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Gameday Blog: Forte completely took over

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Gameday Blog: Forte completely took over

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011Posted: 11:45 a.m. Updated: 7:20 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin

The story of Sunday, besides the Bears getting a desperately needed victory, was Matt Forte. Period.

The running back made a statement for his inclusion in any discussion of elite backs with a career-high 205 rushing yards in 25 attempts. His 17-yard run for in the second quarter was the Bears first rushing touchdown of the season.

The rushing total was the ninth 100-yard game of Fortes career, all Bears wins, and the team total of 224 yards were the most for the Bears since 242 against Green Bay in Sept. 1988.

Forte joins Walter Payton (275, 205) and Gale Sayers (205) as the only backs in franchise history to run for 200 yards in a game. His total for the day moved him past Thomas Jones (3,493) and into fifth place on the Bears all-time list with 3,560 rushing yards. Sayers 4,956 may have to wait until next year. Then again.

It reminded me of my senior year at Tulane, every weekend getting 200 yards, Forte said. All the credit goes to the offensive line. The holes were huge. Even towards the end of the game, we kept pounding them and pounding them. The offensive line just wore the defense out.

Running the ball on 13 of the first 14 plays was a good start on the wearing-out process. Jay Cutler did not throw a pass in the first quarter and threw just four in the second as the Bears called 12 running plays to five pass plays.

Touchdowns by the defense on D.J. Moores interception and special teams on Devin Hesters punt return put the Carolina offense back on the field, causing time of possession to be skewed. The Panthers ran 36 plays in the first half to the Bears 17.

Running the ball was the plan, coach Lovie Smith said. We dont just go out there and make up stuff.

QB or not QB

Call it a tale of two Qs. QBs, that is.

Cam Newton had the numbers. Jay Cutler has the win.

The rookie quarterback passed for 374 yards, threw for on TD and rushed for two others. But the Heisman Trophy winner and the Carolina Panthers may want to change something.

This marked the third time in Newtons four NFL games that hes passed for more than 370 yards. The Panthers have lost all three and Newton was in no mood to talk stats.

For a person to tell me you cant win them all, thats a losers mentality, said Newton, who completed 27-of-46 passes, wasnt sacked and threw one interception. To some degree, I feel like Ive let some teammates down.

Meanwhile, Cutlers 46.7 was the lowest passer rating of his career in a victory, the first time hes had a sub-50.0 mark and seen his team win. His 17 attempts, one for an interception, matched his career low for a full game, tying his total in the 2009 Bears game against St. Louis.

That game, in which he completed just 8 passes, also was a win.

Those games happen, Cutler said. You have to manage the ballgame.

Record setter

No one was more surprised that the Panthers punted the ball anywhere near Devin Hester than Devin Hester. Indeed, special teams coach Dave Toub, who worked with Carolina coach Ron Rivera with the Philadelphia Eagles, was convinced that Hester wouldnt see many returnable punts.

It was a shock, Hester admitted.

Hester then turned the shock on Carolina, bringing a second-quarter punt back 69 yards for a touchdown that was the 11th punt-return TD of his career, most in NFL history and breaking his tie with Eric Metcalf, who set his mark with 351 returns while Hester has done his over the span of 182.

It was a great call by Coach Toub, Hester said. You could tell the punter had a bad hit on the ball. He didnt get much air time on it. At that time, I knew I could buy a little more time and set up the defenders coming back.

Being another part of NFL history, which Hester already was because of his TD total for all kick returns, set last season at 14, feels very, very good, especially after a win.

It feels great, Hester said. To be labeled the greatest person at a position is a great honor. Once again, I have to give credit to my teammates.

Being defensive

Players told CSNChicago.com that for all of Newtons astonishing athletic abilities, no attempt was made to spy on the young quarterback. In the past, the Bears have used typically a linebacker, whether Lance Briggs or Brian Urlacher, to pay personal attention to a Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb or other particularly mobile quarterback.

