Chicago Teams

Chicago Bears coaches get first look at draft picks in rookie minicamp

Smith, Daniels could develop into opening-day starters

Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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 Friday through Sunday at Halas Hall.

There are lofty expectations that first-round pick Roquan Smith will be in the starting lineup on opening day 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.

James Daniels, the first of two second-round picks, could be the Week One starter at left guard, playing between center Cody Whitehair and left tackle Charles Leno. Memphis receiver Anthony Miller, selected
12 picks after Daniels, at 51st overall, may not be in the starting lineup, but the Bears will be disappointed if he isn’t playing significant snaps early in the season.

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 could also earn snaps in sub packages because of his coverage ability. Fifth-round defensive end Bilal Nichols will begin the transition from Football Championship Subdivision stud at Delaware to the NFL, which usually carries a higher degree of difficulty than making the move from a Football Bowl Subdivision 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.

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 offseason program and into training camp because top receiver Allen Robinson will be brought along slowly as he recovers from last September’s torn ACL.

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