Bears Thoughts on the Second Day of the 2018 NFL Draft

A couple thoughts on yesterday’s second round haul:

  • What I liked: The James Daniels pick.

    I’m a “football games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage” guy and I always love to see offensive linemen taken reasonably high because they benefit everyone on the field in so many ways.

    I think the decision to play Daniels at left guard is smart. Daniels had trouble as a center handling big linemen at the point of attack. This is common in centers who have to snap the ball in addition to firing out to handle these mammoths. See Hronis Grasu for a perfect example. Even though Daniels has supposedly gained quite a bit of weight to get up to 305 pounds, I think allowing him to play guard may help solve this problem.

    At the same time it allows Cody Whitehair to stay put at center, where he has been doing extremely well. Hopefully this settles Whitehair and right guard Kyle Long into their spots, stabilizing the offensive line and allowing them to work at a single spot to become the best that they can be in their roles.

  • What I didn’t like: Trading a second round pick in next years draft to pick up wide receiver Anthony Miller.

    Every time the Bears do things like this it feels like robbing Peter to pay Paul. It seems like every year general manager Ryan Pace something to the effect of “It’d be nice to recoup that BLANK round pick that we gave up earlier.” How about staying put and allowing yourself to catch up?

    I suppose if Miller works out, no one will remember what they did to get him. But I get wary when teams seem to be spending their entire draft strictly chasing their immediate needs rather than the best player available. Hard to believe there was a guy so good that you absolutely had to have him and who, at the same time, just so happens is a receiver.

    When I look around the league it just seems to me like the smart organizations are the ones that collect picks, not trade them away.

    Former Bears general manager (and the last decent one they had) Jerry Angelo used to stress that you as a GM you should never fall in love with prospects. PAce comes from a different type of background with the New Orleans Saints. Former Eagles team president Joe Banner explains. Via Don Banks at The Athletic.

    “Banks: The win-now Saints arguably made the boldest, riskiest move of the night in moving from No. 27 to No. 14 to take UTSA pass rusher Marcus Davenport, giving up their 2019 first-round pick to Green Bay in the process. Your assessment of what they gave up and if it’s worth that for a pass rusher who is promising but seen as somewhat of a work in progress?

    “Banner: Historically, the Saints have been kind of over-aggressive and short-term focused and gotten themselves into really deep cap trouble. The last of couple years, they seemed to have learned the better way was to be somewhat aggressive but to balance it in the short term in terms of value in a way they hadn’t been. I looked at this as kind of falling back into their old bad habits. And I happen to like this player, though I’m not sure he’ll be an impact player right away.

    “So again you have to get the right value because you’re trying to build a whole roster, and there’s no player other than maybe a difference-making quarterback that compensates for being weak in other areas. I think they dramatically overpaid. I think they got a good player, but I wonder if he’ll actually be ready to contribute in a major way in the time frame they’re hoping.”

    I think Pace falls in love with these prospects too easily. He did it with Mitch Trubisky and it forced him to trade up in a scenario where it was reportedly unnecessary. He did it with Leonard Floyd before him. Every once in a while, maybe its OK. But every year? If this continues, it’s going to hurt the organization. It’s arguably hurting it already.

Roquan Smith a Good, Not Great Pick for the Bears

When media experts describe Roquon Smith, the Bears first round selection of the 2018 NFL draft, one word comes up time and again: “instinctive”.

Instinct. It’s a magical word suggesting that a player has this mystical quality that can overcome all other obstacles that a flawed prospect might face. It’s often said that it’s more valuable than any other characteristic because it’s something that you can’t teach. And it almost automatically goes with another word that all fans with all of their own flaws associate themselves with: “underdog”. Which is probably why this was such a popular pick for the Bears before the draft even began.

“Roquan Smith is the truth, man,” Louis Riddick, former NFL personnel executive and current ESPN analyst, said April 16. “The kid is a player in every sense of the word. He should be a Pro Bowler very quickly.”

