Chicago Bears

CSN Chicago's 2017 NFL Mock Draft: Version 1.0

CSN Chicago's 2017 NFL Mock Draft: Version 1.0

As we put the 2016 season in the rearview mirror, we look ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft as 31 teams try to build a roster that can compete with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

It's early in the process with free agency still over a month away, and the NFL Scouting Combine yet to take place, expect a lot of change to take place in each mock draft we unveil.

So without further adieu, check out CSN's 2017 NFL Mock Draft version 1.0:

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett (EDGE), Texas A&M

The Browns have a history of screwing up so it wouldn't be shocking to see them pass on a generational talent like Garrett, but in the end smarter heads will prevail and they'll build their defense around the next Julius Peppers.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Trubisky (QB), North Carolina

Kyle Shanahan's first order of business will be finding the right quarterback for his offense. The draft's top three QBs are all very interchangeable as of now, but Trubisky has the right combination of arm strength/athleticism that the former Falcons offensive coordinator could be looking for in his first big move in San Francisco.

3. Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas (DL), Stanford

If you haven't watched Thomas play and you're enamored with Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen (I don't blame you because this was a difficult decision for me), I'd advise you to clear off your schedule for a few hours and find the time to do so. Thomas will get knocked for his size because he is a bit of a tweener at 6-foot-3 and 273 pounds, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a time where he looks overmatched against bigger offensive lineman. Thomas is an athletic freak with a non-stop motor whose play at times will remind you of a smaller version of three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. In the right system, Thomas could become a perennial All-Pro defensive end. My reasoning for not going with a quarterback here is because I believe the Bears will deal their second-rounder, plus a 2018 third-round selection to the Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams (S), LSU

Inserting Jamal Adams in the same secondary as Jalen Ramsey would give opposing AFC South quarterbacks nightmares.

5. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Allen (DL), Alabama

The Titans have plenty of needs in their secondary, but Allen — who some would say is the second-best defensive player in the draft — would provide too much value to pass up if he's still on the board at No. 5. 

6. New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore (CB), Ohio State

There's about 10 different directions the Jets could go come April. Grabbing a corner to replace the artist formerly known as Darrelle Revis would be a smart first step.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker (S), Ohio State

The last time the Chargers dove into the Ohio State well in the first round it couldn't have worked out any better for them as Joey Bosa captured the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Hooker would join Jason Verrett and Casey Heyward in an already-dangerous Los Angeles secondary.

[RELATED: Complete 2017 NFL Draft coverage]

8. Carolina Panthers: Dalvin Cook (RB), Florida State

I'd be shocked if the Panthers don't use their first pick on a running back. Fournette is the consensus No. 1 running back, but for my money I'd put all my eggs in the Cook basket. The multi-dimensional Cook would thrive in the Panthers system and give quarterback Cam Newton exactly what Carolina's offense has been missing.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster (LB), Alabama

Foster has the tools to be either a 3-4 inside linebacker or 4-3 outside linebacker. The Bengals could use a replacement for Rey Maualuga and Foster has the talent to step in and start Week 1.

10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams (WR), Clemson

This is an obvious fit for the Bills if they don't draft a quarterback with at No. 10. Sammy Watkins can't stay healthy and Robert Woods is entering free agency. The Bills need playmakers on offense and Williams would provide exactly that.

11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett (EDGE), Tennessee

I was tempted to give Drew Brees another weapon in O.J. Howard, but in the end I think defense is the right route for the Saints. Barnett was one of college's premier edge rushers as he had 33 sacks at Tennessee. A tandem of Cam Jordan and Barnett would be troublesome for opposing offensive lineman in the NFC.

12. Cleveland Browns: DeShone Kizer (QB), Notre Dame

The Browns are in an excellent position to find their long-term answer at quarterback as they hold two picks in the Top 12. Kizer isn't the perfect prospect, but he possesses all the tools to become an above-average or better QB at the next level.

13. Arizona Cardinals: OJ Howard (TE), Alabama

Howard is one of the best tight end prospects to come out of college in a long time. I expect the Cardinals to go for it once again with their current core, and Howard could be the ideal weapon to help get Arizona back into the playoffs.

14. Indianapolis Colts: Leonard Fournette (RB), LSU

Fournette falling to No. 14 would be highway robbery. The Colts desperately need to find a long-term answer in the backfield as Frank Gore will be 34-years-old with the 2017 season begins. 

