Bears

A safety at No. 3? Historically it's a reach, but maybe not for Bears in 2017

A safety at No. 3? Historically it's a reach, but maybe not for Bears in 2017

Since 1991, only eight safeties have been among the first 10 players selected in the NFL Draft. Of those, only three have been top five picks.

With the Bears having across-the-board needs, grabbing a safety with the No. 3 pick in three months may seem like a stretch. But ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the Jacksonville Jaguars nabbing LSU safety Jamal Adams with the fourth overall pick, and mentioned on Thursday that the Bears could be in the mix for him as well. If Ryan Pace & Co. are looking for the best available player, Adams could wind up being that guy. 

Adams' versatility, notably, would answer a question Pace will have to pose when looking at a safety: Would he prefer a safety who can be a rangy cover guy, or does he want a physical, downhill player who can line up closer to the box? 

"He can do anything you want," Kiper said. "He can cover on the back end as a center fielder, he can come up in the box, he tackles well, he works hard. He's going to be a premier player."

The 6-foot-1, 213 pound Adams totaled 76 tackles his junior year at LSU, with 7 1/2 tackles for a loss, one interception, one sack, one forced fumble and four pass break-ups. Kiper has him ranked sixth on his big board, though with the same grade as the third-best player on it. Scouts Inc rates Adams as the fourth-best player in the 2017 draft class. 

As things stand in January, Kiper has the Bears selecting Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen at No. 3. A defensive lineman would be a far more conventional pick at No. 3, where a franchise-altering talent can be plucked (the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers took defensive end Joey Bosa there in 2016). 

[MORE: A list of players drafted by those who coached them in the Senior Bowl]

The last safety taken in the top five was Eric Berry, who the Kansas City Chiefs took fifth overall in 2010. Since 1991, only one safety has gone higher than that — Eric Turner, who was the No. 2 pick in the 1991 draft by the Cleveland Browns. The success rate of top 10 safeties in the last 25 years is high, too. 

Turner led the NFL in interceptions with nine in 1994 and made two Pro Bowls, though his career was tragically cut short when he died of stomach cancer in 2000. Berry is widely regarded as one of the best safeties in the NFL and is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All Pro. 

Roy Williams (2002 No. 8, Dallas) was a five-time Pro Bowler for the Cowboys; Sean Taylor (2004 No. 5, Washington) was a two-time Pro Bowler who died far too young at the age of 24 in 2007; Donte Whitner (2006 No. 8, Buffalo) made three Pro Bowls, though none with the Bills; and LaRon Landry (2007 No. 6, Washington) reached the 2012 Pro Bowl but was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in 2015 for a third violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug testing. 

Stanley Richard (1991 No. 9, San Diego) and Michael Huff (2006 No. 7, Oakland) are the only players among those eight top-10 safeties who didn't go on to reach a Pro Bowl.

Those eight players, though, only represent 3 percent of top 10 picks since 1991. Conversely, 20 percent of the top 10 picks in the last 25 years have been defensive linemen. 

Or, to put it another way, only 2 percent of top five picks since 1991 have been safeties. That would signal that, most years, taking a safety at a pick as high as the Bears have is a reach. 

Still, Kiper doesn't necessarily see Adams like that at No. 3. But given the recent history of success with highly-picked safeties, perhaps the Bears will wind up considering him with such an critical selection. 

"Chicago certainly could use a player with his capabilities," Kiper said. "He's going to go very high. … Anywhere in the top five, he could go."

Khalil Mack didn't rank as high as you might think on PFF's top 50 players

Khalil Mack didn't rank as high as you might think on PFF's top 50 players

Chicago Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack didn't have the kind of season fans were expecting in 2019, but to be fair, Chicago's entire defense went through a bit of regression last year. Mack ended 2019 with just 8.5 sacks. It was the first season that he failed to crack double-digit sacks since his rookie year (2014).

Still, there's no denying Mack's place among the NFL's elite players, regardless of position. Barring injury, he's a surefire Hall-of-Famer and certainly one of the 10-best players in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, that may not be the case.

In PFF's ranking of the NFL's top 50 players, Mack ranks 18th.

Pro Football Focus is counting down their top 50 on Twitter, and so far the following players have been ranked higher than Mack:

17: Bobby Wagner
16: Chris Jones
15: Fletcher Cox
14: Richard Sherman
13: J.J. Watt
12: Stephon Gilmore
11: Drew Brees

All of those names are worthy of being ranked in this range, especially following a 2019 campaign that brought Mack back to the pack. 

2020 should produce different results for Mack and the Bears after adding Robert Quinn in free agency. The healthy return of Akiem Hicks will be a huge plus, too, giving Mack some much-needed help along the Bears' front-seven.

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Peyton Manning reveals what he told Trubisky and Foles about 2020 offseason

Peyton Manning reveals what he told Trubisky and Foles about 2020 offseason

When Matt Nagy originally told reporters that he was having a handful of famous people speak to the Bears this offseason, he purposefully chose to keep the specifics vague. He refused to name names, insisting that it was in the best interest of everyone involved to keep everything anonymous. 

Then, like a week later, it was reported that Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was one of those speakers. And now, on Monday morning, NFL insider Peter King let another name slip: Peyton Manning. 

In his Football Morning In America column, King revealed that Manning's spoken with several NFL teams about the 2020 offseason – with the Bears' QB room being one of them:

So I’ve done a few Zoom calls. I did the Buffalo Bills quarterback room meeting. Did the Los Angeles Rams full team meeting. Did the Bears quarterbacks. That was kinda my message, sort of, you know, follow Eli’s lead. Quarterbacks, take ownership. All these Zoom meetings, right now, the coaches are leading them. My message was to the quarterbacks. ‘Hey, organize your own Zoom meetings without the coaches, just get you and the tight ends, you and the receivers.’ It’s actually an opportunity to even have better communication. Because there’s nothing else to do, right? Hey, every Tuesday, 9 a.m., quarterbacks and the offensive line, Zoom, watching film. Instead of complaining about it, see it as an opportunity to really improve. There’s no reason you shouldn’t have every play from last year studied down to the T.

I shared how I broke down film from the previous season. I always watched the interception tape first. Then the sack tape. All the bad things. You figure out why you’re throwing these interceptions. What drill do I need to incorporate into the offseason to fix that? Sean McVay said after I talked, he got a text from Jared Goff and from Jalen Ramsey. He said they’re going to organize their own meetings and workouts. To me, that’s what you have to do. The coaches shouldn’t lead everything. Josh Allen seemed real excited about that.

So there you have it. Doc Rivers and Peyton Manning are just two of the motivational speakers that have worked with the Bears this offseason. Why the team felt the need to treat it with such a sense of faux-secrecy may be more of a mystery than the speakers themselves at this point.