With this post, I want to make an ideal, yet realistic, simulation on what the Bears roster should look like come draft-day, and also mention my ideal 2-round mock draft. This isn't as much simulation as a general list, but towards the end I have images on what the roster could look like at the end of free agency.
In the days leading up to free-agency, I often get antsy thinking about the players I want the Bears to resign, and the players I want them to target during the free-agency period. Due to the fact that I have no control over Ryan Pace's personnel decisions whatsoever, I make it my goal to project the most realistic, yet also ideal free-agency period. So without further adue, here are players I feel the Bears will target, ranked based on likelihood.
1) Albert Wilson (WR) - Whether you like this 5'9" receiver or not, after hearing Brett Veach speak at the combine, it is undeniable that the Bears will pursue Wilson. Not only does Wilson fill a position of need, he also knows Nagy's playbook by heart and had his best game in Mahomes' NFL debut, catching 10 passes for 147 yards. He was consistently open for the rookie, and the 25 year old showed that he could be a reliable slot threat for a young quarterback. Wilson has great elusiveness and is a mix between Tyreek Hill and Jarvis Landry. These players represent Wilson's ceiling, but the Bears would be happy to get Cole Beasley-esque returns. Wilson reminds me of Trevathan two years ago, as both players were widely expected to join the Bears.
2) Kyle Fuller (CB) - This one is another boring pick, but it has to be said. Kyle Fuller is a 26 year old corner coming off his best season and entering the prime of his career. He also represents the cream of a deep cornerback free-agent class which includes Malcolm Butler and Trumaine Johnson. The Bears would be crazy to not resign him or at the very least franchise him.
3) Cameron Meredith (WR) - Another Bear. He's a restricted free-agent coming off a serious injury who has the most value to the Bears. This deal will get done without breaking the bank, it's only a matter of time. Expect a deal similar to the one given to Adam Thielen this time last year.
1) Zach Fulton (G) - Another former Nagy pupil, and one that you've surely heard of in the past few weeks. The 26 year-old Fulton played well at guard last season and has position flexibility. He shouldn't break the bank as there are many other guards who are more highly-regarded than him in this free-agent class, among them Andrew Norwell, Justin Pugh, Senio Kelemete, and Jack Mewhort.
2) Aaron Lynch (OLB) - My personal favorite free-agent option, and one that is a must if the Bears want to have any kind of a pass-rush. This guy is still only 24 years old, and he got 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons in the NFL. He got phased out of the 49ers defense in the past two years, and didn't fit the scheme they were running. He's a typical 3-4 outside-linebacker, and if reunited with Fangio, who he was coached by in his prolific rookie season, he could thrive and reignite his faltering career. If Pace isn't targeting Lynch for a cheap, multi-year deal, I don't know how he expects to solve the Bears' pass-rush woes.
3) Mark Sanchez (QB) - The QB/Coach for the Bears last season should return after helping support and prepare Trubisky for the rigors of an NFL season. The Bears like his presence, but Trubisky has matured, and it's possible that the Bears take a route similar to the Cowboys last year, who let go of Sanchez after a year of helping Dak Prescott. Sanchez is an experienced back-up, so I would still expect the Bears to resign him to a veteran's minimum deal.
4) Tank Carradine (DE) - Another former Fangio pupil, Carradine could plug in the hole at the 3-4 DE position adequately. While not a big name, Carradine is a 29 year-old veteran who does what is asked of him effectively. He is an average player, which is better than what Jonathan Bullard is at the moment.
5) Dontae Johnson (CB) - Johnson is the third 49ers free agent in this category, and it also has a great deal to do with his history playing for Fangio. Johnson is a young (26) player who has shown potential at the corner position, and he could be a capable depth piece and potential starter for the Bears on the boundary. The Bears could cut Marcus Cooper and bring in Johnson to replace him on a cheaper deal.
6) Donte Moncrief (WR) - While he doesn't have any connections to the team, he seems like Ryan Pace's type of guy. A Kevin White clone, Moncrief has a tantalizing size-speed combination, but just hasn't put it all together. At just 24 years old, Moncrief still has time to grow, and could become a great player under the right coaching staff. Pace likes to gamble on athleticism and potential, and Moncrief is the perfect mix and should be gettable at a price similar to Wheaton's last year.
1) Senio Kelemete (G) - It's either Fulton or Kelemete. The Saints signed Kelemete to their practice-squad the same year that Pace became the Saints Director of Player Personnel (2013). He played well this season when given a starting opportunity, and should have a solid market while not breaking the bank. His relationship with Pace and the fact that he is only 27 should pull the Bears towards him to fill their hole at guard.
