The 2019 NFL draft is officially behind us, which means we get to obsess over draft picks for the next few months until training camp starts up in late July. Whether it’s over analyzing every pick and undrafted free agent the Chicago Bears have acquired, or predicting who will make the roster in May, the dead part of the offseason is upon.
The good news? Over the next month and a half, the team will have multiple rounds of OTAs and mini-camps. This weekend kicks off the festivities with rookie mini-camp, which will future draft picks, undrafted free agents, rookie tryouts and even a few veterans vying for a late roster spot.
With all of this in mind, let’s dive into this week’s jammed packed mailbag.
Which of the bears UDFAs are you most excited about?— Chicago Bears Fan Page (@CHIfan320) April 30, 2019
I guess I’m not the only one equally as excited about their undrafted free agent haul as their actual draft class, huh?
I think it’s worth noting that because of how little draft capital the team had, it gave Pace the opportunity to spent much more time on the back end of the draft and as a result, he had one hell of a go at the priority undrafted free agent class.
As far as my favorites, here’s a list of my top five:
- WR Emanuel Hall (Missouri)
- TE Dax Raymond (Utah State)
- OL Alex Bars (Notre Dame)
- K John Baron II (San Diego State)
- Edge Chuck Harris (Buffalo)
The team will sign 21 total players, but these would be my top five. Hall was a projected second-to-third rounder. Raymond was a mid-rounder that fell in a deep class. If healthy, Bars would have been a third or fourth round pick. Baron is another strong leg to add to their current kicking competition and Harris has some juice as a developmental edge rusher. I’d say there’s a strong chance that a few of these guys make the final roster in September, too.
Who do you think will be the opening day starter at running back Davis or Montgomery?— Nick Newland (@NickNewland2) April 30, 2019
I know a lot of people are always going to want to know who will be “starting” especially on offense. It’s worth keeping in mind that all of their skill position guys will be on a rotation. Whether that’s receiver, running back or tight end.
As far as who I think will “start” Week 1, I think Mike Davis will start off getting slightly more carries per game, but I think by the end of the season David Montgomery will have more total snaps and touches. The team loves Davis, but frankly, I think Montgomery will be the better player and he’s more dynamic, despite his timed speed at the combine.
Either way, expect a solid three-headed monster and different players will be featured on a week-to-week basis unless one of them is clearly better over a sustained amount of time.
Who do you like to make the final 53 at WR?— Bear Down (@_Bear_Down_) April 30, 2019
Amazing to think that just two years ago, the Bears marched out Kendall Wright, Dontrelle Inman and Markus Wheaton as their starting receivers...
Now, we are looking at a vastly talented group that is very likely going to leave at least one player off the roster that would make 90% of NFL rosters.
Right now, they’ve got eight players for a likely total of six total spots. Here are the five roster “locks” so far.
- Allen Robinson
- Taylor Gabriel
- Anthony Miller
- Riley Ridley
- Cordarrelle Patterson
You don’t take Ridley in the fourth round and not have him on the roster unless he lands on Injured Reserve. It’s also possible that they could carry three running backs and Patterson could moonlight as both a running back and receiver, opening up a seventh spot for one of these three.
- Javon Wims
- Emmanuel Hall
- Marvin Hall
Out of those three, I think they’ll find a way to “secure” two of them. My guess would be Wims and Emanuel Hall. It’s possible they could stash one on Injured Reserve for the year, but some how, some way, I expect the first seven to be under team control in 2019.
Is it concerning that none of the kickers in the competition either are veteran NFL kickers or were the best in college football? Is the 2019 kicker on the current roster? Any chance it’s ultimately Robbie Gould?— JT Barczak (@jtbarczak) April 30, 2019
I think this was by design, personally.
I mean, think about this- They’ve signed veterans the past few years and where has that got them? Connor Barth was horrible and Cody Parkey had a career worst year and is now costing them over $5 million for the next two seasons to sit at home on the couch.
I actually like the approach they’ve taken. They’ve had three tryouts and have signed the three best out of those. Recently they signed Baron as an undrafted free agent, but keep in mind, they have another four rookies coming in for tryouts this weekend, as well.
Here’s the thing. If all of these guys fail and they are sitting there in late August with no solution, they’ll have Matt Bryant as an option, as well as multiple cuts from other teams.
