Bears

NFL Draft: NFC North grades

NFL Draft: NFC North grades

Rotoworld's Evan Silva graded every NFL team's 2016 draft. Here are his grades for the Bears and their NFC North rivals.

Chicago Bears

1 (9). Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd
2 (56). Kansas State G/C Cody Whitehair
3 (72). Florida DE Jonathan Bullard
4 (113). West Virginia ILB Nick Kwiatkoski
4 (124). Miami (FL) S Deon Bush
4 (127). Northern Iowa CB Deiondre' Hall
5 (150). Indiana RB Jordan Howard
6 (185). William & Mary S DeAndre Houston-Carson
7 (230). Western Michigan WR Daniel Braverman

Overview: Bears GM Ryan Pace wanted Floyd badly, sending a fourth-round pick (106) to Tampa Bay to climb just two slots and steal Floyd ahead of the Giants. Pace stayed active on day two, trading down and securing Buffalo's fourth-round pick in 2017. In addition to reeling off consistent value picks, Pace attacked needy areas on his roster and stockpiled quality football players who were productive in college. What Floyd lacks in floor he makes up for in ceiling as a long-armed, versatile edge player with the most explosive get-off in the draft. Whitehair needs to get stronger, but he profiles as a starting guard in a year or two. Bullard was one of the top value picks in the draft and legitimately could start as a rookie. A downhill bruiser at 6-foot, 230, it wouldn't shock me if Howard emerged as the Bears' lead ball carrier at some point this year. In Kwiatkoski, Hall, and Houston-Carson, Chicago added year-one special teams contributors with a chance to become more down the line. After having only six picks in his first draft, I think sophomore GM Pace hit a homerun here. It should also be noted that the 2016 Bears should finally get a fully-healthy Kevin White.

Grade: A-

Detroit Lions

1 (16). Ohio State OT Taylor Decker
2 (46). Alabama DT A'Shawn Robinson
3 (95). Michigan C Graham Glasgow
4 (111). Southern Utah SS Miles Killebrew
5 (151). Washington State OG Joe Dahl
5 (169). Georgia Southern LB Antwione Williams
6 (191). Michigan QB Jake Rudock
6 (202). Penn State DL Anthony Zettel
6 (210). Baylor LS Jimmy Landes
7 (236). Washington RB Dwayne Washington

Overview: This haul also includes second-year DT Gabe Wright, whom ex-GM Martin Mayhew selected in the 2015 fourth round in exchange for parting with Detroit's 2016 third-round pick. (Wright was a bit player as a rookie.) New GM Bob Quinn knocked out a big need with his first-ever pick, bookending Riley Reiff with 2015's Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Albeit short on pass-rush skills, Robinson gives Detroit an immediate contributor in DC Teryl Austin's defensive line rotation. Glasgow will push ineffective C Travis Swanson to start, while Killebrew is a sneaky bet to earn early-career snaps across from FS Glover Quin. Dahl adds interior depth with OGs Laken Tomlinson and Larry Warford coming off disappointing 2015s. I wasn't a fan of Quinn's final five picks, none of whom profiled as impact NFL players in college. The Lions came out of this draft still weak at cornerback and defensive end, and with unsolved questions at wide receiver, center, strong-side linebacker, and safety.

Grade: B-

Green Bay Packers

1 (27). UCLA DT Kenny Clark
2 (48). Indiana OT Jason Spriggs
3 (88). Utah State OLB Kyler Fackrell
4 (131). Nebraska ILB Blake Martinez
4 (137). Northwestern DE Dean Lowry
5 (163). California WR Trevor Davis
6 (200). Stanford OT Kyle Murphy

Overview: A high-energy nose tackle with a wrestling background, Clark addressed a pressing need following NT B.J. Raji's retirement. Packers GM Ted Thompson coveted Spriggs, sending Indianapolis fourth- (125) and seventh-round picks (248) in exchange for a nine-slot climb in round two, where LT David Bakhtiari's new backup was selected. Fackrell should replace Mike Neal as Green Bay's swiss-army-knife linebacker. Despite it continuing to be Green Bay's biggest need, Thompson has refused to draft an inside linebacker before the fourth round in back-to-back offseasons. With the exception of Clark, this draft was all about depth and supplementing the back end of Thompson's roster, particularly in the trenches. I would have liked the class better had Thompson emerged with a legitimate starter at inside linebacker, which could have ensured Clay Matthews will move back onto the edge.

Grade: B-

Minnesota Vikings

1 (23). Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell
2 (54). Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander
4 (121). Western Michigan T/G Willie Beavers
5 (160). Missouri ILB Kentrell Brothers
6 (180). Germany WR Moritz Boehringer
6 (188). Texas-San Antonio TE David Morgan
6 (227). Vanderbilt DE Stephen Weatherly
7 (244). Clemson S Jayron Kearse

Overview: On top of the above eight players, GM Rick Spielman acquired Miami's 2017 third- and fourth-round picks by trading out of his third-round slot (86). Spielman checked off a huge need with the Treadwell pick, giving Teddy Bridgewater a big-bodied, playmaking possession target to fill the Z role opposite X receiver Stefon Diggs. Although cornerback wasn't necessarily a Vikings need entering the draft, Alexander was a terrific late second-round value and could become Minnesota's slot corner in the next calendar year. The Brothers pick stands out as solid on day three, but Beavers and (especially) Boehringer are developmental players. Morgan was a productive FCS tight end, but ran a 5.02 forty before the draft. Kearse's name is much bigger than his game, frequently shying away from contact. I did like Spielman's flyer on toolsy pass rusher Weatherly late in round six. The Vikings' grade gets a bump after Spielman swindled the Dolphins out of two quality picks next year.

