1st Round (7)- Kevin White, WR, West Virginia 

After five picks, the board had set up as best as realistically possible for the Bears with the No. 7 overall pick, as USC defensive end Leonard Williams and West Virginia wide receiver were still available. In my opinion -- and, far more importantly, the opinion of many draft experts -- those were the two best talents left in the draft, and two players that would feel a huge need for the Bears.

I said a few times on Twitter leading up to the draft that Williams falling to the Bears would be an unlikely, dream scenario. The scheme-versatile Williams was considered the top prospect in the draft by most, and was expected to be selected in the top-four picks. The Bears have made it clear that they don't feel they have a clear, lockdown starter 3-4 defensive end for new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's scheme, and Williams would've been a perfect fit there.

But, Williams was finally selected by the Jets at No. 6, and we'll never know if he would've been a Chicago Bear had he lasted one more pick. It's certainly possible that they would've just gone with White anyway, seeing as how he is a potential superstar at wide receiver that the Bears can plug in to replace Brandon Marshall opposite Alshon Jeffery.

The 6'3", 215-pound White is a physical specimen with perhaps the highest upside of any wide receiver in the draft. His 4.35 40-yard dash was the third-best among wide receivers at the Combine, and his 23 bench-press reps tied for first among wide receivers at the Combine. It's not just size and speed that White brings to the table, either. He showed off terrific hands in 2014 for the Mountaineers and has rare playmaking ability. He can go up and get it, and he can take a quick pass at the line of scrimmage to the house. All of these traits are why White draws comparisons to receivers such as Julio Jones.

White's route tree is limited and he will need to expand on that for the NFL, but that's a pretty common issue for wide receivers entering the league, as many colleges don't feature the full-blown NFL passing system.

The bottom line is White's potential was too good to pass up, and at a position of need for the Bears. He had to be the pick once Williams was off the board. And when doing these grades, you can only judge based on the players available at the time of the pick. Add everything up and White was the right pick for the Bears, and a great, safe (on the surface) first draft decision for general manager Ryan Pace.

Grade: A

2nd Round (39)- Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

When the Bears released a depth chart (note that much could change with it in the coming months) last week, there was one thing that everyone following the team immediately noticed: The Bears only listed one player at nose tackle. And that player is a guy that will be 34 years old in August, in Jeremiah Ratliff.

That was a pretty nice hint that the Bears would look for a potential long-term nose tackle, and at least some depth, in the draft. So, the selection of Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman in the second round was no surprise.

Goldman is a very large man, checking in to the Combine at 6'4", 336 pounds. He should be a nice fit as a 3-4 nose tackle and the Bears feel he may be able to handle some defensive end in their scheme as well.

Goldman's pass-rushing skills are in question, but that's certainly not uncommon for a player of his size. His main job will be to clog the line and slow down the run game on first and second downs, and he should do a good job of that.

Some draftniks had Goldman going in the first round, so the Bears got very nice value here, and at a need position.

Grade: A-

3rd Round (71)- Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon

The Bears hadn't drafted a center since 1998, when they selected Olin Kreutz in the third round. Kreutz of course went on to be a star for the Bears, making six Pro Bowls and being named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. And since retiring in 2010, the Bears haven't been able to find a quality replacement for Kreutz. Roberto Garza played decently for a while but he was steadily declining every year thanks to father time. The Bears then signed veteran center Will Montgomery this offseason, but he's no more than average and 32 years old himself.

Unlike Phil Emery, Ryan Pace realized it's time to finally address the center position and hopefully find a long term answer at the position again. Enter Hroniss Grasu.

The 6'3, 297-pound Oregon Duck started at center for all 52 games he played at the university, and even played alongside Bears right guard Kyle Long. The familiarity those two share should not be overlooked and should add an immediate comfort factor for the rookie center.

Most experts had Grasu as the second-best center in the draft and feel he can be a starter in the league rather quickly. He may not asked to be immediately with Will Montgomery in the fold, but he'll surely push the veteran for the job this camp. It is also believed that Grasu can handle guard so he'll provide the Bears with some depth there as well.

Center isn't a sexy position to pick in the third round, but if this is a long-term starter at the position, that's great value with the 71st overall pick. Whatever the case, credit Pace for noticing the Bears need an upgrade and youth at this position, something that has gone overlooked in recent years.

Grade: B

4th Round (106)- Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State

This was an absolutely loaded running back draft, with quality talent falling into the third, fourth, even fifth round. Given all of the value that could be found at the position in this draft, and given that Matt Forte is a free-agent next offseason (and most likely signing elsewhere given his age and demands), I wanted the Bears to grab one of these backs in the middle rounds. And they did just that with the drafting of Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford in the fourth round.

