Bears

What will Bears, NFC North rivals look to do in NFL Draft?

What will Bears, NFC North rivals look to do in NFL Draft?

Rotoworld's Evan Silva went team by team to preview the upcoming NFL Draft. Check out what Silva had to say about the Bears and the rest of the NFC North.

Bears (nine draft picks)

Round 1, 11
Round 2, 41
Round 3, 72
Round 4, 106
Round 4, 127
Round 5, 150
Round 6, 185
Round 6, 206
Round 7, 230

Overview: Bears second-year GM Ryan Pace had only six picks in his first draft, with just three selections in the top 105. Pace has nine picks this year, five in the first four rounds and six inside the top 150. Chicago added both of its sixth-rounders in 2015 trades "costing" the Bears LB Jon Bostic (Patriots) and DE Jared Allen (Panthers), before sending one to New England with Martellus Bennett for pick No. 127. At No. 11, the Bears are a wild card as one of the NFL's neediest teams, positioned to stay true to their board and draft best player available. They could look at Notre Dame LT Ronnie Stanley, Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott, Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves, Clemson DE Shaq Lawson, or Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd.

Detroit Lions (10 picks)

Round 1, 16
Round 2, 46
Round 3, 95
Round 4, 111
Round 5, 151
Round 5, 169
Round 6, 191
Round 6, 202
Round 6, 210
Round 7, 236

Overview: Detroit's third-round pick is compensatory (Ndamukong Suh); fired GM Martin Mayhew traded what turned out to be the No. 77 selection in exchange for using a 2015 fourth-round pick on DT Gabe Wright. (Wright played 130 snaps as a rookie.) Still, new GM Bob Quinn has flexibility with six picks in the first five rounds. Detroit's most-glaring needs are offensive tackle, center, secondary, and defensive end. They've been linked to Michigan State OT Jack Conklin, Ohio State OT Taylor Decker, and Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins. Notre Dame LT Ronnie Stanley would seemingly be a no-brainer if he lasted until the Lions' first-round pick. Alabama C Ryan Kelly could be a darkhorse at No. 16 overall.

Green Bay Packers (nine picks)

Round 1, 27
Round 2, 57
Round 3, 88
Round 4, 125
Round 4, 131
Round 4, 137
Round 5, 163
Round 6, 200
Round 7, 248

Overview: The Packers' draft is intact, with two additional fourth-round picks awarded as compensation for CBs Tramon Williams (Browns) and Davon House (Jaguars). Next offseason, GM Ted Thompson should gain 2017 compensatory picks for losing CB Casey Hayward (Chargers) and QB Scott Tolzien (Colts). As has annually become the case, Green Bay needs help at inside linebacker and more defensive line talent. Thompson will have four shots at upgrading DC Dom Capers' front-seven personnel in the top-125 picks.

Minnesota Vikings (eight picks)

Round 1, 23
Round 2, 54
Round 3, 86
Round 4, 121
Round 5, 160
Round 6, 180
Round 7, 240
Round 7, 244

Overview: After missing on Cordarrelle Patterson in the 2013 first round and Mike Wallace in last year's trade with the Dolphins, GM Rick Spielman's biggest 2016 draft priority should be emerging with a legitimate RAC threat to bookend Stefon Diggs. The Vikings also have needs at safety and arguably offensive tackle and weak-side linebacker.

Check out Silva's complete team-by-team draft preview right here.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Should Roquan Smith make his debut against the Broncos?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Should Roquan Smith make his debut against the Broncos?

Seth Gruen, Chris Emma and Matt Zahn join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester pitches like Jon Lester again and the offense does just enough to win in Pittsburgh. Jim Deshaies joins the guys to talk about the Cubs.

 

Should Roquan Smith make his preseason debut in Denver? Plus the Ohio State controversy takes a salacious turn. Will Urban Meyer keep his job when the investigation wraps up Sunday?

 

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

Five things to watch for the Bears in Saturday's preseason meeting with the Broncos

Five things to watch for the Bears in Saturday's preseason meeting with the Broncos

DENVER — Expect the Bears’ starters to play deeper into the first half on Saturday in Denver than they did last week in Cincinnati, but their time on the field will still be relatively brief. The real dress rehearsal for the Bears will be next weekend, when they gameplan for and host the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 25. 

But Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium still represents sort of a checkpoint in the buildup to Sept. 9’s season-opening tilt with the Green Bay Packers. It’ll be the last game of the installation phase of the offseason, with coaches turning their focus to gameplanning for the Chiefs next week and then the Packers afterwards. 

