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Which rookie will make biggest jump?

Posted Apr 4, 2017

Senior writer Larry Mayer discusses which second-year Bears player will make the greatest strides, the likelihood of the Bears trading down in the first round of the draft and if there are plans to move cornerback Kyle Fuller to safety.



Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Which of last year’s rookies do you think will make the biggest strides this season?

Dave F.
Provo, Utah

I’m really excited to see how outside linebacker Leonard Floyd is able to build on his successful rookie season. The first-round pick no doubt will benefit from a year of NFL experience as well as an offseason that he spends preparing to play football as opposed to training for the Combine like he did last year. As a rookie, Floyd registered seven sacks in 12 games and produced a couple of huge plays with his touchdown against the Packers and safety versus the 49ers. But I feel that he will take a big step in 2017, something that general manager Ryan Pace evidently agrees with. Here’s what Pace had to say about Floyd last week at the NFL owners meetings: “He’s naturally going to continue to get stronger, and more durability I think will come with added strength. He’s going to continue to refine his pass-rush technique. Right now that first year was just kind of raw speed and raw talent. As he gets better with his pass rush moves, using his hands and developing counters, I think the sky’s the limit because he’s got everything you need physically and he’s got the work ethic to learn all that.”

This draft is so deep, do you see the Bears trading down, getting an extra draft pick and still getting the player they wanted all along?

Tay S.
Benton, Arkansas

That certainly would be an ideal scenario, but given that the draft is so deep as you mentioned and there are really no can’t-miss superstars, I think it will be difficult for the Bears to find a trade partner in the first round. Other teams know that it’s a deep draft and likely will be hesitant to surrender any of their picks. The only way I see the Bears being able to deal down from the third spot in the first round is if some team—maybe one like the Browns or Saints with two first-round picks—covets a certain player, especially a quarterback.

I see the Bears are going to take a look at cornerback Deiondre’ Hall at safety this offseason. Might we see the same move with another cornerback, Kyle Fuller?

Michael A.
Mattoon, Illinois

That may happen at some point, but not immediately. The No. 1 objective with Kyle Fuller is getting him back on the field after he missed the entire 2016 season following arthroscopic knee surgery in August. Here’s what coach John Fox had to say recently about the possibility of moving Fuller to safety: “We’re trying to get him healthy. He didn’t play one snap for us last year. There are reasons for that and we’re trying to rectify that to where he can just play football, and then decide positions. He really had one year and it wasn’t even a full healthy year, and then he didn’t play one regular-season snap last year. I’m not saying we won’t [take a look at Fuller at safety], but we need to get him healthy and physically able to play.”

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