Bears

NFL Draft Profile: Louisville WR DeVante Parker

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NFL Draft Profile: Louisville WR DeVante Parker

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of 200 prospects, including what the scouts around the league are saying and video interviews with each player.

DeVante Parker (WR), Louisville

6’3” | 209 lbs.

2014 stats:

43 REC, 855 YDS, 5 TD

Selection:

1st round, No. 14 overall (Miami Dolphins)

What scouts are saying:

"Parker does his best work when the ball is in the air. He uses his height and wingspan to consistently snatch anything that comes his way. Parker isn't going to overpower cornerbacks and he will have more contested catches than most explosive wideouts. He has consistently posted eye-popping yards-per-catch numbers during his time at Louisville and showed of solid athleticism at the combine. Parker has the potential to be a legitimate lead receiver for a West Coast offense." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

"Excellent height/length body type with the frame to get stronger. Long-striding speed with natural lower body explosion to get vertical in a hurry. Shows multiple gears in his routes to set up defenders. Quick-starter with the initial movements off the line of scrimmage to gain free release and stack corners, using field leverage to give him room to work down the sideline. Disguises routes well with a strong plant foot, selling his patterns with crisp footwork. Shows some shake in the open field with quick cuts to deceive after the catch and the vision to collect YAC." — Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com

"Consistently plays with outstanding body control. Soft hands and elite concentration are his calling cards. Credited with just three drops since 2012. Comfortable with a man on his hip. Maintains focus on downfield throws despite hand fighting and bumps. Daunting catch radius. Produces explosive plays without top-end speed. Works his way back to the ball and gets open during scrambles. Consistently high-points his catches and is a snatch-and-secure receiver." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by NBC Sports and Rotoworld NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

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James Daniels dubbed Bears' 2020 breakout candidate

James Daniels dubbed Bears' 2020 breakout candidate

The Chicago Bears offensive line wasn't good in 2019. It was downright brutal at times. And it's because of the unit's sub-par play that both guard and tackle have been mentioned among the top offseason needs heading into free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft.

But it wasn't long ago that James Daniels was a highly decorated second-round pick out of Iowa. In fact, it was just two years ago. The second-year starter had his ups and downs in 2019, but he may have the most upside of any of the starting offensive linemen slated to return next fall.

RELATED: Chicago Bears 7-round Mock Draft

Daniels posted the Bears' third-highest season grade on offense from Pro Football Focus (70.3) and was the team's highest-graded starting offensive lineman. At just 22 years old, the arrow is pointing up for him.

In fact, he was dubbed the league's breakout candidate at guard in 2020:

The Bears moved Daniels to center to start 2019, switching his spot on the line with Cody Whitehair, after he had played left guard the entirety of his first season. Daniels earned a 63.2 overall grade at center, which would have been good for 22nd out of 37 qualifiers at the position. Meanwhile, his 73.9 grade at left guard would have ranked fifth among 39 qualifiers. It remains to be seen how the Bears use Daniels in 2020, but it’s clear that he performed better at guard. As talented as he is at just 22 years old, another season with position continuity could have Daniels poised to break out.

It's often difficult to recognize one offensive lineman's positive play when the group, as a whole, struggles. But Daniels was a bright spot in an otherwise dark year for the Bears' big uglies, and he remains a key cog in an offense looking to take massive strides in 2020.

Bears Season in Review: Roquan Smith

Bears Season in Review: Roquan Smith

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith was supposed to ascend into superstar status in 2019, and while he certainly had some flashes of elite play, his year will best be remembered for a strange deactivation in Week 4 and a torn pec muscle that ended his season in Week 14.

We still don't know the exact reason why Smith didn't play against the Vikings. The team called it a personal issue and refused to expand on why one of their most important defensive pieces didn't suit up. We've been left to speculate, which is never a good thing. We may never know what exactly went wrong that week, which naturally creates worry and concern about how much the team can actually rely on Smith on a week-to-week basis. 

Smith's season ended after 12 starts, 100 tackles, two starts, and one interception. He was inconsistent on the field; when he played well, he was lights out. But he had more than his fair share of missed tackles and head-scratching moments that looked nothing like the player the Bears drafted eighth overall in 2018.

Smith ended the year as one of the lowest-graded Bears on defense (24th). His 52.4 ranked 124th among qualifying linebackers on Pro Football Focus. Not good.

But analytics don't always tell the full story. Smith's sideline-to-sideline speed and missile-like penetrating skill set is and will remain an asset for the Bears defense. On pure talent alone, Smith has few peers in the NFL. He just needs to become a more consistent football player, both on and off the field.

We'll chalk up 2019 as an odd blip on Smith's career trajectory. Assuming he makes a full offseason recovery from is pec injury, he'll begin 2020 as one of the cornerstone pieces of a defense that remains one of the NFL's best.