There’s still plenty to be learned on Saturday, though. A few things to watch:

1. Will the first-team offense actually produce?

Mitch Trubisky this week bristled at the notion preseason games didn’t matter — “They don’t matter?” he said. “Then why do you guys talk about them so much?” — which fits with the attitude of a guy who was fairly frustrated with his and his teammates’ performance against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Trubisky wasn’t happy with offense’s sloppy and ineffective play during the two drives he quarterbacked, and wasn’t willing to write it off as “just” a preseason game. 

“No matter what it is, if it’s on the practice field, if I’m in the backyard by myself, if it’s a preseason game, we’re trying to get better and we’re trying to move the football,” Trubisky said. “That’s what great players do. That’s what great teams do. We’re trying to get some momentum and everybody do our job and execute the offense.”

Still, because the Bears aren’t doing much in the way of gameplanning for the Broncos, any production or lack thereof won’t tell us much about the direction in which this offense is headed. More important will be how successful this group is next week against the Chiefs. 

But Trubisky’s competitiveness means he’s not going to let a poor performance slide, even if it’s only for a few series in a game that doesn’t count. He and the Bears hope that translates into some first downs and points on Saturday. 

2. Some notable debuts

Helping Trubisky’s cause will be the 2018 preseason debuts of running back Jordan Howard and wide receiver Allen Robinson, as well as running back Tarik Cohen — who only played one snap against Cincinnati — perhaps being used more. 

The Bears’ offense will not be at full strength, with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (foot) and tight end Dion Sims (concussion) still out. But for Trubisky, it’ll be a good opportunity for him to see how all the work he and Robinson put in to develop a chemistry in the last few weeks translates to the field.

“We continue to create that chemistry in practice and my job is just to get the ball to the playmakers,” Trubisky said. “The more playmakers we have on the field, just continue to get them the ball and let them do what they do and we just need to roll as an offense, be on the same page, everyone continue to do their job, lock in and go out there and have fun an execute. It’ll be nice to see those guys with the ball in their hands this weekend.”

3. What about Roquan?

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith in full uniform going through pregame warmups, but it would qualify as a minor surprise if he actually played on Saturday. 

The benefit to Smith playing would be working to accelerate his development with an eye on Week 1, even if it’s only for a few snaps. But does the risk of him getting injured outweigh whatever benefit playing him would provide?

It’s a question the Bears surely are debating. But coaches and trainers made sure to not push Smith too hard in this week’s joint practices against the Broncos, and it would be risky to put him in Saturday but tell him to not play at full speed. 

It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Smith to play on Saturday, but more likely would be No. 58 making his preseason debut against the Chiefs with another week of practice under his belt. 

4. Snap decisions

James Daniels felt like he was a little sloppy last week against the Bengals, specifically with his hand placement but more broadly because the intensity of things was increased. 

“I think that’s when my technique gets sloppy is when you’re out there and playing against somebody else, you’re really playing,” Daniels said. 

This week’s joint practices, then, were beneficial for Daniels to focus on keeping his technique sound in a more intense setting. And he had the opportunity to do that all while still playing center, not left guard, where he had been working up until last week. How Bears coaches evaluate Daniels' week of practice — which certainly wasn't perfect — will be important, especially in the context of...

... Cody Whitehair going through a snapping “slump” over the last week or so, starting with that preseason game in Cincinnati. If those low/high snaps crop up again Saturday, and Daniels is able to put in a solid day of work with the second-team offensive line, it may nudge the Bears toward moving Whitehair to guard and inserting the second-round Iowa product into the starting lineup. 

The Bears haven’t considered that move yet, though, and the plan all along has been to keep Whitehair at center. A lot has to happen for that plan to change: If Whitehair can’t consistently get snaps to Trubisky, if Daniels proves he’s one of the team’s best five offensive linemen, and then if Daniels proves he’s a better option at center than Whitehair. So far, the Bears haven’t arrived at any of those conclusions, but Saturday’s game could have a significant impact on what those conclusions wind up being. 

5. Down-the-depth-chart position battles

Plenty of players fighting for a spot on the Week 1 53-man roster will get an extended opportunity to put more good — or bad — things on film on Saturday. 

Near the top of the depth chart, Adam Shaheen will have another opportunity to keep his arrow pointing up at the “Y” tight end spot with Sims still out. Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris will continue their competition for the final starting spot on the defensive line, with Bullard still likely the slight favorite. Nick Kwiatkoski can help his case to hold off Smith with another solid showing in what’s been a solid preseason. 

An all-hands-on-deck competition to be the Bears’ reserve outside corner is developing, and with Prince Amukamara (groin) not practicing this week, everyone from that group will get a chance to help their case of making the Week 1 roster. Marcus Cooper needs to have a better game than he did against Cincinnati, while 2017 practice squad’er Doran Grant should get plenty of opportunities, too. For undrafted rookies Kevin Toliver, Michael Joseph and John Franklin III, it’s a big opportunity, too, to turn a longshot bid for a roster spot into something more realistic.