Tag Archives: Chicago Bears

Bears’ Key Offseason Addition Ranked ‘Most Overrated’ in NFL

The Chicago Bears went to extensive lengths to revamp their roster on both sides of the ball But one of their biggest gets, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, finds himself among some rather dubious company, ranked as the NFL’s “most overrated” linebacker.

Bears’ Tremaine Edmunds Ranked NFL’s ‘Most Overrated’ Linebacker

“When the Buffalo Bills drafted Tremaine Edmunds…the hope was that the young but wildly athletic Virginia Tech product would develop into one of the league’s best off-ball linebackers,” wrote Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report on June 2. “However…Edmunds just hasn’t been the sort of playmaker that [Roquan] Smith or a healthy [Shaquille] Leonard have been.”

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is at least somewhat familiar with both Smith and Leonard having coached the latter from his rookie season through 2021 and being around Smith to start the 2022 campaign.

Smith was traded to the Baltimore Ravens at the deadline after a contract holdout in camp.

Edmunds’ 359 solo tackles since 2018 rank 10th in the NFL in that span. To Davenport’s point, however, Edmunds has never ranked higher than his 19th-placed finish in any single season in that window.

“Edmunds is a very good player being paid like he’s great,” writes Davenport. “But he hasn’t shown that greatness—not yet.”

The Bears inked Edmunds to a four-year, $72 million contract with $36.8 million guaranteed at signing ($50 million guaranteed total) to man the middle of their defense. For reference, that is the fifth-highest total contract value in the NFL among off-ball linebackers and jumps a spot to fourth in terms of annual value, per Spotrac.

Tremaine Edmunds Lack of Turnovers a Potential Concern

Of potential concern, and further to Davenport’s message, Edmunds has just five interceptions in his career and only two over the last two seasons. He has also forced just two fumbles – both of which came during his rookie season – and he has never recovered one.

All three linebackers entered the league in the 2018 NFL Draft. But Edmunds also trails both Leonard and Smith in sacks and turnovers.

Provided by Stathead.com
          Tack Def Def Fumb Fumb
Rk Player Age G Sk Comb Int PD FR FF
1 Tremaine Edmunds 20-24 74 6.5 565 5 35 0 2
2 Shaquille Leonard 23-27 61 15.0 549 12 31 7 17
3 Roquan Smith 21-25 78 18.5 693 8 23 1 1
Perhaps that can be explained by the Bills’ scheme and other pieces.
Plenty of turnovers come from the deflections and forced fumbles of others. The 6-foot-5 Edmunds has also flashed that playmaking ability with the Bears, albeit in OTAs.

Edmunds is also the youngest of the three, each of whom hit free agency in 2026.

Bears ‘Interested’ in FA Pass Rushers

A lot of what happens with Edmunds and at the second level of the defense in general next season will be dictated by the Bears’ defensive line. Chicago recorded a league-low 20 sacks on the season in 2022 and ranked 31st against the run. Adding Edmunds and fellow free agent addition T.J. Edwards at linebacker isn’t solving that alone.

The Bears have added to their defensive line, mostly with interior players both in free agency and through the draft.

While they have also added some hybrid pass rushers, they might not be content with that.

Matt Eberflus Sends Strong Message on Bears’ Roster

They are mostly limited to aging veterans and retreads for proven options in free agency, which has left them open to trade speculation. Whatever they do, it’s clear that the expectations – both on the outside and from within – are higher than they were last year which is a good thing.

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Bears Urged to Take Proactive Stance With Cole Kmet

The Chicago Bears’ aggressive offseason moves could put the squeeze on one of their incumbent players.

“[Tight end Cole] Kmet might be more valuable to another team,” argued Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine on May 31. “If someone is willing to pay up for him in the final year of his rookie contract, the Bears should be willing to listen.”

Bears ‘Should Be Willing to Listen’ to Trade Offers for Former Top Pick

Cole Kmet’s Production Could Suffer in Revamped Offense

Ballentine’s argument comes from several factors, most notably the addition of D.J. Moore to the wide receiver room that has Darnell Mooney coming back after ankle surgery. Chase Claypool is in Year 2 and will have a full offseason with the team. Even more directly, they added former Green Bay Packer Robert Tonyan at tight end.

