- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune describes the kind of player the Bears need from this draft and one reason why new GM Phil Emery might be able to deliver him:
“But it is a young defender who can be a big piece of the team’s foundation, who is consistent from game to game and year to year and who almost always answers the bell. It is a playmaker who will be recognized as one of the best. It is an athlete who can transcend future scheme changes.”
“So how do the Bears go about finding players like [Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs]?
“Certainly, it isn’t easy. New general manager Phil Emery might have an idea though. He was on the Bears scouting staff in 2000 when Urlacher was drafted and in 2003 when Briggs was picked.”
- From Rafael Vela at the Cowboys Nation blog we have a couple little blurbs about a players the Bears have been connected with:
“— The buzz meter on Bruce Irvin has gone still. The character concerns probably put him in the 3rd or 4th rounds now.”
“— Quinton Coples may fall into the 20s. The claim is that character concerns have teams uneasy. One source wondered if a team or teams in the teens were trying to spook their neighbors into passing on Coples, but this rumor came up more than once.”
- On a similar note, ESPN’s NFC North blogger, Kevin Seifert, wonders if Quinton Coples will fall to the Bears in the same way that Nick Fairley fell to the Lions last year.
- And Pompei’s sources rate both Whitney Mercilus and Courtney Upshaw ahead of Coples.
“He is the top-ranked end by many analysts and one of the most gifted players at any position. However, he could fall on draft day because teams question his love of the game. Some believe he was trying not to get hurt in 2011. Coples is highly inconsistent. When he wants to, he can dominate, but he doesn’t want to very often.”
- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times weighs in on a player for the Bears that I havnen’t read much about, Nebraska DE Jared Crick.
- Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times talks Whitney Mercilus with NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock:
”But I think that’s only real downside, is can he be stout enough at the point of attack down the road to justify being a first-round pick?”
- Rob Rang at CBSSports.com has the Bears taking Kendall Wright:
“Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Trading for wide receiver Brandon Marshall could pay off huge for the Bears, but general manager Phil Emery knows that two clubs already grew tired enough of Marshall’s antics to trade the Pro Bowl receiver during his prime. As such, don’t disregard the fact that Chicago head coach Lovie Smith and wide receivers coach Darryl Drake took Wright out to dinner the evening before his impressive Pro Day workout. They did the same with another potential first round receiver, Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill, prior to Pro Day.”
He has them passing on Coples as well as Cordy Glenn, who most analysts would say provides good value for this pick.
- Meanwhile NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler has the Bears taking DE Nick Perry:
“Nick Perry, DE, Southern California: Even with the addition of receiver Brandon Marshall, the need at receiver still exists for Chicago, but it’s not nearly as great, giving the Bears some flexibility here. In order to maximize the abilities of Pro Bowler Julius Peppers (who recently turned 32), Chicago must add quality pass rushers around him to take some of the pressure off. Nick Perry led the Pac-12 in sacks last year (9.5) and had one of the best combine performances last week, recording top results in the bench press (35 reps), 40-yard dash (4.64), vertical jump (38.5) and broad jump (10’4). He isn’t the most physically imposing specimen, but Perry has NFL-level athleticism.”
Though this appears to be a definite possibility, most of the analysts I’ve read would consider this to be a bit of a reach, especially considering that the Bears would be passing on OT Riley Reiff. Brugler apparently doesn’t think much of Reiff. He has him rated lower than Jonathan Martin (who the Bears also pass on in this scenario). Every other mock draft I’ve seen has Reiff going well before the Bears pick.
- I thought this article about Emery’s immersion in the Patriot way from Jensen provided some insight:
“When the Patriots stacked their draft board, [Bill] Belichick often would get frustrated because the game had changed, emphasizing and de-emphasizing different positions. The third cornerback, for example, could play 60 percent of the defensive snaps in a game.
“‘So the third corner is a starter in today’s game,’ [Kansas City GM Scott] Pioli said. ‘We were talking about guys who were third corners and weren’t given high-enough grades.’”
“‘It’s not anything that’s genius. It’s just trying to look at today’s league and understanding matching value versus just saying, ‘He’s a starting running back.’ ’ ”
- David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune and I are of one mind on at least one reason why former GM Jerry Angelo was fired:
“Nothing can damage a GM’s credibility on draft day more than a botched phone call, which Jerry Angelo learned the hard way. The league voided a trade with the Ravens because the Bears’ phone miscommunication caused the deal to be called in late.
