Uneasy Lies the Head Wearing a Helmet

Some Chicago Bears will be facing severe challenges for starting jobs or even roster spots after the draft, while others have more security or even a cushy situation.
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For every action there is a reaction.

For every player drafted, there is a player somewhere on the roster starting to open up his suitcases.

Or at the very least, they know their job will be in jeopardy.

A few Chicago Bears have to be a bit concerned, or at the very least they need to have their competitive juices at a high level come the start of May 17 on-field work.

The selection of Justin Fields doesn't immediately threaten Andy Dalton or Nick Foles, but will eventually.

If those two had to worry about a second-rounder or later, then the process might have been delayed. Development shouldn't take as long with the 11th pick of the draft.

"Part of that process is going to be for us as coaches, the development with Justin, is making sure that he's getting reps (play repetitions), where he's getting them, how's he getting them, where's the extra work coming in, the film study," coach Matt Nagy said. "We're not at that part yet as a coaching staff.

"Now we know who we have and where they're at. We can sit down and really put together a schedule and a plan of how this is going to get done."

There are obviously other players whose situations are a bit more complicated now following the final round of the draft.

The Other Possible Losers

1. Charles Leno Jr.

The Bears had a hard time explaining what Leno's status is, or even the status of other offensive linemen like James Daniels. They're not revealing yet what the line will look like after they drafted tackle Teven Jenkins and tackle Larry Borom.

They could put Borom at guard or at tackle. Jenkins could be a tackle on either side, although the majority of his experience came on the right side where Germain Ifedi finished the year playing. It's not his ideal position, though.

Are they thinking of putting center Sam Mustipher back on the bench and moving Cody Whitehair from left guard, where he excelled last year, to center again. It's all unclear, but if they put Borom at right or right guard, then Jenkins at left tackle, it could mean an end for Leno in Chicago.

"You know, obviously we have high expectations for him," GM Ryan Pace said of Jenkins, the No. 39 pick in the draft. "He has starting ability. And really, with him and (Borom), what we liked about both of them is they can play both sides. They can play guard. There's just so much versatility.

"So we went into this draft, and Matt and I said it, we looked at the entirety of the draft. We looked at the depth of offensive linemen, and we said, man, if we don't come away improving our offensive line then shame on us. We really thought we could attack it that way. It was important for us to do that. Adding Teven and Larry were big-time additions for us. And you know, we'll just let it battle out."

If they cut or trade Leno before June 1, it's $6.2 million in cap savings. If it's after June 1, it's $9 million in savings.

Would they risk starting a rookie on the blind side for Dalton, especially one who only started seven games on that side?

This truly does look like putting the five best blockers on the field and letting them play.

2. Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce

The backup running back spot was a disaster last year for the Bears after Tarik Cohen's torn ACL, with Cordarrelle Patterson playing there or Artavis Pierce and Ryan Nall coming in to spell David Montgomery a few plays. Now they'll have former Chiefs back Damien Williams behind Montgomery, and drafted Virginia Tech's impressive rookie Khalil Herbert. Tarik Cohen comes back from the ACL tear and suddenly this is a very crowded battle for a roster spot.

3. Anthony Miller, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims

Drafting a receiver in the sixth round usually wouldn't pose a serious threat for a second-round pick who has had some big catches and decent production in his first three seasons. Miller also had the fight in the playoffs and struggled with inconsistency throughout the second half of last season.

The Bears drafted Dazz Newsome in Round 6 and then gushed about him like they had big plans for him, even if he did run only a 4.59 40 time at his pro day.

They're not cutting Darnell Mooney or Allen Robinson, at least this year. They just signed Marquise Goodwin to run deep routes at times and open up the secondary for more yardage after the catch on underneath routes.

Ridley hasn't shown much in two years, playing in 10 games. Wims dropped an easy TD catch in the playoff loss. Miller has been rumored to be trade material.

And Newsome is a nightmare for them as a willing and very effective college punt returner. Miller could do this, too, but had shoulder issues in the past when he was returning kicks. He wasn't bad on a few punt returns, but he would do neither of these if traded.

The Possible Winners

1. Jesper Horsted, J.P. Holtz

They drafted no one to take the third tight end spot Demetrius Harris played, a backup and swing spot between the U-tight end and Y-tight end. Undrafted free agent Scooter Harrington might be an option but he barely made an impact at Stanford with 17 career receptions.

Horsted showed some potential as a converted wide receiver two years ago and spent all last year on the practice squad. Does he get an opportunity now?

They still have Darion Clark, as well. He's the college basketball player who has tried his hand at football.

This situation screams out for another free agent signing or a player who is cut by another team on June 1. If not, both Horsted and Holtz could come away winners.

2. Desmond Trufant

They signed him as a low-cost way to address the left cornerback spot vacated with Kyle Fuller's departure.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, Shakespeare wrote. In this case it's a football helmet, not a crown.

Trufant must contend with sixth-round cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., not a first- or second-round pick is it seemed might happen prior to the draft. Also, Kindle Vildor and veteran Artie Burns will be in the mix but Trufant's experience will make him a clear favorite, even if he has been injured often the last two years.

He shouldn't get too cocky, though. Graham was rated by Pro Football Focus as the 76th best player in the draft and the Bears got him at 228. A big reason for the drop had to be simply opting out last year, because PFF wasn't alone in grading him high.

3. Justin Fields

There are plenty of teams who could have drafted him that have fan bases used to great quarterback success, even spoiled by it.

Imagine Mac Jones, trying to go in as the successor to the throne in New England.

Fields goes where he's instantly a savior and will have the greatest leeway imaginable.

Chicago has already fallen in love with the guy in jersey No. 1 already, as well as his French bulldog Uno. 

The honeymoon will be long after the Rex Grossmans, Jay Cutlers and Mitchell Trubiskys of the world.

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