There’s also the matter of Kmet’s production.

As the Bears’ passing game went into the tank last season, Kmet’s targets fell by nearly 30%. He still did a lot of damage through the air with seven touchdowns. That was tied for the third-most among tight ends.

The former second-round pick (No. 43 overall in 2020) was Chicago’s first selection in his class. He is heading into the final year of his contract. There was word of contract talks in the spring.

“Just little talks here and there,” Kmet said, per Alex Shapiro of NBC Chicago on March 9. “They’ve got a lot to get done, obviously with the draft, free agency, all those things. Really wouldn’t expect much to happen, maybe until summer, really until after free agency settles and the draft, so we’ll see where it goes.”

Kmet, 24, is one of two tight ends in Bears history to record at least 130 receptions and 1300 yards over the first 50 games of his career, per Stathead, joining Greg Olsen. Zooming out, only 56 other tight ends in NFL history have achieved that mark to start their careers.

Jaylon Johnson Will Be at OTAs ‘For Sure’

Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson appeared on Keyshawn, JWill, & Max on June 1 to talk about a variety of topics, including his charity work for his non-profit, Kevvy’s Vision Project, and other such acts.

He also shed some light on his absence from OTAs ahead of a pivotal contract season.

Johnson, 24, was selected seven picks after Kmet in the 2020 NFL Draft. This regime does not have any ties to him (or Kmet for that matter) beyond his injury-shortened 2022 campaign. He has one career interception and has logged just one more pass breakup over the last two seasons (16) as he had as a rookie in 2016.

But Johnson has also gotten a vote of confidence from the Bears’ greatest tormentor, Aaron Rodgers. The now-New York Jets passer called the corner a “premier player” after their matchup in December.

Johnson said that he will be at the next set of OTAs “for sure”.

For what it’s worth, he has a little added motivation to show up and show out with the team drafting another perimeter corner in Tyrique Stevenson and 2022 second-rounder and projected nickelback Kyler Gordon admitted that he misses playing on the outside.

The Bears’ next set of OTAs will take place from June 5 through June 8 with veteran minicamp slated to take place the following week at which point Johnson was already expected back.

Matt Eberflus Sends Strong Message on Bears’ Roster

The Chicago Bears are not satisfied with the current roster, at least not enough to keep their eyes from wandering.

“We’re interested in a lot of free agents,” said head coach Matt Eberflus on May 31 via the Bears’ YouTube channel when asked directly about adding a pass rusher to the roster. “We’re interested in a lot of guys, at all positions right now. So we’re just excited about being able to look at those guys, and potentially add as we go through camp and getting closer to the season.”

Bears ‘Interested in a Lot’ of FAs, HC Matt Eberflus Says

Bears Roster Still in Flux

With OTAs underway in Chicago, Eberflus and the staff have only gotten a cursory look at the players in attendance. And, while there are some players – like cornerback Jaylon Johnson – who have not been present, the Bears have known what they need for some time.

And they never really stopped trying to fix the issue.

“I think of my group, and we’ve proven that we’re always investigating options via trade, signing someone that’s still available post-free agency, general manager Ryan Poles said on ESPN 1000 on May 12. “We don’t really stop looking for talent. And so right now, I would just say we’re active, looking around, and maybe something will happen here soon.”

The Bears made 10 selections in the 2023 NFL Draft and came away without an EDGE rusher despite generating a league-low 20 sacks last season.

Improved coverage on the backend and pressure up the middle should help. Chicago also added a pair of tweeners – Rasheem Green and DeMarcus Walker – in free agency. The latter of whom recorded 7.0 sacks last season. But teams will test them on the edges if they don’t address what seems to be a void.

At or near the top of many wishlists for (but, perhaps, not from) the Bears is Yannick Ngakoue. There is also re-tread Leonard Floyd who won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams after being cut by the previous regime – which drafted him – after the 2020 season.

Trade options include New York Jets pass rusher Carl Lawson as well as Chase Young of the Washington Commanders.

