The Bears Still Have a Lot of Work to Do. And Other Points of View.

  1. The most puzzling move of the draft was the Falcons taking Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8. I wasn’t surprised a team thought the Washington quarterback was worth a top-10 pick. Coaches I’ve spoken to have always been way more effusive about him and his film than many on social media. Coaches really like his arm talent, how he reads coverages, his sharpness and the resiliency he’s displayed in his college career. But I was convinced the Falcons needed to go defense at the top of their draft. Instead, a franchise that just invested a fortune in Kirk Cousins took Penix.

I am a big believer in Penix, but this fit seems curious to me. He’s about as ready to go now as any quarterback in this class. He’ll be 24 soon. Sitting and potentially waiting for two or more seasons doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I, personally, upon reflection did not have a big problem with this pick. I see this as a Packers type move where Atlanta took their guy and plans to develop him behind Cousins in the same way that the Packers developed Jordan Love behind Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, he’ll be 26 before he’s ready to play if they keep Cousins around as the starter for a couple yers. But that still gives them 10 years of franchise quarterback play if he works out the way that they think he will.

What struck me about Atlanta draft is that it very much reminded me of the way that Falcons Director of Player Personnel Ryan Pace handled the process when he was GM with the Bears. He would fall in love with a player and then overpay to get him. I thought they may have done that with Penix here.

But the pick that had Pace’s name written all over it was in the second round when they traded up to get someone called Ruke Orhorhoro. If the media experts were anything close to right, this player was nowhere near the kind of second rounder that Atlanta made him into. I have a vision of Pace pounding the player for this player and insisting that they “act with conviction” and trade up, convinced that the rest of the league saw in him the mirage that Pace saw.

There is an off chance that Pace and the Falcons will turn out to be right about this player. But that won’t make it any less of a reach in terms of the draft value.

Fortunately for the Bears, Pace is Atlanta’s problem now.

  • I was disappointed that the Bears decided not to provide videos of the various area scouts who were responsible for the reports on the various prospects this year. In the past, these videos have been informative as the scouts typically had time to provide more detail on the prospects than Bears GM Ryan Poles could give.

Fans may remember that a scout who gave one of these interviews last year garnered national attention from media members with an agenda who interpreted his comments as being racially offensive. Its a shame that this had to ruin this part of the draft coverage for those of us who appreciated it.

  • I didn’t have a problem with the Bears selecting Kansas defensive end Austin Booker with a fifth round pick, though he’s definitely a developmental prospect who, at 245 lb, is going to have to gain weight if he wants to be anything better than useless against the run.

What I did have a problem with is trading a 2025 fourth round pick to get him. Admittedly it wasn’t like they traded away a second rounder but when you identify a prospect here that you have to have so badly that you are willing to pay a premium to trade into the future to get him, I think it shows a lack of discipline. Though the Bears have drafted some productive players in this round in the past, fifth round picks are getting into long shot range. There shouldn’t be one there that you have to have that badly.

5/6. Quinyon Mitchell & Cooper DeJean, DBs, Philadelphia Eagles

Mitchell’s playstyle: Off-man corner with elite recognition and click-and-close ability.

DeJean’s playstyle: Versatile defensive back who can line up anywhere.

Scheme: Two-high, soft zone system.

Mitchell played a lot of off-coverage at Toledo. Some of his best highlights are him reading a play and firing off like a missile to make a play on the ball or a big hit. Eagles defensive coordinator Vic Fangio uses a lot of soft zone or off-man coverage to disguise his coverages. Mitchell fits like a glove in Fangio’s system. The Eagles’ pass defense trotted out one the oldest pair of starting corners last season — Darius Slay is 33 and James Bradberry is 30. Adding a young, athletic corner in Mitchell will bolster their secondary and give them some options.

A staple of Fangio’s defense is starting in two deep and rotating into different coverages to repeatedly give quarterbacks the same pre-snap look and then changing the picture post-snap. DeJean’s versatility and ability to cover man-to-man would add a dynamic to Fangio’s defense that he hasn’t had.


p>The Eagles might’ve had my favorite draft. These two defensive backs fit the scheme like a glove. How are you GM Howie Roseman gave Vic Fangio a lot to work with here.

