Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets

MelTuckerHopefully everyone had a great weekend! The Bears rookie minicamp finished up, and sadly, my pet prospect (Indiana safety Greg Heban) didn’t make the grade for the Bears. (Not that I think that’s a bad decision; I’m certainly not qualified. I just liked watching him play in college.) According to Brad Biggs, the Bears did sign at least two players out of minicamp: North Texas safety Marcus Trice and Louisville running back Senorise Perry. Both players will head to camp with the Bears, and given the relative strength of their respective positional groups, I think Trice has to fancy his chances of cracking the roster more than Perry.

  • Among Perry’s competition, former NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is certainly the highest-profile candidate. As Adam Hoge writes for CBS Chicago, the key to Lynch making the roster and being a potentially useful offensive player will be his ability to contribute on special teams. As a Heisman Trophy-finalist college quarterback, Lynch obviously wasn’t asked to do a lot of blocking or tackling, so he’s a bit behind the curve.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright has a nice rundown of the potential changes in store for the Bears defensive scheme. Mel Tucker sounds as though he wants to make a lot of changes, and after last year’s performance, I’d think that’s a good approach. From the piece, I received the impression that while the changes wouldn’t be sweeping, they will be felt at all levels of the defense. Tucker notes that the high level of defensive personnel turnover (both coaches and players) helps to facilitate this sort of change. This is Mel Tucker’s defense now; he’s no longer beholden to Lovie Smith’s scheme, and he’ll benefit from a wealth of new defensive talent. I’m very interested to see how the Bears look defensively under Tucker; due to injuries (and the Bears effort to maintain defensive continuity from Lovie’s system) I’m still not really sure I know what a Mel Tucker defense looks like.
  • Marc Trestman plans on giving Jordan Palmer the first crack at the backup quarterback position, as noted by Adam Jahns. I think Palmer has a leg up at this point, given that the Bears certainly view themselves as a contending team; his veteran status probably provides a more reassuring presence. That said, Palmer has thrown all of 15 passes in the NFL, so it’s not as though he’s a seasoned, tested player. Considering the Bears spent a sixth-round choice on David Fales, Palmer probably shouldn’t be too comfortable.
  • Patrick Finley wrote a quick piece for the Sun-Times on the relationship between second-round choice Ego Ferguson and undrafted free agent signing Christian Jones.
  • The Bears released punter Drew Butler, according to ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright. Butler was signed to a reserve/futures contract this offseason, but his chances of making the team were drastically diminished when Chicago selected Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round of the draft.
  • Speaking of O’Donnell, Jeff Dickerson wrote that he’s got some advice from the veteran specialists while at minicamp this weekend. Dickerson also reports that O’Donnell repeatedly hit the roof of the Bears indoor practice facility. Personally, I’m hoping he hits the Dallas scoreboard at some point. Remember when everyone assumed that would happen repeatedly, and it was treated as some sort of “Thing To Worry About”? Has it even happened in a game?
  • Finally, the National Football Post’s Joe Fortenbaugh has the Las Vegas Hotel Sportsbook NFL over/under lines for the upcoming season. The Bears sit at 8, which strikes me as low; I’d probably put it at 9. (Note: I’m not a professional gambler.) Looking at the other divisional teams, the Packers are at 10, the Lions match the Bears with 8, and the Vikings sit at 6. Play at your own risk.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

1,119 responses to “Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets”

  1. frank

    The Bears site has a count of 16 analysts and whom they think the Bears will draft at 7:

    Seven of them say Cooper
    Four say White
    Three say Shelton
    One says Ray
    One says Mariota

    Interesting that now only one picked a rush LB, and despite all the recent talk, only one has picked Mariota. And 11 of the 16 pick a WR.

  2. frank

    Just read that Tillman is expected to sign with Carolina.

    1. mdavis

      That’s a good fit for him. Obviously the Rivera connection, and they were looking for a bigger corner. Funny thing is, they missed out on Ball, who the Bears signed of course, and now look to the guy Ball basically replaces in Tillman. Wish him nothing but the best. Hope he can stay healhty.

