Bryan Perez

How Germain Ifedi impacts the Bears' depth chart in 2020

How Germain Ifedi impacts the Bears' depth chart in 2020

The Bears and general manager Ryan Pace finally did it. They finally signed an offensive lineman in free agency. And while former Seattle Seahawk first-round pick Germain Ifedi's signing won't be met with much excitement or praise, his addition will have a big ripple effect on the depth chart throughout the offseason and into next fall.

Ifedi, like many other former first-rounders, joins the Bears with a skill set that at one time made him one of the top 32 prospects in the country but for one reason or another, he just hasn't lived up to his scouting report.

Seattle selected the former Texas A&M standout with the 31st pick of the 2016 NFL draft and while his play has left a bit to be desired, he does have 60 career starts (in 60 games played). His status as a starter may have been a product of the Seahawks' underwhelming offensive line group, however. He's never graded higher than a 58.8 by Pro Football Focus in any year of his career (his 58.8 came in 2019). 

As bad as that grade appears, compare it to what the Bears received from their right guards last season. Kyle Long (38.0) and Rashaad Coward (51.0) were worse.

Ifedi wasn't signed by the Bears to compete for a starting job at right tackle. He's in Chicago to fight with Coward and second-year man Alex Bars to fill the vacancy at right guard. And when factoring pedigree, experience, and on-field production, Ifedi seems like the clubhouse leader.

Assuming Ifedi wins the right guard competition, Coward will slide back to a valuable reserve role. Having a player like Coward ready to step in at either guard spot in case of injury or poor play is critically important and arguably the best role he can fill for this team. Bars, who may be destined for the practice squad once again, will certainly be given a chance to prove he belongs in the conversation too. But the Bears don't appear willing to go through the bumps and bruises of a developmental season for any of their starters. Just look at what they've done at quarterback, edge rusher and even tight end; it's win-now mode in Chicago.

That's why Ifedi makes the most sense to pencil in as the starter: Charles Leno, Jr. (LT), James Daniels (LG), Cody Whitehair (C), Ifedi (RG) and Bobby Massie (RT).

Is Ifedi the answer? Is he the can't-miss fix? No. But he does have upside, and he'll have a chance to earn a lucrative second contract in Chicago if his first-round talent finally comes out. 

Bears post-free agency 7-round mock draft

Bears post-free agency 7-round mock draft

Despite an active free agency period by GM Ryan Pace and the Bears, there's still much work to do to round out this roster in advance of the regular season.

The 2020 NFL draft will give Pace an opportunity to fill some of the voids that remain after the first wave of signings on the open market.

So far, the Bears have added QB Nick Foles, TE Jimmy Graham and OLB Robert Quinn as the headliners, and depth pieces like CB Artie Burns and OLB Barkevious Mingo. But the holes in the secondary and along the offensive line must be addressed, and that's what we do in this new seven-round mock draft.

Check it out:

Post-free agency Bears 7-round mock draft

2020 NFL Draft Report: Brycen Hopkins

2020 NFL Draft Report: Brycen Hopkins

The 2020 NFL draft gets underway on April 23 and will look a lot different than it has in recent years. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced the NFL to audible its planned three-day extravaganza in Las Vegas and will instead likely hold a studio show without the fanfare that normally accompanies the realization of a lifelong dream for the more than 250 prospects who will hear their name called.

In this running series, we'll profile several of those players. First up: Purdue tight end, Brycen Hopkins.

Hopkins, 22, attended Ensworth High School in Nashville, Tennessee where he was regarded as a two-star prospect as a high school recruit. A multi-sport star who initially focused on basketball, Hopkins turned his attention to football as a junior; as a result, he's still a relatively inexperienced player.

Hopkins' success on the gridiron isn't a surprise. He comes from NFL bloodlines. His father, Brad Hopkins, was an offensive lineman with the Tennessee Titans and enjoyed a 13-year career.

After redshirting his freshman year at Purdue, Hopkins' upside was evident in his first full season as a Boilermaker when he scored four touchdowns on just 10 receptions. His catches more than doubled during the 2017 season (25) before emerging as a viable NFL prospect in 2018 when he finished the year with 34 catches for 583 yards and three scores. This past season, Hopkins had career-highs across the board with 61 receptions for 830 yards and seven scores.

Physically, Hopkins possesses a slightly undersized build at 6-4, 245 pounds. He won't be much of a factor in the run game; he lacks the natural strength and anchor to win as an in-line player at the point of attack. But that won't be his calling card in the NFL. 

Athletically, Hopkins is one of the most impressive tight end prospects in the 2020 NFL draft. His game speed matches his NFL Combine scores, where he ran a 4.66 40-yard dash. He maintains that speed with the pads on and will be an immediate threat against even the more athletic pro linebackers and safeties. Hopkins is a wide receiver in a tight end's body, which is an appealing and desired trait in today's NFL.

Hopkins is a schooled route-runner. He has loose hips and above-average twitch that allow him to get into and out of his breaks quickly and without wasted steps. He doesn't have to gear down or get choppy at the top of his route; he'll create separation on the next level, even at 245 pounds. 

Hopkins is generally a reliable target, too. While there certainly are concentration drops on his resume, he's a high-effort receiver who plays with a my-ball mentality. He isn't limited to short and intermediate throws, either. He can stress the defense on seam routes and challenge safeties on the third level.

Whoever drafts Hopkins has to understand what he is. He's a pass-catcher first and foremost. Teams that deploy a power-running game and expect their tight end to put their hand in the dirt and bang heads at the line of scrimmage shouldn't have him high on their wish list. He isn't made for that role, even if he tries hard at it.

Instead, Hopkins is a less-explosive version of Evan Engram; treat him like a wide receiver with the benefit of calling him a tight end.

Hopkins won't be a first-round pick, nor should he be. His limitations as a run blocker and those concentration drops will give teams pause to spend a top-32 selection on him. That said, his game offers good value on Day 2 for a team searching for a pass-catching threat at the position.

GRADE: Late 2nd, Early 3rd