No, They’re Not Kidding. And Other Points of View.


  • The Bears re-signed Dante Rosario. Rosario’s value is really on special teams and the Bears probably still need to find a tight end who can block the run. From Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune.
  • Hub Arkush at points out that Bears head coach John Fox likes a runningback by committee. That leads him to speculate that the Bears might take a running back with their second round pick. That would fit in well with this ESPN report that Georgia’s Todd Gurley had an “extended conversation” with Bears southeast area scout Sam Summerville at his pro day.
  • Former Bears Director of College Scouting Greg Gabriel at the National Football Postthinks the Bears will trade back in the draft. He also thinks the Vikings will fill their need at guard and Detroit will fill their need at defensive tackle. Bud Dupree has that kind of look that would land him in Green Bay ahead of any decline from Julius Peppers.
  • Gabriel also writes for WSCR in Chicago. He does a very good job of breaking down the type players Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio used in the 3-4 defense that San Francisco played. It involved smaller, penetrating linemen rather than the big bodied 2 gappers that teams like Baltimore use. They also had smallish, speedy linebackers and tall corners. Whether these were the players Fangio preferred of this was a case of making the best of the players you are given is unknown. What scheme Fangio will use here is a matter of debate but if you think he’ll try to play the same scheme in Chicago that he did in San Francisco, these are the types of players to expect the Bears to collect.


  • Matt Vensel at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune dreams that the Falcons, Giants and Rams are all going to over-draft offensive linemen to allow Amari Cooper to fall to them. I think it far more likely that they’ll have their choice of those linemen and, in fact, they could do a lot worse than Brandon Scherff. He’d do a wonderful job of solidifying their left guard spot, vacated by the release of Charlie Johnson.
  • The Vikings biggest need may be a starting cornerback opposite Xavier Rhodes so its no surprise that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer were watching Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes rather closely at his pro day. He’s probably a slam dunk pick for them in the first round. Via Ben Goessling at ESPN.
  • Mel Kiper “re-drafts” the 2009 prospects for ESPN. You don’t think the draft is a crap shoot? Out of the 32 new “first round picks” not one was drafted in the original top nine. Michael Crabtree was the highest original pick to make the list at 10 and two of the players in the new round originally went undrafted.
  • Kyle Meinke at acknowledges that Detroit has taken a step back n free agency, largely due to losses at defensive tackle. However he believes that the team may make up for it, not by signing more talent, but by continuing to develop the talent that they have.He’s got a point. Good organizations are the ones that not only draft talent but coach it up to get the most out of it. This may be the most overlooked aspect of Green Bay’s success and its one that the Bears are going to have to emulate as well if they want to get younger and more competitive at the same time.
  • Rex Ryan plans to have the Bills practice largely on two fields in camp, a change from Doug Marrone who ran 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills on one field. The idea is to maximize reps for the quarterbacks who are competing to start, EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor.Both the Bills and the Jets are planning on challenging the old saying that, “If you have two quarterbacks competing to be the starter you don’t have one.”
  • How does an owner solve a problem where he signed a player who abuses women to a huge contract? He trots out his daughter and sells her for the sake of public relations. From David Moore at the Dallas Morning News.
  • Defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson has been signed by the Jets according to Rich Cimini at In retrospect I’m kind of wondering why the Bears weren’t interested here.
  • Mike Florio at thinks the value of having a veteran combine is minimal. I’m going to mildly disagree. Having a standard medical on these veterans can be pretty valuable and some teams may be holding off on working out and talking to some of these veterans until they get a solid handle on it.
  • Regular readers know that I have a man-crush on Teddy Bridgewater. Those who don’t want to read anymore about it can stop now. Because Bridgewater gets it as he addresses his rookie season via Brian Murphy at the Pioneer Press:

    “‘I wasn’t impressed,’ he told the Pioneer Press this week.

    “‘Yes, we did some good things as a team,’ he continued, ‘but we could have been much better finishing games. That’s what separates championship teams and determining whether you’re playing games in January or watching games in January.'”