This time, there was none of that. The Bears stayed with their basic 4-3 front, moving D.J. Moore in at nickel back to match Carolina personnel changes, but one sentiment was that the front four were capable of sufficient pressure (they werent) and that to over-commit to Newton was to ignore receiving threats Steve Smith and tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey.

Newton ran eight times for 34 yards and was not sacked.

A little support, please?

Quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked once in 18 pass plays and only hit 3 times, according to press box stats. He completed just 9-of-17 passes, had one intercepted and one dropped, but seemed to be blaming his offensive line for rhythm problems in the pass game.

With the changes up front, its kind of hard to get in rhythm passing, Cutler said. Once we get those guys kind of stable and get Gabe Carimi, injured right tackle back, and get everything situated up there, well get there.

Its hard to be in a rhythm four games into it, to have an identity. Were still figuring it out.

That is difficult to understand. Cutlers completion percentage over the last three games is 49.5 percent despite his relatively smash-free Sunday. His completion percentage on the season is 54.2.

When Cutler was sacked just 11 times in 2008, his Pro Bowl season, his passer rating was 86.0.

When he was sacked 52 times last year and hit dozens more times, his passer rating was 86.3.

Cam Newton does not appear to be having as much difficulty figuring it out through four games, albeit three of them losses. The rookie has completed 59.8 percent of his passes.

Offensive lineing

Offensive lineman Lance Louis may want to talk to GM Jerry Angelo about a little overtime pay.

Louis didnt start, for the second straight game, but played three different positions right guard, right tackle and tight end.

I just go where they tell me, Louis said, laughing. Thats a first for me.

Louis did not start doing a little work at right tackle, which he played in college, until Thursday of last week, making his effort and contributions even more notable.

The shuffling on the offensive line continued Sunday, and that wont be the last of it. Frank Omiyale got the start at right tackle for his second straight game but likely his last. He was benched to start the second half and Louis, benched in favor of Chris Spencer at right guard, replaced Omiyale at right tackle after Omiyale was beaten badly for the one sack of Jay Cutler in the first half.

Omiyale did appear in the second half, as a tackle in a third-and-1 situation in the fourth quarter with Louis moving to tight end. The play, a bizarre run fake by Jay Cutler, was a swing pass to Matt Forte that came up just short. The same personnel package stayed in on fourth down as Forte converted with a four-yard run.

We put Lance Louis over three at right tackle and he filled in nice, Jay Cutler said. Hes got to be one of the MVPs of the game along with Matt Forte. Just his ability to go out there and play tackle. He hasnt done it on the right side and after that first series, played a heck of a game for us.
"Devin Hester, you are ridiculous!"
Play-by-play man Jeff Joniaks famous call was warranted in the second quarter when Devin Hester, after returning a kickoff 73 yards to set up a touchdown, went 69 yards with a punt return for a score. It was the 11th of Hesters career and set an NFL record for punt return TDs.
Steve Smith, YOU are ridiculous!

Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith destroyed the Bears with 218 yards in the teams 2005 meeting in the divisional playoff. With help from breakdowns in the secondary, Smith had 132 yards Sunday with 2 minutes to play in the first half.

Oops

Greg Olsen didnt make his return to Soldier Field memorable initially. The former Bears No. 1 draft choice (2007) was guilty of a false start on the Panthers first trip to the line of scrimmage. He followed that with a holding penalty down in the red zone to nullify what would have been a first and goal.

Making the call

Belatedly, heres the take on how Bears-Carolina Panthers will play out:

The Panthers are not good at stopping either the run or the pass. Theyre 25th in rushing yards allowed and 14th vs. the pass. Arizona and Green Bay both put points on the Carolina defense and the Bears will as well.

How they do that, however, has proved problematic. The biggest question surrounding this team coming into the 2011 season was whether or not the change in game-planning that worked so well over the last nine games of 2010 would remain the rule of the land under Mike Martz. It hasnt.

