NFC North Roundup – Chicago Bears

Check out other NFC North teams:

Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings

2016 Season Summary

Here’s the bad news, 2016 was ugly. It was one of the worst seasons in Chicago Bears history ending the season at 3-13.

Here’s the good news (for the Bears), Chicago actually has some pretty good pieces to build around. The pieces are scattered around too much to actually make an impact and none of the good pieces happen to be a quarterback, but looking over their roster, they are a few good draft picks away from reviving the Packers Bears rivalry. Don’t act like it isn’t dead.

Furthermore, injuries to some of those key players played a pretty big part in why they only won 3 games.

For the record, the Bears have been making some fantastic draft choices the last couple years, in my opinion. If the trend continues this year I’ll be legitimately worried.

Offseason

The Bears are spending money like it’s Super Bowl or bust. I’m not sure who’s job is on the line this year but the Bears are not messing around.

Although some of the signing are sort of laughable, a few of them are those exact pieces I was talking about above that could make the Bears a formidable opponent in 2017.

Including what they are expected to pay draft picks this year, the Bears still have $15M in cap space to spend according to Spotrac.

Signings so far

Prince Amukamara, CB, Jaguars

Prince is sort of one of the pieces. In terms of his talent, he’s a mediocre corner. That said, the Bears now have 3 corners that could be considered serviceable. Although they aren’t the legion of boom, three decent corners, in NFC North terms, might as well be.

From a PFF standpoint, based on last years score, Prince is the Bears top corner.

Tom Compton, OT, Falcons

This is a great and terrible signing all at the same time. It’s great because the Bears needed to sign a tackle. It’s terrible because Tom Compton is a horrible tackle…. which is pretty great.

Although he is a decent run blocker, he’s a liability in the passing game. Maybe the Bears can make something out of him but I wouldn’t hold my breath that he’ll be starting.

Marcus Cooper, CB, Jaguars

Marcus is another head scratcher. They have 3 mediocre corners to work with and a pile of really bad corners. For some reason they felt they needed another really bad corner.

According to PFF, Cooper would have been the third best corner on the Packers roster behind Rollins and Gunter.

Benny Cunningham, RB, Rams

Like I said in the Lions article, doing this helps me to appreciate Ted Thompson. The seeming need to sign players simply because they are there is mind boggling.

The Bears could use some depth on the roster but this I don’t get. Cunningham simply isn’t good. If he excels at anything it’s pass blocking and maybe he can be brought in to compensate for the lack of talent at guard, but other than that it just seems like the Bears front office is bored and says, ya why not.

Quintin Demps, S, Texans

If there is one thing the NFC North can brag about it’s safeties. With the signing of Demps, the Bears, Lions, and Packers are all sitting pretty at the safety position.

The Bears may actually be in the best position. Not only do they now have a good pairing with Demps and Amos, they also have some depth at the position.

Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers

The pickup everyone is talking about is the $15M man, Mike Glennon. I understand that $15M is now considered the baseline for quarterbacks, but Glennon doesn’t deserve it. I don’t care if it’s the year 3017 and janitors make $15M/year, Glennon shouldn’t be getting paid $15M.

Alright maybe he isn’t that bad. He’s at least a better option that Sanchez.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Cowboys

So this makes sense. Let’s cut our starting quarterback, let Barkley and Hoyer walk, and start all over with a brand new batch of terrible quarterbacks. Got it.

John Jenkins, DL, Seahawks

For the record, just because a guy wore a Seahawks jersey doesn’t make him a great defensive football player. John Jenkins would be the proof of that if you weren’t sure.

The real crazy thing about this is that I really like the Bears defensive line. Akiem Hicks is a solid defender, great against the run, and Eddie Goldman was a guy I really wanted the Packers to draft. Together, along with a few other pretty okay guys, the Bears are probably okay at defensive tackle.

The reason for signing a guy that is worse than your entire defensive line, I’m not sure.

Dion Sims, TE, Miami

Dion Sims is another guy the Bears clearly see something in that even the Dolphins didn’t. Sims adds nothing to the Bears. Of the 6 TE’s currently listed on the roster there is Zach Miller and then everyone else. Sims changes nothing.

A better receiver than blocker, Sims hasn’t really done anything well up to this point. Maybe Glennon can make him a star….

Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers

I’d love to make fun of this addition but I’m afraid my fantasy football teams over the last few years would condemn me. I just kept thinking he needed a chance. Well he had lots of chances and was never a producer for me. The Bears should have asked me about him before they signed him, I could have warned them.

As it stands the Bears have a lot of mediocre to subpar receivers. The one standout is Wheaton who’s numbers are appalling. I can’t give the exact PFF numbers but trust me, he’s terrible.

Kendall Wright, WR, Titans 

Strangely enough, Wright is sort of in the same boat as Wheaton. I never really like him but he always seemed to linger on someones bench. Usually after his 1 big week of the year someone will grab him and let him rot on the bench.

With all that said, Wright actually had the highest 2016 grade of anyone on the Bears roster. Not a good one but if you saw how impressive Merideth was at times, it should provide some context. The two were ranked about the same.

