ESPN AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky and NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert debate: Who will have the bigger impact, Jake Locker or Christian Ponder. This factor in Locker’s favor caught my eye:
“Competition: Nobody gets an easy road, but if they are playing, Locker will be facing a much easier division. The Colts will be a prime contender in the AFC again. It’s unlikely the Jaguars or Texans are exceptionally threatening. Meanwhile, Ponder will be on the division’s worst team, facing the teams that played in the last NFC Championship Game and the Detroit Lions, who will be ranked by many (including me) as breakout candidates.”
A couple things:
Its nice to see the NFC North getting some respect but that AFC South division looks tough enough to me.
Hard not to notice that with the lockout going on in the absenc of any other real news, ESPN has decided to continue to pound on the draft quarterbacks story. This was over-hyped even before the draft. Now its just becoming intolerable. There has to be more than this, even if its just speculating about free agents.
How desperate is the media getting? We have this via Gregg Rosenthal at profootballtalk.com:
“One stat from Tom Canavan of the Associated Press sums up the problem perfectly.
“He reports that seven New York Giants are present at Eli Manning’s loose “passing camp” at Hoboken High School on Wednesday. And there are eleven reporters present to cover them.”
(Personal note: Its kind of a good thing for this blog that things are slowing down with the lockout. Those who check here regularly will note that the posts have been fewer lately. This isn’t laziness on my part. I’m afraid I have a real job and its picking up so I’m spending my early morning hours more on business, probably until the end of June. I’ll try to keep posting a couple times a week until then.)
“The Bears cut DT Tommie Harris this offseason and needed to find a three-technique tackle to replace him. They filled their two most pressing needs with their first two picks, improving both lines. Paea possesses both strength and quickness and could help at either interior position for the Bears. He’s capable of manning the nose or playing in gaps, where he is more comfortable. Rod Marinelli should be able to light a fire underneath him.”
The Bears picked a guy in the second round who needs a fire lit underneath him?
ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seiferttalks about the misconception amongst at least some NFL experts that Stephen Paea will be a run stuffing nose tackle in the Bears 4-3
“Today, you might laugh at the thought of putting John Randle, Warren Sapp and Stephen Paea in the same sentence. But we do so more to describe a mentality than assess his skill level. I would be worried if a second-round draft pick was hoping to become, say, the next Ted Washington or Tony Siragusa. All I’m saying is the Bears are hoping for — and need — more than run defense from the No. 53 overall pick of the draft.
Seifert is under valuing the nose guard position but the Bears are running a 4-3 not a 3-4 so he’s got a point.
“With the high amount of collisions required at the safety position in Lovie Smith‘s preferred defense, GM Jerry Angelo seemingly must address the position every year. There’s a chance Danieal Manning could depart, as well. Conte was a late riser who really impressed secondary coaches in the evaluation process. He plays like a poor man’s John Lynch and elevated on draft boards in a weak safety class.”
“Enderle is a big, smart stationary passer who too often over thinks the game. He has the mental capacity to handle all the demands of Mike Martz‘s complex offense. The key to Enderle’s development will be how much Martz can hone his instincts and teach him to cut it loose and trust what he sees.”
“If you think it’s too early to look into next year’s class, consider that NFL teams meet to share notes on 2012 senior prospects every year at this time. It’s the tipoff to the draft process starting anew, the initial gathering of information shared by scout services that aids in lining up travel schedules for scouts who return to college campuses beginning in August.”
Here’s what he said about the Bears 2012 “pick”:
“15. Chicago Bears: *Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
“Gilmore’s thin build belies a toughness and attitude that all cornerbacks need to succeed. Though no guarantee to be a first-round pick without a strong junior year, his upside warrants this projection.”
He doesn’t sound like a prototypical fit for the Bears defensive system but I’ll bag that pick when we come to it.
“Chicago committed 27 blown blocks that led to sacks or penalties, according to Football Outsiders’ Game Charting Project, the third-highest total in the league, but blown blocks tell only part of the story. The Bears ranked 30th in the league in adjusted line yards on runs up the middle last season, where [Olin] Kreutz and Garza do most of their dirty work. The FO game charters noted many instances of missed blocks by Garza that led to stuffed running plays, and even Kreutz whiffed on his fair share of blocks against quicker defenders.”
“Frank Omiyale could move from left to right tackle, allowing J’Marcus Webb (7.5 blown blocks last year) to move inside to challenge Garza.”
“‘There are very few people in the NFL who understand football techniques and schematically know the game as well as him,’ [former offensive line coach Harry] Hiestand said.
“A couple of years ago, Kreutz would have told you he had no desire to coach. Now, he says ‘we’ll see what happens.’ If the Bears can identify an heir apparent, he’d probably handle a mentoring role well.”