The Bears have not blocked well enough to run the ball effectively and the line hasnt given coach Mike Tice ammunition to press for more smash-mouthing as he did last year. The offense will put the ball up in the air (Martz will never stop doing that in profusion) but the coherence between passing to set up the run is simply too compelling.

This will not be easy. The Panthers have a mission statement in the form of wanting to give coach Ron Rivera a game ball as a substitute for a Bear pelt. And Carolina believes it is very, very good now that it has a quarterback instead of the mish-mash of Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore.

But the Bears have just come through the most difficult starting three games in the NFL. Being 1-2 should disabuse them of any overconfidence notion, and they are simply a better team than their guests.

And so.

Bears 24 Carolina 20

For starters

As CSNChicago noted last week, Johnny Knox has won back the starting job he had taken from him in training camp. Roy Williams opened his second straight game on the bench Sunday after catching zero of four passes last week, although two misses were completely the responsibility of quarterback Jay Cutler.

Knox led the Bears in receiving yards in 2010 but made too many route and other mistakes and was jolted early in camp with a demotion in favor of Williams, signed to a one-year contract for 1.25 million last offseason. But Knox has responded with nine catches, tied with Dane Sanzenbacher for tops among receivers (Matt Forte has 22).

And Knox is an established deep threat opposite another one in Devin Hester. Youve got guys that can take the top off your defense with Hester and Johnny Knox, said Atlanta coach Mike Smith.

Williams has had virtually no impact, down with a groin injury suffered late in the Atlanta game that had him inactive against New Orleans. He has had two costly drops and has not shown any of the expected connectivity with Cutler, not being in top condition in training camp and missing time due to the injury.

For starters II

Another shift appears to have happened on the offensive line where starting right guard Lance Louis, active last week but a DNP, was again sitting out the first snap as Chris Spencer operated at the position Louis held through all four preseason games and the Atlanta and New Orleans games.

Whether that change is permanent remains to be seen. Spencers better position is center, and Roberto Garzas spot has been right guard for most of his career. Garza settled in at center during Olin Kreutzs absence and exit, developed a rapport with Cutler and the Bears are leaving Spencer and him in place. For now.

For starters III

Veteran strong safety Chris Harris hamstring injury, which recurred this past week after one day of practice, sent the Bears to work with their fourth different starting safety tandem in four games. Brandon Meriweather moved in at free safety, a job he is expected to hold for the rest of this season and possibly beyond if the Bears can work out an extension with the two-time Pro Bowler.

Major Wright, who has had occasional fits and starts in his first year with the No. 1 defense, slid over to strong safety. How the Bears shuffle once Harris is able to play looms as a possible statement about their long-range plans for Harris, a free agent after 2011 and who has not had significant overtures yet from the Bears.

Rostering

Defensive end Corey Wootton, whose training camp was eye-opening before he needed surgery on an injured right knee, was active for the first time this season. Woottons very active style has been an anticipated enhancement for the pass rush.

To make game-day room for Wootton, rookie Mario Addison was deactivated along with defensive tackle Stephen Paea, Harris, quarterback Nathan Enderle, receiver Earl Bennett (chest), tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) and tight end Matt Spaeth (calf).

Significantly, the Panthers were forced to make starting cornerback Chris Gamble inactive with the after-effects of a concussion. Right tackle Jeff Otah, questionable with a back problem, was able to make the starting lineup.

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.

No extra ’19 draft pressure on Bears GM Ryan Pace? Don’t believe it.

No extra ’19 draft pressure on Bears GM Ryan Pace? Don’t believe it.

There is never – well, pretty much never – a time without at least some modicum of personal pressure in the NFL, whether it’s to win, develop, save money, whatever.

But some times are more pressurized than others or involve different pressures. So it is for Bears GM Ryan Pace.

