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With Montgomery aboard, focus turns to Bears’ search for a kicker in Day 3

LSU kicker Cole Tracy (36) kicks a 42-yard field goal as time expired to beat Auburn 22-21 on Sept. 15 at Auburn. Tracy is one of the top-rated kickers in this year's NFL draft. | AP photo.

After two days of light duty in the NFL Draft, Bears general manager Ryan Pace and his staff finally can get their hands dirty Saturday.

The Bears did not have a first- or second-round pick. They selected Iowa State running back David Montgomery in the third round (73rd overall) Friday night. But they’ll enter Saturday with four picks in the final four rounds — one in the fourth (126th) and sixth (205th) rounds and two in the seventh round (222nd and 238th).

“Looking at the board and where we’re at, I feel really good about the draft [Saturday],” Pace said. “This is a very deep draft, especially in the later rounds. I think we’re gonna be able to hit a lot of good players.”

After filling the running back opening following the trade of Jordan Howard to the Eagles, the Bears’ biggest need heading into Saturday is a kicker. The top kickers in the draft — LSU’s Cole Tracy and Utah’s Matt Gay — are still available, as expected. Kicker is likely a seventh-round option for the Bears, though waiting to sign an undrafted free agent also is a possibility.

The Bears’ Day 3 position needs are mostly in a supporting depth role, with safety, cornerback, tight end and edge rusher topping the list.

Finally

The No. 87 pick was the Bears’ latest initial draft pick in franchise history. They have selected their first pick in the third round four times: 2010 (Florida safety Major Wright at No. 75); 2009 (San Jose State defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert at No. 68); 1978 (Texas defensive tackle Brad Shearer at No. 74) and 1970 (UCLA wide receiver George Farmer at No. 54).

Net gain

Last year, the Bears traded their 2019 second-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick (No. 105 overall) to take wide receiver Anthony Miller at No. 51. Miller had 33 receptions for 423 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

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The Bears got an extra year out of the 2019 second-round pick, which ended up being No. 56 this year. The Chiefs acquired that pick from the Patriots and took Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman.

NIU’s Scharping to Texans

Northern Illinois offensive tackle Max Scharping was drafted by the Texans in the second round (55th overall). The 6-6, 320-pound Scharping — from Green Bay, Wisconsin — is NIU’s earliest draft pick since safety Jimmie Ward was selected 30th overall by the 49ers in 2014. The 49ers re-signed Ward to a one-year deal after his rookie contract expired last year.