“Obviously, we gave up a lot of sacks but we were still able to get to the NFC Championship Game. We’re not too far off. We have to make improvements and get a couple more guys in there. We’ll see what happens.”
“Q: Where does Herman Johnson fit into the offensive line plans?”
“– Mike (Valparaiso, Ind.) ”
“A: At 6 foot 7, 360 pounds, Johnson definitely fits the mold of the humungous players coveted by offensive line coach Mike Tice… Johnson’s best shot at competing for a chance to contribute in 2011 is to report to the team (whenever they’re allowed to) in tip-top shape. The Bears have told me they’re not concerned about players reporting out of shape. But with a guy as big as Johnson, you’ve got to be at least a little worried.”
“Is there any way the Bears bring back Tommie Harris on a cheaper contract or incentives-laden contract? Tom C, Columbia, Mo.
“If you look at the history of the Jerry Angelo/Lovie Smith regime, when they turn the page on a player, they typically do not go back. They did it with Chris Harris, but he was a different case than most. I think we have seen the last of Tommie Harris in a Bears uniform.”
This is about the third time I’ve read a fan question revolving around this issue. I’m having a hard time understanding it. Tommie Harris had about as good a year as he’s going to have last year and it was very average. Its fairly well established that the three-technique tackle has to make that defense go. The Bears need an upgrade and Harris would just be taking up a roster spot without playing special teams.
“Some of these workouts are overrated. Unless they are done under the supervision of coaches, their value is limited. The primary benefits of these types of workouts are building camaraderie and working on timing between quarterbacks and receivers. These types of workouts are not going to decide who wins the Super Bowl. That being said, the Bears quarterbacks and receivers should have been working out together long ago. If they have not been (and I am not completely sure they have not been), it shows a void of leadership on the team.”
“It’s possible that some players are awaiting a ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, which is determining whether NFL owners will get a permanent stay to keep the lockout in place. If that’s the case, the earliest teams would re-open for business is the end of June. You could expect more players to start organizing themselves if that comes to bear. We’ll keep you updated.”
“What scared me about (Washington’s) Jake Locker is that won-lost record. It was ugly. Look at the personnel at Stanford. It’s not great outside of Andrew Luck. Look at Jim Everett at Purdue. Look at Mississippi since Eli Manning left. If you are a great quarterback, no matter what you have on the line, at receiver and running back, I think you go 8-4, 7-5 and play in bowl games. How do you start four years and go 15-25?”
I think this is something that you could generally apply to all quarterbacks, pro and college. I’ve heard the excuse made numerous times that Jay Cutler lost so many games because he played at Vanderbilt. But I look at his body language and his leadership skills and I wonder. Does that really hold water?
Another Audible gives us insight into Andy Dalton you won’t find expressed anywhere on the record:
“When we interviewed (TCU QB) Andy Dalton, he said the accomplishment he was most proud of was gathering 750 kids to listen to his ministry every week, not winning the Rose Bowl. When we asked him how he is going to handle guys on the field when the bullets start flying and his teammates are yelling at him, he said the first thing he is going to do is pray about it. I couldn’t help but think, this might be the next Danny Wuerffel. If you are talking about (Dalton) going to be your starter, I would be nervous.”
“But executive vice president Stephen Jones wondered last month how the labor issues would affect their pursuit of these hidden gems.
“‘It will be different,’ he said. ‘We’ll see if it is a disadvantage.'”
“There is obvious reason for concern. Because of the lockout, all 32 teams will have more time to research the strengths and weaknesses of the undrafted rookies. Not much else is going on, after all. There are no mini-camps being conducted, no organized team activities to plan and no roster moves to be made.”
The Cowboys might be at a disadvantage in another way (along with almost everyone else). Eric Edholm at Pro Football Weekly says that six unnamed agents told him that they’d been contacted by teams about undrafted free agents (against the rules). In fact Missouri center Tim Barnes actually named the Bengals, Ravens, and Dolphins as having contacted him.
“‘It was almost like a normal year in terms of contact, a little less (phone contact) than normal maybe, only without the signed contracts at the end,’ one of the agents said.”
Edholm told WSCR last night that from the information he’s gathered it looks like as many as 10-12 teams may be involved.
“Williams told ace Texans reporter John McClain he played at 290 pounds last year. There is no prototype of an outside linebacker who weighed that much. The Texans have pointed to DeMarcus Ware as an outside linebacker Williams can be like. But Ware weighs about 30 pounds less.”
“Offenses will try to force Williams to drop. The Texans will counter by moving him to the other side of the formation. But that will mean another linebacker, likely [Brooks] Reed, will have to drop and cover a tight end or back. That’s not an appealing option for the Texans either.”
