May 27, 2022

Is there a position no one is talking about to target in Round 2? Who is playing left tackle to start minicamp? – Young Gazzate

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With the Chicago Bears having begun voluntary minicamp at Halas Hall and the NFL draft approaching, Brad Biggs answers questions about their potential targets and what their offensive line might look like.

Is there a position no one is talking about that the Bears could go to with their first pick in the NFL draft? — Greg W., Warrenville

You probably can rule a few spots out with the two second-round picks — and maybe even the third-round selection — on Day 2 of the draft. The Bears seem unlikely to target a quarterback, running back, tight end (it’s not a great group this year) or inside linebacker with those picks.

Everything else — wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, pass rusher, cornerback and safety — can be considered a legitimate need. That means general manager Ryan Poles can remain true to his board and have a lot of possibilities when it comes to the highest-graded available player(s) when he’s on the clock. Maybe will provide a little flexibility to trade down. One thing I have wondered of late: If the strength of this draft is in the depth — Rounds 2 through 4 or so — will other teams be less inclined to want to trade up?

The biggest move the Bears attempted to make in free agency was signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a three-year contract worth $14 million per season. Obviously that fell through shortly after the start of the new league year. If the Bears’ focus was on an athletic and disruptive player for the middle of the defensive line, is it possible they are looking at potential three-technique tackles with one of their top picks? Some scouts I have spoken with believe Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt could fall out of Round 1 because of off-field issues. I have no idea how the Bears view Wyatt. Houston’s Logan Hall is a versatile lineman who some believe projects best as a three-technique. He could be a Round 2 pick. Stanford’s Thomas Booker could be a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick, and some teams believe he could play three-technique as well. Those three players could fit if the Bears look at a defensive tackle with an early pick, a possibility we need to keep in mind.

Can Ryan Poles realistically have a successful draft if he’s unable to trade down for more picks and bridge that 70-plus-pick gap between their third- and fifth-round picks? — @aloysiuspart2

There’s no reason the Bears cannot come out of this draft with multiple rookie starters. With some shrewd scouting and development, they could have more than that down the road. While they could have negotiated harder to get more in return for edge rusher Khalil Mack, the acquisition of a second-round pick from the Los Angeles Chargers helps make up for being without a Round 1 selection. What hurts is the Bears are coming off a lousy season, and if they still owned the selection, they would be picking at No. 7. While the Bears took wide receiver Kevin White at that slot in 2015, it also produced talent such as Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (originally drafted by the San Francisco 49eers) and Niners edge rusher Aldon Smith since 2011. Those are impact players who are harder to find outside the top 10 and even more difficult after Day 1.

If the Bears fill positions of need with their second-round picks, they have a chance to add two opening-week starters. And their third-round pick likely will be given an opportunity to push for playing time as a rookie. Sure, the Bears would like to have more capital, and maybe Poles will seek to trade down to add a selection or two. The gap between Round 3 (No. 71 overall) and Round 5 (No. 148) is big, but they own the pick at No. 150.

Temper your expectations about what is realistic for this draft class — the Bears don’t have a first-round pick. What they are hoping to see is huge improvement from quarterback Justin Fields to justify the trade up to select him last year. If that happens, the Bears won’t feel the sting of being short-handed this year.

I also expect Poles to talk after the draft about how the front office and scouts put extra attention into analysis of Day 3 picks with an eye for potential undrafted rookies. They are expected to sign a dozen or more. The Bears need to mine some talent after the draft, and with an evolving roster and a goal of getting younger, players who can show some skill will have opportunities to push for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Is it a foregone conclusion Larry Borom is moving to right tackle, or might the Bears take a right tackle like Darian Kinnard and keep Borom at left tackle? — @_austinburgess_

The Bears lined Borom up at left tackle on Day 1 of voluntary minicamp Tuesday, which means he has the first shot among players to win the job. But don’t jump to any conclusions. Teven Jenkins was at right tackle and Sam Mustipher at right guard with newcomer Lucas Patrick at center. The coaches likely will mix and match to get a look at different combinations. It’s difficult to assess line play until players are in full pads, which won’t happen until training camp.

