Will Chicago Bears spend green to improve their red zone chances?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Brycen Edwards
WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA – OCTOBER 12: Brycen Hopkins #89 of the Purdue Boilermakers catches a pass in the game against the Maryland Terrapins during the fourth quarter at Ross-Ade Stadium on October 12, 2019 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Can the Bears find red zone solutions in the Draft?

One wouldn’t necessarily think that a team that spends the third-most money in the NFL on tight ends would need to consider that position a need in the Draft, but such is the life in the Windy City for the time being.

It’s almost amusing to imagine in today’s especially pass-heavy era, that Chicago employed four different tight ends, and not a single one of them cleared the 100-yard barrier or caught more than one touchdown over a 16-game season.

The Bears own the league’s No. 43 and No. 50 picks in April’s NFL Draft. Many fans seem to admire the idea of the Bears’ brass taking on reinforcements for the offensive line. I’d argue that a tight end should be of more importance for two reasons: (1) experts have labeled this draft as being top-heavy, particularly at the tackle position. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter sees six of those guys being taken in the first round alone, which could leave the Bears, ironically enough, with slim pickings among the big fellas.

The second reason? Trey Burton’s four-year, $32 million gives him the seventh fattest wallet among tight ends. But it’s a catch 22 for the Bears if they elect to go for a tight end in the free agency. That in mind, here are a few guys that come to mind:

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue:

With respect to Adam Shaheen, watching the film on Brycen Hopkins is about what I imagined Shaheen would’ve already become. Hopkins’ body control on catches in traffic was something of commonality at Purdue.

Two other aspects stood out, too: the route running and ball skills are crisp, and that helped him to create separation. And in the open field, he looks to be an absolute terror. He made a handful of ultimate concentration catches too, including these beauties at 0:18 and 1:40.

As it relates to the red zone, Hopkins took major strides forward during his senior season, corralling in seven touchdowns in 11 games, after never scoring more than four times a year prior to. And all of that was done with three different quarterbacks throwing at least 100 passes. In continuity, he could be something special for a Bears’ offense in dire need of playmakers.

Thaddeus Moss, LSU:

On those old Madden franchises, I can remember the days of assigning all of the league’s premier players to Chicago, and something about seeing “Moss, No. 84” in blue-and-orange trim created an odd, imaginative fascination. Especially when I learned that the Bears passed on Moss in favor of Curtis Enis, and paid a hefty price for it over the next seven seasons. I know I’m not alone, there.

Well, on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears will have a chance to get the next closest thing. And it’s absolutely a “like father, like son” dynamic. Athletic specs aside, what makes Moss more appealing than anything are his hands. According to Pro Football Focus, there wasn’t a drop to be found over his 47 receptions during LSU’s historic campaign.

That’s front page news for a Chicago Bears talented, but struggling receiving vote that at times last season, seemed more likely to catch a cold than a football; they ranked No. 3 in dropped passes (25).

The “problem” here is that the Bears could be in a battle against their own ambitions. Moss grades out as a backup on NFL.com’s prospect score. In that aforementioned mock, Moss isn’t projected until the No. 99 pick. If the Bears go for other positions, they won’t have another selection until picks No. 142, No. 146, and No. 177. In other words, they’ll need more fortunate timing and luck than a final mission on Crash Bandicoot.

For the sake of not writing a book, a few other names to take note of: Dayton’s Adam Trautman — similar to Moss, he’s generally sat anywhere from No. 50 to No. 100 on mocks. Cole Kmet is also an option to potentially complement Trey Burton, as Bear Goggles On writer Parker Hurley makes note of here.

The Illinois connection is there, and like Hopkins, Kmet’s body control is a highlight. The last name, at least for picks No. 43 or No. 50 would be Harrison Bryant of Florida Atlantic. The jury’s still out on his blocking potential at the next level, an issue with many of the names here. Bryant is a scare, given his injury history, a movie the Bears have watched all too often. But as a pass-catcher, there’s a 6-foot-5 or so, 240-pound hole at the position and multiple players fit the billing.