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Sidney Jones (CB), Washington

The Eagles need to find a corner who could line up against opposing No. 1 wideouts. Jones is one of the draft's most physical corners and could provide immediate help in Philadelphia's secondary.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Quincy Wilson (CB), Florida

The corners are starting to fly off the board. The Ravens saw what life was like when Jimmy Smith was out last season and it wasn't pretty. Wilson is another physical corner which is imperative in the smash-mouth AFC North.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

17. Washington Redskins: John Ross (WR), Washington

As both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson get set to hit free agency, the Redskins need to find Kirk Cousins — or whoever plays QB for Washington in 2017 — multiple weapons in the passing game. Ross is a big-play wideout capable of going the distance anytime he gets the ball in the open field. If last year's first-round selection Josh Doctson could rebound from a lost rookie season, him and Ross could form a dynamite wide receiver duo in Washington.

18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis (WR), Western Michigan

Want to make Marcus Mariota happy? Keep adding to his arsenal. Davis may not be as heralded as Mike Williams, but he has all the physical attributes to excel at a high level in the NFL.

19. Tampa Bay Bucaneers: Ryan Ramczyk (OT), Wisconsin

It took long enough for the first offensive lineman to come off the board. The Buccaneers had trouble keeping Winston upright last season, and need to find some solutions on the line.

20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson (OT), Alabama

Robinson's off-the-field issues have caused his stock to go from a possible Top 5 pick to a late-first/early-second round selection. It's no secret that the Broncos need help at offensive tackle, and Robinson could be a day-one starter.

21. Detroit Lions: Tim Williams (EDGE), Alabama

After an injury-plagued season and subpar season from Ezekiel Ansah, the Lions severely need to find some more help on the edge. Williams would give them just that. From a pure pass-rush standpoint, there may not be a better option in this draft than Williams.

22. Miami Dolphins: Takkarist McKinley (EDGE) UCLA

Cameron Wake is still a stud, but he'll be 35 next season. Outside of Wake, the Dolphins don't really have anybody on their roster that can consistently get to the quarterback. McKinley is a bit raw, but he's got the upside to be a star at the next level.

[MORE: Could Bears repeat QB mistake with Jimmy Garoppolo?]

23. New York Giants: David Njoku (TE), Miami

Imagine a tight end with elite speed and pass-catching ability lined up between Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Njoku is an athletic freak who draws comparisons to another former Hurricane great in Greg Olsen. Njoku will wow observers at the NFL Combine next month and put himself firmly into the first-round mix.

24. Oakland Raiders: Teez Tabor (CB), Florida

After one-year, Sean Smith's contract looks like it's going to be abomination for the Raiders. Tabor doesn't possess elite speed, but his size and athleticism should attract corner-needy teams picking at the end of the first round.

25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson (QB), Clemson

Watson's stock is anywhere from No. 1 overall to early in the second round. I wouldn't be surprised to see Watson plummet toward the back-end of the first round, but I can't see him falling past the Texans if he's still on the board at No. 25. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Brock Osweiler isn't the answer in Houston. Tom Savage ain't the guy either. The Texans would be a great landing spot for Watson's talent as they have threats in the passing game in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller who would make lifer easier for the rookie quarterback to come in and start Week 1. If Watson lands in Houston, and head coach Bill O'Brien can reestablish himself as the quarterback whisperer, watch out AFC.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles (OT), Utah

Russell Wilson took an absolute beating last season behind the league's worst offensive line. Expect the Seahawks to once again invest a high pick on the line as they need to do everything they can to protect their franchise quarterback.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Zach Cunningham (LB), Vanderbilt

When you watch Cunningham play, you can't help but see a younger version of Derrick Johnson. What better of a landing spot for Cunningham as he can learn behind Johnson and eventually become his heir-apparent in Kansas City.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton (EDGE), Michigan

It's imperative for the Cowboys defense to find multiple pass-rushers this offseason. Charlton brings all the EDGE traits that a defensive coordinator salivates over. A coach like Rod Marinelli would do wonders for Charlton and help him become a more consistent force than he was at Michigan.

29. Green Bay Packers: Charles Harris (EDGE) Missouri

The Packers could lose two of their best pass-rushers in Julius Peppers (possible retirement) and Nick Perry (free agency) this offseason. Harris will be next in a long line of Missouri EDGE rushers who've heard their name called in the first round.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marlon Humphrey (CB), Alabama

The Steelers found a solid corner in Artie Burns in last year's first round and could pair him with a player such as Humphrey in this year's draft. Humphrey's toughness could play well in the AFC North.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Forrest Lamp (OG), Western Kentucky

The Falcons need to find a long-term solution on the inside. Lamp, who was a four-year starter at left tackle, is projected as more of a guard at the next level. Lamp could start Day 1 in place of Chris Chester, giving the Falcons a lethal offensive line for their already-dangerous ground attack.