Riddick wasn’t the only one. I’ve heard and read a number of local reporters and fans slobber over the prospect of the Bears drafting Smith. They conjure up images of Mike Singletary’s awareness with Brian Urlacher’s sideline to sideline speed.

However scouts and coaches whose careers are on the line can’t afford to let their hearts rule their heads. Underdogs have no place in the game until they prove themselves. At which point they aren’t underdogs any more. That’s why this pick is only so-so in my book.

Because you know what else you can’t teach? Size. Roquon Smith may have gotten himself up to 235 pounds but he’s got a small frame that played last season at 225. All that instinct stuff is great until a 310 pound offensive guard that moves like an angry rhino lays his body on you in the middle of the defense and blows you out of your hole.  That’s when reality sets in.  And I’ll take reality over the ephemeral and mystical any day of the week. And it’s something that happened to Smith more frequently than anyone would like just at the college level. When it happens to you with any frequency in the NFL, you’re still an underdog fighting to survive the odds. And you might always be one right until you find yourself out of the league.

In fairness to the Bears, there were no really excellent picks for them in this spot. This was a terrible draft for first round talent. The three no brainers, Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb and Quinton Nelson, were all gone and all they had left to choose from was a group of deeply flawed players, any one of whom could have been taken anywhere between 7 and 15. Even with Smith’s lack of physical upside he was as good as any of them and I’m fine with the pick.

And I can imagine a scenario where the Bears compensate for Smith’s weaknesses. Put some big linemen in front of him like nose guard Eddie Goldman and defensive end Akiem Hicks, maybe they occupy the blockers and leave Smith free to roam. It should be interesting to see what defensive coordinator Vic Fangio does and I’m looking forward to it.

But don’t tell me Smith is something he’s not – elite, clean selection who is sure to bring the defense to the next level. He’s not. That’s your heart talking. He’s just another dirty, underdog prospect in a 2018 draft that is full of them. Unless and until he shows otherwise.

Interesting Points From a Well-Done Mock Draft

As I wrote earlier in the month, I participate in a yearly mock draft with representatives from the 31 other teams. Though not any better than most mock drafts in terms of the specifics, this draft has annually done a pretty good job of predicting general trends in terms of what kinds of players will go where.

The initial draft was run in late March just before my post and indicated that four quarterbacks would go before the Bears pick at #8 overall. This would have been an ideal scenario for the Bears. Unfortunately, die to events that took place just after that time, it was decided to re-draft. Although the results weren’t quite as good for the Bears, it is still of interest to take a good look at what happened. Here’s the way the first 7 picks broke down:

1. Cleveland Browns Samuel Darnold QB USC
2. New York Giants Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
3. New York Jets Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
4. Buffalo Bills Josh Rosen QB UCLA
5. Denver Broncos Bradley Chubb Edge NC State
6. Indianapolis Colts Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Derwin James S Florida State

This did not leave me with a lot of palatable choices.

The way I see it, this draft has three really good players: Barkley, Chubb and Nelson. The best of all worlds is if one of these guys falls to the Bears. That’s unlikely to happen, even if four quarterbacks do go in the top seven, which didn’t happen here. The best chance the Bears have is that the teams in front of them decide they don’t value offensive guard enough to take one that high and Nelson drops to them. I’m not holding my breath.

The rest of these non-quarterbacks from about the 4th best player to about the 15th best are the same guy – talented but very flawed.

I considered three players at this pick. Ultimately I went with Tremaine Edmunds. Edmunds is big and athletic and, at only 19 years old, he has a ton of upside. With a father that was an NFL All-Pro tight end, he also has the blood lines. The drawback is that he wasn’t all that productive in college, having only 5.5 sacks last season. That’s a little disturbing if you are drafting him as an outside pass rusher, which I am.

Many will argue that I should have taken Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith here and I did think about it. Smith has good speed and good instincts and he’s a particularly popular pick amongst members of the local media. What few of those media members point out is that Smith played last year at 225 pounds. That’s really small and it showed in his play as he had a hard time taking on blocks against the run. And that was in college. In fairness, he’s gotten himself up to 235 pounds but he’s still going to be very under-sized and I couldn’t bring myself to take a risk on him.