“’Our thought has been we have always been looking to make our program as effective as it can be,’ said the N.F.L. executive, who insisted that he not be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. ‘There have been some things, H.G.H. is one of them, that the union has resisted,’ he added. ‘When we get to the point where there is not a party involved, maybe we should consider what we consider important to keep pace with science and trends.’
“’If we had some clarity of where this thing was going to end up,’ he said, the league ‘might have more clarity of what we would do.’
“George Atallah, the spokesman for the National Football League Players Association, said the group would have no comment.”
For those who aren’t reading between the lines, this is a negotiating tactic. The NFL knows full well the extent to which HGH is used in the league and how much it will impact the current players if they start to test for it. Careers based upon how well a person’s body responds to HGH would likely rapidly go down the tubes.
Alan Schawz at the New York Times takes an in depth look at the brain trauma discovered in almost every pro football player who has so far been examined:
“The set of 15 players tested by B.U. researchers to this point is far from a random sample of NFL retirees that could represent the wider population. Many of the players died under conditions that could be related to CTE: [Charlie] Waters and [Dave] Duerson by suicide, John Grimsley from a gun accident, Tom McHale from a drug overdose. Their families then donated their brains largely to seek an explanation for the mens’ behavior.
“‘There’s a tremendous selection bias, so you can’t make any conclusions about the incidence or prevalence of disease,’ said Dr. Ann McKee, the B.U. group’s lead neuropathologist and director of neuropathology at New England Veterans Administration Medical Centers.”
“I don’t see any dramatic changes. My role will really be as a sounding board, an advisor if [team president] Ted [Phillips] wants me in that role; as a representative of the family, of ownership and the board; and to create as positive of an environment as possible. The way I see it my job is to work with and in support of the president and CEO in creating a climate that’s conducive to sustained success.”
“I read comments from Jerry Angelo where he indicated that this was a tough draft. Apparently he had a hard time getting a handle on things but I don’t think he ever explained why. Could you shed some light on it? Tom Shannon, Chicago
“What Angelo meant is that it was difficult for him to get a handle on how the draft would play out regarding the Bears. To start with, any time you are picking 29th, things are usually unpredictable. And that was the case this year. But this draft had more peculiarities than most, especially in the most important spot for the Bears, from the late first round to the late second. You had the volatility that the quarterbacks would create. Then you had four positions – wide receiver, linebacker, safety and tight end – with very few legitimate prospects in that late first round, second-round range. So that would force teams to go in other directions that they might not normally go in. All in all, the Bears were fortunate the draft played out like they hoped it would, and they were able to walk away from the first two rounds with potential starters at their two biggest areas of need – offensive tackle and defensive tackle. But they really couldn’t predict it would have happened that way.”
“You are right that this is the second free safety the Bears have taken in as many years. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy with Major Wright. You can never have too many safeties who can cover. Perhaps if some of the safeties they had taken in previous years had become better players, they wouldn’t have had to select Chris Conte. But it’s not like they were taking safeties in the high rounds that were not panning out. They were taking safeties late, with the hopes that one of them could come through.”
“With the addition of Gabe Camiri, the Bears have their bookend tackles for the next decade. I like the we need to get bigger philosophy for the O line. So, any truth to the rumors of Chris Williams playing center? I think Olin Kreutz is overrated at this point of his career; and too small. “David, Oak Brook
“I don’t see any chance of Chris Williams starting at center this year. If the Bears did want to give Williams a new position, they would need an offseason to acclimate him. They don’t have an offseason this year thanks to the labor problems. So I think their options with Williams are limited. It’s possible the Bears will have Williams learn to play the position eventually and consider him as a potential successor to Kreutz, but it’s not something that is going to happen soon. If this team gets its way, Kreutz is going to be snapping the ball in 2011.”
“The NFL is a cutthroat business at every level. That’s why I got a kick out of [Baltimore owner Steve] Bisciotti‘s comments about saying what the Bears did was a deviation from their great legacy. No one in the history of the league was more cutthroat than George Halas. In fact, this move was in perfect keeping with the Halas tradition.”
I thought the Bears should have given the ravens the pick. But I admit that I also smiled at Biscotti’s comment. What would he know about Bears tradition? I’m sure Halas would have laughed him out of the league if he had asked him to just give him that pick.
“While most of the teams towards the bottom of the rankings had tough years, like the Redskins and Vikings, the 2010 Bears were an anomaly. One explanation is the success of trades and free-agent acquisitions, which is how the franchise acquired Jay Cutler and Julius Peppers. Another is Chicago’s success at drafting contributors who don’t necessarily start. Either way, the Bears’ championship game appearance shows there is definitely more than one method to having a successful season.”
