CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2017 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need, and what draft day and after could have in store. Third in a series.
Bears pre-draft situation
Drafting running backs in three straight mid rounds gave the Bears Ka’Deem Carey, Jeremy Langford and finally Jordan Howard, who surprised coaches who admitted not fully knowing what they had and started Langford the first three games. Langford went down with a high-ankle injury against Dallas, Howard started and established himself as the featured back of the offense, with 1,313 rushing yards and a 5.2 ypc average, second in the NFL only to Ezekiel Elliott.
Langford, expected to be a speed upgrade from released veteran Matt Forte, failed to take a second-year step up, averaging just 3.2 yards on 62 carries with no run longer than 13 yards over his final nine games and 31 carries. Carey slid virtually out of the rotation and was deactivated for the final two games after getting no more than 2 carries in any of the previous seven games.
The addition of Benny Cunningham added firepower to the return game but also in the backfield. Cunningham has averaged more than 13 yards per pass reception in four seasons, plus 27 yards per kickoff return.
Pre-draft depth-chart’ing starters
RB: Jordan Howard
Third down: Benny Cunningham
Reserves: Bralon Addison, Ka’Deem Carey, David Cobb, Jeremy Langford
Bears draft priority: Low
Ryan Pace has added running backs on the third day of his first two Bears drafts and late-round upgrade from Carey and Langford who can contribute on special teams would interest him. Redrafting a position in multiple years is generally a course heading for problems elsewhere on the roster, so special teams would be a significant consideration even for a mid- or late-round pick.
If the Bears are satisfied that Langford is a viable backup for Howard, plus Cunningham, the Bears are well set at the position with youth as well as quality.
Keep an eye on ...
I'Tavius Mathers, RB, Middle Tennessee: Exploded as a senior with 1,5651 yards and 17 TD’s. Sat out ’15 after transferring from Mississippi.
Elijah McGuire, RB, La.-Lafayette: From the same program that gave the Bears CB Charles Tillman. Set back by a foot injury but showed receiving skills and was three-time 1,000-yard rusher.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Brigham Young: Ideal size (6-0, 212 pounds) and excellent production without top-end speed. Suspended for ’15 for rules violation but worked to finish his degree and return for strong ’16. “You have to abide by the rules,” Williams said. “I learned to be disciplined while I was [at BYU].”