Bears Coach Sheds Light on Jaylon Johnson’s Absence

“We know he’ll be here probably for mandatory minicamp,” Eberflus said of Johnson – one of three projected starters not attending OTAs along with Cody Whitehair and Nate Davis along the offensive line. “Hopefully, next week, potentially. So we’ll see.”

Johnson, 24, is the only one who is going into the final year of his contract.

He is recovering from a broken ring finger. The injury cost him the final three weeks of the regular season but has already declared himself good to go.

“100%, fully back,” Johnson told ABC 30 sports anchor Alec Nolan. “I’m ready to go.”

If it’s not health-related, then finances would seem to be a likely driving factor behind Johnson’s absence from OTAs. At the same time, OTAs are completely voluntary. And Johnson could just be looking to save some wear and tear on his body going into such a critical season for him and the Bears.

Bears’ Darnell Mooney Provides Detailed Injury Update

The Chicago Bears did a lot of work to fortify the ranks around third-year quarterback Justin Fields this offseason adding to the protection in front of him and the weapons around him. On the latter front, adding D.J. Moore to last year’s group should do wonders in terms of providing Fields with a proven top option on the outside.

Darnell Mooney Updates Status Before Teammate Shares Sobering Experience

It should also help the other receivers since they will be in more appropriate roles for their respective skill sets, including the incumbent top option, Darnell Mooney.

“I am running,” Mooney told teammate Equanieous St. Brown on ‘The 33rd Team’ podcast on May 18. “I’m cutting. I started cutting today. So, naw, I’ll be 100%. I got screws in my foot so I’ll be a little robotic. Probably 1000 times better than I was.”

One year after his first 1000-yard campaign, Mooney made 12 starts last season.

The third-year wideout suffered a broken leg cutting in Week 12 against the New York Jets, finishing an already-trying season with 493 yards and two touchdowns on 40 receptions.

Equanimeous St. Brown Shares Experience with TightRope Surgery

Mooney confirmed that he broke his fibula for St. Brown’s co-host, brother, and Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown before confirming for his teammate that he had what is known as “TightRope” surgery, a procedure that uses cord instead of screws to aid in the healing process, according to the Southern California Orthopedic Institute:

The TightRope system anchors the ends of the tibia and fibula together with a braided polyethylene cord, rather than with a rigid surgical screw, to restore the original position of the bones and to allow for proper healing.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a similar procedure performed in 2018.

Though, in his respective instance, he (and teammate Jalen Hurts, now of the Philadelphia Eagles) was able to return in four weeks while at the University of Alabama.

“I had that too. My ankle doesn’t move no more,” Equanimeous St. Brown said. “That s*** is steady. … I didn’t break it. But I had TightRope my second year in the NFL…That s***’s locked. It’s locked. It’s locked in place. It’s not moving.”

Mooney – a former fifth-round pick in 2020 – said that his doctors warned him of something similar but said that he felt “good” about where things stand. His recovery does take on added significance going into a contract season with a regime that did not draft him and has already gone about upgrading the position around him.

“They want to see me run and stuff so we’ll see,” he said. “I’m in no rush.”

Darnell Mooney on D.J. Moore: ‘Great Fit’

“He’s gonna fit good,” Mooney said. “Good guy, good dude for sure. Seems to be working hard. Seems to be honing into what we got, our culture, or whatnot. So, yeah…great fit, for sure.”

Moore – the No. 24 overall pick in 2018 – arrives with three 1000-yard seasons under his belt and two more in which he fell fewer than 250 yards shy. Even in a “down season” for his yardage, he produced seven receiving scores and took 10 handoffs for 53 years in 2022.

That could put a little extra pressure on Mooney to produce but he sounds ready regardless.

“Do whatever I can do for my team,” Mooney said of his expectations for this season. “Ball out. Dominate. I’m not really on the ‘respect my name’ anymore. I’m just disrespecting everybody now. Don’t really care about respect no more. Other than that, I just want to win. I don’t really care about anything else.”

Bears Ink Massive OL Prospect Mentored by 2x Super Bowl Champ

The overhaul of the Chicago Bears‘ roster continues in Year 2 under general manager Ryan Poles with the former offensive lineman reaching across the pond to add a prospect to the unit that was once viewed as a weakness but could be the best when all is said and done – the offensive line.