“In a recent ‘Chalk Talk’ you quoted Jerry Angelo about the injury to Stephen Paea’s knee: “He went to the [Combine] recheck in Indy—we interact with 10 other teams in the league and everybody that we interact with was fine with him.” What does “interact with 10 other teams” mean? “Tom S. “Chicago
“The NFL splits into four groups of five teams and two groups of six teams to do medical evaluations of players at the Combine. The Bears are paired with the Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Steelers and Texans. Doctors from one of those teams examine each prospect and then give a report to the other five clubs. Individual teams can seek to gather additional information on their own when warranted, such as asking the player to take an MRI exam. The group of six teams also trades its medical information with a handful of other clubs. (That’s why Jerry Angelo mentioned interacting with 10 other teams). Players with medical issues at the Combine return to Indianapolis for a recheck at a later date. That’s also what Angelo was referencing when discussing Stephen Paea’s knee injury.”
“I have written about concussions before and the headaches that were the result of helmet-to-helmet hits as a pro, college and high school player. They won’t go away anytime soon, nor will we see concussions stop at the NFL level.
“Actually, I believe they will increase. The reasons are clear: Talk of an 18-game schedule, the speed of players and, above all, the desire to use the helmet as a weapon.
“Lower your head on contact and put the ballcarrier down.”
I’d be nervous, too. I can’t wait for the next moron to call into WSCR and complain that they shod put the players in dresses because the new rules are taking the violence out of the game.
“Asked if he has abandoned a passing philosophy that — with Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger — emphasized throwing to spots and timing-based routes, Martz said, ‘We never left that. That’s what the system is.’
“But Martz said the way defenses approached his offense forced them to deviate from that.
“’That’s probably the best way to put it,’ Martz said.
“’But [Jay Cutler] has no problem with that at all. It’s not something he can’t do. But we leaned on the running game.'”
Martz might not have abandoned the philosophy but to my eye Cutler clearly did (which is probably why Jensen asked the question). Cutler might actually not have a problem with it in theory. But for whatever reason he and the rest of the offense didn’t execute it on the field and Cutler was often looking for open receivers instead of throwing to a spot. Let’s hope they get their act together this year.
“Now, I can’t speak for Jay [Cutler] in the sense of, I don’t know what being a diabetic does to you. I have no idea, so I can’t really speak to that. But I’m just saying that he needs to improve his body language, and I think everybody would admit that.
“But as far as the game of football and the ability to throw the football, he does that very well. And I think the other quality we got to get to is the leadership thing. You’ve got to be able to lead as a quarterback.”
I usually ignore most of whatever spews out of Ditka’s mouth. But I admit I’m not exactly left wondering when Cutler is going to start organizing those offseason workouts during the lockout.
Bengals quarterback coach Ken Zampesethinks big picture when talking newly drafted quarterback Andy Dalton. Via Joe Reedy at the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“As I looked at the other guys that were coming out, who would I sleep better at night having? It was Andy (Dalton). You start thinking about quality of life during the season and how the day-to-day stuff goes, that was the guy.”
Desperate for a quarterback, the Redskins reach and take Terrelle Pryor with the fourth pick in the draft. Higher-rated quarterbacks are available, but Dan Snyder falls in love with the Ohio State quarterback in pre-draft interviews after Pryor promises Snyder he can tattoo advertising on him to open up an additional revenue stream.”
“Just finished watching a highlight film of Julio Jones. If he can carry that over to the NFL….SCARY.”
If he can hold on to the ball.
Todd McShay at ESPN thought the Lions had the best draft in the NFL because they ignored needs in the secondary and took the best available guys. That was defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the first round.
Fairley will help via the pass rush but the Lions are going to still have to do something to improve that defensive backfield and that linebacking corp or they’re not going to be as good as people think.
I previously posted that I thought that Fairley looked angry because he fell to the 13th pick. If the draft had been in January, there’s a chance he would have gone #1 overall. But this Bears fan had a different take on the matter:
The Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”, meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently.
The problem with climbing up the latter at any place of employment is that they promote you for doing a well at what you do to fill a position where you are called upon to do something totally different. For instance, I was promoted to professor in a science department at an academic institution because I could do experiments at the bench. Guess how many experiments I’ve done in the past five years? What I do all day now is sit at a desk and write when I’m not in committee meetings. The people who work for me do all the real work that I used to do. That’s the way of the world.
I doubt very much that the world of professional football is very different. You go from scout to general manager and your duties differ considerably from what you did before. You either adapt or you fail. Sometimes I wonder about Bears general manager Jerry Angelo‘s transition into his role.
Michael C. Wright says that Angelo was extremely embarrassed by the Bears-Ravens trade debacle. He should be:
“[The Ravens] say the trade was finalized with three minutes remaining on their clock. The Bears never reported the trade to the league.