The third guy I considered was Alabama safety Minka Fitzpatrick. Not taking Fitzpatrick may have been a mistake on my part because I like him a lot. He played at Alabama with current Bears safety Eddie Jackson and, like Jackson, is probably as pro ready as you can be. I think Fitzpatrick has the highest floor of the three players I seriously considered.

There were two drawbacks:

  1. Like Jackson, he’s really a free safety. I still think either he or Jackson would be an upgrade over strong safety Adrian Amos. But Fitzpatrick isn’t a perfect fit.
  2. He’s not known for having good ball skills, having had only one interception in 2017.

I had something special in mind when I considered Fitzpatrick – the big nickel defense. This is a nickel defense but with a third safety instead of a third cornerback. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had good success with this formation when he was with the 49ers. At the time he had Jimmy Ward to play that third safety spot but he really hasn’t had anyone like that since he’s been with the Bears. Fitzpatrick might fit this defense to the as the versatile third safety.

In the end, I kept it simple and went with the best player at a position of need: Edmunds. But it wasn’t a slam dunk.

Other interesting things to come out of this draft that fans might want to keep an eye on Thursday night:

  1. Our reps avoided drafting quarterback Josh Allen like he had the plague. He dropped to the Redskins at #13 overall. I get it. The lack of accuracy is scary. But I’ll be surprised if this guy doesn’t go in the top 6 picks.There is a reason guys like Allen rocket up the board the minute coaches start to get involved in the draft process. The scouts look at the whole package and evaluate what they see. But there’s no doubt about the fact that there are all kinds of coaches in the league who are saying, “Look at that arm! I’m a great coach and I can fix the rest.” In fact, if I read Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson right, he’s pushing for Allen as we speak. I can’t see general manager John Dorsey letting him have his way with Sam Darnold on the board, though.

    Football coaches are not known for their humility. Four quarterbacks in the first six picks. It may take at least one trade for it to happen but it still looks to me like it’s practically a lock.

  2. Five guards went in the first round, which is practically unheard of. Admittedly the position has become increasingly important as coaches have given more value to the idea that quarterbacks have to be able to step up into a clean pocket. I’ll be interested to see if Isaiah Wynn, James Daniels and Will Hernandez find their way into the first round. It seems to be a high position of need for a lot of teams.
  3. Only two defensive tackles, no tight ends and, even more surprising, only one offensive tackle in the first round. Again, practically unheard of. These are evidently extremely weak positions in the draft along with wide receiver. Lots of teams with big needs here are going to come up short unless there’s a lot of talent in the later rounds that I’m not seeing.
  4. It’s going to be really interesting to see where Denzel Ward falls. Out mock has predicted the Packers at 14. That’s pretty low. Most seem to think he’s going in the top ten. I have my doubts. At 5’11″ you’d really like him to be a couple inches taller.It says here Josh Jackson goes before Ward. We’ll see.
  5. Courtland Sutton went ahead of Calvin Ridley, who dropped to the Seahawks at #35 overall. This is going to be another interesting situation to watch. At one point, Ridley was going to the Bears at #8 in a lot of mocks. I wonder if his fall in our mock reflects how our respective teams actually feel.The wide receivers in this draft are really weak. It doesn’t look like any of them really has the stuff to be a #1 guy. I think we’ve valued them correctly and some people are going to be surprised.
  6. Vita Vea went to the Dolphins at 11. For the Dolphins that’s a reasonable pick because they’re going to need a run stuffing defensive tackle without Ndamukong Suh. But having said that, he brings very little pass rush having made only 3.5 sacks in 2017. I wonder how many teams are going to want to draft a guy like that in the first round. He’s going to be a guy to watch.
  7. Marcus Davenport fell to the Lions at #20 overall. I saw him going earlier than this. He’s raw and from a small school but see my comment about coaches in comment #1 above. I’ll be surprised if he gets that far.