  3. frank

    And — another mock — this one from Yardbarker. Bears picks are:

    1 Amari Cooper WR
    2 Eric Rowe CB
    3 Paul Dawson LB
    4 David Johnson RB
    5 Reese Dismukes C
    6 Chris Bonner QB

    I find the pick of Bonner interesting–very small school, but upside, at least according to the writer. A project for sure; however, I don’t think they’d be looking at anything more than a backup if they wait til the 6th round to pick a QB. Rowe has good size and length, and I think is moving up on draft boards. At 295, Dismukes seems small to me for a center, and not very versatile. Don’t know anything about Johnson.

    1. mdavis

      Cooper I like of course. Rowe has good size and length, but from what I’ve read most think he ends up at S, and could be better there long term. Dawson we’ve talked about. Johnson, just a quick glance, lots to like. 6′ 1/2″ 225 4.5 speed. Very productive, is a good pass catcher and route runner, and decent in pass pro. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around them taking another tailback a year after taking Carey in the fourth. Is Johnson better than Carey, who played against much better competition? I can’t get there. Every year there is a small school QB that scouts love and pump up. Yes,, 6’6″ 240 big arm. Sounds like John Skelton from a few years ago. He’s an UDFA to me, and I just don’t see the point. If they don’t take one top 2, 3 rounds…no point. Keep working with Fales.

      1. frank

        Maybe they’re looking at Rowe to play safety? I don’t see them picking a RB, unless, as in some mocks, Gurley happens to fall into their laps. Of course, maybe they don’t like Carey. And I agree on the QB thing; I know Pace said he always wants one in development, but they need someone who can contribute as a backup soon, and to take over when and if they decide they’re done with Cutler. Right now, they don’t have the luxury of a 4 year development process, like gb had with Rodgers.

        1. mdavis

          Agreed. and really after the first 5 guys, there’s no one worth drafting. So, if they did want to bring in a development guy to compete with Fales, the UDFA will be flooded with them. Yea, if Gurley miraculously falls to 39 you sprint to the podium. I theink Carey has potential, his pass pro needs to make strides this year, but I see some potential. Obviously, can’t speak for what Pace and Foix see, but he was used so little, there’s really not much on tape of him.

  4. frank

    Ok — here’s another mock. And I think they’re just getting more goofy as we go. In this one, the Bears trade Cutler, and their 1st AND 3rd round picks for the #2 pick and draft —

    1 Marcus Mariota QB
    2 Owamagbe Odighizuwa OLB
    4 Marcus Hardison DT
    5 Chris Conley WR
    6 Kaleb Johnson OL

    I just can’t see the Bears giving up Cutler and two early picks for Mariota. Not with as many holes to fill as they have. Odighizuwa is a new one on me; I haven’t seen him linked with the Bears prior to this–and the writer suggests that he’s comparable to Sam Acho–athletic but short on technique, used mostly as a DE, but the Bears would make him an OLB. I’d like a safer bet with my number 2 pick, especially in a deep draft–no need for projects this early. I don’t know much about Hardison or Johnson, except that Hardison doesn’t have much of a track record, being a JUCO transfer. We’ve discussed Conley already. So this guy has the Bears with only 5 picks, drafting three projects, a WR who can’t catch, and a lottery ticket offensive lineman. I would not be happy with this draft at all.

    1. mdavis

      Agree with you on all counts here. First off I dislike mocks with trades. Odighizuwa I’m not sure I know much about. I know he has a high motor, physical, but has really lacked in production throughout his career. This guy also has already had 2 hip surgieries, one on each. 2nd round is too rich for me. This draft would be an extreme disappointment to me. And I don’t see it. The only way they draft Mariota is if he falls to 7 and they just love him. I don’t think they try and move up, not when you’re overhauling a defensive unit.

