Chicago Bears: 7 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise After OTAs
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are in full swing, which means Chicago Bears fans can get a sense of who is impressing the new coaching staff.
Though Gabe Carimi and Evan Rodriguez are getting a good deal of negative press for their recent actions (Carimi is skipping OTAs for his own workouts and Rodriguez just collected his second offseason arrest), there are plenty of positive storylines in Chicago.
From Pro Bowlers to third-stringers, here are seven Bears with rising value.
*All unattributed statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Kyle Adams’ stock is going up by default.
The 6’4” tight end is the likely beneficiary of Rodriguez’s legal trouble, as offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer alluded to Adams having some fullback responsibilities behind Rodriguez in this Chicago Tribune article. With the former fourth-round pick struggling to stay out of trouble with the law, Adams should get an expanded role on offense.
Gabe Miller was also mentioned as a potential hybrid fullback/tight end, but he was recently suspended four games for using performance-enhancing drugs.
That leaves the Purdue product, the third or fourth option at tight end behind Martellus Bennett, Steve Maneri and possibly Fendi Onobun, with an important spot on the team. Rodriguez is more than likely out of the Bears’ good graces, so Kromer will plug Adams in.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Here’s another third-stringer with positive reports out of OTAs.
Blanchard was praised by quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh in this CSN Chicago article. Trestman was a little more critical, but Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bears are “very pleased” with the former undrafted QB.
The article also claims that former No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell’s scheduled workout with the Bears is not a reflection on any of the current quarterbacks. Russell and the other quarterbacks are potential emergency additions.
Chicago has every reason to feel comfortable with Blanchard. Cavanaugh seems confident in his potential, and the former Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback showed an uncanny ability to win games in college (25-0 according to the Chicago Sun-Times).
Showing a knack for winning is fantastic. It’d be great if, for once in recent memory, a Bears backup QB had that ability.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Phil Emery commented that the “two young linebackers are moving around very well” in this Chicago Bears official website video.
Both Bostic and Khaseem Greene have been praised by the Bears coaching staff since rookie minicamp, and this recent compliment from the General Manager was his first response to the question of what he’d seen in practice.
Between the two rookies, Bostic’s value is on the rise a little more. There are two reasons for this: his speed and draft position.
When asked how Greene has looked so far, Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) of the Chicago Tribune tweeted this response:
@Shrewd33 Needs to drop some weight (May 23)
In the quicker pro game, Bostic has an edge to start immediately. That difference in speed may be why Biggs suggested the former Scarlet Knight should lose some weight.
In addition, Bostic is a higher draft choice than Greene. As a second-rounder, the expectation is that he should be able to start right away. D.J. Williams may prevent that from happening, but Bostic hasn’t failed to impress yet.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Briggs is a three-time All-Pro selection at linebacker. How could his value be rising?
The veteran Bear is expected to produce at the same high level, but he needs to step up as a leader now. He’s shown that in OTAs so far. In an NFL.com video, Tim Jennings said Briggs is “now the guy” and has to “put guys in the right position.”
Brian Urlacher was the quarterback of Chicago’s defense for over a decade. Briggs has big shoes to fill, but Jennings’ enthusiastic response shows that it won’t be a problem.
Lance Briggs should easily take over as the vocal and mental leader of the Bears’ ballyhooed defense. He will be especially important in those roles if Bostic starts from Week 1 as a rookie. Briggs’ production has always been vital, but his overall value has never been higher.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Hester’s value is not as great as it was early in his career, but it is certainly on the rise from 2012.
Emery commented that Hester is “very positive” and “looking forward to contributing” as a returner in this Chicago Bears official website video.
Eliminating Hester’s other responsibilities so he can focus on returning is a fantastic idea. In 2008 and 2009, the speedy specialist had no return touchdowns. He had three each year in 2010 and 2011, then laid another egg in 2012.
Coincidentally, 2008 and 2009 were the years the Bears used him the most as a wide receiver (career-high 91 targets both years). OK, not a coincidence.
By focusing exclusively on returns, Hester should be able to rekindle some of his magic. The reported positive outlook is a pleasant change from his disgruntled disposition earlier this offseason, so that’s another reason to believe in a resurgence.
Leon Halip/Getty Images
The 2012 second-round draft choice had an injury-plagued and underwhelming rookie campaign (10 games, 367 yards and three touchdowns). Jeffery struggled with penalties in his first season as a pro, too.
This offseason, the wideout earned praise from Emery, who told the media (via the Chicago Bears website) that Jeffery “made a lot of strides” and is “quicker in and out of his cuts.”
Jeffery had a ton of potential coming out of college, which was part of why the Bears decided to trade up to draft him last year. Brandon Marshall definitely needs the young receiver to reach that potential in 2013. Jeffery’s emergence could alleviate some of the pressure on the Pro Bowler.
Early reports indicate that the former Gamecock is on the right track. The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) tweeted this:
#Bears WR Alshon Jeffery made a terrific diving catch of a bomb from Jay Cutler in the end zone with Tim Jennings all over him. (June 4)
Jeffery has the physical tools to be a No. 2 in the NFL right now, so look for a significant jump in his production.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Onobun is probably the most obscure name on this list. Accordingly, he’s seen the biggest jump in his value.
The former basketball player has been trying to transition to tight end since 2009, a change made by many successful NFL players at that position (such as Antonio Gates). Onobun’s has been less than successful thus far; the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bears are his sixth NFL team since the 2010 draft.
However, the Chicago Tribune then went on to describe him as an “offseason standout” with “soft hands.” That’s a fantastic turn of events for the aspiring football player.
Onobun could stick with the Bears and actually leapfrog Steve Maneri and Kyle Adams on the depth chart. Athletic, large tight ends with the ability to catch passes are coveted in the NFL today. Chicago has a promising one in OTAs right now.