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Chicago Bears NFL Draft 2020: Inside Linebackers

The Bears had other reserve inside linebackers besides Kevin Pierre-Louis and Nick Kwiatkoski but they might still need to draft another one as insurance

No Bears position took a bigger hit to its depth than inside linebacker during free agency and no position on the team beside inside linebacker could stand such a bit to its depth.

While Nick Kwiatkoski went off to Las Vegas and Kevin Pierre-Louis to Washington, the Bears added versatile linebacker Barkevious Mingo as both an inside and outside defender and had several players already in the mix qualified for advancement.

If there is a position on this team over the last four seasons where depth has been important, it's here. Danny Trevathan missed 18 games with injuries or suspensions, Kwiatkoski missed five games with a chest injury in 2017. Roquan Smith went out four games last year with injuries and a team disciplinary action and former Bear Jerrell Freeman missed the entire 2017 season after he had failed the league's performance enhancing substance policy.

While they've withstood the absences and have players to do it, this doesn't mean they can't improve there through the draft.

The problem with their depth is it's pretty raw, at least at playing within the Bears defensive scheme.

Devante Bond is their most experienced inside linebacker, and the 6-foot-1, 236-pound Tampa Bay sixth-round draft pick has been playing since 2016. He came to Chicago at mid season last year after playing in 29 games and starting six for the Bucs.

Not only does Bond have more starting experience than Pierre-Louis had when he came to Chicago before last season, but Bond has more starting experience counting Pierre-Louis' three starts last year. So the step down is not so far in this respect.

Joel Iyiegbuniwe is a player the Bears would love to see step up and fulfill his draft status. Like Kwiatkoski, he was a fourth-round pick. Yet the former Western Kentucky player has been on the field for only 26 defensive snaps and just three last year. He has been a special teams mainstay with three-quarters of the snaps on kicking and kick coverage teams.

Iyiegbuniwe's strength was speed as a 226-pound linebacker, but the Bears need to see some more aggressiveness and physicality from a player chosen so highly.

Josh Woods is a former college defensive back who has added weight and muscle in Chicago to go with his speed and needs to see more playing time to gain some experience. So preseason will be big for him this year.

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A name who has become known through the combine is Davion Taylor of Colorado. Once thought of as a possible undrafted free agent acquisition or seventh-rounder at best, he exploded at the combine with a 4.49-second 40-yard dash, third fastest among linebackers and faster by .03 seconds than consensus No. 1 pick Kenneth Murray. His three-cone drill was only slightly less impressive at 6.96 seconds, fifth fastest.

At 224 pounds, Taylor needs to add some weight but did do 21 reps in the bench and made 129 tackles and 18 for loss in two seasons.

The Bears have displayed reported interest in him with a video conference according to Justin Melo of Draft Wire. NBC Sports Chicago's Bryan Perez reported talks the Bears had at the Senior Bowl with Miami's Michael Pinckney, Appalachian State's Akeem Davis-Gaither and Wyoming's Logan Wilson.

Wilson would seem the least likely as mock drafts put him in the third- to fourth-round range, but the others could still be there later.

Bears NFL Draft 2020: Inside Linebackers

The Inside Linebacker Room: Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Josh Woods, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, DeVante Bond.

Sports Illustrated's Top of the Line: Isaiah Simmons, Clemson; Patrick Queen LSU; Kenneth Murray Oklahoma; Malik Harrison, Ohio State.

When Bears Should Pick One: Starting at Pick No. 163 to the End.

Possibles: Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State; Davion Taylor, Colorado; Joe Bachie, Michigan State; Logan Wilson, Wyoming; Jacob Phillips, LSU; Evan Weaver, Cal.

Get Used to It: The Packers have an interest apparently in Akeem Davis-Gaither and he's been projected as high as a second-round selection for them after early mocks and analysis had him in the fourth-round range. So the Bears would get to face him a few times a year. After losing Blake Martinez, the Packers can use some linebacker help.

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