Posts Tagged ‘Alex Brown’

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September 13, 2009

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Pre-Season Indications: The Pass Rush Is Back

September 2, 2009

While most fans and analysts agree that the pre-season isn’t a great indication of how things will go, I’m going to step up and disagree with that assessment. Having seen all three of the Bears’ pre-season games to this point I can clearly say without much hesitation that the pass rush is back.

The Bears’ defense struggled last year against the pass, and it was the main reason they missed the playoffs. Meanwhile in 2009 the CB situation is far from settled and most fans would prefer to see a ball hawking free safety back there, the bottom line is thee success of this defense starts with the front four.

The top off-season priority was to find a way to fix the pass rush and to do it without overhauling the current crop of defensive lineman who were so successful in 2006 together. Enter Rod Marinelli one of the preeminent defensive line coaches in the league, if not the last couple decades. Marinelli’s resume speaks for itself although most Bears fans see only 0-16 and the coach of the Detroit Lions.

However Lovie Smith knows Marinelli well and knew that he was just the guy to fix the front four. There was a reason Smith called him the biggest free-agency acquisition of the 2009 off-season. Marinelli is a motivator of men, and is all football all the time. Toss in that he may be one of the best teachers of the game and is a disciple of the Tampa-2 defense and the choice was an easy and obvious one.

I predict and can say that it has already paid huge dividends for the Bears’ defense. While most fans remain skeptical the fact of the matter is the Bears’ pass rush has improved and it has improved drastically. The Bears currently rank eighth in the league with a pre-season total of 11 sacks. So? It’s the pre-season come the naysayers, fine but consider the opponents the Bears’ pass rush has looked the best against, the Giants and the Broncos.

Then the naysayers come with “the Broncos only allowed one sack the entire game”. Yes I’m aware of the stat, but the Broncos’ offensive line was also the cause of numerous holding penalties. A sign that the Bears’ defensive line was particular aggressive and dominating to the point that they had no choice but to grab and hold.

The Broncos mind you were the best offensive line in the league in pass protection last year. The Broncos only allowed 12 sacks on the season which good for first overall. Part of this has to do with Jay Cutler’s ample mobility and the other part would be they simply were good. Considering how many pass attempts the Broncos and Cutler attempted last year you can certainly see just how well they were in protecting the passer.

Cutler attempted 616 passes last year and was sacked the aforementioned 12 times. An average of 1 sack every 51 pass attempts. A phenomenal stat in pass protection for the Broncos. Yet the Bears’ offensive line did well to attack that well protecting front.

Not only are the sack totals up during the pre-season the intensity level is up. The D-Line seems to never quit on the pass rush and it shows. If one player gets the penetration forcing the QB to step up or move around in the pocket, typically someone else is there to make the sack. The front’s motor never seems to stop where as last year if they were stopped on their initial moves they seemed to just stop.

There is a clear difference in motivation along the front four. A never ending collective effort to get pressure and they have been successful. What also is a healthy indication is it’s not just the starters that have performed well. The backups have been just as intense and just as focused. Add on that the Bears will use a healthy rotation among the 11 members of the front four they could keep and the future looks bright.

There seems to finally be an intense focus as well as a realization of how important the “rush men” are to the success of the defense. The line has bought into what Marinelli is yelling, but more importantly they are learning from what he is teaching. The improvement to this point, has been visible to the untrained eye and that has the makings of what could be a very exciting season of Chicago Bears football.

Defense Dominates as the Bears Win 17-3

August 22, 2009

The Chicago bears looked like they were in dominant mid-season form. The offense looked as good as it did in the early stages of 2006 when the Bears made their Super Bowl run. Nearly 300-yards of total offense, a 92-yard touchdown scoring drive, big runs from Matt Forte including a big touchdown run. Complete destruction of a Giants team that is a Super Bowl contender out of the NFC.

