Whether it’s fantasy or reality, Jordan Howard has potential to be one of the NFL’s premier running backs in 2017:
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) April 19, 2017
Howard was a draft-day steal for the Bears, who picked the Indiana University product in the fifth round in 2016 – obviously, he wouldn’t last nearly that long if the NFL did a re-draft today. But because of Howard’s star quality season, the Bears aren’t in search of a running back in a class loaded with them.
And that’s fine, although, a little depth never hurt anybody.
- The NFL Draft is one week away and it looks as though the Bears will face one of the night’s most difficult decisions if they’ve narrowed their search to the two best safeties on the board. LSU’s Jamal Adams and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of the safeties in a deep and talented class. Over at CBS Chicago, Chris Emma provides a rundown with pros and cons of the top safety prospects in an attempt to figure out which fits the Bears’ needs best.
- Adams is more the more well-rounded safety with no durability concerns, but wasn’t a turnover-forcing machine at LSU. On the other hand, Hooker was a ballhawk who pounced on turnover opportunities, causing some to compare him favorably to former Baltimore Ravens star Ed Reed. But a pair of offseason surgeries could hinder Hooker’s draft stock. In the end, both would be high-upside fits for a Bears defense that still needs help in the secondary. You can see how the Bears might struggle coming to a conclusion here.
- Despite the glaring needs in the secondary, neither safety nor cornerback are listed among the Bears’ biggest needs by Around The NFL writer Conor Orr. Instead, defensive line, offensive tackle are the three big needs here and, well, those are pretty significant needs too. Somebody is bound to break out from the assembled group of receivers currently on the Bears roster, right? Even still, the Bears don’t have a traditional go-to receiver and things could bottom out quickly if players don’t click with new quarterback Mike Glennon quickly. With that being said, the team still should be looking to upgrade on both sides of the line. Whether it is offensively at the tackle position, or on the defensive side finding an end or edge defender in the 3-4 package. All things considered, Orr believes the best fits in the draft for the Bears might be a defensive lineman – either Stanford’s Solomon Thomas or Alabama’s Jonathan Allen.
- Over at CBS Sports, Frank Cooney offers up his opinion on the Bears’ five biggest needs. There is some crossover between Cooney and Orr, who both list defensive line and wide receiver near the top of the list, but Cooney adds cornerback, wide receiver, and safety to round out his top five. Interestingly enough, wide receiver is listed as the second biggest need – but there simply isn’t a player worthy of the third overall pick, leaving Cooney to believe the Bears are better off searching for that playmaker on the outside in the second round. Cooney lists safety as the team’s top need, and also notes how the contrast of style between Hooker’s playmaking ability and Adams’ fit as a physical strong safety type could make this a difficult decision for General Manager Ryan Pace.
- At some point in the draft, the Bears should take advantage of the depth at cornerback and pluck a player who can jump right into a group that received a major overhaul in free agency. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that cornerback should still be a priority for the Bears, even after giving $15 million worth of guarantees to free agents Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. If Marshon Lattimore had a bit more experience (he only started a year at cornerback for Ohio State) and fewer concerns with injuries, he might be a lock to be taken with the third overall pick. But those two things conspire to work against him, even though he is still the draft’s top-rated corner. Because of the number of playmakers at the position, the Bears could afford to wait on addressing this need until later in the draft.
- Perhaps former offensive lineman Jay Hilgenberg will be the first to greet the next great Bears cornerback. Hilgenberg will announce the Bears’ second-round pick at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia. Hilgenberg was a seven-time Pro Bowl lineman during his 11-year career with the Bears. He will be joined by Katie Foster, a 17-year-old gymnast from Rockford who lost her left leg because of an infection during treatment for acute myeloid leukemia at age 12 in what will certainly be an emotional moment at the draft podium.
- While the Bears struggle to find playmakers on the outside, the Green Bay Packers have drafted eight wide receivers in the last six drafts, and could be in a position to take another next week. The Packers have been pretty good at finding pass catching targets for Aaron Rodgers over the years. Jordy Nelson represents the old guard of Packers receivers/Bears tormenters, Randall Cobb was a second-round pick (64th overall), and Davante Adams, also a second-round pick, was selected just two spots after the Bears chose Ego Ferguson back in 2014. The last thing the Packers probably need is another amazing receiver, but why wouldn’t you want to add to a position of strength?
- And finally, congratulations to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. I suppose congratulations are in order for the Bears, too, for avoiding the exposure they continue to not seek:
Coming SOON! pic.twitter.com/lH5wXPUDaq
— NFL (@NFL) April 19, 2017