“Angelo said he told staff members to phone in the deal with a little more than two minutes remaining on the clock. But two staff members each thought the other was making the call so it never was made. Newsome was exasperated as he spoke with the NFL and the Bears while the final two minutes expired.”
I know I seem to be the only fan in Chicago who is really bothered by this in the afterglow of what most consider a successful Bears draft. Certainly the tendency of Bear fans is to defend the team. Jason Cole at Yahoo Sportsunderstands that as well. But he also understands that Bears fans might be letting their bias cloud their view of the situation.
“The most popular point Chicago fans have made is that Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome is believed to have done the same thing in 2003 to the Minnesota Vikings.
“The problem that Bears fans don’t understand is that there’s a unique difference between the two situations.
“In 2003, Newsome at least tried to call the league to confirm the trade.”
But maybe what was most interesting in Cole’s article were the quotes from an unnamed NFC executive on the matter:
“I would hope nobody would ever do that intentionally to screw somebody over, but even accidentally is really bad You’re talking about people’s jobs being on the line. That embarrasses everybody involved. Ozzie [Newsom] is lucky that [Baltimore owner Steve] Bisciotti trusts him so much. For a lot of other guys, your owner might look at you like an idiot even if the other team made the mistake.”
“I like Jerry, but what he said is BS. If you gave me your word and didn’t even call the league or didn’t call me back in time to fix the situation, that’s wrong. Dead wrong. You should pay some penalty. I don’t know what it is, but something. I think Baltimore should have gotten the pick.
“Again, this is a high-pressure situation. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, no harm, no foul.’ That could be my job on the line.”
If there’s a question of whether Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newson’s job might have been on the line, how much more is it true of Angelo’s?
I’m not going to claim to be the best manager of people. But I can definitively say one thing. The single best way to virtually guarantee that something doesn’t get done is to tell two people to do a one person job. If you do its almost 100% that they’ll each conveniently assume the other person is acting on it it. And if it doesn’t get done, then, hey, you both share the blame. Besides, if two people make the same mistake, how bad could it have been?
Anyone who manages people for a living will tell you that you always ask one person by name to do a job and make them personally responsible. And there’s the rub. Angelo’s a good scout. But is he a good manager? Isn’t that his title?
There is more to being a general manager than scouting. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Angelo’s role in the process at the ground level is relatively superficial. And if last week’s snafu was any example, he needs to pick up his game in the area that his job really centers on.
“‘I am very comfortable with these three quarterbacks,’ Martz said when asked if the need for a veteran backup still exists. ‘Nathan will compete with Caleb for the backup position. I would expect that Caleb will end up being the guy, but Nathan is good enough to be that player.'”
I’m guessing that the fourth quarterback on the roster, Matt Gutierrez, must be feeling good about being all but eliminated from consideration in May.
Pompei also had this for those who say Enderle was a reach in the fifth round:
“Critics wondered why the Bears chose Enderle so high when they had other needs. Enderle represented good value in the fifth round. I had a fourth-round grade on Enderle based on opinions from three front-office men from other teams I spoke with prior to the draft.”
“Enderle doesn’t have a cannon like Cutler. That’s OK. The three things Martz prioritizes in a quarterback are accuracy, intelligence and toughness.”
Martz goes on to say that he doesn’t have to make mechanical changes with Enderle, and he played in a “very sophisticated offense” that asked him to do a lot of the things he will be asked to do with the Bears.
I’ll accept that Enderle might be competition for Hanie but the odds are very low that he’ll do so effectively if the lockout doesn’t end reasonably soon. Despite what Martz says, from what I can tell, Enderle has a lot of work to do shortening that occasionally long wind up of his.
“Free safety Chris Conte (California) was quietly viewed by some as the best developmental prospect of this year’s weak safety class. Speaking of developmental prospects, Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle, at 6-4, 240 pounds, has the build and arm strength well worthy of his fifth-round selection.”
“Now, more than ever, I believe the Detroit Lions, not Chicago, is the team to challenge Green Bay in the NFC North. With Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh paired at defensive tackle, the Lions’ D-line becomes an extraordinary pass defense, while the addition of Titus Young gives the club an explosive wide receiver opposite Calvin Johnson. Yeah, I know, the Lions still need cornerbacks, but quarterbacks won’t have much time to exploit whoever is there. I’m already making Detroit this year’s sleeper, and there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon. This is a vastly improved team that won its last four starts — including one over Green Bay — and just beefed up an already impressive defensive line.”
“No. 1 pick Nick Fairley gives the Lions a potential tandem at defensive tackle, with Ndamokung Suh, that is the best not only in the NFC North, but in the NFL. Suh is the Lions’ best defensive player but Detroit strengthened that area in a way that also projects to aid the secondary with improved pass rush.”
