Combine 101: Bears seek playmakers

Tremaine Edwards, LB, Virginia Tech

Tremaine Edwards, LB, Virginia Tech

As the countdown to April’s NFL Draft moves into its next phase with the annual scouting combine, Chicago Bears front office staff and coaches head to Indy hoping to clarify their needs with possible solutions.

Here are some prospects to watch based on possible Bears interest from boots on the ground:

CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State, 5-10, 191…Ward isn’t the biggest or most physical corner, but he is a tenacious defender when the ball is in the air. Plays like the football belongs to him, displaying quick feet, keen instincts, and the athletic skills to mirror receivers. Feisty and determined style. Drag down tackler. Film review from last year’s Buckeyes opening win over Indiana showed Ward beaten badly early in the game as Ohio State and the Hoosiers slugged it out offensively in the first half. However, when he was targeted in the second half, Ward rose to the occasion, shutting down and frustrating a talented and much bigger receiving corps. Ward uses his hands well, anticipating throws and timing his jumps well.

LB Tremaine Edwards, Virginia Tech, 6-4, 250…Edwards doesn’t turn 20 until May, so he’s an ascending player with his best football ahead of him.  Scouts intrigued by his size/speed/physical traits, and a few have compared him to Bears Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher in build.  A rangy defender with a thick trunk who diagnoses well and sniffs out the ball. Good bloodlines as his father was a pro and older brother plays for the Saints. Another brother starred at Virginia Tech as well and is also entering the draft.  Tremaine displays an aggressive streak and is nimble on his feet to maneuver through the trash. Projects as more of an inside backer which might not be best fit for the Bears needs.  Limited use as a pass rusher, but possesses enough initial quickness. For all his positive athletic traits, Edwards turnover production was modest. READ MORE

Three Bears storylines at the NFL Scouting Combine

With the NFL Scouting Combine upcoming and free agency and the draft on the horizon, the 2018 version of the Chicago Bears will slowly take shape over the next few months. Here are some things to watch as the NFL’s “underwear Olympics” kicks off.

1. What will the Bears do with CB Kyle Fuller?….After the Bears declined the fifth-year option, Fuller turned in his strongest season since his rookie campaign and will look to get paid. Chicago General Manager Ryan Pace’s decision looks precarious now, as the Bears may be forced to franchise tag Fuller in order to keep him. The franchise tag won’t come cheaply (approximately $14-15 million) and though Chicago has plenty of cap space, that’s a lot of money to sink into one player and position. The Bears other corner, Prince Amukumara, is also a free agent. If the Bears allow Fuller to hit the market, it’s highly unlikely he returns to Chicago.  The deadline for franchise players is March 6, which means Pace may have his plan formulated when the Bears entourage hits Indy. READ MORE

Former Bears LB Urlacher earns Hall of Fame honor

New Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher discussing strategy with then Bears head coach Lovie Smith.

New Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher discussing strategy with then Bears head coach Lovie Smith.

Former Chicago Bears Linebacker Brian Urlacher, who symbolized pro football’s modern player with his speed and range, became the 28th player in franchise history to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening. Urlacher was elected in his first year of eligibility and gives the Bears the most players to be enshrined in the Canton, Ohio museum.

Urlacher led the Chicago attack unit during former head coach Lovie Smith’s tenure. Unlike the Hall of Fame Bears Linebackers who preceded him (Bill George, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary), Urlacher was cut from a different cloth. Smith’s “Cover-2” defensive scheme fit Urlacher’s skill set perfectly. Measuring 6-feet-4, 255 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed, he combined rare size, speed, and athletic ability to dominate opponents. His range, coverage skills and playmaking prowess were on display during a 13-year career that included a Defensive Player of the Year award, Defensive Rookie Of The Year, five All-Pro and eight Pro Bowl selections. Chicago won four division championships and made trips to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship game during Urlacher’s era. READ MORE