Chicago Bears

Mullin: Will Bears go with 'safe' picks in draft?

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Mullin: Will Bears go with 'safe' picks in draft?

Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted: 10:35 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Spent some very interesting studio time with former NFL safety and National Football Post analyst Matt Bowen on Thursday. We did a couple of sessions, one dealing with this draft and the other putting it in some context with respect to recent drafts and some of the strategies thatll be in play when the Bears get after it in less than two weeks.

Those will air next week and Id give it a look to get some of Matts perspectives on where the Bears go, and hell give you a name that warrants serious watching and at a position thats gotten a bit overlooked with all the focus on offensive and defensive lines and linemen.

In the meantime, though, NFPs Wes Bunting has assembled a short list of Mr. Safe Picks that has a few names of note. In particular its noteworthy with respect to the Bears because safe is not a dirty word for Jerry Angelo, Tim Ruskell and the Bears, who look very hard at a players floor, their expected minimum level.

Three of Wes prospects are right where the Bears are focused and any one or two of them could be a Bear by sundown Friday (day two).

Two are offensive linemen: Clint Boling, 6-4, 308 pounds, a four-year starter at Georgia at three different positions, meaning he plays well at guard and tackle; and Stefen Wisniewski, whom Wes projects as a possible early starter at either center or guard in the NFL. Wisniewskis uncle (Steve) and father (Leo) were NFLers and if you dont think that matters, ask the Packers how their Matthews thing is working out.

And the defensive lineman Wes includes as a Mr. Safe is LSU tackle Drake Nevis, who would be a surprise in the first or second round but is a shorter version of Tommie Harris. The Bears believe they struck gold in the 09 fourth round with Henry Melton, another undersized tackle, and Nevis in that range could be another one.

What about wideout?

One other noteworthy Mr. Safe that Wes cites is a wide receiver from Kentucky, Randall Cobb, whos 5-11, 186 but has run in the 4.4s for his 40s and is perhaps one of the best all-around players in this draft, having been a quarterback as well as receiver, rusher and returner. He ranks below Miamis Leonard Hankerson, the 6-2 burner that Matt Bowen is extremely high on at a position where the Bears need a potential elite talent.

But the Bears have just three receivers in place now (Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox), with Rashied Davis turning 31 and more a special-teamer at this point. Receiver was to have been a prime target in free agency, but with that on hold,

Angelo is extremely leery of high picks at wide receiver because of the bust factor and the higher value of line positions. But a safe pick in or around the third round, where the Bears got Bennett and where Terrell Owens came in, would be distinctly within the realm of possibility.

Besides, Marty Booker (3rd), Marcus Robinson (4th) and Bernard Berrian (3rd) were all in that range and all three are among the franchises career receiving-yards top 25. I have to think the Bears would be very, very good with a Mr. Safe with a Top-25 ceiling.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

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USA Today Sports Images

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

1. QB Mike Glennon

The Bears’ first team offense as a whole could be included under this subhead, whether it’s the offensive line creating holes for a running back (Jordan Howard won't play with a minor corneal abrasion) or the receivers creating more separation to get open. But the onus is on Glennon to be better than he was Thursday night and prove that 0.0 quarterback rating was the product of a small sample size and not a sign of more serious issues. On the other side of things, a bad game from Glennon only would lead to further questions about his ability to succeed as the Bears’ starting quarterback. 

“I mean, (this game is) bigger than the first but not as big as the third,” Glennon said. “I don’t really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well but I don’t want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game.” 

2. WR Kevin White

Cameron Meredith can do a lot to help Glennon’s case, but the Bears have a good idea of what they have in the third-year receiver who’s been one of the more steady performers during training camp. Kevin White is in a different position, having not been targeted at all against the Denver Broncos and still needing to prove plenty going into his third year in the NFL. White’s growth this year may be slow, but he needs to show some signs of that growth during preseason games to build up some confidence for Sept. 10. 

“Anytime you go through some injuries, there’s a whole mental game that plays a part of it,” fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz (more on him in a bit) said. “Just talking to him – I think he’s over it. He understands those things are behind him. His confidence is back in his body with the things that he can do. You’re starting to see that out there on the football field. He’s really hitting another gear, catching these balls, going deep down the field and putting pressure on these defensive backs.”

3. WR Victor Cruz

It was a little jarring to see Cruz, a Super Bowl-winning former Pro Bowler, playing until the final snap of Thursday’s game — even if that had something to do with the Bears not having Daniel Braverman available and losing Rueben Randle and Joshua Bellamy to injuries during the game. But Cruz hasn’t seemed to significantly push Kendall Wright for the No. 1 slot receiver job over the last few weeks, and could find himself on the roster bubble by the end of the month. A good showing Saturday night could provide a nice boost to his chance of avoiding that bubble.  

“I've been impressed with him,” Fox said before the Bears’ first preseason game. “He's got a great feel for the game. Sometimes it might not be just how fast they are physically but how fast they play, and he seems to be that type of guy. He's still got plenty of gas in the tank and we're excited to have him.”

4. DE Jonathan Bullard

Bullard is the only player on this list who flashed last Thursday, with an impressive tackle for a loss probably the Bears’ second-best defensive play of the day behind Leonard Floyd’s first-play-of-the-game sack. He’s had a solid camp, too, showing some promising signs after struggling to show much of anything a year ago. For Bullard, Saturday night will be about keeping his arrow pointing up, perhaps to the point that he could start at defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks in Week 1. 

“He’s definitely stronger, faster,” Hicks said. “He was already explosive, right? He has picked up the game to a point where he can play within the scheme now and see things come and be able to predict the play in order to get a step on the guard or the tackle, whoever he’s playing against. Just the things that come with getting more reps.”

5. CB Kyle Fuller

No player may have a better opportunity Saturday night than Fuller, who should be in line to take first-team reps with Bryce Callahan out and Prince Amukamara missing practices this week with a strained hamstring. What Fuller does with this opportunity could be a major deciding factor of whether or not he’s part of the Bears’ 53-man roster — this coaching staff and front office didn’t draft him, and his fifth-year option for 2018 was declined in the spring. 

“It’s a new year,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said earlier this month when asked about Fuller. “We start evaluating guys by what you’ve seen on the field at this point.”

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.