6 players the Chicago Bears can build around

This NFL season is already a lost cause for the 3-6 Bears, and nothing short of a resurrection will save head coach John Fox's job.

But there are important evaluations to be made as the perpetual NFC North bottom-feeders slog through the final seven weeks, starting with Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

General manager Ryan Pace and his staff must identify and secure the players who are capable of forming a foundation for a rebuilding effort now four years in the making and still behind schedule. If signs of significant improvement fail to materialize a year from now, Pace and Co. will be gone after the 2018 season, assuming they make it that far.

An argument could be made that the Bears don't have a single impact player on the current roster. There are a few players, however, who could form the core of a playoff-caliber squad.

In no particular order, here is my list building blocks for the future:

<h3 class="leadin">Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd

The 11th overall draft pick in 2016, Floyd flashed rare pass-rush ability as a rookie with 7 sacks despite some minor injuries. He has 4½ sacks so far in 2017 and, at 25, he could be a double-digit sack threat for many years.

A rangy 6-foot-4, 240-pound outside linebacker, Floyd has also become better at dropping into coverage and has the speed and athleticism to make plays sideline to sideline. He has the frame to get bigger without losing the suddenness that makes him special.

<h3 class="leadin">Defensive end Akiem Hicks

  Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks celebrates after a sack during their game Sunday, September 10, 2017 at Soldier Field on Chicago. Steve Lundy/

This defensive leader is by far the best of Pace's free-agent signings, which represent a mixed bag at best. At the start of the season, Hicks was rewarded for his 2016 breakout year with a four-year, $48 million extension that includes $30 million guaranteed and will keep him under contract through the 2021 season. He had career bests of 7 sacks and 72 tackles last season and has already matched that sack number through nine games this season.

Now the Bears must do what they can to maximize the 6-foot-5, 336-pound 28-year-old's effectiveness, which leads us to ...

<h3 class="leadin">Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman

  Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman pressures Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan during their game Sunday, September 10, 2017 at Soldier Field on Chicago. Steve Lundy/

Any successful 3-4 base defense needs an anchor, and Goldman has the size (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) and talent to be that guy.

Goldman keeps extra attention off Hicks by occupying multiple blockers in the run game. The 2015 second-round pick is also capable of pushing the pocket on passing downs, which aids Hicks and the team's other pass rushers. Goldman, a 2015 second-round pick (39th overall) is locked up through the 2018 season, when he will still be just 24 years old and with four years' experience.

<h3 class="leadin">Safety Eddie Jackson

  Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) celebrates his first touchdown on a fumble recovery against the Carolina Panthers during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago. Rick West/

Returning a fumble and an interception for touchdowns of 75 yards or more in the same game tells you everything you need to know about this rookie's playmaking ability. As a safety who can cover receivers and make plays on the ball, Jackson stands in stark contrast to the seemingly endless Bears safeties of the past who couldn't catch much more than a cold and treated the ball like a rabid porcupine.

<h3 class="leadin">Running back Jordan Howard

  Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) finds some room to run against Carolina during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago. Rick West/

The reluctant star doesn't say much and isn't flashy, but he has the strength and stamina to be a bellcow for any offense that considers running the ball important.

Despite average speed, Howard has two 50-yard-plus runs this season and had seven runs of 25 yards or longer last season, when his 1,313 rushing yards were second in the NFL. His 5.2-yard average last season was also second among runner with 150 carries.

This season, Howard is on pace for 1,273 yards this year. That would give him a total of 2,590 yards for his first two years, obliterating the numbers posted by Matt Forte, (2,167), Gale Sayers (2,098) and Walter Payton (2,069) in their first two seasons.

<h3 class="leadin">Quarterback Mitch Trubisky

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) warms up before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Any evaluation of his rookie season has to be graded on a curve given his mediocre supporting cast.

It's fascinating to think what Trubisky, the second overall pick in this year's draft, might accomplish with an average group of receivers instead of the Bears' collection of journeymen. After just 13 starts at North Carolina, Trubisky's apprenticeship will naturally be longer than other first-round quarterbacks who came into the league with more experience. But his leadership, mobility and intangibles portend greatness.

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