Langford is a 6'0", 208-pound back whose 4.42 40-yard dash was the highest for running backs at the Combine. The Michigan State product ran for over 1400 yards in each 2013 and 2014 for the Spartans, and combined for 40 touchdowns over those two seasons, an impressive feat in the loaded Big Ten.

What this move, and the Jacquizz Rodgers signing say- Ryan Pace and company are not sold on Ka'Deem Carey, whom Phil Emery selected in this same round just a year ago. There are question marks as to whether or not Langford can has the overall skillset to be a starting NFL running back, but he should quickly get a chance to be a key part of the Bears' rotation and immediately brings a solid third-down back skillset.

My "guy" coming into the draft was Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, but serious concerns about his knee holding up caused him to fall to the fifth round, so I can't fault the Bears for passing on him as every other team did until the Dolphins finally took a chance on him late. The Bears also passed on some other bigger names at running back in this draft, so clearly they are big fans of what Langford brings to the table in the system John Fox and Adam Gase will install.

Grade: B

5th Round (142)- Adrian Amos, S, Penn State

Arguably the best value on the board at this spot for the Bears, at a position they have been desperately looking for solutions pretty much since Mike Brown.

Amos is a rangy safety that ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. The 6'0, 218-pounder was expected to be drafted in the third and fourth round as safeties with his athleticism are highly coveted in a league that is full of explosive passing attacks. Amos has had some struggles in run support, but currently has a solid NFL skillset in pass coverage and can even line up at nickel. He's a high-IQ football player so perhaps he will show improvements against the run as well.

And he should immediately be able to be a contributor on special teams, a department you are targeting in the draft's late rounds.

Grade: A

6th Round (183)- Tayo Fabuluje, OT, TCU

Easily the first thing you notice about Fabuluje is his massive size- 6'6", 353 pounds. And that size, to go with very good feet, make him a very intriguing upside prospect to grab this late in the draft.

Fabuluje is very raw, with only two years of college football under his belt, and some think he is better suited for guard rather than tackle. So, there is likely a large developmental period here and Fabuluje makes great sense as a guy to stash on the practice squad in 2015.

Going offensive line here was an interesting choice, as linebacker and cornerback are positions where the Bears are looking for long term answers as well, but they got some nice upside and value here.

Having said all that, it's hard for me to give a great grade here given that he's such a question mark and won't offer any special teams value. Not at all saying it's a bad pick and it could loo

Grade: C+ 

Bottom Line

This was a highly impressive first draft by Ryan Pace. Prior to the draft, Pace kept talking about being big on taking the best player available, and not reaching for need. This draft reflected that.

The Bears came away with good value in every single pick, with multiple picks being players expected to go in earlier rounds. And they still were able to fill some needs with those picks.

The top four picks all have good bets to be future starters, or at least key contributors. White has the potential to be superstar and was the best talent on the board at No. 7. And Amos was a terrific pick in the fifth round with the talent to potentially be a starting safety in time.

This was a great start to a rebuild that may take some time, and a nice sign of things to come from Pace in future drafts.

Overall Grade:  B+

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With draft day upon us, I decided to take a look at 40 NFL mock drafts from draftniks around the web to get a good idea of what player the experts think the Bears will select with the seventh overall pick.

This also gives us a good idea of what players the experts think will still be around when the Bears pick seventh. And that's of course as equally important as what players the team actually wants, although you can be sure in the next few days you'll hear from NFL coaches and front offices that the player selected is the one guy they wanted all along!

I also decided against including mock drafts where the Bears traded the pick for this exercise, as that just makes things extra confusing. So, let's just take a look at what the experts think the Bears could do should they hold on to the No. 7 pick...

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (11)
Don Banks (4/30; Sports Illustrated)
Dane Brugler (4/30; CBS Sports)
Charlie Campbell (4/30; Walter Football)
Dan Durkin (4/27; 670 The Score)
Patrick Finley (4/30; Chicago Sun-Times)
Daniel Jeremiah (4/30; NFL.Com)
Dan Kadar (4/30: Mocking The Draft)
Mark Maski (4/30; Washington Post)
Bob McGinn (4/29); Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel)
Todd McShay (4/30; ESPN)
Ross Read (4/30; Bleacher Report)

The most popular pick of the mock drafts I reviewed was West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, and that's certainly no surprise. When you add up the most likely scenarios in regards to how the board will fall in the top six picks, when you consider what the Bears needs are, and when you consider potential best players available, White checks all the boxes.