“We’re looking at a lot of things,” coach Matt Eberflus said after practice Tuesday. “So you might see guys at a lot of different spots. A guy could be playing X receiver or Z receiver or U tight end or Y tight end, left defensive end, right defensive end. … We’re going to play with a lot of different combinations because we’re just trying to figure out what guys do and what they do best. So you could see those guys flip during OTAs.”

Kinnard is a likely Day 2 selection and is considered a mauler. Although he played right tackle at Kentucky, the folks I have spoken with expect him to move to guard in the NFL. The Bears very well could be on the lookout for a guard after missing in a bid to sign Bills restricted free agent Ryan Bates.

Will the Bears make an offer for Deebo Samuel? — @jkudia413

I would be surprised if they do. If the 49ers were to consider trading Samuel, they would demand a massive haul in return. The Bears need to get whole with their draft picks again and build with young talent across the board. Dealing for Samuel would give them a star wide receiver and multidimensional talent while leaving them with holes at other positions and limited draft capital to find building blocks for the future. The Bears would be better served trying to find the next Samuel in the draft or a starting-caliber receiver. Trading to acquire a star at the beginning stages of a rebuild doesn’t make sense. This isn’t a quick-fix project.

When Ryan Poles was hired, he talked about desiring a specific “body type” when discussing offensive linemen. I believe he mentioned being leaner and more athletic, which would seem to exclude Daniel Faalele of Minnesota. What potential Day 2 OL prospects might fall into the “body type” category Poles discussed? Do Poles and Eberflus look for similar traits for defensive linemen as well? — Mark L., Davenport, Iowa

The Bears definitely want players who can move in space, and that probably makes Faalele, at 6-foot-8, 384 pounds, a poor fit. If you’re looking at potential offensive tackles, a few names to consider are Tulsa’s Tyler Smith, Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann, Ohio State’s Nichols Petit-Frere, Washington State’s Abraham Lucas and UCLA’s Sean Rhyan. Some guards to keep in mind include Boston College’s Zion Johnson (he likely will be gone before the Bears select), Memphis’ Dylan Parham, LSU’s Ed Ingram and Tennessee-Chattanooga’s Cole Strange.

I believe the Bears are thinking similarly for defensive linemen. Recall the players who fit well for former coach Lovie Smith; that is what Eberflus wants — athletic and disruptive players who can make plays in the backfield.

With the Bears’ rebuild underway, it is clear they will struggle to be anywhere close to .500 in 2022. Much has been made about the tremendous cap space the Bears will have in 2023, but won’t it be hard to attract talented free agents next year to a team with a subpar record? — Jim A., Plymouth, Minn.

The schedule doesn’t look nearly as daunting as last season’s. If quarterback Justin Fields adjusts quickly to Luke Getsy’s offense and coach Matt Eberflus is able to generate the takeaways he’s looking for, I could see the Bears improving on a six-win season. Getting to seven or eight wins would be close to .500.

Sure, some free agents are looking to sign with a contender. But 95% of the time in free agency, the top-three criteria for a player and his agent is money, money and money. If the Bears show the kind of improvement on offense they are hoping for, they shouldn’t have trouble competing for elite free agents. Former GM Ryan Pace did say that was an issue early in his tenure, that Halas Hall wasn’t the most attractive destination for free agents because the team was struggling. But the Bears can overcome that next March if they show some positive signs this season.

I know the Bears have multiple holes to fill with little draft capital, but how do you feel about taking punter Matt Araiza with the sixth-round pick? I feel a punter with that kind of leg could help a struggling offense with field position. — @kidhaywire

It’s unlikely with only six picks and so many spots to fill — and the need for developmental prospects at multiple positions — that the Bears will draft a punter.

How can the Bears get another first-round pick in 2023? What would the trade chart say it would take in 2022 draft picks? — themaxconnor1

I don’t believe Poles will be looking to trade his second-round picks this year with a goal of acquiring 2023 draft capital. The roster needs young players to begin building around now.

Every team’s draft-trade chart is different, but if the Bears were to combine their second-round picks at Nos. 39 and No. 48 overall, that would be worth approximately the 17th or 18th pick, with the Bears in position to ask for a sixth-round pick as well. The problem is you have no idea of what pick in 2023 you would be acquiring. A team could have a good season, and the Bears could wind up with, say, the 23rd pick in 2023. This just doesn’t work.

I could see the Bears looking to trade edge rusher Robert Quinn with the goal of acquiring draft pick(s) in 2023.

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