could the mere presence of Foles get him to start hitting more deep balls, or make the right reads at the line, or help him avoid those head-scratching interceptions?

Probably not. Football types love to say competition brings out the best in everyone, but it’s hard to see it erasing three years of inconsistent tape.

But we don’t know for sure. For what it's worth, this worked for Kyle Fuller three years ago, when the Bears signed Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara and he wound up winning his old job back, and then keeping it.

Trubisky, too, still has more upside than Foles. The Bears would much rather start the version of Trubisky Pace hoped he was getting in 2017 rather than a 31-year-old with 13 starts over the last four years.

Still, Foles is most likely going to be the Bears’ starter when the 2020 season begins (hopefully on time). But the Bears should at least take a look at Trubisky in a true competition.

It may not need to be a long look. But it should be a look.

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