2) Chase Daniels (QB) - While he might be more expensive than the Bears would like, there are few quarterbacks who are better back-ups than Daniels. Daniels has numerous connections to the Bears. Most importantly, he was a back-up to Alex Smith when Nagy was in Kansas City. He then left KC and joined Doug Pederson, who was coordinator when Nagy was QB coach. A year later, he went to join Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton, who both have close ties to Ryan Pace. I would be shocked if the Bears didn't at least entertain the possibility of bringing in Daniels to be their back-up to Trubisky.
3) Bashaud Breeland (CB) - While Breeland doesn't have any connections to Chicago, he seems to be the type of free-agent that Ryan Pace likes to target, a middle-tier player at a position of need just entering his prime. He reminds me a bit of Marcus Cooper, a player who I believe the Bears will cut sooner rather than later, in terms of his streakiness and youth. Breeland is better than Cooper though, and has been a better player in his career up to this point. Breeland is a player who might get paid, but he's the type of corner that Fangio would know how to maximize.
4) Kendall Wright (WR) - The only reason Wright is so low on this list is because he plays the slot, and Wilson is almost sure to be signed by the Bears. If the Bears deem that two slot receivers are unnecessary, or opt for a younger option, Wright's time with the Bears will come to an end.
5) Daquan Jones (DE) - Jones is a player who plays the 3-4 DE position well, but isn't talked about often because of his tendency to do the dirty work, a.k.a. stop the run. Jones doesn't have any ties to Chicago either, but similar to Akiem Hicks, he is a young player (26) just entering his prime. If the Bears don't want to rely on Jonathan Bullard or RRH breaking out, Jones is the way to go. Wilkerson and Richardson might be better players, but Ryan Pace has shown a strong tendency to avoid players with character concerns following the Ray McDonald incident, so I expect him to steer clear of both.
6) Bennie Logan (DT) - Logan could play both the NT and the 3-4 DE spot in the Bears scheme, and he underwhelmed on a one-year deal with the Chiefs last season. While Nagy didn't work with the Chiefs defense, he could use his connections to bring in Logan on a cheap one year deal to provide valuable depth and potential displace Bullard as the starting DE opposite Hicks.
7) Marquise Lee (WR) - Lee is similar to Markus Wheaton last year. He was a former high draft pick who underwhelmed with his former team due to a combination of injury and being buried on the depth chart. Lee was buried by Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson while also being hampered by soft-tissue injuries, while Wheaton couldn't find playing time behind AB and Martavis Bryant while also getting injured frequently. I could see a Wheaton for Lee swap happening.
8) NaVorro Bowman (ILB) - He thrived under Fangio for the 49ers before his injury, and now that he's mostly a thumper at the inside-linebacker position, his price shouldn't be that high. The 29 year-old was one of the best players in the league under Fangio, and with the Bears recently letting go of Jerrell Freeman, I could see Bowman sliding in as depth behind Trevathan and Kwit.
1) Trent Murphy (DE/OLB) - Murphy had 9 sacks in 2016 as a DE/OLB for the Redskins 3-4 defense, but his PED suspension and torn ACL last season makes him an unlikely target for the normally risk-averse Ryan Pace.
2 and 3) Muhammad Wilkerson/Sheldon Richardson (DE) - Both players are 3-4 defensive ends who have immense potential and have proven the ability to play effectively in their time with the Jets. Both have serious character concerns, and Richardson has totalled 2.5 sacks in his last 30 games while Wilkerson stopped putting in his full-effort after getting paid.
4) Dontari Poe (NT) - The Bears don't need a NT with Goldman in place, but if they are interested in a depth piece or potentially moving Goldman to an end spot as they were experimenting last season, Poe would be an interesting candidate. Nagy's and Poe's times on the Chiefs had a brief overlap, and Nagy could use his connections to lure Poe to Chicago if necessary.
5 and 6) Taylor Gabriel and Sammy Watkins (WR) - Both players are on here for very different reasons. Gabriel is a great player for the Bears who resembles Tyreek Hill, but he specializes in the slot and the Bears are set on Albert Wilson. Sammy Watkins is a player the Bears are no doubt interested in, but I doubt Ryan Pace will be willing to pay the price necessary to nab him if he hits free agency. Trubisky is training with Goff though, so if Goff has good things to say about his former target then who knows?
After factoring in this information, I came up with this:
Based on this, an ideal 2 round draft would be:
1st Round - Tremaine Edmunds (ILB/OLB) or Marcus Davenport (OLB)
2nd Round - Courtland Sutton (WR) or James Washington (WR)
So what do you guys think? Did I miss any players? Who do you guys want us to sign/draft to patch up the holes on our roster?