NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Bellore

This Bills regime souring on Doug Whaley second-round pick Shaq Lawson could open the door to interesting trade talks as the season approaches. Still just 23, Lawson was a highly touted prospect at Clemson, which has produced some standout edge defenders in recent years. The Bears would be a reasonable landing spot for Lawson, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Mostly going on Vic Fangio‘s ability to coax quality play from defenders, Walton writes Lawson would be an intriguing buy-low bet. He has two years remaining on his contract, and the Bears are somewhat thin on the edge behind Leonard Floyd. Lawson, though, has struggled as an NFLer in both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Last season, Pro Football Focus did not view him as a strong pass rusher but did grade him as one of the better run defenders on the edge.

Here’s the latest from the NFC North, shifting to the Vikings’ linebacker situation.

  • Ben Gedeon may not be a lock to start in Vikings base sets alongside Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Instead, second-year UDFA Eric Wilson looked like an improved player this offseason and ready to push Gedeon for the weakside linebacker job, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. A 2017 fourth-rounder, Gedeon started nine games last season and played 272 snaps. Wilson did not play any despite seeing special teams action in all 16 regular-season games, but Krammer notes this will be a position battle in training camp. Wilson exceeded 100 tackles in each of his final two college seasons at Cincinnati.
  • Nick Bellore started two games at linebacker for the 2017 Lions and served as a 10-game starter for the 2016 49ers. But this season, he will be lining up at a new position. Bellore is now working as a fullback, and the team’s top one at that, Chris Burke of The Athletic notes (subscription required). He saw some action as a fullback last season but spent most of his time on special teams and as a part-time ‘backer. However, Detroit’s moved him to fullback full-time this offseason, per Burke, who adds the Jets tried to do this with Bellore previously. The Lions re-signed the 29-year-old fullback convert in March.
  • While Martellus Bennett received plenty of hype after joining the Packers last year, Rob Demovsky of views Jimmy Graham as a better fit in Green Bay’s offense, adding the addition of the former Saints and Seahawks tight end is a “significant upgrade.” At the very least, the 31-year-old pass-catcher gives Aaron Rodgers a lethal red zone presence. Graham’s yards-per-catch average plummeted from 14.2 in 2016 to 9.1 last season, but he scored 10 touchdowns — by far his most in a season in Seattle.
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