Unsigned

The current unsigned players are as follows:

Sam Acho, OLB
Mike Adams, OT
Nick Becton, OT
Brandon Boykin, CB
Matt McCants, OT
Marquess Wilson, WR

Of this list, there isn’t much to get excited about. They need help at tackle but I think letting all three of the tackles on this list is the best thing you can do for that group.

Marquess Wilson would be my one priority of the group. He’s no better than Merideth but he would be a nice number 3/4 on the roster and provide some depth in the event of injury.

That said, I certainly wouldn’t be willing to pay any of them very much if anything.

Roster Breakdown

I’ve already touched on quite a few players and positions but let’s take a closer look.

Quarterback

If you couldn’t tell I’m not very optimistic about the Bears new quarterback prospects.  Although it’ll be sad to see Cutler go, I think there is a slight chance that Glennon could be as bad.

If nothing else, the Bears are in play for Mitchell Trubisky. A guy that’s been compared to Cutler.

You have to like our chances here.

Wide Receiver

One of the draft picks they made that I really liked was the selection of Kevin White. Unfortunately for the Bears, White hasn’t lived up to his billing as a great WR. He is rarely healthy and when he is he has been a disappointment.  It’s possible he makes a jump at some point by barring that the Bears are left with subpar journeymen and Cameron Merideth.

With the lack of talent at QB, it might be a challenge to really get the pass game going.

Running Back

I like Jordan Howard. Like Merideth, he sort of came out of nowhere and impressed a lot of people.

There isn’t a ton of depth behind him and with the deep RB crop in the draft I would think a RB selection would make sense at some point.

Tight End

Zach Miller doesn’t get much love but he’s a pretty talented guy. He actually has a higher receiving grade than all the Bears wide receivers.

There isn’t much depth behind him but the Bears certainly are not in panic mode with this position.

Offensive Line

The offensive line is pretty good depending on what part we’re talking about.

The interior part of the line is incredibly good. The Center Cody Whitehair and guard Josh Sitton are the second and third highest ranked players on the team respectively. Kyle long, the other guard isn’t far behind.

The tackles on the other hand are not very good. Considering the quarterback dilemma, if this team expects to go anywhere they will need to hit on a tackle in this draft. Unfortunately, drafting 3rd overall works against them in this regard.

Best case scenario, they grab a starter in the second.

Defensive Interior

I covered this pretty extensively above but the center of the defensive front is actually pretty solid. If they can stay healthy (which is a boring caveat, it’s true of every position on every team since forever) they can cause fits for offenses trying to run the ball. Something all the other NFC North teams have questions about at this point.

Edge Defenders

Another position the Bears are in dire need of is OLB. They aren’t the worst in the world but in today’s NFL if you can’t get after the quarterback, your defense is garbage.

The Bears can’t get after the quarterback and, sort of like their need to get a quarterback before I really start to expect anything from their offense, my expectations of their defense will be tempered until they can get a true edge rush threat.

Linebacker

The biggest shock of this whole little research project was to find out that the Bears currently have the highest ranked linebacker in the entire NFL according to PFF.

His name is Jurrell Freeman. Ya I don’t know either… As I said, they have some good pieces.

The guy next to him is Trevathan. He’s not too bad either. Behind them is zero depth but as it stands, the entire interior of the Bears defense is arguably the best in the NFL. Something to think about.

Cornerback

 

As I said earlier, the Bears have three “meh” corners. That puts them in a better position the other NFC North teams but it doesn’t do them any favors against some of the NFC North receivers.

It’s a deep draft, lots of teams will grab a corner. The Bears would be wise to be one of them.

Safety

 

I pretty much said all there is to say about safety when talking about Quinton Demps. The Bears have talent and depth here. I think they are good going into the 2017 season.

2017 Draft

As it stands now, the Bears will have 7 selections in the 2017 draft.

• First round: No. 3 overall

• Second round: No. 36 overall

• Third round: No. 67 overall

• Fourth round: No. 111 overall

• Fourth round: No. 117 overall

• Fifth round: No. 147 overall

• Seventh round: No. 221

 

As I said in my mock draft, it wouldn’t be a very good idea to grab a quarterback. You need to get freaks when you have the chance and freaks don’t usually fall much further than number 3 overall.

Conversely, quarterbacks go early because their quarterbacks, not necessarily because their talent warrants it. This years crop of quarterbacks is no different.

Unfortunately, the Bears aren’t in a great spot to address a need unless they are willing to reach.

Also, if Trubisky is even a moderately good quarterback it could haunt the Bears for years. Quarterbacks are hard to come by. It certainly is a position I don’t envy.

Considering there are a very limited amount of options worthy of a number three overall pick, the options seems to be quarterback (Trubisky, Winston, Kizer), and pass rusher (Solomon Thomas).

A few other selections are DE/DT Jonathan Allen and safety Jamal Adams. The picks are a little baffling because they aren’t really needs but both fit the freak criteria. For my money, I’m taking Allen.

Looking Ahead

The Bears have pieces but they don’t have a team. If they are able to hit on a pass rusher and quarterback this season they could instantly become contenders for the NFC North.

That said, it’s a lot harder said than done. Just trying not to regress is hard in the NFL. I think it’s very likely they take a step forward considering how bad they were in 2016 but as far as being worried about them… I’m just not.