Albert Wilson Should be First Free Agent to Sign with Chicago Bears

I used the Fanspeak mock draft simulator and I went with their board and I accepted no trades. I also went with best player available (according to the board) because Bears general manager Ryan Pace has talked about being a BPA drafter. The only time I strayed from the BPA was when the pick would have doubled me up on a position I really didnt need and if an obvious scheme mismatch would have been my choice.

Heres the full mock to see how the other teams were mocked and how I drafted.

Pace hasnt explained how he botched that move, or what lessons he might have learned from that mistake — saying, I have no regrets in us being aggressive in attacking that position. Its that important. (For what its worth, even Phil Emery acknowledged a lesson learned in drafting Shea McClellin in the first round: In terms of pure defensive ends, probably make sure theyre a little bit longer and a little bit heavier, Emery said at the 2014 combine.)

Clues point to Bears surrounding Mitch Trubisky with targets in free agency

First Round – Pick 8 – Roquan Smith, ILB, GeorgiaDo the Bears need an inside linebacker? Maybe. I think theyd be content to head into the 2018 season with Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski starting, but with Smith as the BPA in this mock, it certainly would be an interesting pick. As an inside backer, I think hes a better player than the other ILB expected to go in the first round, Tremaine Edmunds, but he doesnt have Edmunds freakish athletic ability.

Regardless, Pace at least mitigated the damage. Glennon will be cut, albeit with a lingering $4.5 million dead cap hit, according to And by drafting Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick last year, Pace already has a potential franchise quarterback in place (though the specter of Deshaun Watson becoming the next big thing still looms to haunt Pace). It could have been worse if the Bears still were searching for a starting quarterback this offseason.

Thats not to say Smith isnt athletically gifted. At 61, 236 pounds he ran a 4.51 forty at the NFL Combine and that speed shows up on tape. Hes a sideline to sideline missile on the field and hell bring the total package to whichever team drafts him.

Second Round – Pick 39 – Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State In my last podcast, EJ Snyder had Geisicki yied for his number one tight end. At 65, 247 pounds, this former volleyball and basketball player put on an impressive show at the combine. Hes not lining up next to a tackle to help your running game, but hes a weapon in the passing game.

Fourth Round – Pick 105 – Lorenzo Carter, OLB, GeorgiaSmiths teammate with the Bulldogs checks in at 66, and 250 pounds, and he actually ran a faster 40 than Smith did. Carter bested him by a hundredth of a second, but hes not as complete a player. Hell need to be coached up as an edge rusher, but the athletic traits are there.

Bears wide receiver Kendall Wright (13) led the Bears with 59 receptions for 614 yards last season. (Rey Del Rio/AP)

Fourth Round – Pick 115 – John Kelly, RB, TennesseeKelly is short (58), but stout (205) and hed help in the passing game as both a receiver out of the backfield and in blitz pickup.

With that in mind, it may make the most sense to draft an offensive lineman or pass rusher in the 1st round and address the wideout position in the second round, where we should be able to find a receiver that isnt far off from Ridley or Kirk. Prospects like James Washington (Oklahoma State), D.J. Moore (Maryland), and D.J. Chark (LSU) all should be available when we select again with the 39th pick and all have serious potential as a playmaker to pair with Trubisky. Washington won the Biletnikoff award, given to the best receiver in college football and has a frame that translates to the NFL better than Ridley and Kirk (only 511″, but weighs in at 213 pounds. Extremely rare size for a wide receiver). Moore was the Big Ten Receiver of the Year and possesses a great combination of size and speed. I see him as more of a slot receiver, but since we need help everywhere, I wouldnt mind selecting him in the 2nd. As for Chark, I saved my favorite for last. At 63″, Chark has all the potential White had coming out of West Virginia four years ago. With game-breaking speed (4.32 40-yard dash) and a NBA-ready vertical (40 inches), Chark has all the ability in the world to soon be catching bombs from Trubisky at Soldier Field on Sundays. Maybe second time is the charm for Pace on selecting a raw prospect with all the tools to become a #1 wideout for the Bears.

Fifth Round – Pick 145 – Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico StateI was hoping a wide out would be BPA sooner than this, but Scott has some skills. At 65, hes a go up and get it player. He has decent hands, but his route running could be crisper.

Sixth Round – Pick 181 – Jamarcus King, CB, South CarolinaI was hoping to snag a corner before the sixth round too, but BPA tied my hands. King has good length at 61, but hes a little slow (4.7 forty) and his quickness has been questioned. But he produced in his two year career, with 97 tackles, 5 picks and 21 passes defended.