“The resulting furor from the Ravens marked the beginning of the end for Angelo, who, aside from once selecting Michael Haynes in the first round, never experienced a bigger draft-day embarrassment.”
Some might say the beginning of the end for Angelo was the check box fiasco early in his tenure as GM. Looking back on it, the botched phone call and the personal embarrassment it caused ownership may have been the end of the end. Here’s hoping that Emery can do a better job of avoiding such management issues.
- Adam Schefter at ESPN reports that Matt Forte “is not signing anything until he has a long-term deal”. Via Josh Alper at profootballtalk.com.
- Former NFL safety Matt Bowen, writing for the Chicago Tribune, thinks that the Forte contract stalemate is not a big deal. I can only agree. There was a time when I blasted Urlacher for not showing up to “voluntary” workouts in a contract dispute. But Urlacher is a team leader who was actually under contract and was looking for extra money. This is a totally different story.
- Pompei answers this good question:
“Now that Mike Martz is gone, does that mean that Nathan Enderle is no longer in the Bears plan? Wasn’t he drafted because he fit Martz’ scheme? Dave Mestdagh, Medicine Hat, Alberta
“I would say the chances of Enderle making the team are not as good as they would have been had Martz been around. But that doesn’t mean he’s a goner. Mike Tice’s quarterback profile probably isn’t that much different than Martz’. If Enderle takes a step forward and performs well in camp, a good chance exists he will stick around. If he bombs or stagnates, he’s gone.
“I’m not entirely sure the profile is the same. Campbell? I think Tice might like more athleticism.”
- And here’s another good one:
“Can you explain why the Bears refuse to give D.J. Moore a chance to play on the outside? It can’t be because of his height since he’s actually taller than Tim Jennings, the incumbent opposite Peanut. And I can’t imagine that Jennings is much faster than Moore, if at all. Plus, D.J. is a much bigger playmaker than Jennings, who drops many more potential interceptions than he holds on to. I’m afraid that Moore might leave when he becomes a free agent because Lovie [Smith] won’t let him spread his wings as a legit outside corner and not just a nickelback. Reggie Carolina, St. Paul, Minn.
“Good question. You can get by on the outside without ideal height, as Jennings does. You can get by on the outside without ideal speed, as Nathan Vasher did. But it’s difficult to get by on the outside without ideal height and ideal speed. A cornerback who is short and not particularly fast has no chance of matching up with a Calvin Johnson on the outside. That explains the Bears’ hesitation to try Moore outside. At the 2009 combine, Moore measured in at a shade below 5-9, and his best 40-yard dash time was a 4.56. Jennings, for comparison sake, measured in at a little below 5-8 at the 2006 combine, but he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash. Jennings is considerably faster. Moore, however, is exceptionally quick and athletic. And he’s exceptionally instinctive. He also has outstanding ball skills, which Jennings does not. All of that makes Moore uniquely qualified to play over the slot receiver. He was drafted for that role, and it’s probably what he always will do best.”
- From Pompei, this time writing for The National Football Post: Now Jenny McCarthy knows what Aaron Rodgers feels like, being chased by Brian Urlacher.
- One of the free agents I had an eye on for the Bears was DE Andre Carter. Matt Williamson at ESPN tells us in a fan chat why he hasn’t been more popular.
“where will andre carter play next season?
“Matt Williamson (12:43 PM)
“His quad is still an issue apparently. He would be a great fit for the Bears. Has to go to a 4-3 team, but I was very impressed with Carter in NEng. Assuming he gets healthy quick, he will have a substantial market”
- Vela explains why there may be plenty of defensive players available in the mid to late first round:
“Consider that three quarterbacks ([Andrew] Luck, [Robert] Griffin and [Ryan] Tannehill) could go in the top 10. If Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon and [Michael] Floyd join them, that’s six skill position players. Add two offensive tackles, say Matt Kalil to Minnesota and perhaps Riley Reiff to Buffalo and you have eight offensive players up top. Only Morris Claiborne and another defender would go in the top 10. “
“One source said he’s heard that as many as six wide receivers could go in the 1st round. If this happened, it would affect Dallas’ 2nd round pick, and perhaps push some defensive options into that early 2nd.