Did anyone else notice how angry Fairley looked when they finally called his name? He wasn’t happy lasting to 13 after being projected so much higher in January. I would expect he’ll start trying to make the rest of the NFL pay for their doubt. (Picture from US Presswire)
Tom Kowalski at mlive.comcontrasts current GM Martin Mayhew‘s draft room with former GM Matt Millen‘s. He repeats this storry about the 2006 draft when the Lions were on the clock debating about whether to take guard Max Jean-Gilles. Kowalski doesn’t mention it explicitly but the first problem was that they hadn’t worked this out in advance rather than debating it for five minutes while actually on the clock. Here’s the second problem:
“The Lions spent so much time talking about Jean-Gilles that, when they decided not to draft him, they didn’t have another option ready to go. As they wondered what to do, a voice in the back of the room (the identity of which I haven’t confirmed yet) said ‘Take Brian Calhoun.’ So they did.
“In his two-year career in Detroit, Calhoun had 54 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards and never scored a touchdown.”
“Look, Mayhew isn’t going to be perfect and he’s going to whiff on some draft picks (cough, Derrick Williams, cough). But one of the tricks to a successful draft is limiting your mistakes by being thoroughly prepared. It’s one thing to miss, it’s another thing to not know what the hell you’re swinging at.”
“Don’t tell me the lockout didn’t have an impact on this year’s draft because it did. I’ve never seen so many reaches, starting with Aldon Smith with the seventh pick of the first round, continuing with quarterbacks Jake Locker and Christian Ponder and moving through the bottom of the round, then on into the next two days. There were stretches everywhere, and I have to believe it was because clubs drafted for need. Usually, you hear “the-best-player-available” explanation for choices, but not this year. The past three days clubs gambled everywhere to fill needs they would have already solved through free agency or trades.”
“The Seattle Seahawks allowed opponents to score 33 or more points in nine of their past 12 starts, including the playoffs, and ranked 25th in points allowed. So what do they do? Draft offense with three of their first four choices. Someone please explain.”
Not only did they take offense, they didn’t even take good offense, reaching for guard James Carpenter in the first round:
“OT James Carpenter to Seattle: Most people had him rated somewhere in the middle of the second round, yet the Seahawks took him with the 25th selection … with Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod still on the board. The Seahawks envision Carpenter as their next right tackle and say they love his versatility and nastiness. OK, I’ll buy that — just not at the 25th spot.”
How much of a reach was the selection of Carpenter? Even Alabama coach Nick Saban couldn’t believe it:
Finally, we have this from coach Pete Caroll:
“’We are happy with Charlie and hoping he is going to continue to flourish and blossom. I’m not feeling like we missed out on a quarterback opportunity’ — Seattle coach Pete Caroll on Charlie Whitehurst and the Seahawks’ failure to draft a quarterback.
Bottom line Caroll is starting to remind me why he didn’t make it with the Jets all those years ago. With him at the helm the Seahawks may have been as good last season as they’re going to be for a few years.
“I’ll tell you what I find intriguing about quarterback Blaine Gabbert: When the Washington Redskins had a chance to choose him they didn’t. Instead, coach Mike Shanahan traded out. Shanahan knows how to develop quarterbacks, and he needs a good young one in Washington. But instead of taking Gabbert after he unexpectedly lasted until the 10th pick, Shananan passed. Then he just avoided the position altogether, refusing to use any of his draft picks on a quarterback. Keep that in mind as Gabbert’s career unfolds”
The guess here is that Washington didn’t “avoid the position altogether” on purpose. They probably traded back thinking they could pick up Christian Ponder. The Vikings were rumored to like Jake Locker and the Redskins probably thought they’d pass on Ponder. They didn’t.
“With so many pressing needs on the roster, they still want to fix RB? And they get Murray who is best known for his ability to catch the ball (he had 71 receptions in 2010). This redundancy with Felix’s new-found catching ability is quite a statement.”
“True, Elmore has posted videos of him both jumping out of a pool and into a truck on YouTube. But it’s also worth noting that Elmore actually had more production last season than his more-famous teammate, defensive end/linebacker Brooks Reed.”
Wonder how he would have done without Reed on the other side garnering the attention.
Sturm also had this to say about the fact that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called Larry Lacewell, Butch Davis and Barry Switzer for advice on various picks:
“Previous draft disappointments haunt the Cowboys. And when Jerry tells us that he is not listening to his scouts, but more about how he listens to his old buddies about picks, then we should assume that the draft process has not changed very much. I needed Jerry to tell me that Tom Ciskowski and his staff have targeted this player and we trust them. Instead, he tells me that Switzer signed off on the Cowboys taking an Oklahoma RB.”
Amen. At least when Jerry Angelo stands in front of the media, he can tell you how much his coaches and area scouts whose business it is to watch these prospects for months and years like the picks and why.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No matter what else you think of them, thank heavens the Bears have ownership that doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day running of the personnel department. Generally speaking it is a route to disaster long term for any franchise.