The Bears hold seven picks in the draft next month (no third rounder, but two fourth round picks; thanks Pace) and cannot leave Dallas without a wide receiver. How many we actually draft and what round we draft them in is up for debate. Although a top need, there seems to be a lack of top talent that is worth a top ten selection in the 1st round. Calvin Ridley of Alabama and Christian Kirk of Texas A&M are considered by most to be the top two prospects on NFL draft boards, but both seem like a reach at the eighth slot, as neither feel like a home-run pick. Ridley comes from the NFL-factory down in Tuscaloosa, but he is no Julio Jones. At only 60″ and 197 pounds, Ridley is rather small and could have serious issues getting off the line against NFL cornerbacks. Trubisky needs all the help he can get and Ridley stuck on the line wont due him any favors. He is a smooth route runner and does have great speed (4.44 40-yard dash), but if he cant get open, none of that really matters. Twenty drops over three seasons is noteworthy as well. I watched Bears receivers drop an alarming number of balls last year; we dont need anymore help in that department.

Seventh Round – Pick 224 – Jacob Pugh, OLB, Florida StateI didnt mind doubling down at this position because the Bears need bodies at OLB. Pugh is an interesting athletic prospect at 64, 246 pounds with a 4.65 forty and a 38.5 inch vertical. Scouts are down on him for his consistency and lack of play strength, but if hes allowed to focus on one position in the NFL he could develop into a solid backup.

As a seventh rounder, he has enough upside to roll the dice. Just check out his ridiculous spider-graph.

Not taking an offensive lineman isnt ideal, and Im not very high on the Kelly or King pick. But other than that, Id say it wasnt a bad haul for sticking to their BPA board.

Now how many of those players I will not name that are actually still on the roster when September comes will be determined over the next few months, as Free Agency begins and the NFL draft comes and goes. It is up to Pace to fill our gaping hole at wide receiver and a mix from both buckets would be ideal. We need to surround our quarterback of the future, Mitchell Trubisky, with all the help he can get in order to ensure he takes a leap forward in his second year in the league. His growth though is heavily dependent on the talent around him and right now, we arent doing him any favors with the cast of misfit toys employed. We need to grab, at minimum, three new receivers and our journey to acquire help for Trubisky starts next Wednesday.

NFL shopping season arrives Monday when the negotiating window opens, preceding the start of the new league year at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Bears, for the third straight year, have an abundance of salary-cap space. They sit at more than $64.5 million. 

When I was a child I had a blanket or as I liked to call it, a blanky. I carried my blanky EVERYWHERE and boy, did it show. While Linus van Pelt carried around a crisp blue blanket that comforted him as he dealt with a balding best friend and abusive sister, I was in constant possession of what most would call a dirty rag. Due to my constant use of its services, my blanky resembled a piece of cloth knotted together a million times over that looked as if it had been used mop head for several years. My blanky resembled a blanket fit for an orphan in 1917 Russia. It was orphangae bad. Yet, even with all of its holes, I loved it and did not get rid of it until an age I would rather not admit.

If youre combing through what Ryan Pace said at the NFL scouting combine for clues to what the future holds for the Bears in free agency, zero in on his comments about the teams greatest offensive need — wide receiver.

Notre Dame offensive lineman Quenton Nelson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 2, 2018. | Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Thats an area where you can get better quickly through free agency or the draft, the general manager said.

Then, keep in mind what he said about his prized acquisition from a year ago, quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Free Agents the Chicago Bears should target

I can sit back now and be happy we have a guy we feel good about — a young quarterback we want to build around. he said. This is his team going forward.

As Bears Focus on Offensive Overhaul is Trey Burton Part of Plans?

Consider it proof positive the Bears are driven to surround Trubisky with talent that can help him succeed for new coach Matt Nagy and his staff a year after the team had one of the least productive receiving corps in the NFL. Its easy to play connect-the-dots for the Bears, who project to have more than $64 million in salary cap space when they release Mike Glennon after the new league year begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

NFL Draft Mock Watch: Quenton Nelson

Between the two primary avenues for player acquisitions, the Bears can improve more rapidly through free agency than the draft. They have used two of their 20 draft picks the last three years on receivers and have gotten scant production from first-rounder Kevin White and seventh-rounder Daniel Braverman, who was released before last season.

The draft class might not have an option worth taking with the eighth overall pick and history shows draft picks can take awhile to develop at the position. But the Bears, who likely will tender an offer to restricted free agent receiver Cameron Meredith, can revamp their depth chart quickly when free agency opens and surely will be busy when the negotiating window, which permits teams to speak with agents, begins at 11 a.m. Monday. Its worth wondering if the team, which has been snubbed in pursuit of big-ticket cornerbacks the past two years, will be more aggressive with its offers in a market in which other teams flush with cap space like the Browns, Jets, Colts, 49ers, Titans and Redskins also are seeking help at the position.

