Chicago Bears coaches get first look at draft picks in rookie minicamp
Chicago Bears coaches will get their first on-field look at this year's draft class, along with dozens of undrafted players and other free agents, during the rookie minicamp today through Sunday at Halas Hall.
There are lofty expectations that first-round pick Roquan Smith will be in the starting lineup for the season opener, at inside linebacker next to Danny Trevathan.
The eighth overall pick in the draft got off to a rocky start earlier this week when his Bears-issued iPad, which contains the defensive playbook, was stolen from inside his car near his Athens, Georgia, apartment complex. While other personal items were recovered, the iPad was not among them, although the Bears remotely wiped the information from it.
On draft day, Smith expressed his excitement at the thought of working with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and he could hardly wait to get going.
"I've heard so many great things about him, and read so many great things about him," Smith said of Fangio. "I'm excited to play for his defense and get things going. I think it's going to be very special."
James Daniels, the first of two second-round picks, could be the Week 1 starter at left guard, playing between center Cody Whitehair and left tackle Charles Leno.
Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller, selected 12 picks after Daniels at 51st overall, might not be in the starting lineup, but the Bears will be disappointed if he isn't playing significant snaps early in the season. It should be interesting to see how closely Miller lives up to his glowing assessment of his abilities.
"I have all the capabilities of a receiver," Miller said, shortly after being drafted. "I can run, catch the ball … I would call it a 10 out of 10. I have great hands, and I'm also physical, which a lot of people don't know about me.
"My passion for the game is unmatched, especially at the position I play."
And what about the Day 3 picks?
Fourth-round inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe is not projected as a starter in the near future, but he possesses the skills to make an impact as a core special-teams player and also could earn snaps in sub packages because of his coverage ability.
Fifth-round defensive end Bilal Nichols will begin the transition from FCS stud at Delaware to the NFL, which usually carries a higher degree of difficulty than making the move from an FBS school. But Nichols will be in the mix at right end, along with Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris.
Sixth-rounder Kyle Fitts also will not be a starter as a rookie, but he brings an ability to rush the passer off the edge that could earn him playing time early in nickel situations. Fitts was injured often at Utah, which kept him from producing an impressive resume
But at the NFL Scouting Combine, Fitts tested as well as many first- and second-day draft picks. If he can turn those skills into production on the field, he could provide an ideal complement playing across from Leonard Floyd, the Bears' only established edge rusher.
Although Georgia's leading receiver, Javon Wims, wasn't selected until the seventh round, he will get crucial practice time throughout the remainder of the off-season program and into training camp because top wide receiver Allen Robinson will be brought along slowly as he recovers from last September's torn ACL.
• Bob LeGere is a senior writer at Pro Football Weekly. Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere or @PFWeekly.