As you pointed out, Robbie Gould could also be another possibility, but the vibe I’ve gotten from the 49ers side of things is that they are in no hurry to trade him. The kicking situation is going to take some time to play out. But remember, being a successful college kicker means little when translating to the NFL. Players like Will Lutz and even Gould were sub-80 percent kickers in college and have turned out pretty damn well.
Who will win the staring Kicker job?— The Bears Report (@TheBearsReport) April 30, 2019
Right now, the Bears have four kickers on their roster and another four coming in for tryouts this weekend when they hold their rookie mini-camp. Here’s the list:
- Chris Blewitt
- Elliot Fry
- Redford Jones
- John Baron II
- Emmit Carpenter (Minnesota)
- Alex Kjellsten (McNeese)
- Spencer Evans (Purdue)
- Casey Bednarski (Minnesota State-Mankato)
I wouldn’t be surprised to see all eight kickers at camp this weekend and it also wouldn’t surprise me to see them switch out one of them for a better tryout player. This will be the first time they’ve seen all four signees in action against each other.
I’ll stick with my original prediction for the winner and say Blewitt. The building thinks highly of him and many believe he has the best leg and high “ceiling” out of their current group. Things can change quickly, but that’s my prediction.
Do you anticipate a post - June 1 signing to complement the defense? Such as 1 - year deal for Suh.— jake.gooden (@jakegooden4) April 30, 2019
Looking at the team’s current roster, I don’t see many holes. On top of that, I don’t see a lot of areas where they would be willing to bypass their young ascending talent in favor of a one-year veteran.
Obviously we need to see how things play out in terms of health over the next month or so, but I don’t see the Bears as a team that is going to be adding much more veteran talent to the mix, at least until after this round of offseason activities. Even then, I have serious doubts that they would add any sort of big name, even if there was a need.
My guess is that they are more focused on their current roster and extending players, while trying to see who is sticking out on the bottom of that roster.
Will we see more RPOs this year because the RBs are better at running inside zone?— Dave (@Dave71079541) April 30, 2019
Dave asked a lot of questions in this week’s mailbag and while a lot of them were good questions, this one was the best.
One of the main reasons there has been so much focus on inside runners like Davis and Montgomery is exactly due to the cause and effect of the Run Pass Option (RPO). In order for the RPO to run how it should, inside zone runs are a big part of that. It was also something that I don’t think the team’s coaching staff saw Jordan Howard as a very good fit.
Howard’s fit, in my opinion, was more based on outside zone. Where he could stretch out runs and use his patience and vision to gain more yards down field as the play develops. Once head coach Matt Nagy stepped in, the focus on inside zone became a big factor in this team’s offense.
Both Davis and Montgomery thrive in this area, which should help the RPO situation and in turn, should help quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
What do the Bears do if Trubisky doesn’t take another step forward?— James Dell'Aringa (@JamesDellAringa) April 30, 2019
That’s somewhat of a scary question, but probably one that needs to be in everyone’s mind.
First of all, let me say that I was more than happy with Trubisky’s progress in year two. With that being said, he absolutely needs to take a sizable step in Year 3 for me (and many others) to believe that he can be the team’s unquestioned franchise quarterback that is capable of winning a Super Bowl.
I expect that to happen, but let’s assume that he either doesn’t progress much at all or even takes a Blake Bortles-like step back. In that case, I think that Pace would have to seriously evaluate him in the offseason and figure out how much confidence they have in him.
Much like the Jaguars, the Bears have an excellent roster, but as we saw last year, when Bortles wasn’t playing at a decent level, they were a beatable team and not nearly the same product as they were in 2017.
I don’t believe the same will happen with the Bears and Trubisky, but as a third-year quarter, he hasn’t proven enough for any sensible fan to at least have that in the back of their mind.
If he doesn’t progress or takes a step back, I would hope that Pace would react fast and at least bring in a capable veteran, but due to their cap situation and investment in Trubisky, they could be in a situation where they are simply stuck with him for another year or two.
This is not meant to scare people or present like I don’t believe in Trubisky, because I absolutely do. But if Trubisky doesn’t take another step forward this year, it’s absolutely a setback and one that could limit them in the short-term and long-term when looking at their potential chances of winning a Super Bowl.