Chicago Bears: NFL Draft 2014

Bears preview: Make-or-break stretch

August, 27, 2014
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The first half of this team's schedule fits that description, considering the Bears play five of their first seven outings on the road against the 49ers, Jets, Panthers, Falcons and Patriots. If the Bears go into their Nov. 2 bye relatively healthy with a record of at least .500, the rest of the schedule sets up nicely, with just three road games remaining and the rest set for the frigid winter conditions at Soldier Field, a definite home-field advantage during the latter portion of the season.

Complete Bears season preview.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Having played in the background the majority of the preseason as the No. 3 quarterback, rookie sixth-round pick David Fales preps for his most significant action to date as the Chicago Bears plan to play him the entire preseason finale Thursday against the Cleveland Browns.

[+] EnlargeDavid Fales
Stephen Brashear/AP PhotoQB David Fales will get the chance to showcase his skills in the Bears' preseason finale at Cleveland.
Fales played sparingly in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, but hasn't seen action since. So Thursday's game at Cleveland presents the perfect opportunity for Fales to earn a spot on the 53-man roster as opposed to being waived and later brought back to the practice squad.

"Fales, he's gonna start the game and we'll see where it goes," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "I'd like to see him play a lot of the game. I just wanted to get David in a position where he was getting [in] on the [preparation for the] Browns and was really taking some time to prepare for this on really what is a short week for us."

Fales completed five of his seven throws for 68 yards against the Eagles, playing mostly mop-up duty in the fourth quarter. Fales tossed an interception in the game, but also led the team on a long drive that resulted in a field goal.

Fales said he's "definitely excited" for the chance to start at Cleveland. If Fales fails to impress enough to land a spot on the 53-man roster, he could wind up on Chicago's practice squad if he isn't snatched up by another team during the waiver process.

Despite lacking somewhat in arm strength, Fales makes up for that deficiency with strong anticipation skills. He possesses limited mobility, but Fales is courageous enough to stand in the pocket and deliver under pressure.

Entering the draft, Fales projected as an ideal fit for the West Coast offense, which is what the Bears currently utilize.

Fales was the first quarterback drafted by the Bears since 2011. He started in all 45 games he played in at San Jose State, hitting on 65.9 percent of his passes for 12,727 yards, 101 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Sorry for the wait on this week’s mailbag, but because there were some questions regarding rookies, I figured I’d take in the team’s three-day rookie minicamp over the weekend to get an eye on those players before digging into the questions.

Thanks, everyone, for participating.

 
The NFL draft wrapped up just five days ago, but on Thursday, Chicago became the first team in the NFL to reach agreements with its entire 2014 draft class.

The Bears announced that third-round pick Will Sutton agreed to terms Thursday on a four-year contract.

Financial details weren't immediately disclosed.

Sutton was the second of consecutive defensive tackles taken by the Bears in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft. The last time the Bears took defensive tackles back-to-back in early rounds was 2004, when the club drafted Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson.

A two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, Sutton was a three-year starter at Arizona State, where he generated 45.5 tackles for loss to go with 20.5 sacks, including 13 in 2012 as a junior. Sutton's production dipped in 2013, but he contributed 48 tackles, four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.

With Sutton agreeing to terms, the Bears have reached deals with their entire eight-man draft class. The Bears agreed to terms Wednesday with their first-round pick, CB Kyle Fuller, on a four-year contract with a fifth-year option.

On Tuesday, the club signed defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, running back Ka'Deem Carey, punter Pat O'Donnell and offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. On Monday, the club agreed to terms with safety Brock Vereen and quarterback David Fales.

The team kicks off a three-day rookie minicamp Friday at Halas Hall.
The Chicago Bears agreed to terms on Sunday with nine undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list:

RB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

DT Brandon Dunn, Louisville

OG Ryan Groy, Wisconsin

OG James Dunbar, Texas Christian

LB Tana Patrick, Alabama

LB Christian Jones, Florida State

DT Lee Pegues, East Carolina

OT Cody Booth, Temple

LB Devekeyan Lattimore, South Florida
Chicago's latest draft class created the instant trivia question of which NFL team features both the 2013 Pac-10 offensive and defensive players of the year, but in the end nothing trivial transpired with regard to the quality of prospects selected.

[+] EnlargePhil Emery
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastPhil Emery may have conducted his best draft yet with the Bears.
Bears general manager Phil Emery set upon the task of filling the team's needs and accomplished that for the most part with the team's eight-man draft class. In doing so, the club stuck to its original plan, and when it veered, it was only done in an effort to move toward the goal of filling the team's needs.

Day 3 of the draft served as a prime example.

When Emery and the personnel staff looked up at the draft board going into Saturday, they felt the only way to land two quality players on the final day was to trade back into the fourth, which is precisely what the Bears did. After selecting 2013 Pac 10 offensive player of the year Ka'Deem Carey in the fourth, the club received another pick in the round via a trade with the Denver Broncos. The trade, in which Chicago gave up its fifth-round pick Saturday and an additional fifth rounder in in 2015, allowed the Bears to address a huge need at safety, as they selected Minnesota's Brock Vereen with the 131st pick. The trade also netted a seventh-round pick, which Chicago used to pick up Boise State offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr.

"So from the start of the day we were trying to line up opportunities to take our fifth-round [pick] and move into the back end of the fourth so we could come away with two quality players," Emery explained. "I just really felt if we waited until the fifth round for the second player, it wouldn't be there."

The synergy developed from familiarity between the coaching staff and scouting department allowed the club to pull off that move almost seamlessly, as part of Emery concluding arguably his best draft as the team's GM. When Emery joined the Bears in 2012, not only was he new to the job, but the scouting department was already in the process of preparing for the draft. Then in 2013, Emery found himself working with a new coaching staff trying to find players who fit schemes he didn't yet truly know, or at least hadn't seen used by the Bears.

Now with Emery's personnel department, which he's expanded, and a year of experience working with Marc Trestman and the coaching staff, perhaps things finally are coming together.

"Very satisfied the way people came together in this building," Emery said "It was awesome. If you're willing to sit down and have a good conversation [about players] instead of just reading reports, state your opinions and really listen, you're going to find a way toward your goals. That's what I've seen happen this past year in terms of everybody being comfortable with each other."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears used the first of their two sixth-round picks Saturday to add a developmental quarterback in San Jose State’s David Fales with the 183rd overall pick.

[+] EnlargeDavid Fales
Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY SportsDavid Fales is one of two NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks to throw for more than 4,000 during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
My take: Perhaps general manager Phil Emery threw up the smokescreen during a pre-draft press conference recently saying that based on a study he recently conducted, the developmental quarterback theory doesn’t “hold water.” Emery mentioned that if a team is looking to take a quarterback, it should do it in the first and second rounds. So Emery went against his own logic in selecting Fales, and for good reason: the quarterback is a talented player.

Fales lacks arm strength, but like former backup Josh McCown, he makes up for it with strong anticipation skills and football smarts.

Fales also possesses some mobility and the courage to stand in the pocket and deliver in heavy pressure. Another attribute that likely attracted the Bears to Fales is his reputation for being coachable and having a strong work ethic, which would make the pairing with head coach Marc Trestman ideal considering Fales is a developmental prospect.

Because of the Fales’ good-to-average arm, smarts and anticipation skills, scouts projected him to be a fit in more of a West Coast type of system, which is exactly what the Bears utilize under Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Interestingly, Fales and Derek Carr, a second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders, are the only NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks to throw for more than 4,000 during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Durability/productivity: The first quarterback drafted by the Bears since 2011, Fales started in all 45 games he played in during college, completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 12,727 yards, 101 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. Fales played just two seasons at San Jose State (played two years before at Monterey Peninsula College), but shares or owns 28 school, game, season or career records.

What’s next: Shortly after selecting Fales, the Bears drafted punter Pat O’Donnell with their second sixth-round pick. It’s likely the Bears close out the draft in the seventh round by scooping up a linebacker.

 
CLEVELAND -- Greetings from Cleveland, where I’m part of a contingent of ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters here at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest.

From here, we’ll get the takes of several Hall of Famers on a variety of current subjects concerning the NFL.

But for right now, let’s get to this week’s Twitter mailbag. Thanks, everyone, for participating.

 

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Bears 

April, 10, 2014
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The Chicago Bears hold the No. 14 pick in the upcoming NFL draft after finishing last season with an 8-8 record, and by virtue of the frenetic pace the club worked at during free agency, the potential selection in the first round seems wide open at this point.

ESPN.com's Todd McShay revealed his fourth 2014 mock draft on ESPN Insider today, with this one covering the first two rounds, and his choices for the Bears certainly make lots of sense.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Bears

March, 13, 2014
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ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. unveiled his Mock 3.0 on Thursday, and just like his draft-guru colleague Todd McShay of Scouts Inc., he projected the Chicago Bears to take Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald with the No. 14 pick.

Chicago’s signings thus far in free agency certainly make such a move prudent. Although the Bears re-signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins before the start of free agency, the club still hasn’t put together an enticing enough offer to bring back Henry Melton, who, according to a league source, is visiting Minnesota but also has several other visits lined up.

If the Bears can’t re-sign Melton or any other starting-level defensive tackles in free agency, they’ll certainly turn to the draft to address that need. Kiper sent Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to the Bears at No. 14 in his first two mock drafts, writing in Mock 2.0 that “I’m a bigger fan of Jernigan in a 4-3 look, where he’s using his power to go through a blocker and not trying to beat people off the snap and use quickness.”

McShay chose Donald in his last mock draft, saying, "Donald is a perfect fit for the Bears’ scheme as a 3-technique defensive tackle. I don’t know if there’s been a prospect who has helped his stock more during the draft process than him. He was unblockable at the Senior Bowl, and that, put together with an unbelievable overall workout at the combine. He’s shorter than prototype size, but he has long arms and a powerful upper body and creates a lot of big plays with his anticipation and quickness. FSU’s Timmy Jernigan is a fit as a 3-technique as well, but Donald is a much better finisher as a pass-rusher."

Kiper and McShay have both been consistent throughout their mock drafts in Chicago's using its first-round pick to address the defensive tackle position, and from this vantage point they’re on the money.

Donald might actually be more of a fit than Jernigan at No. 14 because the Bears might benefit from pairing him with Ratliff next season. If Donald doesn’t pan out early, the worst-case scenario is he would provide depth at a position that lacked it in 2013 when injuries rendered the defense rudderless.

The Bears last season gave up the most points (478) and total yards (6,313) in franchise history as opponents put together 10 100-yard-rushing performances.

Uncertainty still exists along Chicago’s defensive line despite the signings of Ratliff, Collins and free-agent defensive end Lamarr Houston. The Bears need to add along the front four to avoid experiencing another catastrophe such as what they endured in 2013.

“I feel like I can make an impact right away, feel like I can come in and have trust in the coaches and playbook and make plays right away,” Donald said last month at the NFL combine.

At this point, that’s certainly what the Bears need in their attempt to revamp the defense.

McShay Mock 3.0: Bears 

March, 6, 2014
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Todd McShay's third NFL mock draft for 2014 is out on ESPN Insider today. The Bears are mostly set on the offensive side of the ball. This is going to be an extremely defensive-heavy offseason for Chicago in an attempt to restore a once-proud defense that was among the worst in the league in 2013.

Every defensive position group needs major work right now but a defensive tackle upgrade would be a very welcome addition. If the Bears re-sign Henry Melton, another 3-technique, such as Pitt's Aaron Donald, might be off the table because he is a very similar style of defensive tackle. Julius Peppers is very likely going to be released, but there isn't really a defensive end option for Chicago at No. 14, even though that too is a huge area of concern.

A dynamic young linebacker also would be enticing, keeping the Bears' great run of linebackers going strong. Chicago's secondary is in far-from-ideal shape right now as well and they might have had the worst safety play in the league in 2013. Defense. Defense. Defense.

Whom does McShay have the Bears drafting at No. 14? Let's take a look:

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