  • The Chargers and the Raiders propose a shared stadium for Carson, CA and suddenly Rams owner Stan Kroenke is presenting detailed plans at the NFL owner’s meetings for his Inglewood stadium with offices for two teams… Things are getting even more interesting in Los Angeles.
  • Mike Florio at is surprised that it took nearly a week for Chris Borland to conclude that he should voluntarily give back a portion of his signing bonus. I’m not the lest bit surprised. The NFLPA can’t be happy to see anyone give back signing bonus to teams under any circumstances and this decision might further undermine the case that any players brings to keep his bonus in the future.
  • And in the former Bear, LOL department:

One Final Thought

Kyle Samec at the Cowboys Nation Blog says that Greg Hardy makes the Cowboys “a legit threat, whether people like it or not”. Is that to the opponents or just their women?

Can’t Blame a Guy for Trying


Dan Hanzus at writes that Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith is looking at more than quarterbacks in the draft:

“‘I just know I can see why people would assume that we are going to take a quarterback,’ Smith told NFL Media’s Steve Wyche in an interview that will air on NFL Network on Monday. ‘There are two excellent quarterbacks that are available at the top. And when you get a chance to draft someone like that most of the time people do. But there are other good players in the draft also. I think it’s a deep draft.'”

Translation: We like Winston but if you want to offer us four first round picks we’ll be glad to take them and stick with Mike Glennon.

Not very likely.  Smith is almost certainly going to have to nut up and make this pick.  Good luck to him.

Quarterback? Maybe Not Mariota but Definitely Somebody.

Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, now writing for, created quite a stir nationally when he predicted that the Bears would take Marcus Mariota with the seventh pick in his latest mock draft:

“The Bears have a new general manager and a new coach. Oftentimes, that means a new quarterback is on the way. It’s time to rebuild in Chicago.”

This led to the following question for Hub Arkush at

“From @skafkis: Is Mariota on Bears radar?

“I’d be lying if I told you I knew exactly what Ryan Pace is thinking right now, and they did send Dowell Loggains, the new quarterbacks coach, out to Oregon for Mariota’s Pro Day. But I have not found a single scout, coach or general manager who is absolutely sold on Mariota, and the majority of them have real doubts.

“He is a great kid who may or may not have the leadership gene that Jay Cutler has lacked, but many are concerned he doesn’t.

“He has yet to prove he can stand under center, take a snap, drop three or five steps and turn and read the field. And on the rare occasions when he has stood in the pocket and tried to find receivers more than 12-to-14 yards down the field, he’s been mediocre at the very best.”

“I suspect the Bears know all that and wouldn’t risk the seventh overall pick that way. If they were to trade down and Mariota takes an Aaron Rodgers or Brady Quinn tumble, perhaps you go at 22 or 23, but that’s awfully unlikely.”

I completely agree with Hub. I know that this is a time of year when everyone pretty much starts lying about prospects in an effort to manipulate the draft board of other teams. But based upon what I’ve seen, I think these concerns are completely legitimate. Mariota didn’t play in a pro style offense and hasn’t shown that he can throw from the pocket, particularly with anticipation to a reciever. From what I’ve seen of him, he looks like an introvert. It’s possible that once he gets comfortable with a team and gets to know the players, his leadership qualities will come out but that kind of thing takes time.

As former NFL safety Matt Bowen points out at the Bleacher Report, it’s all about the  potential, development and time:

“[F]or scouts setting their final grades, it all still comes back to projecting Mariota’s talent at the NFL level. They have to consider how long it might take him to adjust to pro coaching and how much risk there is that he can’t make that adjustment.”

The Bears might be comfortable with Mariota at number seven but I wouldn’t be. In fact, absent a trade up scenario I have some doubt that Mariota will go before the Rams at 10 and he might even fall to the Saints at 13 or even beyond. As Hub says, he’s highly unlikely to get low enough for the Bears to trade back up into the first round to get him, though.