Chicago inked 6-foot-8, 331-pounder Roy Mbaeteka, to a rookie minicamp deal on May 4, per NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero.

Massive OL Prospect Inks Minicamp Deal With Bears

Mbaeteka is an international prospect from the African nation of Nigeria. He had multiple stints on the New York Giants practice squad last season.

Mbaeteka is still only 23 years old. He declined a futures contract offer from the Giants in January to return to the NFL’s International Pathway Program.

“The six Nigerian players were discovered via Osi Umenyiora‘s The Uprise initiative and attended the inaugural NFL Africa talent camp in Ghana last year,” Pelissero reported in a subsequent tweet. “They were then invited to the International Combine in London and secured their place on the IPP program.”

Umenyiora spent 12 of his 14 NFL seasons with the Giants. He helped lead them to victory in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

Mbateka never played high school or college football and is a former basketball player. He had to hitch a ride, traveling 470 miles from Lagos to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, where the tryouts were being held, per Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com.

“Once you see him, you know he’s physically imposing and in a year or two if you immerse him in football culture, he’s going to be fantastic,” Umenyiora told Michael Eisen of Giants.com in April of 2022 after Mbaeteka signed. “The Giants took a chance. Not much of a chance, I think. When you see him working, you’re going to know what he’s about. He is big, strong, physical, extremely intelligent, very athletic. He’s built to play offensive tackle in the league. In fact, he reminds me quite a bit of Kareem McKenzie…He has the same temperament. He’s very smart, but he’s a very athletic player.”

Per Mayer, 37 players have joined NFL rosters through the IPP program. The Bears also brought in a (slightly) more proven prospect with rookie camp right around the corner.

Bears Bring in Former Rams Playmaker

The Bears also invited former Los Angeles Rams wideout Jacob Harris in for their rookie minicamp as well, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston.

A former fourth-round pick, Harris continues the influx of explosive athletes to the roster.

He has a slight frame for a tight end but is unproven as a wide receiver.

There are also some durability concerns. He tore his pec in December of last season, ending his campaign prematurely in Week 11 after seven appearances.

“For a prospect who once looked promising thanks to his athleticism, it’s disappointing to see Harris’ time with the Rams on the verge of ending,” writes Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire. “Injuries likely played a factor in that after he missed time in each of his first two years, but perhaps someone else will give him a chance and hope he can stay healthy.”

Bears Add Another Athletic Prospect

Both Harris and Mbaeteka are long shots to make the 53-man roster, let alone be active on gamedays

Bears GM Ryan Poles Sends Clear Message With Day 2 NFL Draft Picks

But Poles’ ideal vision of a Bears player becomes clearer by the transaction. He targeted durable, experienced athletes in the latter rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. He is doing the same now, targeting traits in lieu of pedigree.

Bears’ New Playmaker Sends Strong Message to Justin Fields

With the No. 133 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles selected Tyler Scott, a wide receiver from the University of Cincinnati.

Bears Rookie WR Tyler Scott Sends Message to Justin Fields

Scott took to social media to his brand new quarterback, Justin Fields.

“Justin’s going to like throwing to him deep,” said Bears Midwest scout Ryan Cavanaugh, per Adam Jahns of The Athletic. “His most exciting trait is his big-play ability down the field.”

Scott – listed at 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds – has drawn comparisons to several notable current NFL wideouts. The first and most prominent is Seattle Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett. They have a similar build, short-area burst, and long speed.

Another is former Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys pass-catcher T.Y. Hilton with whom Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is very familiar.

“While the comparison to T.Y. Hilton might raise some eyebrows, Scott is a similar player in body type, speed and versatility,” writes NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlien. “With just two seasons of starting experience at receiver, his route running and ball skills are almost certain to continue to improve and become less of an issue for him in the future. He has the speed and shiftiness to uncover on all three levels. Also, he offers jet sweep and receiver screen value. A smallish frame and lack of hand strength are likely to continue to plague him on contested catches, though. Scott is an ascending talent whose versatility and playmaking talent create an easily projectable upside as a good starting slot receiver early in his career.”

The final comparison is Bears receiver Darnell Mooney, a former late-round pick himself.