Should be a great night.

Bears Draft Party a Good Time for Everyone Except the Players Who Attend

Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes defensive end Akiem Hicks on what he thinks of the NFL draft:

“Asked Tuesday whether he at least takes a glance at the ubiquitous prognostications of whom the Bears might select with the No. 8 pick, Hicks shook his head.

“’I hate the draft,’ he said. ’Somebody coming to replace me? No. I haven’t watched the draft since I was in it (in 2012). Let’s put it that way.’

“So no thoughts, Akiem, on what the Bears can add in the draft to enliven the defense?

“’I don’t like the draft, dude,’ Hicks reiterated. ’I always like to see the same faces. I’m superstitious, but I also like things to stay the same to an extent. I like to see the same faces and have that camaraderie already built up.”’

Hicks’ attitude is hardly surprising and the only real mystery to me is why anyone would would expect anything else.

Hicks’ comments reminded me of the minor disaster that took place last year when quarterback Mike Glennon was invited to attend the Bears Draft Party last year only to see his eventual replacement taken #2 overall. It was quite a shock to Glennon who, up until that point, thought the team was 100% committed to him. It arguably was such a blow to his confidence that it practically doomed him to suffer a miserable start to the season and the eventual loss of his job.

So you’d figure that the Bears learned their lesson from this debacle and that they’re done inviting current Bears players to the party only to see their eventual replacements drafted, right?

You’d be wrong.

Among the invitees this year are back up running back Benny Cunningham, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski and linebacker Roy Robertson-Harris. All could be sitting and watching their eventual replacement either in the lineup or on the roster be drafted. Not that anyone is safe. Glennon’s situation certainly proved that as no one expected the Bears to draft Mitch Trubisky. These are just the invitees who are in the most immediate danger.

I think Hicks is 100% right. It’s cruel and unusual punishment to ask players who have had their bodies used up by the NFL to watch the Bears select younger, healthier, cheaper players to replace them.

ESPN Predicts that the Bears Will Go 0-16. Let’s Start Planning the Parade Now!

Of all the “news” that the NFL releases to great fan fare throughout the year, I’ve always found revealing the league schedule to be the most worthless. Not that it isn’t important – fans all over the country are planning trips around games so they can see their teams. It’s just that all of the all of the who-ha is so over done.

Of all of the things that are traditionally done with this piece of news, the game-by-game prediction for the season for each individual team perhaps is the worst. Predicting wins and losses for an NFL season when anything can happen on any given Sunday and teams routinely go from miserable to the playoffs in one offseason is almost totally without merit.

Having said that, this exercise does give you a chance to see what the rest of the NFL thinks of your team. You can look at what beat writers outside of your area are predicting and get a pretty good feel for what expectations are. ESPN, in particular, provides a glimpse as they require each of their beat writers to do a game-by-game prediction.

So what do the writers outside of the Chicago think of the Bears’ chances this year? Not much. ESPN writers have predicted that the Bears – get this – will go 0-16 next year!

That’s right, according to ESPN we’re in for a season for the ages. On a schedule that includes the Jets, Giants, and Tampa Bay, not one NFL win.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Packers – L
Seahawks – L
Cardinals – L
Buccaneers – L
Dolphins – L
Patriots – L
Jets – L
Bills – L
Lions – L
Vikings – L
Lions – L
Giants – L
Rams – L
Packers – L
49ers – L
Vikings – L

For what it’s worth (not much), Bears neat writer Jeff Dickerson has the Bears going 7-9 after beating the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Jets, Giants, 49ers and splitting with the Lions.

Given what the other beat writers think of the Bears, I’d say we can take that as an upper limit. But even a cynic like me doesn’t see 0-16. It takes the collective genius of an ESPN hive-mind to predict that.

Thankfully, Nagy Can’t Be “Candid” About What He Doesn’t Know

Adam Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times on new head coach Matt Nagy’s apparent lack of willingness to talk about the Bears position in the 2018 NFL draft.

