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Chalk Talk: Who have been breakout draft picks?

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

I see Bears players making all kinds of lists and winning awards, but they all seem to be players picked up in free agency. Who was the most recent drafted "breakout" player for the Bears?
Larry G.
Bolingbrook, Illinois

While the two Bears players who made the Pro Bowl this year—outside linebacker Khalil Mack and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson—both started their careers with other teams, several of their draft picks have excelled as well. In fact, six of their eight Pro Bowlers in 2018 were draft picks: Punt returner Tarik Cohen, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and guard/center Cody Whitehair. Many other draft picks helped fuel the Bears' three-game winning streak late in the season and will be counted on to play major roles in 2021 and beyond. They include running back David Montgomery, tight end Cole Kmet, receiver Darnell Mooney, inside linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive lineman Bilal Nichols—as well as cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who missed the final three games of his rookie season with a shoulder injury.

Are the Bears going to release Eddy Piñeiro and keep Cairo Santos? Santos had a great season this year.
Rodney B.
Memphis, Tennessee

We'll have to wait and see what happens with the Bears kicking situation because both Cairo Santos and Eddy Piñeiro are due to become free agents March 17 when the new league year starts. Santos is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Unrestricted free agents have completed at least four accrued NFL seasons and can sign with any club with no draft-choice compensation owed to his original club. Piñeiro is due to become a restricted free agent. Restricted free agents have completed three accrued seasons. They can negotiate with any club, but their original team can offer them a tender that comes with the right of first refusal and/or draft-pick compensation. You're correct about Santos having a great 2020 season; he set Bears records for most consecutive field goals made (27) and highest field-goal percentage in a season at 93.8 percent, converting 30 of 32 attempts. Given his performance, I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying that the Bears would like to strike a deal with Santos to bring him back for 2021 and beyond.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is requesting a trade. Do you think the Bears would have any interest in acquiring him?
Napoleon B.
Orland Hills, Illinois

Given Matthew Stafford's talent, toughness and relatively young age (32), I think every NFL team that doesn't have a franchise quarterback will probably consider the possibility of acquiring Stafford in a trade. And even though Bears general manager Ryan Pace said during his end-of-season press conference that "everything is on the table" in terms of addressing the quarterback position this offseason, I don't see any way that the Lions would trade Stafford to a team in their division. In fact, I did some research and discovered that the last trade that sent a quarterback from one team to another in the same division occurred on April 5, 2010 when the Eagles dealt Donovan McNabb to Washington. Since then, 45 quarterbacks have been traded, all to non-division foes.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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