“‘Everybody loves the game of football. I can’t see the world without it. How do you think the world would be without it?’ — Arizona CB Patrick Peterson. I dunno, Patrick, but why don’t you ask the people who survived the 57-day strike in 1982. Better yet, ask someone in Libya.”
I’ll tell you exactly how they the world will be. Full of people surprising themselves by finding better things to do on Sunday. NFL beware.
“Top needs: OL, DT, CB, OLB
“Summary: The top needs I saw for the Bears were on the offensive line and along the defensive interior, where they’ve had some recent attrition. [Gabe] Carimi was a great value that late in Round 1, and is a player that can be moved along the line (presumably to right tackle) to help right away. [Stephen] Paea isn’t a guy who will get a lot of penetration, but he’ll help the Bears’ linebackers avoid blockers. They also added some safety help, and took a shot on [Nathan] Enderle, a kid with a big arm who could develop behind Jay Cutler. I don’t see Enderle as a starter, but a backup is a nice thing to have, and backup quarterback was actually a need position for the Bears, particularly given all the hits Cutler takes. Solid draft for the Bears, who got to get back in the early mix this year.”
John Mullin at CSNChicago.com gives his thoughts on the Bears draft:
“But they again selected a safety in the third round (Chris Conte of California) and later added a quarterback (Nathan Enderle of Idaho in the fifth), which many considered luxuries the club couldn’t afford.”
Jensen does a good job of reviewing the up coming (some day) free agency period mentioning a number of possibilities including some name wide receivers.
John Mullin at CSNChicago.comasks a very good question: “Where does new Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea play?” He’s big enough to play nose tackle:
“But 4-3 teams do not often trade two draft choices for purposes of moving up to grab a nose tackle. What the Bears gave themselves with Paea is options in the form of someone who could play either tackle position. A nickel unit with Melton and Paea paired inside is potentially a better interior rush tandem than the Bears have had in several seasons.”
As Mullin implies, Paea may find himself moving between the inside and the three technique depending on the situation. But I’m not sure that’s how the Bears are going to roll. They like to rotate guys in and out and given thelimited number of snaps they’ll probably want to leave Paea at one position. But the possibility of moving him around is intriguing.
“He prefers a quarterback meet these seven criteria before selecting him high in the draft: More than a three year starter; has started 30 games; has won 23; has thrown at least two touchdowns for every interception; has completed 60 percent of his passes; is a senior; is graduating.
“Which quarterbacks held up from the class of 2011? Andy Dalton and Ricky Stanzi. Greg McElroy was three starts shy of qualifying.”
The minute I saw Michael Irvin on the set of the NFL Network during the first round, I know I wan’t going to be able to stomach it for more than short doses. So I think it is unfortunate that the ESPN broadcast was also subpar.
Did anyone else think that Mel Kiper and Jon Gruden talked less than usual between picks? I thought Chris Berman was going to go horse from having to fill so much. I don’t get it.
“‘[Vikings first round pick] Christian Ponder is Elvis Grbac,’ Dilfer said. ‘He’s Elvis Grbac. Elvis Grbac was a beautiful thrower. He threw for 4,000 yards. He did a lot of nice things. Every time it got tough, he melted.'”
“Peyton Hillis being named cover boy of Madden 12 by a vote of fans is more evidence why Pro Bowl voting should be done by professionals.”
As long as they don’t decide to do it like the Hall of Fame…
One Final Thought
Mullin also makes a point I’ve been thinking about. The Bears like to claim that good players who fit their scheme are falling to them because of the popularity of the 3-4 around the NFL:
“Fronts in 3-4’s typically employ space-eaters, 320 pounds or bigger, even the ends.
“That then leaves a talent like Paea, at 6-1, 305 pounds, available for a scheme like the Bears. Same with a Melton, who now is up to more than 290 pounds.”
There’s a point to be made here but I think its become less true this year not more. The buzz word I heard dozens of times over the course of the draft is “scheme versatility”. Defensive coordinators are starting to play multiple fronts and move their personnel around more to create mismatches. This is starting to break the mold of the typical player fitting one scheme. The Washington Redskins are a good example. Their first round pick, Ryan Kerrigan, is a bit undersized for 3-4 defensive end and not really athletic enough for outside linebacker. I thought he was really a better fit for defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. But the Redskins drafted him for the 3-4 anyway, probably figuring they could take advantage of his traits in multiple ways in different situations. That’s the trend.