“As candid and open as Bears coach Matt Nagy was during his news conferences at his first mini-camp, he remained tight-lipped about one subject.

Don’t ask Nagy too much about the NFL Draft because he won’t say too much.

“He’ll be as sly as a John Fox.

“What’s Nagy’s sense for the caliber of players who could be available at No. 8?

“’You can ask [general manager] Ryan [Pace] that one,’ Nagy said with smile. ’He’s the expert.”’

A couple things here.

First, though it was subtle in this case, I’m tired of hearing Jahns and others bash John Fox for his unwillingness to give anything away by talking too much to the local press.

It doesn’t make its way into the papers, themselves, that much if for no other reason than because a good editor wouldn’t allow it. But the complaints have been rampant on any podcast many of these guys spend any time on and they haven’t entirely stopped with Fox’s firing.

I get it. He made your job a little more difficult. But I don’t want to hear you whine about your problems any more than you would want me to walk into the newsroom and spend 10 minutes every week whining about mine.

Fox was afraid to say too much and said too little as a result. Again, I get it. But his first job was to win. Providing story lines for the press was secondary.

I might add that although Nagy might be saying more, he’s not that much better than Fox or any other head coach in the NFL.

When asked about the fact that defensive end Leonard Floyd wasn’t able to participate in last week’s mini-camp, Nagy played dumb, claimed he wasn’t concerned, that he didn’t know where Floyd was at in his recovery and that it was something for the training staff.

Your best outside linebacker and practically the only decent pass rusher currently on the roster sprained his knee, couldn’t play the last six games of the season and now, four months after the last game, he can’t even participate in a mini-camp. And you aren’t concerned? You haven’t spoken to anyone about where he’s at in his recovery? Really?

Wow, how candid. Gee, what a breath of fresh air. [eyes rolling]

Give me a break.

Second, on the more positive side, Nagy’s non-comment on the draft does signal something that I like to see. It means that the organization is probably leaving the draft to Pace. Not that Nagy doesn’t have input. He absolutely should. You don’t want your coaching staff stuck with players they don’t believe in.

But in the end, you want the draft to be in the hands of the people who spend their entire year preparing for it. And if you are Pace, you should certainly play your cards close to the vest and keep everyone, including Nagy, on a need to know basis. He did that last year, apparently not telling Fox he was drafting Trubisky until the last minute. And rightfully so, as Fox apparently had a habit of running to his friends in the media with such information. Nagy might or might not be better but no one can leak information they don’t have.

In this respect, the Bears are running the organization the way it should be run.

Rashaad Coward Move to Guard Shows the Right Kind of Thinking

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Can you give us a little information about Rashaad Coward moving to guard? How often do things like this work out? I can’t think of any Bears moving positions like this in recent history. Curious what they saw in Coward. — @djjaco10

“When the Bears were strapped for offensive linemen in practice last season, they briefly moved Coward to the other side of the ball. He caught the attention of the organization at that point. There was discussion during the offseason about what to do with the undrafted player from Old Dominion, who appeared in one game for the Bears as a rookie. Should they allow him to compete at nose guard as a potential role player behind {Eddie Goldman} or give him a shot with a position switch? The decision was made to flip him to guard. It’s certainly interesting, given his 6-foot-5, 320-pound frame and his ability to move. There’s no question it will take some time, and position switches for undrafted players are long shots. Let’s be realistic: The odds already are stacked against undrafted players. The Bears liked the way Coward worked last season, though. A similar transition worked for the team with former defensive tackle-turned-right tackle James “Big Cat” Williams — although that was a quarter-century ago.”

This move caught my eye as well and I consider it to be a good sign.

I’m not a big fan of the this head coaching hire. Head coach Matt Nagy was an offensive coordinator for only two years and he’s called plays for only a half of a season. He’s never installed an offense.

But one thing a new head coach brings, especially a young one, is new ideas and (slightly) outside the box thinking. This is an example of that. Need a left guard? Don’t necessarily think the guy you have can do the job of that you’ll get a good draft pick? Why not look at the players at other positions and see who you can try?

