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.
What do the Bears have in terms of draft picks this year?
The Bears currently have six picks in the seven-round draft. Last year they traded fifth-round selections in 2014 and 2015 to the Denver Broncos in exchange for 2014 choices in the fourth round and seventh round that they spent on safety Brock Vereen and tackle Charles Leno Jr., Jr., respectively. The Broncos used the pick they obtained from the Bears to select linebacker Lamin Barrow, who recorded nine tackles while playing in all 16 games as a rookie in 2014. As it stands now, the Bears have the seventh pick in Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 in the April 30-May 2 draft.
With the combine quickly approaching, defense still remains a big concern on the Bears. As a longtime fan, I've always known the Bears for their hard hitting defense that was relentless. Both Ryan Pace and John Fox have said they want to return the defense to that same status, and Vic Fangio is certainly known for his solid defense. Do you think the Bears are going to be primarily looking to at defensive talent at the combine, and if so, what position?
While it appears that the Bears have more established veterans on offense and more question marks on defense, especially with players such as Willie Young and Lamarr Houston coming off injuries, I'm sure that they will focus very closely on players on both sides of the ball at the NFL Combine as well as throughout the offseason leading up to the draft. Listening to new general manager Ryan Pace at his introductory press conference, it sounds like the Bears will look to draft the best player available. He spoke candidly about when he was with the Saints in 2003 and they reached to fill a need at defensive tackle and that player didn't perform up to expectations.
I am excited about the new Bears coaching staff and believe the current roster of coaches is a big upgrade. I think they will get much more productivity and have greater success than during the past two years. In your opinion, which players stand to be impact players and have the biggest turnaround between 2014 and 2015?
That's a tough question, especially not knowing who will return and what roles those players who are with the Bears in 2015 will play. But I'll give you two names. They always say that players improve the most from their first to second season, so I'll go with cornerback Kyle Fuller. He showed great promise, especially early in the season, before breaking his hand last year as a rookie. I feel he has the talent and instincts to emerge as an impact player, especially behind an above-average pass rush. I also think that running back Kyle Long will excel in a new Bears offense that is expected to be more committed to the run than the unit was the past two seasons. I wouldn't say that Forte will have a "turnaround" like you mentioned in your question because he had a productive season in 2014, but I think he will become even more of an impact player in the new offense.