However, it should be pointed out that safety is a very also important position in Fangio scheme, as well as linebacker. These are the two positions that are most involved in creating the blurry looks that Fangio specializes in. It’s the players in the middle of the field who do most of the hiding in defenses that move post snap. How they play determines how the defense is arranged. So the Eagles may still have some work to do.

One Final Thought

Some local pundits, particularly those at the Chicago Sun-Times, are stating that they expect the Bears to be a playoff team in 2024. I find this assertion to be off the mark.

Yes, the Bears will be better on offense with the addition of wide receiver Keenan Allen and D’Andre Swift and what we hope will be an improved center position. But:

  1. they will still be short on pass rush with only Montez Sweat able to do so to a competent level.
  2. they are counting on Gervon Dexter or Zach Pickens to become the three-technique defensive tackle that is the engine that makes the defense go.
  3. they will have a rookie quarterback and their third receiver will be a rookie with literally no one behind him.
  4. the depth throughout the roster is lacking and the odds that the Bears will be as healthy in 2024 as they were in 2023 are low.
  5. the Bears went 7-10 against one of the easiest schedule strengths in the league in 2023. Once again, the odds that the 2024 season schedule will end up being on a similar level are low.

The Bears are not done building this team. I think if you are a Bears fan you should be looking for improvement in the performance of the team. But expecting the playoffs is setting the team up to fail.

Is the Difference Between Caleb Williams and the Rest of the Pack Really That Great? And Other Points of View.

Everyone seems to think WR Keenan Allen is only a one-year deal barring an extension. The Bears spent more than a franchise tag would cost for a WR in 2024. So couldn’t they tag him next year if they don’t draft (or have success with) a WR? It would equate to about 2 years and $45 million total.** — @duhbearscar

Anything is possible, but if you look at the history of the franchise tag, it’s hard to find many examples of players entering Year 13 getting that treatment, especially wide receivers. The tag for wide receivers could get a decent bump in 2025 if players such as Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Brandon Aiyuk, among others, sign new contracts.

If Allen has another super-productive season, and certainly that’s the hope, the Bears could entertain the idea of a one-year deal. They’d be paying for future production — not past performance — and would have to feel strongly that he would be worth north of $20 million in 2025. There would have to be some kind of gap in negotiations for it to lead to a tag situation.

Keep in mind the Bears could desire at least the availability of the tag for left guard Teven Jenkins. Of course, that would be hugely dependent on his performance in Year 4 and the state of negotiations (assuming there is an attempt at them). I’d say chances of Allen being tagged in 2025 are low.

One other thing to consider here is the matter of the compensatory pick if the Bears simply let Allen hit the market.

The Bears traded a fourth round pick for Allen. The compensatory pick after a good year by Allen would allow them to get that back and they would have gotten him for one year only at the price of his $23 million salary.

It’s not my money but I think that would still be a pretty good deal.

If one of the top three receivers, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze, is available after Tennessee picks at No. 7, do you think it’s likely that the Jets or some other team with a lower pick will try to trade up and beat the Bears to such WR?** — Jerry L., Chicago

That’s an interesting question and my hunch is one of those receivers will be on the board at No. 8. I would be pretty surprised if three came off in the top seven picks. Bear in mind, three wide receivers never have been selected in the top eight picks in the history of the draft.

Figure three quarterbacks, two receivers and one offensive tackle will go in the top seven picks. That means one more quarterback, one more O-lineman, one defensive player or a wild card such as Georgia tight end Brock Bowers has to come off the board to leave a receiver sitting there at No. 8.

Could someone be motivated to move ahead of the Bears? Sure. Would the Atlanta Falcons be willing to trade out of No. 8 with a team seeking to move up for a receiver? You have to think the Falcons would listen. Could the Bears jump up one spot in that scenario? It depends on who the receiver is and the price of the move. You present a compelling scenario, and it’s possible we’ll see a good bit of wheeling and dealing in the top 10

The problem is that Atlanta needs an edge rusher. If they want Dallas Turner they’re not going to be able to trade back too far. That’s going to limit their options. In terms of getting a partner.