Yes we need to reel it in and realize it’s only the pre-season but the flashes of excellence are there by the starters. Both offensively and defensively the Bears stepped up and made plays. Their execution was top notch with only a few shaky plays here and there in what was overall something that made the Bears look like a Super Bowl contender.

If there was a way for the Bears to play like this against for 18-games this team will not lose a lot of games. Sure they had some trouble tackling the big Brandon Jacobs, but they swarmed to the football and stopped the Giants cold.

Some brief criticisms would be Devin Hester misjudging a deep pass, one questionable pass by Cutler on a slant and Frank Omiyale missing a major block on a linebacker that led to a run only gaining one yard.

On the flip side Hester did make plays, Cutler made great throws and was able to use his athleticism to roll out and make throws and Omiyale made a big block later on that sprung Forte for a touchdown. On defense Urlacher had trouble squaring up on Brandon Jacobs, but later dropped him for a loss once he got low on him. Kevin Payne made a huge pass break up on a third and long and pressure come consistenly from the defensive line. Alex Brown caused a fumble, and Adewale Ogunleye got a sack.

If this is a sign of things to come the Windy City will be buzzing with excitement well into January 2010.

The second half was more of the same for the Chicago Bears, at least on defense. The offense didn’t get anymore points on the board but they did play well. Caleb Hanie solidified himself as the backup to Jay Cutler.

The defense all the way around dominated the New York Giants getting consistent pressure on their QBs. Whether it was Mark Anderson or Henry Melton the Bears got after the QB. If you were to point to an example of Rod Marinelli’s influence it would be tonight in this game for four quarters the line played and played hard.

Dusty Dvoracek stood out and made plays in a game he likely needs to stake his spot on the roster and did as much playing through to the whistle on one sack he made. There was just a mentality on the defensive line that had been lacking for the past two seasons that is back in full effect now.

The defense finished with five sacks on the night, but that doesn’t even begin to cover the amount of carnarge the “rushmen” caused in the backfield. Time after time Giants QBs had lineman in their face and were unable to set their feet or make even a good throw to their receivers. Knockdowns, pressure, QBs with happy feet it was just an all around exciting game.

Overall this is the type of game the fans of the Monsters of the Midway have been waiting to see, and must be happy to witness. Optimism will only get stronger after tonight as the Bears march forward to what will hopefully be a great 2009 season.

Absurd Level of Criticism After Bears Lose to Bills

August 17, 2009

The reasons why I chose to start this blog came into full view after the Bears’ pre-season loss to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. The media, and some members of the fan base have a major problem when it comes to watching football games and have a short memory when it comes to watching a game. People tend to focus on the negative and completely gloss over the positive.

So I have to come in here with my platform and add my knowledge and analyze the facts and try to make those as clear as possible for Bears fans and Chicago media types alike. You won’t often get a fair and balanced approach and the media usually likes to stir up crap when nothing exists.

Example would be the Urlacher Cutler story on the first day of camp to the now Jay Cutler putting the blame on Devin Hester for not making a play on the INT that happened in front of him. The media especially in Chicago like to make mountains out of mole hills. We have a mountain and molehill situation right now after this loss.

While the Bears didn’t play a perfect game versus the Bills, it’s important to note a few things.

1) The Bills started practice a week before the Bears did

2) This was the Bills’ second pre-season game

3) The Bears were without three of four starters in the secondary

4) Struggles in the secondary were expected even before Trent Edwards complete 10 of 10 passes, most of the dump off variety.

To hammer home some of my points with the non-believers and the negative nancys already out there, I’ll back up my points.

Trent Edwards’ 10 pass completions out of 10 attempts performance that was good for 79 yards in the game. Edwards had a completion to Lee Evans for 36 yards. Take away Nathan Vasher getting burned, and say it’s 9 out of 9 for 43 yards. Nine completions at 43 yards is an average of slightly less than five yards per completion. There is why Edwards was so accurate in his throws and why it looked like the Bears were getting blitzed via the pass the same way as last year. If Edwards had only completed nine out of nine for 43 yards I don’t think everyone would be as upset as they are now.