Mooney’s 2022 season ended prematurely following an ankle injury that required surgery. He finished the season with 493 yards on 40 receptions with two touchdowns. He is just one year removed from his first 1000-yard season, however; notable as he heads into the final year of his contract.

Scott recorded 899 yards and nine scores on 54 grabs in his final season with the Bearcats and caught 14 touchdowns over his final two seasons.

Bijan Robinson Praises Roschon Johnson

Scott was not the only Day 3 pick that comes with lofty praise. Texas running back Roshcon Johnson had the tough luck of being stuck behind No. 8 overall pick Bijan Robinson following his freshman season after converting from quarterback.

But Robinson would be the first to tell you the kind of player his understudy is.

“Roschon is the best teammate, first of all, I’ve ever had,” Robinson said in a video shared by Greg Braggs of CHGO Bears. “Obviously he’s a running back. But I think that he brings out so much in a player and a team just how he goes about being a leader to not just his teammate but everybody in the community. And I think that who he is as a person and what he does on the football field is, to me, I don’t think that it’s overlooked. Because he shows his presence, and he makes his presence felt. But, man, Roschon is the guy. I think that he’s the other great running back in this class. And I don’t think that people should overlook the talent that he has and the skill set that brings because I think he’s just as good as anybody. And I think just his toughness and his heart is what makes him stand out over everybody.”

Johnson ran the ball at least 80 times, tallied over 400 yards, and scored five touchdowns on the ground in each of his four seasons in Austin.

He has also flashed his hands with double-digit receptions in three of his four years.

“He fits everything Ryan and Matt are trying to accomplish,” Bears Southwest area scout John Syty said per Jahns. “He’s a HITS principle guy. He just emulates everything we want a Chicago Bear to be. … The ‘it’ factor about this kid is special.”

Jaquan Brisker Invokes Aaron Rodgers Over Bears’ Draft

Second-year Bears safety Jaquan Brisker had an active weekend. He showed support for his many former Penn State teammates as they begin the transition to the NFL.

He also showed his affinity for his team’s choices, as any good teammate would.

Some questioned the Bears passing on Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter only to double up on defensive tackles with Gervon Dexter Sr. and Zacch Pickens in the second and third rounds. They also took offensive lineman Darnell Wright No. 10 overall, six spots higher than the consensus mocks projected him to.

“We in the trenches,” Brisker tweeted with a familiar tag. “RELAX!”

Bears GM Ryan Poles Sends Clear Message With Day 2 NFL Draft Picks

In two days, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles has fortified the trenches.

On the first day of the 2023 NFL Draft, he selected University of Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright with the No. 10 overall pick.

For his follow-up, Pace turned back to the SEC for two more picks with defensive linemen Gervon Dexter Sr from the University of Florida and Zacch Pickens of South Carolina and remained in the southern region of the country to get the third in standout cornerback Tyrique Stevenson out of the University of Miami.

Three of the four players are seniors and the other is a redshirt junior. All of them have plenty of experience with no fewer than 36 starts (Dexter) in their respective collegiate careers – being battle-tested is key with all three potentially stepping into starting roles.

They are also explosive athletes.

Ryan Poles Rebuilds Trenches, Stacks Secondary for Bears on Day 2 of NFL Draft

Rd. 2 Pick No. 53
Gervon Dexter Sr. – DL – Florida
6-foot-6 | 310 lbs

Dexter recorded just 4.5 sacks over his final two seasons down in Gainesville but did tally over 100 total tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded two fumbles and even snagged an interception in that span. A former basketball player, he is only scratching the surface of what he can – and what the Bears need him to – do.

“Good run defender who can eat up space and plug gaps and hard to move with one-on-one blocks,” said his former assistant coach at Florida, Luis Mcleod, per Chicago sports reporter Daniel Greenberg on April 28. “He has been working very hard on his pass rush.”

Rd. 2 Pick No. 56
Tyrique Stevenson – CB – Miami
6-foot | 198 lbs

For the second year in a row, the Bears took a cornerback that we had mocked to them – and in the same round, no less. But Tyrique Stevenson is a different style of player than last year’s No. 39 overall pick, Kyler Gordon. He is built more like fourth-year corner Jaylon Johnson – who just happens to be heading into the final year of his contract – and figures to contend on the outside, allowing the Bears to put Gordon back in the slot.