If that happens, then a wide receiver, probably Odunze, will be available for the Bears to take at #9. The consensus seems to be that they will stick there in that case and take him and that’s probably what they would do. But it really depends upon what separation, if any, you see between Odunze and the next group of wide receivers.

Its reportedly a deep wide receiver group. Furthermore, you could argue that such a pick would be an example of future planning. You’d be taking a guys to develop while Keenan Allen serves his year with the Bears. So he wouldn’t necessarily need to perform at a super high level right away.

Is the reason most people don’t keep Brock Bowers’ name in the talk about the No. 9 pick because of the rookie pay scale for top-10 picks? As a follow-up, could you explain the scale for us heathens? I know it’s complex, just a spitball kind of explanation is good enough. — Tim G.

The issue is positional value. If Bowers is the 10th pick, he would command a fully guaranteed salary of roughly $21.3 million over four years. Compared with what the elite tight ends earn (the top five average about $15 million per year), there isn’t as much surplus value as you’d get if you drafted a wide receiver, an offensive tackle or certainly a quarterback when you look at what the top players at those positions are paid.

It’s an interesting discussion and it comes down to how teams value Bowers. Do they believe he can be as productive as the league’s top players at the position?

Yes, it’s an interesting question but, personally, I very much doubt that this kind of thing is factoring too much into the decisions teams are making.

If you need a tight end and you’re going to be using one on the field for a good percentage of the plays, then there isn’t a lot of reason not to take one in the top 10. If you believe in him, of course. How good player is should certainly trump everything else.

The question as to be whether Bowers is good enough to be a different maker rather than the question of the amount of money that you’ll save on a rookie contract. If you think he’s a difference maker you take him regardless.

I might add that Bowers probably isn’t mentioned much in connection with the #9 overall pick because the Bears are pretty much set at tight end with Gerald Everett and Cole Kmet. The chances that they would spring for another tight end that high seem very low to me.

  • One more final question for Biggs:

With this being the year of the QB, why are the Bears so enamored with Caleb Williams? I am not sure if he will be Tom Brady or Peter Tom Willis, but I do know that history is rife with “can’t miss” busts in the draft. I cannot understand not trading down at least to No. 2 and garnering some other draft capital. If Williams turns out to be Hall of Fame worthy and the QB the Bears take at No. 2 is only good, but they also are able to get more picks for the draft this year or next, what’s the foul? — Scott B.

In basketball terms, you’re looking at a technical foul. In hockey terms, you’re looking at a match penalty. In baseball, it would be an ejection, the ol’ heave-ho.

I don’t care what kind of draft capital the Bears could acquire from the Washington Commanders for moving down from No. 1 to No. 2 if it’s a difference between “Hall of Fame worthy” and “only good.” A Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback could have the Bears positioned to be a Super Bowl contender for a decade. A good quarterback could help put them in the playoff mix when the rest of the roster is pretty good and healthy.

Elite quarterbacks raise the level of play of everyone around them. I don’t know how Williams will perform as a rookie. I don’t know how developed his game will be in 2026. I do know the Bears have royally screwed up the position time and time again, and this opportunity comes at the intersection of a calculated move by Ryan Poles last year and some serial mismanagement by the Carolina Panthers. That’s good fortune that needs to be put to use.

I, along with most people, agree with Biggs here. If the difference is between Hall of Fame or the and good, it’s malpractice not to take the Hall of Fame worthy.

The problem is that, like the questioner, I’m not so sure that is the difference. My impression is that Caleb Williams isn’t the kind of sure thing that some of the other quarterbacks that have come out were. Think Andrew Luck. But Williams is certainly being treated like he is.

It isn’t a question of whether it’s the difference between Hall of Fame worthy and good. It’s a question of whether it’s the difference between good and good.

A Deep Wide Receiver Class Means that the Bears Can Wait to Take One. And Other Points of View.

  • Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren spoke to the media about the Bears stadium situation. The Bears are looking to build a new one and Warren gave the impression that he was concentrating upon something happening in the city of Chicago rather than in Arlington Heights where the Bears are in a dispute with the municipal government over taxes. Via Colleen Kane at the Chicago Tribune:

“I’m a very pragmatic and practical individual,” [Warren] said. “And if we have difficulty trying to negotiate what the tax amount is, knowing how difficult the entire project is, I had to take a step back and say, ‘If we can’t even figure out what the taxes are, we’re going to have a very difficult time coming together and working on (a memorandum of understanding) or PILOT legislation or any kind of legislation to make this work, and then the construction.’