“One intriguing rumor has Brandon Weeden making the 1st, with the Dolphins selecting him if they trade down and out of the 8th slot. A fourth 1st round QB would combine with a WR rush to push another defensive option to 45.”
- It would appear that Vela isn’t the only one that heard that rumor. From Pompei:
“Brandon Weeden is starting to look like a key player in the draft. A good chance now exists the QB is going to be selected in the later stages of the first round, and it seems likely teams will try to jockey for position to get Weeden. If the Browns don’t select Tannehill early, they could take him with the 22nd pick. Or another team could try to jump the Browns by moving up from the early second round. The Browns also could try to move down in the late 20s to take Weeden.”
“After getting a surprisingly effective boost from low-profile O-line additions Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini last season, we hear the Seahawks are hoping for the same from free-agent pickup Frank Omiyale, who had worn out his welcome with the Bears but has the versatility that Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable savors. ‘Omiyale was in Atlanta’s system when Cable was there, and they think a fresh start might help him,’ said one team source. ‘They got him for a real good price, and (ORT) James Carpenter’s return from knee surgery is still a big question mark.’”
- I think as highly of the Lions talent as anyone. But if their fans really believe that they are going to go 15-1 then they are setting themselves up for some major disappointment. From Tim Twentyman at detroitlions.com.
- No players who fall under restricted free agency got offers from other teams. The word “collusion” is being bandied about. Personally, I think the problem is simply that price of signing these players is too high. Its too cheap to sign them to higher grades of FA where more compensation is required and no one wants to both give up draft picks for these players and pay them to boot. Via Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com.
- Former Bears front office man Tim Ruskell takes Joe Fortenbaugh at The National Football Post through the anatomy of a draft day trade.
- I thought this article on how GM’s run thier scouting departments from Jack Bechta at The National Football Post was fascinating:
“One of the biggest frustrations I hear from regional NFL scouts is how their opinion and their work gets minimized the closer we get to the draft. It’s not like this in every organization but it exists within several for sure.
“Area scouts spend months even years collecting data and intelligence on players in their region just to have it become under-appreciated in April. One NFC scout told me the other day that he ‘gets paid $85,000 to work and travel like a dog to get his opinion diluted by people with bigger titles and even bigger egos’. Another said, ‘I wrote 300 reports that will be referenced a few times and won’t get the attention they deserve’.”
“Instead of fine-tuning the draft boards in April, some scouting directors go through some last minute damage control. It usually comes when the head coach’s opinion varies greatly from the scouting staff. The HC may have watched just one game where he saw something that turned him off, or on about a player. And as Bill Parcells said to me once, ‘Sometimes it can just take one play to form an everlasting opinion, but coaches are more short term focused because of their desire to win now, emotional, and more influenced by what they’re eyes tell them.’ A former GM told me that it’s not uncommon to spend a few days on damage control because of a last minute opinion change by a Head Coach or even an owner.”
- Pompei, this time writing for The National Football Post, highlights the effect that concussion awareness is having on the NFL draft.
- Janoris Jenkins is apparently a moron. From Evan Silva at profootballtalk.com.
- ESPN’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert updates us on Ryan Grant‘s situation as a free agent.
- Minnesota’s stadium situation is a damned mess. Via Florio.
- Hmmm. Ray Lewis has been subpoenaed to appear as a witness in former Cincinnati Bengals LB Nate Webster’s trial. Webster is accused of having sex with a 15 year old girl on multiple occasions. This could be worth keeping an eye on. Via Florio.
- I could not agree more with this excerpt from Seifert’s chat with fans:
“Now that it’s been a few years, what do you think about the 3 day draft?
“Kevin Seifert (2:52 PM)
“I agree with Ted Thompson. I wish the first two days weren’t at night. I get why they are, but I’m a morning person in this job and would prefer not to see a team making its first-round pick at 11 p.m. Other than that, I’m fine with it and kind of glad it ends on a Saturday instead of Sunday.”
Its a long time between January and July. I miss the days when I could settle down in front of the TV for the draft and totally immerse myself in football for a weekend.