Chicago traded the Nos. 61 and 135 picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars to jump up and take him.

There could be some concern with the lack of takeaways meaning poor ball skills. But he recorded seven pass deflections last season and 11 over his final two seasons and is otherwise solid.

“The Chicago Bears are getting a physical press corner in Tyrique Stevenson, who was one of the most impressive defenders at this year’s Senior Bowl,” tweeted Luke Chaney of The Miami Hurricane.

The Bears’ passing defense ranked 17th in yards and 10th in touchdowns allowed last season.

But that is largely because teams ran the ball so easily – they were still 32nd in net yards per attempt.

Rd. 3 Pick No. 64
Zacch Pickens – DL – South Carolina
6-foot–4 | 291lbs

Knowing how brutal his run defense and pass rush – 31st in pressure rate and 32nd in sacks – last year, Poles went right back to the defensive line with South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens who spoke about his versatility saying he can play, “Wherever the team needs me,” per Zach Pearson of Bear Report.

“If I do everything right and I know I will, I can be one of the greats,” Pickens said, per Greenberg. “I’m not holding that back. I’m so for real. If I check all of the boxes and when I do, I promise I’m going to be the best defensive interior tackle.”

Pickens recorded 6.5 sacks and 9.0 tackles for loss this past season, recovering one fumble, and one pass deflection.

Ryan Poles, Bears’ Day 2 Haul Leaves Glaring Hole

Poles certainly seemed to be targeting a certain type of player in this draft and it was not solely based on experience and durability.

Stevenson would be the only exception.

That would still seem to leave a need for an EDGE presence, though the Bears watched two separate runs on the position and went in different directions. As has been the case for much of this cycle, though, there figure to be any number of players available when the Bears next come on the clock at No. 104.

At that point, however, you’re targeting depth and would have to be fortunate to uncover an impact player. There are other avenues – free agency and/or possibly even a trade – to address the issue and should likely be explored even if the Bears draft someone.

Ryan Poles Issues Telling Statement on Bears’ Plans for NFL Draft Day 2

The Chicago Bears came away with the potential final piece of their offensive line taking University of Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft but they still have a glaring need for some reinforcements along the defensive line.

To get some, Bears general manager Ryan Poles is willing to be mobile.

Bears GM on Day 2 of NFL Draft: ‘We Might Have to Maneuver’

“I think that’s going to play into, based on the numbers that we have, we feel confident that there’s going to be opportunity there,” Poles told reporters from Halas Hall. “We might have to maneuver a little bit and see what we can do. And I’ve seen that before where you try to move and you strike out once the pairing doesn’t make sense. And the guy or guys fall to you which is always a good experience too. But, yeah, we might have to move a little bit and see what happens. But I feel good about it.”

Players such as Keion White of Georgia Tech or Isaiah Foskey of Notre Dame would seem to be nice fits. LSU’s BJ Ojulari is undersized but the Bears showed interest in Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith who ultimately wound up with the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 30.

The Bears’ next slot is not until pick No. 53.

That is a long time to wait – 22 selections – with such a glaring need and a run on the position happening near the tail end of Round 1.

Poles pulled off a trade back, dropping just one spot after swapping picks with the Philadelphia Eagles and picking up a 2024 first-round pick in the process. He noted during his availability that other teams were looking to trade up to No. 9. But, perhaps in a show of just how highly he thought of Wright, Poles also indicated he was uncomfortable with just how far they would have to fall back in that or any other potential deals, so Wright it was with the 10th pick.

Ryan Poles Avoided Common Issue

To that point, ESPN NFL insider Dan Graziano reported that, during his conversations with league personnel, multiple teams had fewer first-round grades than he is used to hearing.

“Before the draft, I like to ask teams how many first-round grades have you given out this year, how many guys in your first round,” Graziano said on ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ on April 28. “This year we were hearing some 10s, and 11s, and 12s.”

Bears Asst. GM Sends Strong Message About Jalen Carter, Draft Plans

Now, though, Poles will have to get creative to fill at least one more key need.

