While much of the focus when it comes to the Chicago Bears draft has been on finding a quarterback, GM Ryan Pace would be wise to build a defense that can stop opposing passers. Especially when playing in a division where your team will face Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford twice.
The safety position helped drag the Bears’ secondary grade down in 2016, but the cornerbacks didn’t fare much better. If the Bears don’t spend big-time on the position in free agency on someone like A.J. Bouye, perhaps they look to the first few rounds of the draft? Maybe even the first round?
Over at The Athletic, Dan Durkin takes a look at Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore as a player who could potentially be snagged by Chicago with the No. 3 overall pick.
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Lattimore is a redshirt sophomore with only one year of starting experience, but has the build and the skills to be a top-flight cornerback in a pass-happy league. And while the Bears have a handful of players who will be competing for playing time in the nickel package, the team lacks a strong presence on the outside.
Durkin pegs Lattimore as a top-5 pick. And depending on if the Bears acquire a quarterback via trade or free agency, it would be harder to argue against selecting Lattimore if everything checks out …
- But, as I said, the Bears could always shop the free agent market for cornerback help, too. A.J. Bouye is one of the league’s top cover corners who will likely hit free agency, but he won’t be the only top name out there. The Buccaneers released Alterraun Verner on Thursday, and it didn’t take long for him to strike up interest across the league. According to Pro Football Talk, Verner says he has already received calls from other teams. Verner played a total of 241 snaps in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus’ data. At age 29, Verner could be a candidate to revert to his old self with a change of scenery.
- It appears as if the Bears will have several interesting quarterback options to choose from in 2017, with several ways to go about acquiring Jay Cutler’s replacement. Over at CBS Chicago, Chris Emma produces his first installment in which he ranks the available quarterbacks. Jimmy Garoppolo tops the list from the get-go, with Mike Mayock’s top prospect DeShone Kizer, and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson sliding in behind him. Kirk Cousins (the top free agent option) ranks fourth, while Patrick Mahomes’ rising stock has him fifth. Mitch Trubisky, who some believe is a lock to be picked in the top five, doesn’t even make Emma’s top five.
- Miami’s Brad Kaaya didn’t make Emma’s initial list, but could be a participant worth watching at the upcoming NFL Combine. NFL Network’s Peter Schrager goes through his top-12 players to watch and calls Kaaya a “wild card” because he has a big arm and showed the ability in college to go out and win games with his talent.
- Zach Azzanni, one of the Bears’ newest assistants, said he was surprised when the team offered him the open wide receivers coach position. “Hell yeah, I was shocked. Absolutely,” Azzanni told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I was all full speed, throttle down for next season here. That thing came and kind of staggered me a little bit.” Life comes at you fast. Azzanni will move on from his role at Tennessee as recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach to getting his hands on an underachieving group of Bears receivers that could see some new faces in 2017.
- The University of Illinois announced its inaugural Hall of Fame class, which will feature some prominent members of the Chicago Bears. The Daily Illini reports that Dick Butkus, Red Grange, and George Halas are among the members who will be the first to be enshrined in the Hall.
- Cody Whitehair turned out to be one of the Bears most productive draft picks and a straight up steal in the second round. GM Ryan Pace and the team’s scouts obviously liked what they saw from the Kansas State product at the Combine:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) February 24, 2017
- The first game on the 2017 schedule has been announced with the Cowboys and Cardinals playing in the Hall of Fame game on August 3. Last year’s Hall of Fame game was canceled because the field was literally unplayable.
- Adrian Peterson torched the Bears a time or two over the years, but he might not be wearing a Minnesota Vikings uniform next time he plays against Chicago. In a segment with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, the topic of Peterson’s future is discussed with various landing spots for the star running back. The 49ers, Saints, Giants, and Packers are among the teams discussed as Peterson’s next destination. I can’t imagine Minnesota trading Peterson to a NFC contender, especially a team within the division like the Packers. But perhaps being the top offensive option in San Francisco intrigues Peterson enough to inquire about a trade there.
- Sanders also weighed in on Tony Romo’s situation, saying that if it was his decision he would either call it a career or choose to back up Dak Prescott. Romo has played only five games in the last two years, and hasn’t completed a full 16-game season since 2012 – but started 15 games in 2013 and 2014. The Jets, Chiefs, and Broncos are likely the most interested in Romo, but retirement could ultimately be an option for a quarterback who would be playing in his age 37 season.
- The Lions signed an offensive line depth piece with addition of free agent tackle Pierce Burton. The 6-6, 305-pound tackle entered the league with the Vikings in 2014, signing as an undrafted free agent. He finished the 2016 season on the Colts’ practice squad, and has prior experience with the practice squads of the Falcons and Panthers in 2015.
- Staying within the division, the Vikings have hired former Purdue football head coach Darrell Hazell as their new wide receivers coach. Hazell was the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2012, leading Kent State to an 11-3 record, before moving on to Purdue where the Boilermakers won nine games in three-and-a-half years.
- Sometimes, NFL deals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Jay Glazer reports the Broncos informed tackle Russell Okung they weren’t picking up his 2017 option. Which means he will receive only $8 million of the five-year, $53 million deal he signed in Denver, according to Ian Rapoport.
- We know tight end Zach Miller has great hands, because he has shown them when making plays in the passing game. But who knew that translated into guitar skills?
— Zach Miller (@ZMiller86) February 24, 2017