Personally, I’m starting to warm to Garrett Grayson (above). Grayson is a bit of a stiff but notice how he slides in the pocket, something I think is very difficult to teach, in the video below:

This is a good video to watch because Grayson is under a lot of pressure from a Utah team that was a lot better than Grayson’s Colorado Sate.  Though he takes the majority of the snaps from the shotgun, Grayson played in a pro style system. Former NFL coach Jon Gruden recognizes the advantage this gives Grayson:

“There’s a lot of parts of Colorado State’s system that I recognize, unlike a lot of college football that’s running up-tempo, no-huddle, spread-option football.  There’s some principles at Colorado State that will serve Grayson well…He’s a dark horse in this (quarterback) class.”

Notice how he throws with anticipation to his receivers and how he hangs in the pocket under pressure and keeps his eyes down field. He’s also reasonably accurate and throws a pretty good deep ball.  Jeremiah has hi as his third quarterback behind Jameis Winston and Mariota:

Grayson’s intangibles are reportedly excellent.  But aren’t they always.

On the negative side, you can see that his mechanics need work and his release is slow with a little bit of a wind up.  I’m also not sure how well he feels pressure. But all in all I like what I see. He’s might be a second round pick and I’d say he should be no less than a third.

In any case, Jeremiah was right about one thing. There’s little doubt in my mind that the Bears will be looking for a young quarterback to develop and I’m sure I’m not alone. Trusting the future of the franchise to Jay Cutler with no options behind him is fool hardy given his history. Keeping an eye on all of these prospects will be an intersting occupation leading up to the draft. I can guarantee that you haven’t heard the last from me on the topic as I get a chance to look around at some of the other options.

Of Jared Allen, Willie Young and the “Big Nickel”

Michael C. Wright at ESPN answers your questions:

“@mikecwright: Thanks for the question. The way it looks right now, there’s definitely going to be a logjam at outside linebacker because the plan is to play Jared Allen, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston and Pernell McPhee at outside linebacker. Both head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace have said as much recently. I’d encourage you to take a step back, take a big-picture perspective and match up that with what you know about new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Fangio is a creative schemer, and if all those guys stick on the roster (which I anticipate happening), he’ll find a way to incorporate all of them. The Bears plan to play base defense out of a three-man front. But when the team goes into substitution packages, which will likely be more than 50 percent of the time, it will probably execute out of four-man fronts designed to get the team’s best four pass-rushers on the field at the same time. We don’t yet know which players Fangio plans to deploy in those positions because he doesn’t know, and won’t know until the team gets out on the field for practice. Fox said that once the guys start working out, they’ll define their roles through their play.”

I’d like to emphasize Wright’s second point in this response – the fact that the Bears will likely play a four man line in substitution packages. As Wright points out, you could reasonably expect the Bears to play in these packages up to 60% of the time. If the Bears play what’s being called the “Big Nickel” package where the fifth defensive back is a safety instead of a corner, it could be more than that. Such a defense allows for better pass coverage than the conventional 3-4 alignment with four linebackers while doing a better job of hedging against the run.  The Rams have been particularly effective playing this formation and it’s possible that they will actually make this their base defense at some point.  The Giants are aligned in a 4-2-5 version of this package, similar to what the Bears could play, below:


The Bears don’t have the safety depth to play the “big nickel” right now.  They don’t even have the cornerback depth to play the conventional nickel at this point. At this point anything is possible.  It’s worth noting that Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio liked to use the big nickel with Jimmy Ward as the third safety.  Some will remember that Bears safety Brock Vereen played in a similar type of role in college.  Though at 5-11, 199 he’s a bit small to do it in the NFL at this point, its not impossible that the Bears could use him in such a scheme, especially if he bulked up.  Indeed, this may have been what former Bears general manager Phil Emery, a former strength and conditioning coach, had in mind when he drafted Vereen.


In any case,big of conventional nickel, its important to remember that Allen (above)  and Young have a major role to play in this defense even if they don’t work out as outside linebackers. Whether you change the scheme to 3-4 or not, pass rush from a four man line is going to be a major part of the defense. In that respect its important that Allen, in particular, shows better in 2015 after an off year last season. He won’t like standing on the sideline for half of the snaps but he’ll be 33 at the beginning of next season and it could be the best thing for him. He’s a high motor player and I think getting that kind of rest could only make him better.