  5. mdavis

    missed this yesterday, but Schefter reported Mariota met with the Bears at Halas Hall last week. Smoke screen? Legit interest? Due diligence? Who knows.

    1. frank

      I’m thinking a little bit of “all of the above.” They have to do their homework in case he is legit and falls to 7, and at this time, almost everything has some element of a smokescreen to it.

  6. frank

    And yet another mock:

    1 Vic Beasley OLB
    2 Jordan Phillips DT
    3 Damarious Randall FS
    4 Doran Grant CB
    5 Andy Gallik C
    6 Jalston Fowler FB

    We’ve spoken about Beasley before; the writer (Nate Howard) prefers Fowler but believes Beasley is more likely to be on the board at 7. Phillips makes sense to me. Randall’s not big but he’s physical and they need that too. The writer projects Grant as a nickel CB. Gallik, I think, would be a depth pick–probably not a long term solution. I know nothing about Jalston Fowler. I think this draft wouldn’t be bad if for Beasley and Phillips alone, if Phillips can be an anchor in the DL. And defensive backfield help is big too–and if these guys can contribute, I think it’d be a successful draft.

    1. mdavis

      Yeah Phillips has the potential but sometimes disappears on film. Randall is fast rising on boards at S, he’d be a real nice pick up. Grant was solid at OSU, he’s strong, but I’d agree he probably projects inside.

      1. frank

        Have to wonder about that – motivation is hard to assess. I remember that was the knock on Alex Brown coming out of Florida, but he turned out to be a good pro.

        1. mdavis

          Very solid pro. On a completely unrelated note, I actually work with Alex Brown now haha.

          1. frank

            Really? Ever hear stories about his time with the team? Actually, when they signed Peppers, I thought the combination of Peppers on one side and Brown on the other would be formidable–then they let Brown go. I was not happy with that–and they never did get a very productive end to play opposite Peppers.

            1. mdavis

              He’s actually a very down to earth guy. If you didn’t know who he was, you’d never know he played in the league. First couple weeks here anytime someone asked him to sign something he did it graciously. Very cool dude. Haven’t talked with him too much about the old days. And I’m with you, I thought that was going to be a great 1-2 punch, but I guess the Bears thought differently.

  7. frank

    I read that the Bears have more 30+ players than anyone in the NFL right now. I know Fox likes veteran players, but wasn’t one of the problems with this team its overall age and the fact that it has little young talent? I think a bit of this is deceiving because some of the new signings, though over 30 (such as Ball and Montgomery), are still younger than the guys they replaced, and a number of these guys are on 1-year deals. But that’s still an old team–and older teams usually have less cap flexibility too. I don’t know if it’s a point of concern though, at least not right now since we still don’t know what the final roster will look like.

    1. mdavis

      Yeah I think they added a good mix though. McPhee is 26, as is Foster and Jenkins. Royal is just 29. Ball is 30, but replaces a 34 yr old Tillman. So some of these guys can help with the transition, and some hopefully become key pieces beyond this year as well.

      1. frank

        And Montgomery is 32 but he replaces Garza who is 36, so they have gotten younger at those positions even though the replacement guy are 30+.

  8. frank

    Just read something interesting–multiple reports are now saying that Tampa will trade out of the 1st pick, or draft Mariota.

    1. mdavis

      And so begin the smokescreens. Jaworksi, whom I don’t care for, is now saying Mariota is the guy. But Florio reported unless there’s another off field inc, its Winston. So, who really knows? haha.

      1. frank

        Yeah, hard to say what’s going on — and it’ll just get worse as the draft gets closer.

  9. frank

    Just heard an eye-opening scouting report on Vic Beasley. They were looking at the Nolan Nawrocki report on the radio and basically said Beasley is a one trick pony and that trick (speed) is not justifiably elite. Also said he can’t get off blocks, doesn’t get the corner all the time, and is really a player without a position–but maybe a Jack LB in a 3-4, maybe a DE in a wide 9, maybe a safety. Interesting. Also, Cooper = NFL ready right now. High floor, high ceiling. White’s ceiling may be where Cooper is now, but has more size and a bit better speed. His floor is lower though, and if the two are both on the board, Cooper is the much better pick. He’s also less proven than Cooper, having only one year of top level experience.