Day 2 should bring plenty of surprises with the Bears also possessing picks Nos. 61 and 64. Perhaps Poles packages two or all three of those to make a move up for a coveted prospect.

Darnell Wright Sends Message to Justin Fields

Wright came across as very thoughtful in his answers but he made no bones about how confident he is in his ability.

“You see on tape, I’m big and I’m strong, Wright told reporters in his first press conference via Zoom. “But I don’t think people realize, once they really get to see some more of me, they’ll see how athletic I am. I can play on both sides if needed…I can play probably anywhere on the line. My athleticism will speak for itself, and I just want to get better and better with my technique.”

But his best line was about quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields tied for the league lead in sacks taken last season with 55 and has taken 91 sacks over his first two seasons.

“That’s my only plan.,” Wright said. “That’s what I’m there for…to keep him clean,” he said. “Amazing, amazing quarterback. And the things he does, we’re going to have a great team….protecting him, that’s my job.”

Explosive EDGE Prospect Sounds Off on Bears’ Interest

The Chicago Bears could be ready to address the NFL’s worst pass rush in 2022 with a highly-touted EDGE rusher.

“Ahead of the #NFLDraft, @GeorgiaFootball EDGE Nolan Smith tells me the #Bears and #Eagles have been the two teams that have shown the most interest in taking him,” tweeted Heavy Sports NFL insider Matt Lombardo on April 26.

The 2023 NFL Draft just one day away. Most of the smoke around the Bears has been around offensive linemen. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. and Tennessee’s Darnell Wright have been the most consistently linked in recent days. Defensive linemen were also a primary focus. To be specific, seemingly on the interior where Jalen Carter could be the pick at No. 9 overall as well.

Smith would be an interesting choice at No. 9. He is coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him record 3.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss. He made eight appearances before suffering a torn pectoral muscle. Smith measured 6-foot-2 and weighed 239 pounds at the NFL combine. He tallied 9.5 sacks total over his previous three seasons. But made waves during the festivities in Indy.

“Smith posted a blazing-fast 4.39 40-yard dash,” noted Mark Schofield of SB Nation. ”When you added in the 41.5-inch vertical that he posted, it added up to a bit of NFL Combine history…Smith became the heaviest player in Combine history to post a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, along with a vertical of more than 40 inches.

“Both his vertical, and his 40-yard dash, were the fastest of the defensive linemen who tested on Thursday. He also posted the third-best broad jump of the group, which measured in at 10’8.”

Nolan Smith’s Fit in Bears’ Defense

He is built more like a 3-4 EDGE than one who puts his hand in the dirt like the Bears’ linemen do.

That could be more than enough cause to focus on another prospect. But Smith has also garnered some lofty comparisons to another freakish athlete that rushes the passer.

Dallas Cowboys star Micah Parsons.

And the NFL’s second-leading sack artist (tied) last season was Haason Reddick of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Smith compares favorably to Reddick who stands just 6-foot-1.

“He has always been viewed as a project who possesses rare speed and athleticism for an edge defender,” wrote Mitch Kaiser of Pro Football Focus. “The Georgia edge rusher developed more pass-rushing moves and became dominant against the run. We would love to see this progression continue into the NFL, as he has the physical tools to become an elite defensive player, whether he’s coming off the edge or slotted at linebacker.”

Teams also spend more time in sub-packages than base defense these days. This should allow for plenty of creativity in unleashing Smith were he to be the Bears’ choice.

Steelers Reached Out About Another Trade

The Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers came together on a deal bringing wide receiver Chase Claypool to Chicago. The cost was a second-round pick that lands in prime position at 32nd overall.

Note: There are only 31 picks in the first round this year. The Miami Dolphins forfeited their selection after it was found they had impermissible contact with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

Claypool recorded just 140 yards on 14 receptions (29 targets) after being traded to Chicago.

“The playbook was completely different, the weather wasn’t the greatest. It was an adjustment but I think knowing those things we’re going to be just fine next year,” Claypool told Rachel Steinberg of Independent on April 26. “Sometimes it can take a shorter time or a longer time, but now I think having a full off-season with the Bears and then being able to play a full season with them is going to be a really great opportunity.”