Because one of the realities of sport, or lots of other endeavors for that matter, is that it is so often more difficult to stay at the top than to reach it a first time. Complacency can set in after success; opponents and other forces can chip away at what worked on the way up. Worst (or best) of all, expectations rise.

It is arguably much easier to go from three wins to six than to go from, say, 12 to 13.

When Pace was hired to replace Phil Emery, there were the obvious pressures: first-time GM, need to overhaul turn around a roster and culture, all that stuff. But expectations weren’t outlandish; short of abject collapse or some aberrant new level of dysfunction, the true expectations were not to reach the playoffs in 2015, for instance.

And every indication was that Pace was going to get a second coaching hire anyway if bridge-hire John Fox didn’t work out. Pace got an extension with the same win-loss record that got Fox fired.

The pressure then ratcheted up several notches with Pace investing the draft capital he did in Mitchell Trubisky, then hiring his own head coach in Matt Nagy. A consultant and senior management weren’t directing things in either of those cases. Those are on him.

So then Pace’s coach and quarterback went and won 12 games and were within a kicking malfunction of winning a playoff game. Accordingly, with all that, they sent the franchise into a draft (Pace’s first) without top-10 picks in early draft rounds. Pace has not gone into a draft holding fewer than two selections in the top 45 (2017).

This year, with the added expectations from a 12-4 season, Pace starts with none in the first 86.

Pace said this week that the pressure feels the same to him, and it probably does; no one puts more pressure on Pace than he does on himself.

But the expectations are there, or more accurately, the overall need is there, definitely there. After the better part of a decade without any, the Bears have some organizational momentum now and losing that invites dark thoughts.

“I feel like I feel like with fewer picks and with later picks, the onus is on us as scouts to hit on these picks, and to keep this momentum that we’ve got,” Pace said. “I feel like we have this momentum. To keep this momentum going…we need to nail this draft.”

But what if they don’t?

There are no unimportant drafts, or seasons, for that matter. But in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world that is the NFL, getting it right does matter. A lot.

The Oakland Raiders went 12-4 in 2016 largely on the fruits of GM Reggie McKenzie draftees Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack. McKenzie was Pro Football Writers of America’s NFL executive of the year and had a contract extension. (Pace received both of those in a 14-month span.)

The Raiders fell off to 6-10 in 2017, fired coach Jack Del Rio and hired Jon Gruden, who traded away Cooper and Mack, and had McKenzie fired a week after the Raiders were the first AFC team mathematically eliminated from the 2018 playoffs.

Much closer to home, the Bears went to the NFC Championship game in 2010 with a team built by then-GM Jerry Angelo. They again stood atop the NFC North at 7-3 in 2011, at which point Jay Cutler broke his thumb and the Bears lost five of their final six.
Angelo was fired two days after the final ’11 game – a win at Minnesota, the last one of those before finishing 2018 with a victory up there.

Emery was fired after three seasons of decline from 10 to 8 to 5 wins from 2012-14.

Pace is in less than zero danger. Indeed, if the Fox hiring process vs. that of Nagy’s taught Bears management anything, it would start with the presumption that, left to his own devices, Pace is better at picking head coaches than a lot of other people around Halas Hall.

And the fact that 10 of the 12 Bears Pro Bowl’ers or alternates were Pace draft picks or trade/free agent acquisitions suggests that he has improved exponentially from first-draft selections of Kevin White and Hroniss Grasu.

Now all he has to do is do it again. And then again. And then….

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A Bears-centric draft guide to every running back in this year's NFL Draft

A Bears-centric draft guide to every running back in this year's NFL Draft

No position carries more interest and importance than running back as the Bears head into the 2019 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday in Nashville but won’t get underway at Halas Hall until Friday. While general manager Ryan Pace said the Bears don’t need to draft a running back, given all the scouting the Bears have done on players at that position, it feels like a foregone conclusion that they will take one sometime before the end of Saturday. 

