Rodriguez = Hernandez? He thinks so, Bears hope so


Rodriguez = Hernandez? He thinks so, Bears hope so

The runner-up in the 2011 Super Bowl got there in part because of tight-end play. The New England Patriots, who already had 6-foot-6 Rob Gronkowski, used a fourth-round draft choice on a tight end -- Aaron Hernandez -- who provided 79 receptions and seven touchdowns last regular season and 19 more catches with a pair of scores in the postseason from a tight end measuring 6-foot-1 and 244 pounds.So the Bears went out and got themselves one of those. Just ask him.Evan Rodriguez, just short of 6-foot-2 and 244 pounds, was picked by the Bears on Saturday in the fourth round of this draft. The comparisons to Hernandez were being made even before the Bears made the pick and Rodriguez seconded that impression when he was brought to Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit.Evan thinks he is, saidgeneral managerPhil Emery, laughing. Ill tell you that up front. I asked him.When we brought him into the building I met with him and asked him, Who do you compare yourself with? He said, Hernandez." Emery said "OK, lets look it up." The Bears did, and determined that Rodriguez is a fraction of an inch shorter, right at the same speed (4.55 sec. for the 40), the same weight andboth from the East Coast.So there are some comparisons, Emery said, then cautioned. Well let him play first before we say hes as good as a pro.Rodriguez is OK with that caveat. After all, Hernandez caught more NFL passes last season (79) than Rodriguez did (69) for his entire college career.Aaron has worked really hard to get where he has been, Rodriguez said. Im not there, Im not there yet but I do idolize my style as similar to Aarons.Both played three college seasons, Rodriguez at Temple, Hernandez at Florida. Rodriguez was the 111th pick overall, Hernandez the 113th.

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.

    In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that went for 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

    Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.

    Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.