32. New England Patriots: Jabrill Peppers (S), Michigan

Picking last in the first round, the Super Bowl champions have the luxury to take the best available talent on the board. Peppers' stock has fallen off dramatically, but the talented safety could excel in Matt Patricia's defense in New England.

Jordan Howard's eye injury keeps him grounded as Bears fly to Arizona

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USA TODAY

Jordan Howard's eye injury keeps him grounded as Bears fly to Arizona

The Bears' best offensive player won't be suiting up in Saturday's preseason game. In fact, he won't even be on the sideline. 

Jordan Howard suffered an eye injury Friday, preventing him from flying with the team to Arizona. 

Although ESPN's Adam Schefter believes it's minor, that's not a good sign for an offense that relies heavily on the run game.

Joining Howard on the inactive list are more key offensive guys: 

- Kyle Long, OL

- Jeremy Langford, RB

- Joshua Bellamy, WR

- Markus Wheaton, WR

That means Mike Glennon, who is embroiled in a growing quarterback controversy, will have his work cut out for him. 

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears will also be missing some notables: 

- Danny Trevathan, LB

- Mitch Unrein, DL

- Bryce Callahan, DB

- Alex Scearse, LB

- Jonathan Anderson, LB

- Kapron Lewis-Moore, DL

Hopefully Howard and the team can get healthy before the real deal begins because last year's injury-plagued season was certainly no fun. 

How Charles Leno Jr. isn't thinking about the big picture heading into a contract year

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USA Today Sports Images

How Charles Leno Jr. isn't thinking about the big picture heading into a contract year

One of John Fox’s favorite sayings is that the best ability is availability. No player exemplified that line more than left tackle Charles Leno Jr. in 2016. 

Leno played all 1,010 of the Bears’ offensive snaps last year. His effectiveness may not have matched his availability — Pro Football Focus, for what it’s worth, described Leno as being a “below average” starter. The Bears like Leno, though. But enough to give him another contract?

“He’s pretty reliable and dependable,” Fox said. “But we all have room for improvement so I think he’d tell you the same thing.”

For Leno, there’s no time like the present to make those strides. He’s due to hit free agency after this season, and, unless the Bears sign him to a contract extension, will enter a market that last spring saw five left tackles (Riley Reiff, Matt Kalil, Russell Okung, Andrew Whitworth and Kelvin Beachum) sign contracts each including eight-figure guaranteed money. But Leno, who will be 26 this spring, isn’t doing a lot of thinking about what his future could look like beyond this year. 

“It’s in the back of your mind, but at the end of the day I’m trying to go out there and just perfect my craft,” Leno said. “That’s really what I’m trying to do. I’ve been doing that the last two and a half years now. It’s the same routine every day. Just trying to go out there and perfect my craft, things will take care of itself. If I do what I need to do out there, everything will follow.”

For Leno, perfecting his craft means perfecting the basics of being a left tackle. What he rattled off: Placement of hands, base in pass set, staying square, not opening up too early. Being consistent in those areas is what Leno sees as that next step in his development. 

“I think Charles Leno does a really great job focusing attention to detail within his set,” left guard Kyle Long said. “Whether it’s a set angle, his hands or his strike, he always has a plan and he’s somebody that’s athletic enough to recover if he ever does get in a bad situation. It’s a really difficult position to play out there but I think Charles Leno is one of the most athletic guys that’s been around here.” 

Practice has provided an ideal opportunity for Leno to work on all those things, given the array of pass rushers he’s facing from his own defense. 

“I got a very fast guy (Leonard Floyd), I got a very tall, long guy (Willie Young), and I got a short, powerful guy (Lamarr Houston). I mean, what more do I need on a practice field? I got the best guys in the world to go against every day.”

But the point remains: Leno does have room for growth. A fully healthy Bears’ offensive line, with a more consistent Leno, can be one of the best units in the NFL on which the team’s level of production can be based. 

And if that’s the case, Leno can expect a significant payday next spring, either from the Bears or another team. 

“I never expected I would be in this situation, absolutely not,” Leno said. “I’m very blessed, I’m thankful for the opportunity that I’ve got into. But also, it’s a testament to the work I’ve been putting in for myself and I just don’t ever want that to stop. I don’t ever want the work ethic that I have to ever go down because I’ve got some money or because I’m in a contract year. I want to keep improving whether I have the money or not.”