So with all the focus on this one position, NBC Sports Chicago compiled the big boards of eight major draft gurus/websites to put a wisdom-of-the-crowd spin on a running back ranking system. Sources used for these rankings: Josh Norris’ top 200, Pro Football Focus’ top 250, Dane Brugler’s top 100, Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50, Gil Brandt’s top 150 and Danny Kelly’s top 100, as well as complete big boards by ESPN and CBS. 

The results divide this class of running backs into a number of tiers based on where the Bears pick, which right now is Nos. 87, 126, 162, 222 and 238. Here’s what we came up with:

Tier 1: No chance

Member: Josh Jacobs, Alabama

Average rank: 28.1
Highest: 8 (Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com)
Lowest: 60 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 0

Every one of these eight rankings had Jacobs as its highest-rated running back. There’s a chance the Oakland Raiders use the 24th pick — which the Bears sent to them in the Khalil Mack trade — on Jacobs Thursday night. 

Tier 2: Dream scenarios with No. 87

Members: David Montgomery, Iowa State; Miles Sanders, Penn State

Montgomery average rank: 59.5
Highest: 43 (Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com)
Lowest: 79 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 0

 

Sanders average rank: 64.0
Highest: 45 (Gil Brandt, NFL.com)
Lowest: 86 (CBS)
Not ranked: 0

The dream scenario for the Bears would be having one of these guys be available when they go on the clock with the 87th pick Friday night. These two guys are comfortably the second- and third-best running backs in this year’s class when compiling all these rankings, and there’s a good chance a few teams ahead of the Bears will want a running back before that 87th selection. 

Tier 3: Realistic at No. 87

Members: Damien Harris, Alabama; Darrell Henderson, Memphis; Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic

Harris average rank: 86.0
Highest: 55 (Dane Brugler, The Athletic)
Lowest: 135 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

Henderson average rank: 87.0
Highest: 69 (Danny Kelly, The Ringer)
Lowest: 119 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

 

Singletary average rank: 91.7
Highest: 55 (Josh Norris, Rotoworld)
Lowest: 139 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

 

We start to see some variance with these three running backs. Norris has Singletary (55) and Henderson (74) ranked ahead of Sanders (75), with Harris (103) lagging behind; Brandt has Harris (88) and Henderson (95) in his top 100, with Singletary (112) out of it. 

As with anyone in the draft, it only takes one team to like you, and while it’d be a shock if any of these three players jumped Jacobs, one could be drafted ahead of Montgomery or Sanders on Friday night (there’s been some buzz about Henderson climbing up draft boards lately, for what it’s worth). Still, if the Bears are targeting a running back with their third-round pick, some or all of these guys could very well be in Pace’s cloud. 

Tier 4: Options at No. 126 or No. 162

Members: Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M; Justice Hill, Oklahoma State; Bryce Love, Stanford; Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma; Tony Pollard, Memphis; Elijah Holyfield, Georgia; Dexter Williams, Notre Dame; Karan Higdon, Michigan; Ryquell Armstead, Temple; Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska

T. Williams average rank: 110.5
Highest: 76 (ESPN)
Lowest: 238 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 3 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

 

Hill average rank: 120.0
Highest: 72 (ESPN)
Lowest: 190 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 2 (Jeremiah, Kelly)

Love average rank: 120.4
Highest: 113 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 140 (CBS)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Anderson average rank: 125.3
Highest: 112 (CBS)
Lowest: 138 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Holyfield average rank: 130.7
Highest: 99 (CBS)
Lowest: 157 (Norris)
Not ranked: 5 (Pro Football Focus, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Pollard average rank: 140.3
Highest: 132 (Brandt)
Lowest: 244 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 4 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

D. Williams average rank: 148.0
Highest: 116 (Brandt)
Lowest: 177 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 4 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

Higdon average rank: 160.3
Highest: 149 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 182 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Armstead average rank: 166.5
Highest: 147 (Brandt)
Lowest: 181 (CBS)
Not ranked: 3 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

 

Ozigbo average rank: 169.5
Highest: 73 (Norris)
Lowest: 305 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Now we’re really all over the board, which is how a glance at eight NFL draft boards would look like. Some may not include Ozigbo — who wasn’t invited to the Combine — while another team could have a third-round grade on him. Trayveon Williams could be a third-rounder on one team’s board and a seventh-rounder on another’s. With all these guys, it depends on how they’d fit what Pace and Matt Nagy believe would fit the Bears best. 