Coward has the right body type and he won’t need to be as athletic at guard as he would have at defensive tackle. He wasn’t going to start there and you really aren’t losing that much defensively. On the other hand, if the team is very lucky, he might at guard.

I like it. I like it a lot.

Many Factors to Consider When Thinking About Bears Decision Not to Match the Offer For Cam Meredith

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Can you please explain this whole restricted free-agent thing? So the Bears tendered an offer to Cameron Meredith. He goes looking for an offer sheet. What would have happened if no one made him an offer? Does he remain a Bear? Does he have other options? I’m trying to make sense of all this talk of Ryan Pace messing up with the tender level he offered to Meredith. Did he really mess up? Should he have offered a higher tender? Did he misjudge Meredith’s worth on the open market? Or was this the right tender level to make? — John J., Parts Unknown

“Restricted free agents are players with three accrued seasons. An accrued season is defined as one with six or more regular-season games with the team. Yes, time on injured reserve counts toward this. Many of the players that become RFAs were undrafted when they entered the NFL, like Meredith. That is because draft picks are signed to four-year contracts and when a player has four accrued seasons, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. An an RFA, Meredith was allowed to shop for offers (an offer sheet specifically) from other teams. If no one had offered Meredith an offer sheet, his only option would have been to sign the tender the Bears made him at $1.9 million and play for them this season. Had the Bears elected to place a second-round tender on Meredith at a cost of $2.9 million, it’s safe to say no team would have signed him to an offer sheet because they would have had to fork over a second-round pick as compensation. At the original-round compensation ($1.9 million), the Bears receive no compensation because Meredith was undrafted. If the Bears misevaluated anything here, I think they figured other teams would not make Meredith an offer based on the medical evaluation of his knee. Obviously, there’s a difference of opinion between the Bears and the Saints when it comes to the health of his knee and his value in the immediate future — this season and in 2019. If Meredith is productive in New Orleans in 2018, it will be fair to say the Bears made an error by not using the second-round tender to secure him. You also have to consider what his projected role in the offense would be. Allen Robinson is the clear No. 1 and he’s also recovering from a knee injury but one that is not quite as involved (one ligament damaged as opposed to two). Taylor Gabriel has been paid big money and the Bears insist they will have plenty of work for three tight ends. Figure they also keep a fullback — the Chiefs have used one in their offense — and you have a lot of skill-position players in the mix.”

It appears that they believe that Meredith was simply not a lock to make the roster. That could either be because of the knee injury or because he only had one productive season and they weren’t convinced he could stain that production. One or both seems to me to be most likely.

Having said that there are other potential reasons.

The Bears are already committing a lot of cap to the receivers. Without Meredith, the Bears are committing the fourth most cap dollars to wide receiver league-wide. Some teams don’t believe in sinking an excessive amount of cap into one position regardless of the overall cap situation. That could be a factor.

I was listening to Hub Arkush at Pro Football Weekly on a podcast and he brought up the possibility that the Bears made this decision because they are depending upon former first round pick Kevin White to be the second wide receiver (with Robinson as #1 and Gabriel as the slot receiver). Physically Meredith and White are similar.

I would find that last thought to be disturbing for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that White apparently didn’t look very good even before the injury last year. The thought that Pace would be so stubborn about protecting his former first round pick as to actually deceive himself into thinking the Bears could depend upon him this year is not a very happy one for the future of the franchise under the GM.

There’s a lot about this I don’t like. We’ll know if the Bears made the correct evaluation when we see what Meredith does for the Saints this year.

Welp. At Least the Bears Future Doesn’t Depend on Mike Maccagnan.

Manish Mehta at the New York Daily News answers your questions:

“Did they trade three second-rounders to move up three slots to take a pipsqueak QB from a spread offense? They should be sued for gross negligence if that is the case. — @BigOliveri

“The Jets quarterback decision is absolutely fascinating. My understanding is that it’s a fluid and complicated situation. Shortly after Gang Green traded with the Colts to jump up to the No. 3 spot a couple weeks ago, I touched base with folks on One Jets Drive to get a better handle on the motivation behind the deal.

