The 2012 NFL draft is fast approaching.Its hard not to peek at all the mock drafts, but I about lost it when I recently saw one mock projecting mammoth DT Dontari Poe from Memphis to the Bears. Poeweighs350 pounds.You only have to go back two training camps to know, the Bears held out former DT Marcus Harrison because heweighed over 310 pounds. When you factor in Lovies Tampa 2 defense -- it's all about quick, penetrating, undersized defensive tackles --you can quickly weed out Poe.Poe is a two gapping nose tackle for a 3-4 defense which is about as far from a penetrating 4-3 DT as you can get. Just look up Poes stats. Registering only one sack last year in a subpar conference isnt a glowing endorsement for Ooh, ooh, ooh, pick me!" Im not going to mock the mocker, but they suggested the Bears needed a run stuffer. The fact is the Bears were aTop 5defense last year versus the run yielding just over 96 yards per game. The Bears could utilize depth at DT, but it will be in the form of a lean, mean, fighting machine that fits what they do schematically. Lets try to hone in on a handful of guys who fit the Bears in Round 1.SecondaryMark Barron:SS Alabama, 6-foot-1 213 lbs.This is a wishprayer. Teams preceding the Bears starting with Dallas at 14 all need safety help. If Barron falls, the Bears should grab him and never look back. Barron would finally close the revolving door at safety.Stephon Gilmore: CB South Carolina, 6-foot-1 190 lbs.I wrote about Gilmore in a previous column for pick No. 19. Recent reports continue to have him moving up as high asNo. 7to the Jaguars. That is a little too high, but Gilmore, like Barron, may not be there. The Bears may have to think about Alabamas CB Dre Kirkpatrick --6-foot-2, 186 lbs --whos marijuana charge was recently dropped.Defensive LineQuinton Coples: DE North Carolina, 6-foot-6, 284 lbsEverybody says his attitude has him dropping. Ill believe it when I see it, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the perfect guy for any attitude adjustment.Whitney Mercilus: DE Illinois 6-foot-4, 261 lbsIs Mercilus a one year wonder? The fact is, Mercilus moved up and down the Illinois defensive front for matchup reasons. Lovie and Marinelli have dabbled in this the last three years with Izzy and the last two with Peppers. Mercilus is versatile.Wide receiverStephen Hill: Wr Georgia Tech, 6-foot-4, 215 lbsOther than Justin Blackmon in Round 1, I think Hill will be a very special NFL wide receiver. It is rare for a guy Hills size to run 4.36. Dont believe the hype about Georgia Techs offense not preparing wide receivers. Detroits Calvin Johnson and Denvers Demaryius Thomas are difference makers who block coming out of Tech.Watch what Thomas does this year with Peyton Manning. Jay Cutler would love to work wonders breaking in Hill.Offensive lineJonathan Martin: T Stanford, 6-foot-5, 312 lbsand Mike Adams: T Ohio State, 6-foot-7, 323 lbsOnly the Bears know where GabeCarimis health is at this point.Only offensive coordinator Mike Tice can truly tell you if he is comfortable with J'Marcus Webb at left tackle. Webb gave up sacks, but a handful was strictly on Mike Martzs play-calling. I personally like Adams over Martin, but a recent positive drug test by Adams has him dropping to late first round. Why? It's interesting that this news comes out prior to the draft.Some team leaked it, hoping Adams will fall. I dont think he will.Adams is too good.All are impactful players other than Whitney Mercilus who is young and may take some time, but the Bears would utilize Mercilus much like Mark Anderson his rookie season which resulted in double digit sacks.
This is apparently the week of Jay Cutler news.
Reports surfaced earlier this week the Bears are pushing hard to find a trade partner for the enigmatic quarterback, though Ian Rapoport reported the organization informed Cutler in mid-January they were shopping him around.
It seems clear Cutler's time in Chicago has come to an end and an ensuing move is more of a formality at this point.
But apparently Cutler may not even suit up again...for ANY team.
Rapoport reported on NFL Network Wednesday night Cutler is mulling over retirement, even as he's healthy and working out now after shoulder surgery.
"There's no guarantee Cutler even plays in 2017, one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play or not play, retire, walk away. A lot of things at play here for Jay Cutler."
Host Dan Hellie immediately followed up, asking for clarification on the retirement part.
"It is a consideration; it's something he's confided in people," Rapoport said. "But Dan, I would say, it's not a surprise for quarterbacks this age. We've heard [Ben] Roethlisberger talk about it; we've heard Tony Romo talk about it. If it's not perfect, if he can't find the team he wants or the contract he wants, it's very easy for Jay Cutler to walk away."
Cutler, 33, has made more than $112 million in his 11-year career and is owed at least another $2 million in 2017, even if he's cut by the Bears.
John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.
Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.
Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.
Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.
Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.
It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.
The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:
#Bears have added assistant coaches Zach Azzanni, Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) February 22, 2017
More details to follow shortly.
Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.
Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams.
Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.