- Associated Press - Sunday, April 22, 2018

8. CHICAGO BEARS (5-11)

LAST SEASON: Bears went 5-11 and finished last in NFC North for fourth straight year, then fired coach John Fox after three losing seasons. GM Ryan Pace got contract extension through 2021 and hired Andy Reid protege Matt Nagy as new head coach, hoping he can get most out of QB Mitchell Trubisky. Wide receivers were major weakness, with Cameron Meredith (left knee) out for season and Kevin White (shoulder) sidelined most of year. Chicago’s leading receiver was Kendall Wright - now with Minnesota - with 59 receptions for 614 yards. RBs Jordan Howard (1,122 yards), Tarik Cohen (370 yards rushing, 353 receiving) were formidable tandem, though Howard struggled to catch passes. Bears‘ defense ranked 10th overall despite injuries to several key players, including LB Leonard Floyd.

THEY NEED: OL, WR, DL, LB, DB.

THEY DON’T NEED: QB, TE, P.

POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; LB Roquan Smith, Georgia.

OUTLOOK: Pace’s No. 1 offseason goal was to surround Trubisky with pieces to help lift franchise with one playoff appearance since 2006 Super Bowl season. Drafting Nelson would fit with that plan, though Smith is potential linchpin defensive player for Monsters of Midway. Bears have hole at guard after declining option on four-time Pro Bowler Josh Sitton. G Kyle Long also recovering from several surgeries. Nelson also played for Bears OL coach Harry Hiestand at Notre Dame. Smith would give Chicago needed playmaker on defense. Bears could use more depth at WR, though signing prized free agent Allen Robinson addressed need for top target. Chicago also brought in Taylor Gabriel and Bennie Fowler while deciding not to match New Orleans’ offer sheet for Meredith.

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More AP NFL: https://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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