“The people in the organization that I spoke to loved Baker Mayfield’s fire, competitiveness and leadership, but thought he was a tick below Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen at that time. However, they cautioned that there was still an important part of the evaluation process that included Pro Days — and more importantly — the impending private workouts and visits to Florham Park.

“Make no mistake: The Jets are currently divided on which quarterback to take at No. 3. Oh, sure. The team will invariably try to sell us that (INSERT DRAFTED QB HERE) was the top choice all along, but I’ve heard enough varying opinions about these four quarterbacks from inside the organization to know better.”

“If you would have told me on April 4, 2016, that the Jets would have drafted Christian Hackenberg in the second round, I would have called you coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs since just about nobody other than the GM wanted to take the Penn State quarterback that high.”

First, Mehta is one of my favorite NFL writers outside of Chicago. I subscribe to the Daily News in the Apple News app on my iPad more or less just to read his articles. He’s pretty funny and often spot on.

I, too, thought general manager Mike Maccagnan’s selection of Hackenberg in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft was “coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs”. Although I usually settle for the more mundane “insane”. Hackenberg was a fourth round flier if I ever saw one and to set him up as the potential franchise quarterback there was pretty nuts and I did say so at the time.

The specter of the Hackenberg selection has to be still with you if you are a Jets fan for a couple reasons.

First, Hackenberg was selected for his physical characteristics – big, tall player with an arm to match but not the production. So stiff that he was strictly a pocket quarterback with little mobility. If you are guessing which player in the draft matches that profile, its probably Allen. He’s more athletic than Hackenberg but he’s got a big arm, worked from the pocket in a pro-style offense but lacked production and accuracy. If you are a “he’s got all the physical characteristics and we can coach him up” guy, as Maccagnan appears to be, then he’s the guy to keep an eye on there. Rosen would be a close second as he appears to be the quarterback who projects to be the best pocket quarterback.

Second, and this is the biggie, if a guy who selected Hackenberg is still there to select your franchise quarterback this year, you have to be quaking in your boots. You’d better hope that past history doesn’t predict future results because that was not a decision that inspires confidence.

Most people I know around the league actually pity Bears fans. I pity Jets fans.*


*OK, and Browns fans.  But that’s it.

Would the Bears Trade Jordan Howard?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

What’s up with these Jordan Howard trade rumors again? He deleted every picture off of his Instagram relating to the Bears, how serious might this situation be? — @zberg034

You might be better off asking the folks who produced the rumors to get a better answer on the speculation surrounding his future. There were a ton of inquiries about Howard on Wednesday and to my knowledge, there’s nothing going on with Howard’s roster status. I don’t follow Howard on the Instagram machine so I can’t speak specifically to what was there before. You learn to never say never and not be surprised by a whole lot, but right now I don’t believe anything is happening with the running back.

I also am not an Instagram guy as I feel like I’m forced to give away enough of my information already. But having said that, this does sound like a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” situation.

Let’s be honest. Howard has a tough time holding on to passes and he’s going to be expected to be able to catch them in the offense under new head coach Matt Nagy. I’ve heard it said that with Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham on the roster that the position is “well rounded” with each back having a role. But I don’t buy that. You can’t limit the play call nor can you provide potential tips to the defense based upon what back is lined up.

Cohen is going to have to become better at catching the ball and I would not too shocked to see the Bears take a running back in the draft if the right one fell their way. At that point, you’d look for them to trade Howard. In fact, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Howard had already gotten word about a deal that the Bears had worked out ahead of the draft, hence the deleted pictures.

Personally, I hope this doesn’t happen. First I think the pass catching weakness is overblown and that it’s entirely possible that some good coaching could make Howard at least adequate out of the backfield. Second, as much as I value pass catching out of the backfield, its hard to find a good, powerful back with the vision that Howard has. They don’t seem to me to just fall out of trees.

But the Bears may have something else in mind.