Grade: B

For the rest of the NFC grades, go here. To check out the grades for the AFC, click here.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

Mark Carman, Scott Merkin and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester looks to get back on track against the Pirates? Should he still be the Cubs Game 1 starter in the playoffs?  Len Kasper joins Kap to discuss.

 

How much will Mitch Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game? And will Carlos Rodon end up being the White Sox’ best starter?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

How aggressive will the Bears' offense be? 'That's our attitude'

How aggressive will the Bears' offense be? 'That's our attitude'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Matt Nagy provided a defining quote for his offense when a reporter observed that Mitch Trubisky was continuing to take shots downfield instead of checking down during practice. 

“That's never going to stop,” Nagy said. “Not in this offense.”

For a team that had neither the personnel nor scheme to be successful on offense over the last few years, that one quote felt like a breath of fresh air. Not in this offense would the Bears be conservative, plodding and predictable. What’s never going to stop is the aggressive mentality Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich have worked to instill in this group during the installation phase of preseason practices. 

“That’s our attitude every time we come out on the field, is to be aggressive, to go full speed and it’s to execute all our assignments,” wide receiver Anthony Miller said. 

Just because Trubisky has frequently hucked the ball downfield over the last few weeks of practice doesn’t mean this offense will go from one of the worst to one of the best in the NFL. There’s plenty of work still to be done, a large chunk of which falls on the shoulders of Trubisky. The coaching staff will begin paring things down next week, when a dress rehearsal of gameplanning begins leading up to Aug. 25’s meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs. 

But while that week of gameplanning surely will lend itself to less reflexive aggression, that overall approach isn’t going away. Not when the Bears are confident in Trubisky and the multitude of weapons surrounding their franchise quarterback. In a more narrow scope, Nagy said Trubisky's arrow is pointing up after back-to-back days of quality practice against the Broncos here in Colorado. 

"It wasn't one good day, one bad day. It was two good days," Nagy said. "That's what his expectations are. That's what he knows that we want. He's done that and we're not gonna stop him." 

For some perspective, last year Trubisky only attempted 30 passes of 20 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Trubisky’s attempted passes traveled 0-10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage; drilling down further, 21 percent of his attempts were 0-10 yards and over the middle, representing most frequent “zone” to which he threw the football. Not all of those were check-downs, of course, but plenty of them were. Only nine percent of Trubisky’s throws traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. 

This was, of course, partly a personnel issue — Josh Bellamy was the most-targeted receiver on deep balls (eight), while guys like Dontrelle Inman (six), Kendall Wright (four), Deonte Thompson (three), Markus Wheaton (three) and Tre McBride (three) weren’t reliable downfield targets, either. But then again, Tarik Cohen was only targeted twice on deep balls — the first one, Cohen had a step on an Atlanta Falcons linebacker, but Mike Glennon’s pass was slightly under thrown an broken up in the end zone; the other was a 70-yard completion from Trubisky against the Carolina Panthers. 

The point being: Not only did the Bears lack the personnel to create mismatches and be aggressive, but the conservative nature of the offense meant there wasn’t much opportunity within it to do so, either. 

The Bears can be aggressive now in part because of the nature of the offense, and in part too because of the personnel they now have. If an opposing team wants to double anyone — Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Cohen, etc. — that’ll open up a mismatch somewhere else on the field, which lends itself to aggressiveness. 

“The biggest thing I’ve learned about this offense (is), just, there’s a lot of answers,” Trubisky said. “We’re not always going to have the perfect play call for the perfect coverage or whatever. But there’s always somewhere to go with the ball, pass to run, run to pass, there’s a lot of kills, options — there’s a lot of things we can do.”

Said Burton, who’s put together a strong preseason to date: “That’s why (Ryan) Pace and Nagy brought all those guys here, to win the one-on-one matchups. I know we’re all looking forward to those whenever it’s our time, we gotta take advantage of it.” 

Exactly how aggressive the Bears’ offense will be will become apparent in the next week and a half. While the Bears will still hold some things back against Kansas City to keep them off tape, the overall tenor of the offense will be more readily apparent on Aug. 25 than in the team’s other preseason contests. 

And if all goes according to plan, not only will this offense be aggressive — it’ll be aesthetically pleasing to everyone watching, too. 

“We’re going to keep taking shots,” Trubisky said. “We’re going to keep being aggressive because it opens up everything else when you can hit those shots. The key is just to be consistent with them, hit them and then it really stretches the field and opens up the run game and opens up the intermediate throws as well. So we’re going to continue to be aggressive, which I love.”