Labor Problems Decreasing Interest in the Draft? And Other Points of View

Bears

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune passes on comments Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall made last week in which he calls Bears quarterback Jay Cutler a “clown”. I don’t know what’s at the root of it but I’ve never seen a player so disliked by his peers.
  • Cutler and Kristin Cavallari are engaged according to Perez Hilton.  So at least someone seems to love him.
  • Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that, like special teams coordinator Dave Toub, offensive coordinator Mike Martz turned down an offer for a contract extention that didn’t include a significant raise. He makes this point about Martz’s philosophical change mid-season after he let the offensive statistics fall for the good of the team. The Bears started running the ball more behind a subpar offensive line:

“So the maverick coordinator reeled in his flamboyant tendencies and ran the most balanced offense in the league in terms of run and pass plays, keying a five-game winning streak as part of a 7-2 close to the season.

“Apparently subjugation of ego is appreciated during the season, but not rewarded after it.”

  • Biggs says that Bears kicker Robbie Gould has an escalator in his contract for touchbacks on kickoffs. The league moved the kickoff line 5 yards closer to the goal line in an off season rule change meaning Gould likely will have more touchbacks than in the past.
  • Mulligan and I see eye-to-eye on the Bears draft history:

“The Bears, however, aren’t a draft-driven team. Roughly half their starters were selected by other teams. The Bears have garnered their success by making a big trade for quarterback Jay Cutler one year and adding defensive end Julius Peppers in a free-agent deal the next. They still have enough talent to win consistently, but their inability to develop younger players soon — and perhaps for a long time — will be a major problem, especially with the Packers in the NFC North.”

By the way, when Mulligan says “roughly half their starters” that includes the starters at the three most important positions on the field – pass rushing defensive end, left tackle and quarterback.

  • John Mullin at CSNChicago.com makes a good argument against the Bears trading out of the first round.
  • Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times talks about the Bears need at defensive tackle. He quotes director of player personnel Tim Ruskell on the Bears draft philosophy, similar to what they were looking for when Ruskell was with GM Jerry Angelo in Tampa Bay:

“’We were looking at players that weren’t the rest of the league’s No. 1 choice. Rod was always a guy that kind of favored the undersized guy inside — he didn’t have to be 6-4 — whereas some teams say, ‘I need a giant in there.’ So we had a little bit of an advantage.’

“Angelo hasn’t always taken advantage of that advantage. From Jarron Gilbert to Marcus Harrison, Dusty Dvoracek and Michael Haynes, the Bears have struggled in recent years to find productive players at the position.”

“In view of the fact that Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins is already 26, do you think the Bears would consider drafting him? I can’t believe they would use a first-round pick on someone who is five years older than most of the other prospects.

“Mark S.
“Palatine, Illinois

“I’m not sure what the Bears think of Baylor’s Danny Watkins as a player. But when Jerry Angelo was asked about Watkins last week, it didn’t seem like the Bears general manager had a problem with the lineman’s age. Said Angelo: “Players play into their 30s at that position, you could even say into their mid-30s and still play good football. We’ve had a few here and have a few here. I don’t think it’s a red flag. We use the terms red flag and yellow flag. Obviously, red flags are a real concern. A yellow flag, you’d be cautious, but it wouldn’t stop you from taking a guy.” Watkins, by the way, didn’t play football until enrolling in junior college. He played hockey and rugby while growing up in Canada.”

Elsewhere

“It will be interesting to see if teams continue to look at the Draft as a long-term proposition without free agency preceding it. There will be teams where long-term planning is pushed aside to address short-term needs without having had the opportunity to address them in free agency.”

“All I know is that in the last four years there were 17 chosen in the first round, with four sticking as full-time starters. That would be Chris Long of St. Louis, Washington’s Brian Orakpo, Denver’s Robert Ayers and Anthony Spencer of Dallas, though Spencer and Orakpo are outside linebackers in 3-4 defenses.”

  • Wes Bunting at the National Football Post writes about five late risers in the NFL draft. Here is one name he mentions which I have heard connectd to the Bears:

“WR Randall Cobb: Kentucky

Possesses the ability to consistently separate vs. a two-way go from the slot, is a natural plucker of the football and will create after the catch. Could mature into one of the league’s better slot men and now looks like a solid second-round pick.”

  • Todd McShay at ESPN talks about some pre-draft rumors. As usual there’s lots of talk about quarterbacks flying off the board:


“Smart coaches have a plan, and all the early PR on [Cowboys head coach Jason] Garrett praises his leadership and organizational skills. Does he also have a quarterback, his quarterback, picked out? I wonder because Andy Dalton‘s name lies quietly among all the offensive tackles, cornerbacks and defensive ends on Dallas’ visit list. The Cowboys have worked out Dalton and like him.

“If Dalton slides to pick 40, I would not be shocked if the Cowboys draft opened like this:

“1. Patrick Peterson, 2. Andy Dalton
“1. Tyron Smith, 2. Andy Dalton”

“When I didn’t get called that first day, honestly, I was angry,” Avril said. “I walked into the house, my mom was trying to talk to me, trying to calm me down, and that’s the first time I actually got an attitude with my mom and was like, ‘I don’t want to talk to anybody.’ That’s the first time ever and she knew it had to be something serious.”

“After months of preparing for the birth of the new Mannings, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning announced Tuesday he will carefully assess his newborn twins in the coming weeks before he names one of his offspring as the starting child.”

One Final Thought

Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com says that he hasn’t seen the usual spike in traffic at his site because interest in the NFL draft is down:

“Though traffic is still solid, that [usual] bump hasn’t been seen. And it meshes with the sense we’ve obtained from others in the business that people simply aren’t as interested in a draft that occurs under a cloud of uncertainty as to whether there will even be a season.”

I have also noted this lack of interest locally in Chicago but have chalked it up to the fact that the Bears are picking so late in the first round.  Nevertheless, people in bars and on mailing lists that I can usually count on for good NFL talk have been unusually silent this year.  I couldn’t even get enough people together to run a decent mock draft.

I have to wonder if Florio doesn’t have a point.  The NFL labor problems may already hurting the sport.

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