    1. mdavis

      Wow, a little surprising on the Beasley report. Though I have seen some guys, such as Kiper and McShay rating him more in the teens. He was a 2x All American, so he has the credentials, but of course you never know. Different scouts prefer different traits. I’d have to agree on Cooper. He’s done it for a few years, at a high level. White came from the Juco ranks, and his first year at WV had some unspiring numbers, something like 40 recs, 500 yds. Last year he blew up, but that’s just one year. I’ll take the track record of Cooper. But either way, I wouldn’t be upset. Still will be interesting to see what Pace does. The good news is, 2 spots everyone thinks they go, EDGE or WR, are both deep in the draft. Though with the edge guys, you can get a rotational guy on day 2. We’ll see how WR plays out for them, though I saw they brought Perriman in from UCF. He scares me. Yes, a freak, tall, 4.25 speed, but I think its due diligence. Some have him in round 1, but inconsistency catching the ball and route running, he ‘s a day 2 gu yto me.

      1. frank

        They may be looking at a WR on day 2 — I’ve heard some say that DeVante Parker may be a top 10 pick when all is said and done. Nawrocki’s report on Cooper said that any weaknesses are “just nitpicking.” I’ll take that. And I think they do need a real threat opposite Jeffrey, because I don’t think, on his own, Jeffery is a true #1. And yeah, the scouting report said Beasley is a value in the the teens anyway, but also said he would likely get drafted higher than that.

        1. mdavis

          I like Parker a lot. I would actually be ok with him at 7, if they thought he was better, etc. The only concern I’d have is the medicals. Had footsurgery last year and missed 7 games….still put up 43/855/5 so, when he played was major productive. Anothe big guy, tick under 6’3″ 210, ran a 4.45 at the combine. If they don’t jump for one of those 3 in the first, then I’d prefer they go for a Devin Smith in the 2nd, instead of a Beckham-Green, Perriman, or Strong. DBG scares the hell outta me with his off field issues. Perriman just feels like Stephen Hill from a few years ago. Tall, blazing fast, inconsistent and major bust potential. Strong is a great lookin receiver, but the comparisons of him are Jefferey. They need a little difference I think. Smith is a notch below 6’1″, 205, fast, great deep ball guy. Or Nelson Agholor, would be a solid pick. Also helps in the return game.

          1. frank

            I agree that they need someone different from Jeffery–that’s the only thing about White–he seems a faster version of Jeffery. But speed is needed on that offense, so I would still like the pick.

            1. mdavis

              Yeah definitely. He brings a different dynamic. Really, All the above, except for Strong bring an element of a deep threat. Mix that in with Royal in the slot and suddenly they have some speed in that WR corps.

              1. frank

                And that’s the one thing that offense has been missing.

                Interesting that with a new regime, Forte decides not to come in for the first day, at least, of voluntaries. Not a way to make a good impression. There’s talk he wants an extension, even talk that he’s trying to force a trade to Baltimore where Trestman is OC. Even though he’s the fourth highest paid RB in the league this year, he’s got to be looking at what McCoy and Lynch were paid–but he’s also got to see that Dallas let DeMarco Murray go too. Interesting.

                1. mdavis

                  Yeah, I won’t be concerned bout these first couple weeks. CBA only allows weights and rehab, so its not like they are putting in the offense or on the field at all. Would I prefer he be there? Yes. But if we get into the OTA portion where they can meet, and run plays on the grass and he’s still not around, then I’ll have concerns. In terms of an extension, he needs to look at Frank Gore more as a comparison (3/$12m). He’s going to be 30, and there is a lot of tread on those tires.

