Depth-charting where the Bears' needs still remain


Depth-charting where the Bears' needs still remain

Three weeks into free agency and four weeks out from the NFL Draft in Chicago, Bears general manager Ryan Pace hasn’t emptied his wallet by any means.

The big free agent splashes are over and done with, and as Pace has continued fitting pieces for depth and special teams onto his roster, the only remaining impact moves will be made on that final weekend of April.

He currently has nine picks, including five of the first 127 selections.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

And therein will lie the keys to adding components to make the unofficial depth chart below more of a factor in the already-competitive NFC North.

There’s a great deal of optimism they’ve improved in some areas, but there’s obviously plenty of work left. You can make the argument that just about any position could use help when Roger Goodell puts them on the clock. You can decide for yourself where it’s needed most. 


WR: Kevin White/Marquess Wilson/Josh Bellamy

TE: Zach Miller/Rob Housler

RT: Bobby Massie/Nick Becton

RG: Kyle Long/Ted Larsen

C: Hronnis Grasu/Ted Larsen/Manny Ramirez

LG: Matt Slauson/Manny Ramirez

LT: Charles Leno, Jr./Tayo Fabuluje

QB: Jay Cutler/David Fales/Matt Blanchard

RB: Jeremy Langford/Ka'Deem Carey/Jacquizz Rodgers/Senorise Perry

WR: Alshon Jeffery/Cam Meredith/Deonte Thompson

TE/FB : Khari Lee/Paul Lasike

WR: Eddie Royal/Marc Mariani


DE: Mitch Unrein/Ego Ferguson/Cournelius Washington

NT: Eddie Goldman/Bruce Gaston/D'Anthony Smith/Terry Williams

DE: Akeim Hicks/Will Sutton/Greg Scruggs

OLB: Lamarr Houston/Willie Young

ILB: Danny Trevathan/Jonathan Anderson/Lamin Barrow

ILB: Jerrell Freeman/John Timu/Christian Jones

OLB: Pernell McPhee/Sam Acho

CB: Tracy Porter/Sherrick McManis

SS: Adrian Amos/Demontre Hurst

FS: Harold Jones-Quartey/Antrel Rolle/Chris Prosinski

CB: Kyle Fuller/Bryce Callahan

We’ve allowed the option on offense for either a two-tight end or three-wideout setup on the offensive chart. Bryce Callahan played most of the second half of last season as the nickel back. We didn’t go to the measures of listing every single player on the current roster.

So now your turn to predict who they’ll draft, and how it affects what’s above.

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner. 

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

USA Today

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup: