Behind the scenes: Bubble list process


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With preseason game No. 3 approaching, most personnel departments around the NFL should be finishing up their league-wide preseason bubble list evaluations by the end of the weekend.

The lists provide clubs a point of reference as they consider improving their rosters by adding players dropped by their respective teams during the mandatory Aug. 27 and Aug. 31 roster cutdown dates.

The Chicago Bears definitely take part in this, too. So we'll try to take you through the process of how this works:

• The Bears start formulating an initial bubble list right after the draft, and by the time the club has concluded minicamps in June, it has developed a list for the summer. The pro side of the personnel department, which also leans on input from the college scouts, puts together the list from its own roster analysis of each team around the NFL.

• Throughout the preseason, the Bears update their bubble list daily as their pro scouts continually evaluate pro prospects by watching video and attending preseason games. The college scouts, meanwhile, are assigned to evaluate the bubble lists from two to three teams off tape that is transmitted to their iPads.

• The college scouts, who at this point are on the road scouting college players, carve out a couple of days during the month of August to go over preseason games around the league. In addition to their duties on the road, they're tasked with sending in brief reports on the players they see -- from evaluating preseason tape -- as being capable of helping the Bears if they were to become available.

• Pro personnel director Kevin Turks constantly updates the bubble list based on input from three pro scouts, two scouting assistants and nine college scouts filing brief reports from the road.

• From there, Turks constantly updates Bears general manager Phil Emery about the players on the bubble list the club may be interested in at positions of need. Emery then focuses in on those players.

• Throughout the process, Turks, Emery and assistant director of pro personnel Dwayne Joseph work with the coaching staff and show the staff tape of the players the personnel side believes can help the Bears through claims off the waiver wire, trades during the preseason or when teams cut down to their final 53-man rosters.

• The coaching staff and the pro personnel staff continually whittle down the bubble list to a few key players they all believe can help the club at some level on the roster.

• Decisions about the direction the club takes with these players lies with Emery and coach Marc Trestman, who after a conversation, make a joint decision about what to do. The Bears won't make a move for a player unless they've come to a consensus that the targeted player is clearly better than a player the club currently has at a particular position at the level of which he's been evaluated (starter, backup, contributor, special-teamer, etc.).

Yes, it's a tedious process that takes a total collaborative effort on the parts of several people in the personnel department and coaching staff. Possible trades even factor into equation, as well, but one of the keys for the Bears in finding a potential partner is identifying a club with depth at a position of need, while making sure they have depth at a position of need for the other team.

Hopefully, this provides you at least a small glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.