                  1. frank

                    Agreed–but still not the best way to make a good impression. Yeah, despite his productivity, he’s not going to get McCoy or Lynch money.

  10. mdavis

    Bears are meeting with Winston tmrw. Due diligence I assume. So far 4 WR, 5 OLB, 2 QBs that are considered potential 1st rounders have met with the Bears.

    1. frank

      Yeah, I imagine he’ll be long gone by 7.

  11. frank

    Did you see that Eben Britton has been suspended for 4 games–though the NFL hasn’t listed under which policy the suspension was given.

  12. frank

    Just saw a mock that has the Bears taking White in rd 1 (Cooper still on the board) and Armstead in rd 2.

    1. mdavis

      If both White and Cooper are on the board, from what I’ve read/heard, I’d be very surprised if they didn’t go with Cooper. Armstead would be a steal in rd 2, but I think he goes top 20. Aaron Leming, a decent follow on twitter, has been on top of a lot of the Bears signging this offseason. Has an updated list of visits, a lot more than I’ve seen. I plugged em in below:

      #1: Winston (QB), Mariota (QB), Cooper (WR), Parker (WR), Perriman (WR), White (WR), Fowler (edge), Beasley (edge), Dupree (edge), Ray (edge) Gregory (edge), Shelton (NT), Gurley (RB). Waynes (CB), Humphries (T), Clemmings (T)

      #2. Edwards (DE/NT), Coleman (RB), B. Jones (CB), Harold (edge), McKinney (ILB), PJ Williams (CB)

      #3. Grayson (QB), Petty (QB), Campbell (S), Prewitt (S)

      #4/5. Lippet (WR/CB), Kroft (TE)

      #6/7. Sylvestre (edge), Garcia (C), Everett (CB), Brown (RB), Agnew (RB)

      1. frank

        I would be surprised as well.

        That’s a lot more visits than I thought there were.

        1. mdavis

          Yeah….I’m not entirely sure what he’s considering a “visit” or meeting/workout, etc. Teams are only allowed 30 visits pre-draft. And that above is 30+.

  13. frank

    Kiper’s latest 3 round mock has the Bears picking:

    1 B. Perriman WR
    2 O. Odighiwazua DE
    3. H. Anderson DL

    I don’t think I like any of these picks at these spots in the draft. Anderson might be ok in round 3, but these are projects–and I see no way Permian is the Bears first pick.

    Another 2 rounder has the Bears taking White and Eddie Goldman. I like that better. The interesting thing about this mock is that Gregory falls all the way to green bay at 30.

    1. frank

      Perriman–I don’t know where I got “Permian”

    2. mdavis

      Yeah I saw that, it’s his what he would do I think. He is extremely high on Perriman though, which I just don’t see. I’d take Parker over him in a heart beat. Don’t care for the 2nd round pick, but Anderson in the 3rd would be good value. Has a nasty streak, and could start at the 5 tech in year 2. But I agree, I really don’t like Perriman, def not at 7. If they got him at say, 20? Yeah, I’m ok with that.

      1. frank

        Yeah, he seems much higher on Permian than anyone else I’ve seen. To me, all three of these picks are projects, and I simply don’t think that that is necessary in this draft, or advisable for the Bears.

        1. frank

          And there’s “Permian” again–don’t know why I keep doing that . . .

  14. frank

    Just saw a three round mock with the Bears picking:

    1 Landon Collins S
    2 Danielle Hunter DE
    3 Nate Orchard DE/OLB
    3 Ramik Wislon ILB

    The second pick in the 3rd round comes because the Bears trade Cutler to Buffalo to clear the way for David Fales, who is the future at QB in Chicago. I feel the same way about mocks with trades as you do, so, enough said about that. Except–Fales is the future?

    This guy also has Shelton going 3rd (way too high IMO), White going 6th, Cooper going 10th (too low IMO)–and the next WR off the board is Jaelen Strong at 12. At least he says Strong is overrated and he attributes the high pick to the Browns–because they’re the Browns.

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