Based on the number of players projected to return for the 2017 season, the Chicago Bears seem pretty set at the linebacker position:
- Leonard Floyd
- Jerrell Freeman
- Lamarr Houston
- Nick Kwiatkoski
- Pernell McPhee
- Danny Trevathan
- Willie Young
The above-mentioned group features a mix of youth with upside (Floyd), depth (Kwiatkoski), veteran presence (Young, Houston), and players in their prime (Freeman, McPhee). On the other hand, that mix of players also includes four players who missed at least four games due to injury (Floyd, Houston, McPhee, Trevathan) and another who missed four games because of a PED suspension (Freeman).
There is stability in the present when it comes to the Bears’ group of linebackers, but the future is on shaky ground. So it makes sense that the Bears would host two high-upside linebackers on pre-draft visits.
Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times highlights a pair of linebackers – Alabama’s Reuben Foster and West Georgia’s Dylan Donahue – who could be on the radar for the Bears and other NFL teams on draft weekend. Both linebackers have different strengths and could fit the Bears in different ways. And despite the lack of immediate need on the surface, the combination of injuries and advancing age could put the Bears in a spot to draft a talented linebacker who can be plugged in to play right away, but also be a mainstay for years to come.
Perhaps it’s fitting the two visited at the same time.
Over the last two seasons, Donahue picked up 25.5 sacks and 37.5 tackles for the Division II Wolves. In addition to the 13.5 sacks and 20 tackles-for-loss as a senior in 2016, Donahue also finished third on the team with 67 tackles. At 6-foot-3, 248 pounds, Donahue is an undersized linebacker, but one with a knack for making plays and a football pedigree – his father Mitch was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 and 1990 before playing four years in the NFL.
Foster is destined to be a top-10 pick after a brilliant career at Alabama. We recently took a look at Foster and his potential fit with the Bears through the lens of his Bears visit in March. Nearly a month later, the Bears still have needs at the position and Foster could be a unique fit for a team in search of playmakers.
The Bears have had a variety of players make visits to Halas Hall in the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft. So maybe it’s not a coincidence that Todd McShay’s recent mock draft at ESPN has the Bears picking a defensive standout with each of their first three picks.