- Sam Farmer, reporting for the Tribune, says that the league’s competition committee will recommend several rules changes. The biggest is a move of kickoffs from the 30 yard line to the 35 and moving touchbacks from the 20 yard line to the 25. The idea is to reduce injuries by reducing the number of kickoff returns. The Daily Herald‘s Bob LeGere makes the point that such a rule would hurt the Bears, who do pretty well with kickoff returns.
- The Bears appear to be quite serious about taking a developmental quarterback in the draft. According to Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune they are taking a close look at quite a number of them including T.J. Yates, Andy Dalton, Scott Tolzien, and Nathan Enderle. It won’t be a high priority, of course, but it appears that if the right guy is there in the mid to late rounds they’ll take him. Biggs also wonders what this means to backup Caleb Hanie, who offensive coordinator Mike Matz appears to be lukewarm about:
“Most NFL teams would not want a fourth-year pro as their No. 3 quarterback. It’s a situation where if the team didn’t believe in him as a No. 2 after that much time, it’s never going to be comfortable with the player in that role.”
“The most logical scenario would be to make him the No. 2 or allow him to compete with another veteran. If he doesn’t win the job, it would be time to move on.”
- Biggs also reports that the Bears are looking at running backs, another low priority. Cal’s Shane Vereen is on the radar.
- With only two linebackers on the roster, the Bears would appear to be thinking about that position as well. The Bears are reportedly working out Syracuse linebacker Doug Hogue.
- Amongst the players at the higher priority categories, Biggs says that the Bears are hosting Boise State wide receiver Austin Pettis for a workout and offensive line coach Mike Tice was at Florida’s pro day to watch what seems like their entire offensive line workout. That would include guard/center Mike Pouncey who I’m sure the Bears would love to take in the first round but who is unlikely to be there for them. Tice and Martz were also taking a good look at likely first round offensive tackle Gabe Carimi at Wisconsin’s pro day (via Vaughn McClure at the Tribune). Biggs reports that the Bears are also bringing in Northwest Missouri State corner Ryan Jones for a workout.
- And finally, Dan Pompei at the Tribune had an article focused on the Illinois pro day where three highly regarded draft picks attract almost every team in the NFL. These are defensive tackle Corey Liuget, linebacker Martez Wilson and running back Mikel Leshoure. The Bears would be most interested in Liuget but Biggs reports that Tim Spencer, the Bears running backs coach, had “a long chat” with Leshoure.
- ESPN‘s Todd McShay released another mock draft. This one is two rounds. He has the Bears taking Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in the first round and North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin in the second. This would be a reach for Sherrod with guards Danny Watkins from Baylor and Orlando Franklin from Miami still on the board. McShay has Watkins going in the second round to the Lions and Franklin going to the Steelers at 31.
- Kevin Seifert, ESPN‘s NFC North blogger, tries to get a handle on the Vikings draft. He says the first thing the Vikings have to do is decide if they want to target a quarterback and if Jake Locker is their guy. If so, look for them to trade down into the twenties. They could try to trade up for Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert but it would likely be a long, costly climb. The knock on Locker is his accuracy. He never managed a completion percentage better than 58.2 percent in his career. Statistically, quarterbacks with a completion percentage of less than 60 percent in college don’t do well.
- McShay has the Vikings picking Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo in the first and Dalton in the second. That would certainly work. He also is giving Lions fans wet dreams by projecting Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara to still be there for them in the first with Watkins in the second.
- Tom Sorenson at the Charlotte Observer says that there are lots of indications that the Carolina Panthers are planning to take Newton as the first overall pick.
- The New York Jets are on the clock:
- Chad Ochocinco will be trying out to play professional soccer during the lockout according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Whatever.
- The NFL isn’t the only one on the other end of a lawsuit from Tom Brady. Poor baby’s had a rough week.
One Final Thought
Farmer also reports that the competition committee will be recommending changes to instant replay. they took some steps in the right direction but they didn’t make the change we all know should be made. Challenges should be completely eliminated and the decision to review should be made in the booth. The NFL is the only league where the burden of making sure the calls are right falls upon the head coaches. The whole system is ridiculous.