- I wasn’t too interested in Gary Buiso’s report at the New York Post that the NFL will require ejected fans to pass an online code of conduct exam before they can return. But what I didn’t know was that the NFL had begun planting undercover cops in the visiting team’s gear to catch abusive fans during the 2011 playoffs. That’s a plan that needs to be expanded. Again, via Florio.
- The 2012 NFL draft class is preemptively suing the NFL for brain damage. Via The Onion.
One Final Thought
Todd McShay at ESPN has updated his mock draft and he gives a number of different scenarios to choose from:
“Chicago BearsRecord: 8-8 | Top needs: LT, CB, DE, LB, TE, DT, G, Stephon Gilmore*, CB, South Carolina
“Scenario 1: Gilmore could be a top-15 pick, and while he’s still developing in terms of instincts he has the size, athleticism and speed to become a No. 1 corner. And a team that will face Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford four times a year has to be able to cover on the perimeter.
“Scenario 2: Upgrade at defensive end with Courtney Upshaw, who could add to the pass rush and bolster the run defense.
“Scenario 3: Address a need at left tackle with Ohio State’s Mike Adams or Stanford’s Jonathan Martin.
“Scenario 4: If Gilmore is off the board the Bears could choose to address their corner need with Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick or North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins. There are character concerns with Jenkins, but he has more man-to-man cover skills than Kirkpatrick.”
Figuring out what kind of scenario the Bears will actually follow is always a challenge but praticularly this year with a new general manager. Haugh thinks the Bears should go offensive tackle in the first round:
“The weakest position remains offensive line — which is why I would use the Bears’ first-round pick to select athletic left tackle Jonathan Martin out of Stanford.
“Martin protected quarterback Andrew Luck’s blind side in 37 starts over three seasons before turning pro after his junior year. He needs to add strength and offensive coordinator Mike Tice would relish coaching the finesse out of Martin, but he exemplifies the technically-sound, high-character prospect the Bears like.”
The problem with the offensive tackles that are likely to be available to the Bears is that they are all high on potential but low on consistency. I don’t think this is the type of the player that GM Phil Emery is likely to look for.
If we look at the scenarios McShay describes and try to take a guess as to what direction Emery will go, we have to consider what he has said about how he will handle his job:
1. He’s emphasized that players need to show up on tape.
2. He’s said that the days where a player will be red shirted for a year while he develops are over. Emery subscribes to the New England system where rookies are expected to compete to start from day one.
3. He’s not afraid of players with off the field issues.
Taken together, I think we can safely guess that Emery is going to be looking for production in college above all else. And he’s probably going to be wary of one year wonders and workout warriors who have the physical tools but haven’t put it all together (i.e. Coples). That’s not to say he won’t take these players. But on balance they aren’t ideal fits based upon what little we know about his way of evaluating personnel.
The kind of choice that Emery is likely to be facing is illustrated perfectly in this question to Pompei:
“There’s a good chance Courtney Upshaw still will be on the board for the Bears when they pick in the 19th spot. Wouldn’t he be a much better selection coming from the Alabama program than Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus, who seems to be a one-year wonder? Dale Dombrowski, Grants, N.M.
“Scouts I have spoken with are split as to whether Upshaw or Mercilus is the better prospect, but I believe Mercilus is rated more highly by most teams. It’s true Upshaw had more production in 2010 than Mercilus, but Mercilus had way more production in 2011. Last season Mercilus had 7.5 more sacks and seven more forced fumbles than Upshaw. In fact, Mercilus nearly had as many sacks in 2011 as Upshaw had in his entire career (16 to 16.5), and he had three more forced fumbles. He also worked out better than Upshaw (4.68 40 yard dash to 4.76), and he has better intangibles. The Alabama program might be better than the Illinois program, but Mercilus is a better prospect in my eyes.”
Its not a black and white issue. Certainly by most reports, Mercilus is an immense talent. And he did produce for one year. Having said that, based upon what little we know about Emery, I’m guessing that he’s going to mildly disagree with Pompei here. Mercilus took three years to get to the point where he was productive at Illinois. On the other hand, Upshaw is exactly the kind of solid, productive player who can step right in that Emery is likely to value.
Its all guess work, of course, and unless Emery totally goes off the deep end few people are going to be disappointed any way he goes. But for what its worth I’d look at the characteristics above when figuring which available player the Bears will take when their turn comes.