Still, it only seems about 50/50 that the 6'3", 215-pound White will be available at No. 7, but if he is, he makes plenty of sense for the Bears, especially after the Brandon Marshall trade. The team is still looking for a wide receiver opposite Alshon Jeffery, and people may say, "Eddie Royal!", but Royal is primarily a slot receiver. And putting need aside, White is considered by most to be one of the top-seven players in this draft.

If I had to put money on the most likely Bears pick at this point, I'd agree with these 11 experts. But, at the same time, we know it rarely goes as we expect in the NFL Draft, right?

Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (8)
Will Brinson (4/30; CBS Sports)
Charles Davis (4/27; NFL.Com)
Doug Farrar (4/30; Sports Illustrated)
Shaun King (4/30; Yahoo)
Geoff Mosher (4/29; CSN Philly)
NFL Draft Geek (4/29; NFL Draft Geek)
Rob Rang (4/30; CBS Sports)
Frank Schwab (4/30; Yahoo)

When the Bears released their current roster over the last few days, the most notable part of it was that there was only one nose tackle on the roster, in veteran Jeremiah Ratliff. And they're now installing the 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. One of the three guys on the defensive line in that alignment is the nose tackle. So... the fact that the Bears only feel they have one on the roster right now was pretty eye-opening, although not entirely surprising given what we knew about these players already.

Danny Shelton is clearly the best nose tackle in this draft, drawing comparisons to Vince Wilfork with his ability to clog the middle of the line at 6'2", 339 pounds. But the concern is that Shelton is only an early-down player, in a quarterbacks' league.

Shelton certainly makes sense for the Bears, but you'd probably feel better about getting him in a trade-back scenario rather than at No. 7. Either way, he makes sense as a piece to start up the new defense and you could probably do a lot worse than him with this pick.

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (7)
Eddie Brown (4/29; U-T San Diego)
Chris Burke (4/30; Sports Illustrated)
Nate Davis (4/29; USA Today)
Nick Klopsis (4/28; Newsday)
Pat Mayo (4/27); SportsGrid)
Matt Miller (4/30; Bleacher Report)
Pete Prisco (4/30; CBS Sports)

Most have Amari Cooper as the top wide receiver in this draft, and one of the safest picks in this draft. He is an extremely polished wide receiver as we all witnessed against elite competition in his years at Alabama.

With all that in mind, Cooper falling to No. 7 is something I wouldn't bet on. I doubt there is a team in the league that wouldn't love to have this guy. And there are teams ahead of the Bears in this draft (like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders) that would especially love to have Cooper as a great weapon for their young quarterback.

If Cooper happened to be at No. 7, I think the Bears would take him, but I just don't think the scenario presents itself.

Alvin "Bud" Dupree, OLB, Kentucky (5)
Dan Bilicki (4/29); Toronto Sun)
Rich Cimini (4/30; ESPN)
Eric Edholm (4/29; Yahoo)
Peter King (4/28; MMQB)
Peter Schrager (4/29; Fox Sports)

Bud Dupree is a player that some feel could even go ahead of the Bears' pick, but others feel is too raw to confidently select this early. His potential is undeniable, but we would be looking at a classic Phil Emery type of pick here- A great athlete with outstanding upside, but far from a sure thing.

But if the Bears take Dupree, they feel good about his chances to reach his potential, and be the ideal pass-rushing outside linebacker to plug into their 3-4 defense for a long time.

Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson (4)
Brad Biggs (4/29; Chicago Tribune)
Jason La Canfora (4/29; CBS Sports)
Bob LeGere (4/29; Daily Herald)
Steve Serby (4/29; New York Post)

Like Dupree, another tremendous pass-rushing talent at outside linebacker for a 3-4 defense. Many even have Beasley going in the top-five, so it's possible the Bears wouldn't even get the chance to decide if they want to take him.

One thing that I found very notable, though:

I feel like if you're a team with a pick in the top-seven and you haven't even spoken much with a player, that player is probably not in your plans with the pick. When we're talking later rounds, this isn't necessarily the case, as players you didn't think would last to your pick -- and thus didn't take the time to get more to know about the player--  may fall and you feel their talent is too good to pass up. But when we're talking a pick at No. 7? If you're considering a player there, you want to get to know as much about him as you can. 

Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (3)
Mel Kiper (4/30; ESPN)
Mark Potash (4/30; Chicago Sun-Times)
Evan Silva (4/30; Rotoworld)

Scherff is considered the best offensive lineman in this draft. Some evaluators think he is good enough to be an NFL left tackle, some think he is destined for guard.

If you're the Bears, I have a hard time seeing them make this pick unless they're confident he's a future tackle, given that they already have a young Pro Bowl guard in Kyle Long. They also have a very good left guard in Matt Slauson.

Also, top-10 is just early for a guard in general unless you're sold the guy is another Kyle Long. So, the Bears likely only make this pick if they feel Scherff can not just stay at tackle, but be a very good one as well.

Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (2)
Charley Casserly (4/27; NFL.Com)
Mike Mayock (4/29; NFL.Com)

Whenever Mike Mayock predicts something, I listen, but I think Waynes is a reach here at No. 7. Most feel he is a mid-to-late first round talent, and the Bears just selected a first-round cornerback in Kyle Fuller.

Cornerback is an extremely valuable position, but Waynes would seem to be a reach at No. 7. Now, if the Bears were to trade back, this is a target that makes sense.

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Bears re-sign key special teamer CB Sherrick McManis

Posted by Matt Clapp | 4/01/2015 04:57:00 PM |

The Bears signed their tenth player over the last two weeks on Wednesday, when they reached a one-year deal with cornerback Sherrick McManis.

The 27-year-old McManis isn't a big name on the surface and is a reserve cornerback, but Bears fans are well aware of the value he brings on special teams.

Over the last three years, McManis leads the Bears with 38 special teams tackles and has been the most consistent performer on the unit. Really, the only consistent performer on the unit in that time.

The term "special teams ace" is thrown around loosely but McManis seems about as well deserving of that moniker as anybody.

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The Chicago Bears are making sure they have no shortage of outside linebackers competing for spots in the team's new 3-4 base defense when they head to training camp this summer.

Already having Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, and Jared Allen in the mix, the Bears added to that competition with the signing of linebacker Sam Acho on Wednesday.

Acho that spent the last four seasons with the Cardinals after being drafted by Arizona in the fourth round in 2011. The 26-year-old really opened eyes as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in his rookie season, collecting seven sacks, but only had six sacks over the last three seasons.

Now, the 6'3, 257-pounder is more known for his run-stopping ability, and was given a positive grade in that department from Pro Football Focus for his efforts in the 2014 season. He was also credited with 31 tackles, one sack, one interception, and three pass deflections in 2014.

Even with this outside linebacker depth, it's still possible the Bears grab an edge rusher with the No. 7 pick, as there are a few tremendous prospects at the position that figure to warrant a top-10 selection. Youth is still needed and it would be nice to find a long-term stud to terrorize quarterbacks off the edge.

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On Tuesday, the Bears made a surprise move by signing veteran running back Jacquizz Rodgers to a one-year contract.

Rodgers, who just turned 25 in Febraury, spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, after they selected him in the fifth-round of the 2011 draft.

Despite being only 5'6", Rodgers has shown to be an effective pass blocker and receiver out of the backfield in the NFL. Rodgers had 105 receptions over 2012 and 2013, catching three of those passes for touchdowns. He offers nice traits in what you're looking for out of a third-down back.

However, Rodgers' career average of 3.7 yards per carry (over 305 carries) leaves much to be desired. He is most certainly a backup running back and will in no way be challenging Matt Forte for a starting job.

But, Rodgers may very well give Ka'Deem Carey some serious competition for the No. 2 running back job.

Carey of course was drafted by the Bears in fourth round last year, after putting up incredible numbers in college for the Arizona Wildcats. But, he hardly impressed at the Combine with very average to below average numbers, and he didn't show too much in the preseason or regular season for the Bears. He also struggled in pass protection, something Rodgers has shown to be good at.

Additionally, keep in mind that general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox weren't with the Bears when Carey was drafted, so perhaps they aren't as high on him as the previous regime was.

So, you'd have to think that Rodgers has a decent shot at topping Carey in playing time for the Bears in 2015, especially in passing situations. It's also worth noting that Fox has a history of using several running backs so perhaps Rodgers and Carey will both be a key part of the rotation.

If nothing else, Rodgers adds nice camp competition for Carey, and gives the Bears solid depth at the position.

As for the draft, this year's class is absolutely loaded with talented running backs and I doubt the Bears' current running back depth would cause them to pass on a player that they love in rounds 3+. Remember, Matt Forte will be a 30-year-old free-agent at season's end, so it's very possible (and perhaps likely) that the team's 2016 starting running back isn't even on the roster right now.

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