Dark horse wide receiver targets for Bears to watch

No greater reminder of the pitfalls inherent with free agency is needed than the series of moves the team made recently, shedding unproductive previous signings. Its difficult to build a foundation for a roster in free agency and the Bears have reinforced that while Pace maintains they want to remain draft driven.

Allen Robinson of the Jaguars and Sammy Watkins of the Rams represent the most attractive potential free agents if they dont re-sign with their present teams. Robinson is coming off a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in Week 1 but its believed he will be fully cleared by June and therefore will not need to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

The Bears charged into the offseason by hiring coach Matt Nagy to replace John Fox, a move that triggered a slew of other staff changes in January. After Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, it wont be long before league business heats up again.

Heres a rundown of meaningful dates and deadlines that make up the Bears 2018 offseason calendar.

The knee injury has to create at least some level of concern for Robinson, who produced 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns playing with Blake Bortles in 2015. Hes a big target — 6-foot-3, 211 pounds — who plays big and runs well. Robinson can challenge defensive backs on routes at all three levels of the defense and wins contested catches downfield.

Watkins would come healthy and is a speed merchant but hes less dimensional than Robinson. The Rams would like him back but opted to use their franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner. Both wide receivers are only 24.

Its possible the Bears will target either Robinson or Watkins and look to pair their choice with Albert Wilson, the slot receiver from the Chiefs who has been linked to the Bears ever since Nagy was hired. The shifty and speedy Wilson would bring familiarity with the new offense and be an athletic upgrade over Kendall Wright.

The most productive target in the Chiefs offense during Nagys stay there was tight end Travis Kelce and the Bears need to replace their pass catcher at the position, Zach Miller. Someone will sign Trey Burton of the Eagles based on potential, not unlike the move the Bears made in 2013 when they signed Martellus Bennett before he had fully blossomed. Burton, best known for throwing a touchdown pass to Nick Foles in Super Bowl LII, had 60 catches for 575 yards and six touchdowns the last two years as the Eagles third tight end. The Bears also could consider Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham, who averaged less than 10 yards per catch last season for the first time in his career but remains a viable red zone target, something the Bears lack. Pace and director of player personnel Josh Lucas know him well from their time with the Saints.

The Bears need to consider a plan to replace left guard Josh Sitton but the belief right now is the clubs primary focus is elsewhere — think wide receiver, cornerback and maybe tight end. Perhaps that changes but some believe they really would like to land Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the No. 8 pick and if they pay good money to a free agent lineman, the chances of that happening would be reduced. They need other parts for the line, including a swing tackle, and eventually they will bring back some of their own free agents with Bradley Sowell a possibility for that role. He started two games last season and showed the ability to slide inside when needed.

Pace indicated the Bears have interest in bringing back third quarterback Mark Sanchez but they could be in the market for another veteran at the position. Chase Daniel has experience with Nagy and Pace but he probably wont come cheap after the big deal he signed with the Eagles in 2016 that averaged $7 million per year. Daniel would bring familiarity with the playbook but hes not as athletic as Trubisky.

The Bears checked off their first order of business when they placed the transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller last week. The goal now is to sign him to a multi-year contract and then the Bears have to determine what to do opposite him and at the nickel position. Do they tender an offer to Bryce Callahan, who has had durability issues, or pursue a proven slot defender like Patrick Robinson? Some have linked them to former Seahawk Richard Sherman, who turns 30 later this month and played his final season at Stanford under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, but if he wants top dollar do the Bears want to sink that much money into the position with Fuller due $12.971 million this season? They were No. 7 in the NFL in pass defense last season with Fuller and Prince Amukamara as primary starters and re-signing Amukamara figures at least to be a consideration. He knows the scheme, has good size and is strong in run support.

Outside linebacker is a key need too and its worth wondering if they seek a reclamation project here. The marketplace is thin when it comes to proven and healthy options.

Pace has to continue the rebuild with players that fit what Nagy wants to do. Free agency hasnt been productive for the Bears but that doesnt mean their fortunes cant change this year when the goal will be to outfit Trubisky with players who can help the Bears score after they have ranked 29th, 28th and 23rd the last three seasons.

Bears Q&A: What now with Kyle Fuller tagged? Chances of signing Allen Robinson? What about Tremaine Edmunds? »

Bears buy time by placing transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller »

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