Though the Bears have claimed many times that thier draft philosophy hasn’t changed, I think it did. Here’s a quote from GM Jerry Angelo via the Chicago Tribune which is typical of what I’m talking about:
“There were moments there when we talked about a certain position but we said let’s stay the course, we might not be able to get it done the way we would like to, but we do have free agency so let’s take the value at these positions. The value of the position was a real focus for us today. I think Chris Conte is going to be an excellent football player for us. The position he plays with the athletic traits he has, it’s very, very difficult to find. So we talked long and hard about that and we tried to be pragmatic in our approach and I thought we stayed the course.”
The Bears aren’t looking just to fill needs and they aren’t just looking for the best player available. They’re starting to look at the best player available at “Value” positions. Namely quarterback and free safety this year. They’ve probably always considered this to some extent but I can’t remember Angelo emphasizing it this much. I think its a subtle but significant change.
ChicagoBears.com gives us a look into the Bears draft room:
Angelo sits down for a one-on-one interview with Larry Mayer at ChicagoBears.com after the draft
This grim Chicago Sun-Times column makes some good points. There’s no name on the Internet version of the article but it sounds like Mike Mulligan:
“The names have changed, but the positions remain the same.
“That’s the real indictment of the Bears’ 2011 draft class — not the players who were selected, but the feeling of deja vu as the positions were called.
“Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi might have been the steal of the draft when the Bears selected him with their first first-round pick since 2008, the year they took offensive tackle Chris Williams. Second-round pick Stephen Paea is a defensive tackle with a video on YouTube. Sounds like 2009 third-round pick Jarron Gilbert, the Bears’ first selection that year.”
There is something to be said for this. The Bears used this draft in good part to make up for past failures like Gilbert.
Via Dan Pompei and Chris Hines at the Chicago Tribune Carimi answers a question about his comments claiming to be the best offensive tackle in the draft. He has a point:
“What was I going to say, I don’t think I’m the best tackle? I’m going to be the fifth-best tackle?”
“The wild card might turn out to be third-round pick Chris Conte, the Cal cornerback-turned-safety who emerged after three years of obscurity to be an All-Pac-10 performer. While Angelo is convinced he has the skills necessary to succeed in the NFL as a free safety, most other draft experts projected him to be a late-round pick.”
“Our last pick, J.T. Thomas out of West Virginia, again played his full tenure at West Virginia. He fits us perfectly, can play all three positions. He played multi-roles there at West Virginia. Again, we spent a lot of time on him, saw him at an all-star game, he got hurt during that practice week, but we feel very, very good about his fit and picking up a linebacker was a goal today and he was the right one.”
Despite Angelo’s comment, from what I’ve read, Thomas isn’t really going to play in the middle or on the strong side (which was a need). He’ll be a back up, especially on the weak side, but I’m guessing he was really drafted to play special teams, something he seems well suited to do and something which he seems to know quite a bit about.
“I played on every special teams [unit] at West Virginia University. When I was younger, I played a lot of different special teams. As I got older, I was a little more valuable to the team, so I didn’t play as many, but I was always on the punt coverage team and punt block team. “
“Precision and technique and you really need to refine those two things. You can’t make mistakes, you have to have very efficient technique as far as your throwing mechanics and your read progressions and you have to hone those two to a very precise point and those are two things I have to work on.”
From what I can tell, Enderle has a pretty long release which is going to have to be shortened before he plays effectively in the NFL:
Here’s what Jerry Angelo had to say about Enderle:
“The offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback loom are areas of need. A nickel pass rusher wouldn’t hurt.”
I would say a veteran offensive lineman is likely. They’re going to have to be signing or resigning a lot of guys at linebacker as well.
Its apparent from Angelo’s comments that Caleb Hanie has the back up quarterback job.
“It [the selection of Enderle] has nothing to do with Caleb [Hanie]. We went into this in all likelihood – anything is subject to be change when you get into training camp, players still have to earn their position on the football team. There is no entitlement here, irrelevant of where we draft players. We are assuming we are going to keep three quarterbacks this year on our roster and we are assuming that we are not going out into the free agent market place. That in essence is why we drafted the player where we did. He certainly has the pole position and I just want to express how good we feel about him in terms of our scouts and our coaches and we did spend a lot of time on this player.”
“The only position I would think we would [look into free agency for] is the quarterback position. Other than that, we are going to look, no more than that.”
Given that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has never expressed much enthusiasm for Hanie, there was some question in my mind about whther they’d bring a veteran in to compete with him. I guess this is unlikely at this point.
EDIT: I forgot about Matt Gutierrez who could be seen as competition for Hanie. Though most people apparently don’t.
One Final Thought
One of the many things I’ve I disliked about this offseason (read “a lot of litigation and lockout and not much free agency”) is the fact that the Bears Expo was on draft weekend. I wanted to go but like most fairly hard core football fans, I wanted to see the draft.
I don’t know what was behind the decision to schedule it this way but I hope the Bears don’t do it again.