A few quick thought here: Love seems unlikely given his medical re-check revealed some lingering concerns about his surgically-repaired knee. The previously-injured running back the Bears would seem more likely to take out of this group would be Anderson. 

Tier 5: Seventh-round fliers

Members: Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky; Mike Weber, Ohio State; Miles Gaskin, Washington; Jalin Moore, Appalachian State; Jordan Scarlett, Florida; Travis Homer, Miami (Fla.); Alexander Mattison, Boise State; James Williams, Washington State; Darwin Thompson, Utah State; Alex Barnes, Kansas State

Snell Jr. average rank: 164.0
Highest: 116 (CBS)
Lowest: 212 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 6 (Norris, Pro Football Focus, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Weber average rank: 185.0
Highest: 139 (CBS)
Lowest: 219 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Gaskin average rank: 198.3
Highest: 147 (CBS)
Lowest: 243 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Moore average rank: 200
Highest: 191 (ESPN)
Lowest: 209 (CBS)
Not ranked: 6 (Norris, Pro Football Focus) Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Scarlett average rank: 204.0
Highest: 148 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 266 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Homer average rank: 208.8
Highest: 185 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 240 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Mattison average rank: 209.6
Highest: 150 (Norris)
Lowest: 295 (CBS)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Williams average rank: 222.8
Highest: 127 (Norris)
Lowest: 281 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Thompson average rank: 247.0
Highest: 170 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 294 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Barnes average rank: 264.3
Highest: 191 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 327 (CBS)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

It’s hardly unprecedented for a running back drafted in the sixth or seventh round to make an impact — Chris Carson did for the Seattle Seahawks last year, for instance — but if the Bears draft one of these guys, expectations should be set accordingly. As in: It’d be a sign the Bears believe Mike Davis can take on a larger load, and that this player they drafted can fill a smaller role than, say, a running back drafted in the third round. 

Of note here: There rest of the players listed in Tier 6 are all ranked by only two services (ESPN and CBS). Exceptions were made here for Moore and Snell given their high rankings, and that Brugler has a fourth-round grade on Moore and a fifth/sixth-round grade on Snell, though neither were in his top 100. 

Tier 6: Priority free agents

Members: Qadree Ollison, Pittsburgh; LJ Scott, Michigan State; Kerrith Whyte Jr., Florida Atlantic; Ty Johnson, Maryland; Wes Hills, Slippery Rock; Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State; Darrin Hall, Pittsburgh; Matt Colburn II, Wake Forest; Taiwan Deal, Wisconsin; Marquis Young, Massachusetts; Jaques Patrick, Florida State; Nick Brossette, LSU; Damarea Crockett, Missouri; Xavier Turner, Tarleton State; Joe Connor, Concordia (Mich.); Aeris Williams, Mississippi State; Khari Blasingame, Vanderbilt; Lexington Thomas, UNLV; Alec Ingold, Wisconsin; Craig Reynolds, Kutztown; Dominick Bragalone, Lehigh; A.J. Oullette, Ohio; Cullen Gillaspia, Texas A&M; Jordan Ellis, Virginia

 

That’s a lot of names! Perhaps the Bears could unearth a Phillip Lindsay-level undrafted free agent out of this group (want a name? Bruce Anderson). More likely, they won’t. But expect the Bears to sign at least one of the names from this group, or if someone from Tier 5 isn’t drafted (which is likely), as a free agent in the feeding frenzy that happens after Mr. Irrelevant is selected on Saturday.