The jury is still out on what looks like a win for the Steelers early on.

Now, according to ESPN draft insider Todd McShay, Pittsburgh has reached back out to Chicago and general manager Ryan Poles.

“I’ve heard Pittsburgh has contacted multiple teams, including the Bears (No. 9) and Titans (No. 11), about trading up for an offensive tackle,” reported McShay. “The Steelers need a long-term answer as protection for Kenny Pickett, and there are three potential cornerstone left tackles in this class who will be available in that range.”

The Bears have needs of their own along both lines. So whether or not they seek to make a deal remains to be seen. But that also means there are a number of directions they could go a still be successful.

Proposed Draft Day Trade Turns Bears’ No. 9 Pick Into Potential Franchise QB

With some buzz that the Chicago Bears could be looking to trade back even further in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft on April 27, a potential trade partner might also be readily available in the Tennessee Titans.

Late Run on QBs Could Benefit Chicago Bears

“The Bears shouldn’t be finished stockpiling picks just yet,” writes Alex Kay for Bleacher Report. “The Tennessee Titans could send a respectable offer Chicago’s way, coughing up a third-round selection—one the Bears could utilize to round out a woeful defense that needs plenty of help—to jump up two spots.

“That positioning would allow the Titans to catch a falling prospect, perhaps a quarterback like Anthony Richardson, on draft night.”

Bears Get:

– 1st Rd Pick (No. 11, 2023)
– 3rd Rd Pick (No. 72, 2023)

Titans Get:

– 1st Rd Pick (No. 9, 2023)

Richardson is a physical specimen quarterback from the University of Florida. He runs a 4.43 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4 and 244 pounds. He passed for over 2500 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season down in Gainesville.

The dual-threat passer added over 650 yards and nine scores on the ground.

This is not a new line of thinking but it does fall in line with reports that the Titans have already given up on 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis, per NBC Sports’ Peter King, and are looking to deal.

Bears Asst. GM Sends Strong Message About Jalen Carter, Draft Plans

Several Teams Eyeing Trades Up for QBs

“Can I give you the team that I have been told to keep an eye on that’s exploring this and looking into this?” Jeremiah said on the ‘Move The Sticks’ podcast on March 28. “Again, this is just people around the league who said do not sleep on Numero 11. The Tennessee Titans. The two teams to keep an eye on with the trade-ups were the Raiders and the Titans.”

Tennessee has been pegged as a team to watch for Richardson by Jeremiah’s NFL.com colleague, Charles Davis.

Of course, Las Vegas and Chicago have done business together in the past. They cannot be ruled out after trading Derek Carr to the New Orleans Saints even if it was different regimes in charge of both operations last time.

“The Chicago Bears are one of the most promising young teams in the league. Their gamble on Justin Fields seems to have paid off, which gave them the luxury of collecting a slew of draft assets to drop down from the No. 1 overall spot in this draft,” Kay explains. “The team could trade down yet again, letting a rival team hungry to pounce on a particular prospect have their spot in exchange for some additional capital on Day 2.”

Again, that would seem to fit Tennessee if they are indeed looking into adding Richardson and can’t stomach the cost of moving up to No. 3 and could put Chicago in play.

Bears Could Capitalize on Titans’ QB Need, Trade Down

ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay could also see Tennesee taking Richardson.

“Maybe they love (Florida’s) Anthony Richardson? Maybe they love Will Levis and one of those guys falls?” McShay said, per NFL.com’s Jim Wyatt. “Maybe it gets to pick 7, 8, or 9 and they can make an easy deal and move up a couple of spots and make sure Houston (who also has pick 12) doesn’t trade up ahead of them, or Washington (at 16) doesn’t trade up ahead of them, although I think they are comfortable with their situation for whatever reason. And then at 19, Tampa Bay. So, that will be interesting to see.”

McShay went on ESPN 1000 in Chicago on April 20 and explained that fear of what the Houston Texans may or may not do with the No. 2 overall pick could make Tennessee get antsy, spurring the move up.

Again, the more teams that get involved the better it could be for the Bears. They still have several significant holes to fill, most notably across the offensive and defensive lines.