This Is What Getting Better Might Look Like

The Chicago Sun-Times NFL football writers formulated their first set of mock drafts today. None of the picks is ridiculous but I obviously have my favorite:

Patrick FinleyKevin White
Mark PotashAmari Cooper
Adam L. JahnsDanny Shelton

Finley and Potash have the Bears taking the best receiver on the board. In Potash’s case White is gone and in Finley’s case Cooper is gone. I don’t have a huge problem with either pick because you could argue that each of these players is the best left on the board when the Bears are up. Michael C. Wright at ESPN agrees as he answers your questions:

“@mikecwright: When the Bears pick at No. 7, if a receiver is the highest-rated player remaining on their board, then why not? The Bears traded away No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall, elevating Alshon Jeffery into that role. And the truth is I’m not sure how Jeffery will handle being a No. 1. How will he handle the extra coverage consistently devoted to him by opponents with Marshall out of the mix? So I think the Bears could and should help out Jeffery by bringing in a legitimate No. 1 or No. 2.”

Though each has the potential to be an impact player I like Cooper a little better than White. He’s got a higher floor with more polish and, though he’s slightly smaller and slightly slower than White in the 40 yard dash, he’s still 6-0, 210 and many scouts think he’s faster than White on tape. Hub Arkush at agrees with my assessment as he answers your questions:

“From @sporrer17: If Cooper and White are both available at 7, which one do you pick?

“Amari Cooper becomes a Bear so fast your head would spin. They may both turn out great, but nobody had White ahead of Cooper prior to the Combine. Cooper was the much better college football player and there’s absolutely no reason to believe he shouldn’t be the better pro.

“Players can and should fall as prospects with poor workouts at the Combine. It doesn’t change what they did in college, but it can suggest they’re not good enough athletes to handle the step up in class to the NFL. But just because a player runs faster or jumps higher than you thought he could, how does that make him better than what he was in college?

“Cooper and White were both fine college players, but Cooper was clearly the better of the two, and is very likely to be the better pro.”

But the obvious disadvantage to taking either of these players is that they’re both offensive and the Bears biggest needs are on defense. Again, that’s fine if they’re really the best available. But I would beg to differ with that opinion. Of the three picks, the one that made the most sense to me was Jahn’s pick of Shelton.

After the combine and with a little study I came to the conclusion that there were four impact players at the top of this draft: Leonard Williams, Jameis Winston, Dante Fowler, and Shelton. Here’s what I said:

“Of the four, only Shelton is likely to be there for the Bears. He’s got a lot of phone booth quicks for his size and its obvious that he might even provide some pass rush. If you are going to run a base 3-4 of the type that the Patriots run, requiring a big, 2-gapping nose guard, he’s your guy.”

Bear in mind as you watch the scouting tape of Shelton above that he’s not a penetrator. Note how he’s regularly double teamed and yet holds the point. He’s rarely knocked back off of the line of scrimmage and does a good job of shedding blocks. If I had a criticism it would be that he plays a little high. He tends to use his superior strength and bulk rather than using leverage.  Nevertheless, I see a lot of Vince Wilfork here.

Though the best thing about Shelton is that (in my opinion) he’d be the best player available at that spot, it doesn’t hurt that he fills the Bears biggest need. From Jahns:

“Shelton may not be the sexy pick, but he would fill a drastic need for an interior defensive lineman. Some veteran free agents remain, but coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio need more to work with. The only interior defensive linemen on the Bears’ roster are 11-year veteran Jeremiah Ratliff, second-year tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton and undrafted tackle Brandon Dunn.”

Though I have my preferences, it’s going to be a great year to be picking in that seventh slot. The Bears aren’t going to lose with this pick. They’re either going to get a very good player or they’re going to trade back and use multiple picks to fill their many needs. Former Bears Director of College Scouting Greg Gabriel thinks they’ll do both, trading back and still getting a good interior lineman.

The Bears success might be capped with Jay Cutler at quarterback for at least another year. But they’re going to get better and as long as that’s the case, the ultimate goal will always be in sight somewhere down the road.