“And so I thought it was important for us to still be respectful of each other, take a little break from each other. And for us to make it very clear that we’re focused on Chicago now. But again, I have great respect for the leaders in Arlington Heights. We still are, I believe, the largest land owner in Arlington Heights. And I’ll continually remain in communication with them. But our focus now is on Chicago.”

We’re going to hear all over the place that the Arlington site is dead. But it doesn’t sound that way to me.

When I see the words “take a break“ that indicates to me that they aren’t done talking.

The Bears were a little bit too anxious about focusing on the Arlington site to begin with. Bringing Warren on board was a good idea. It seems that his first priority once he hit town was to create a competing site. I’d say he has successfully done that.

Now it’s a question of negotiation. if I had to guess I would say the Arlington site still wins out. The potential for the development out there and the potential for the Bears to own their own stadium has to outweigh any advantages to being on the lakefront, at least as far as the organization is concerned.

Do you expect a Keenan Allen extension? — @jlil10_

I’d be surprised if this is high on the to-do list at Halas Hall right now. I don’t know why you would rush into an extension for a player entering his 12th season who is signed for $23 million this year, especially when it’s possible the Bears could draft a wide receiver in the first round. As I’ve written previously, the Bears probably need to redo DJ Moore’s contract before they approach Allen about an extension. They also might have to figure out what they want to do with left guard Teven Jenkins.

Is it possible they work on a contract with Allen during the season? Sure, that could happen. But I’d want to see how he plays first before kicking around that idea. One nice thing about this situation from the team’s perspective is that Allen should be supremely motivated to play at a high level this season while eyeing one more good-sized bite at the apple.

Allen was reportedly offered an extension by the Bears and he turned it down. He is, therefore, probably looking for a big haul in free agency in 2025.

I’ve got some doubts about whether this will happen even if Allen plays this year like he did last year in Los Angeles. Allen will be 33 years old at the beginning of the 2025 season. Is anyone going to negotiate a big contract for a receiver that age?

Many mock drafts have the Bears at No. 9 taking Rome Odunze, the most likely of the supposed top three wide receivers to be available at that point. Odunze is talented, but doesn’t he largely duplicate what they already have in DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, possession receivers lacking elite deep speed? Perhaps that argues for trading back, but since that’s highly contingent on finding the right partner, shouldn’t they focus on (along with edge) adding the deep speed they currently lack? Brian Thomas of LSU or Xavier Worthy of Texas? You might debate whether that’s too high for Worthy but I don’t believe it is for Thomas, whose talent has been somewhat overshadowed by Malik Nabers. — Dennis R.

In my most recent mock draft — take it for what it’s worth — I had the Bears selecting Odunze with the ninth pick. It’s a mistake to label Moore as a possession receiver. While he’s not a pure vertical guy with stunning speed, he does everything really well. He can work the middle of the field and use his strength to create separation. He also can take the top off a defense. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands. The Bears view him as much more than a possession receiver.

As far as Allen, that’s probably a fair label at this point, but he’s really crafty when it comes to getting open and that clearly drew the Bears’ attention when the Los Angeles Chargers shopped him. The Bears think he could be terrific for a rookie quarterback. The thing is, Allen is 32 and under contract only for this season. When you’re looking at what to do with the ninth pick, unless you’re under a win-now mandate — GM Ryan Poles clearly is not — it’s advisable to think two, three, four years down the road. Who will replace Allen in 2025 if he’s not on the Bears?

I think the questioner has the right idea here.

According to media “experts” (take that for what its worth, too) the wide receiver class this year is very good and very deep. Most have anywhere between 17 and 20 in their top 100 prospects.

I like the idea of future planning at the position, as Biggs suggests. Wide receivers sometimes take some time to develop and rookies may not perform optimally. Having one in development behind Allen might not be a bad idea.

But if you are going to do that, it might make sense to try to find a trade partner and move back. There are supposedly plenty of fish in the sea here.