Starting points: Much expected from Ryan Pace’s first draft class

SHARE Starting points: Much expected from Ryan Pace’s first draft class

Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox at minicamp. (AP)

Offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje is the exception — and that’s great for the Bears and their future under general manager Ryan Pace.

Fabuluje, a sixth-round selection in 2015, was the first draft pick made by Pace to be cut after he failed to stay on the field for various reasons.

The other five members of Pace’s first draft class are starters.

Repeat: starters.

It’s far too early to tell if it will remain that way over their respective careers, but expectations are sky-high for Pace’s first draft class in Year 2 — sophomore slumps be damned.

First round (7th overall)

Kevin White, WR

His spot: White will report to training camp as the No. 2 wide receiver, behind only Alshon Jeffery. Quarterback Jay Cutler trusts Eddie Royal, but the Bears are counting on White, their most athletic receiver, to be a spark.

The next step: Make that the first step for White, who has talked about overcoming physical and mental hurdles after surgery for a stress fracture in his left shin. White’s size and speed are invaluable, but learning how to use those gifts when running more routes than he did in college will take time. In other words, White requires work with new receivers coach Curtis Johnson.

Main challenge ahead: Handling expectations because disappointments will happen in camp and the preseason. White knows he’s expected to play more like a veteran than a rookie, which he essentially is after missing all of last season. One reason to be optimistic is his positive demeanor. It’s part of his strong work ethic, and his teammates and coaches have said it’s contagious.

Coach’s comment: ‘‘He’s eager to do everything. Sometimes I’ve got to slow him down. . . . He’s a very, very smart guy, knows what he’s doing. I just can’t wait to see him. I think the biggest challenge will be how well he can perform, and I think he’s going to do magnificent.’’ — Johnson

Second round (39th overall)

Eddie Goldman, DT

His spot: Goldman returns at nose tackle in the base 3-4 defense. He also showed during his rookie season that he could be a potent pass rusher because of his brute strength.

The next step: Goldman has taken the needed steps toward playing more, including losing 15 pounds this offseason. Weight and stamina issues limited Goldman to 50.1 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Goldman, who had 4½ sacks, six tackles for loss and 19 pressures in 2015, is arguably the most important cog in the Bears’ improved defensive line, which features veterans Akiem Hicks and Mitch Unrein and 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard. Goldman’s strength remains his best attribute, and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said he has learned to get better leverage with it. Goldman also said he has a better understanding of his responsibilities in coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme and what offenses will try to do to deter his impact.

Main challenge ahead: Hot wings, and this isn’t a joke. Goldman said losing weight essentially meant less cheat days and trips to Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants. The Bears want him to play around 325 pounds after being around 340 as a rookie. The next five weeks away from the team are an opportunity for Goldman to prove his commitment.

Coach’s comment: ‘‘There’s a lot of pluses he had in spurts in the season, and a lot where he’ll say, ‘I wish I would’ve known that back in Week 1.’ Well, you’re doing that in Week 10. Playing D-line in the NFL is a learning process.’’ — Rodgers

Third round (71st overall)

Hroniss Grasu, C

His spot: With Manny Ramirez gone, Grasu is entrenched as the starting center. Ramirez, 33, was signed to push Grasu, but he wasn’t moving as well as he would’ve liked and retired.

The next step: Grasu has much to prove, but context is required when considering the ups and downs in his eight starts last season. The Bears wanted to give Grasu a year to learn behind veteran center Will Montgomery. Montgomery, though, broke his leg in Week 4, which thrust Grasu into early action. Grasu required time because the Bears’ offense was considerably different than the gimmicky offense he centered at Oregon. His athleticism only went so far when he was clearly learning on the job. Offensive line coach Dave Magazu also said Grasu’s progress was slowed by neck and knee injuries. This offseason, Grasu bulked up to 310 pounds after playing below 300 for most of last season.

Main challenge ahead: Being in charge. Veteran guard Matt Slauson made the calls for the line last season to alleviate pressure on Grasu. Slauson is gone. Grasu, though, said his understanding of the offense is “night and day” better than last year at this time.

Coach’s comment: ‘‘[Tenacity] comes with confidence. You just keep seeing yourself on tape. He knows what he needs to work on. He takes it very personal. Everything we’ve talked about, he takes personal.’’ — Magazu

Fourth round (106th overall)

Jeremy Langford, RB

His spot: The Bears’ featured role is Langford’s to lose. He leads a diverse group of running backs, featuring Jacquizz Rodgers, Ka’Deem Carey and rookie Jordan Howard.

The next step: It’s unfair to expect Langford to replace Matt Forte, one of the best backs in team history. That’s why the Bears will feature multiple backs. But Langford, who totaled 816 yards and scored seven touchdowns in 2015, is expected to be the best. The Bears clearly want to push Langford. They pursued C.J. Anderson in free agency and have given other backs time with the first team during the offseason program. Running backs coach Stan Drayton and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Langford needs to improve as a receiver.

Main challenge ahead: Himself. Langford said he has embraced the challenges of being an every-down back, but he also admitted that he thought about his mistakes, namely his drops, too much last season. Being a premier back requires better focus.

Coach’s comment: ‘‘[Langford] knows he has to continue to mature in this game. If he takes anything from Matt Forte, that’s what it is: be a mature professional, take care of your body, understand the big picture of what this business is all about, grow with the business and play your part and do it extremely well.’’ — Drayton

Fifth round (142nd overall)

Adrian Amos, S

His spot: Amos is the only returning starter at safety. Veteran Antrel Rolle was released after the Bears drafted Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson. The rookies will compete against Harold Jones-Quartey and Chris Prosinski.

The next step: Amos surpassed all early expectations by becoming one of the Bears’ few 16-game starters on defense. Overall, he was a steady performer and a reliable tackler. Now, the Bears want big plays. Amos led the Bears in tackles, according to coach reviews, but he broke up only four passes and didn’t have an interception. Amos said he’s confident that big plays will come. He pointed to his comfort level at being an in-the-box safety after moving around at Penn State, which included time at nickel back and cornerback. Secondary coach Ed Donatell said Amos’ range and movements should improve after having surgery on his right shoulder this offseason.

Main challenge ahead: Being a better communicator. The Bears are counting on Amos to direct traffic in the secondary with Rolle gone. Amos is naturally soft-spoken, especially compared to Rolle, but having a better understanding of Fangio’s defense will help him take charge.

Coach’s comment: ‘‘This guy is a very mature player. He’s going to develop into an excellent pro. Year 2, a lot of things slow down for you. From everything I’ve seen, he’s on the proper path to improve this year. I’m looking for excellent ball production from him this year.’’ — Donatell

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