Another point of focus, the fourth quarter when the Bills won the game by scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Bears’ scrub defense. Hamdan and Fitzpatrick were a combined 17 out of 24 the previous week against the Tennessee Titans. Against the Bears the pair combined for 18 out of 28 and in both games the Bills made their run in the fourth quarter.

Now would a Bears fan look at that game and that performance by the Titans and level the same amount of criticism towards the Titans? Most certainly not because the Titans have always had a consistently good defense and they get a golden ticket pass go card the old “it’s just the pre-season” excuse.

What we do know by looking through just the stats is that the Bears’ defense did very well against the Bills. Trent Edwards completed many passes of the dink and dunk variety, through a pretty good pass rush. A pass rush the Bears didn’t mount much of last year was evident in this game. The Alex Brown sack came from a great collapse the pocket rush from Israel Idonije up the middle. The move forced Edwards to step to his left right into the waiting arms of Alex Brown. The intensity level of the defensive line was also on another level. Last year the line looked lackadaisical and almost like it didn’t care. The motivation to get a rush and to be aggressive wasn’t there.

Now you can tell that there is Marinelli’s intensity there. From Anthony Adams to rookie Jarron Gilbert and Dusty Dvoracek in between, the line is ready to rock and get pressure.

Also we saw Brian Urlacher shoot a gap and make a tackle the way Urlacher used to. He was also pretty aggressive in coverage as well.

The player of the game on defense was likely Al Afalava. The rookie stepped up early and often in the game and made four tackles overall. His astute instincts and aggressive tackling style looked reminiscent of Mike Brown. All positive signs the direction the defense is heading in for 2009.

Chicago Bears Training Camp Report Day 3

August 2, 2009

While the defense has stolen the show for the most part of the first two days, the offense didn’t want to take that lying down on day two.

The passing game continues to find it’s groove with both Jay Cutler and Caleb Hanie getting in on the action. Cutler was overall sharp while Hanie continued to shine and show a high level of improvement over last year. Hanie has the arm strength to get the ball down the field and the accuracy behind that rocket to make big plays in tight spots. It looks as though they are the one and two (Cutler obviously) but Hanie is running away from Basanez. Honestly it’s not even close at this point even when Basanez improves his accuracy he still seems to get picked off once a practice.

On the offensive line Chris Williams is beginning to show signs of being fully healed from his back surgery last year. On top of being healthy Williams has shown the talent that made him the Bears’ first round selection in the draft last year. While most fans are skeptical given the recent lack of overall success with first round picks, Williams seems to be fighting as if his job were on the line. He’s had a few pancake blocks here and there and has been solid in pass protection as well. Williams has also been talking with a chip on his shoulder with the media. He seems to be fuming somewhat that they (the media) helped anoint a bust before he played his first real game.

The Bears need stability along the offensive front, especially at offensive tackle and it’s Williams and Pace that are attempting to do just that. The severely disappointing play from the offensive line last year really hampered the Bears’ success in both the running game and in pass protection. Now Williams seems intent on changing that and earning his pay check.

A bit of a surprise thus far has been the success of Lance Louis as a second team LT. Louis has shown that he may be a capable back up, at least from the early going of camp. Free agent signee Kevin Schaeffer is showing why the Bears signed him in the first place. Also playing with a high motor and a lot of intensity. Schaeffer was noticeably solid in the first pads practice and showed up again today. If for any reason Williams goes down Schaeffer is more than a capable back up in his place. On the flip side Williams would likely flip to the left side in place of Pace and Schaeffer would move up to starting RT.

At wide receiver Earl Bennett and the coaching staff may get the last laugh. Bennett is showing the signs that Jay Cutler and the coaching staff have been talking about from the get go. Bennett put a nasty double move off of a pump fake on Nathan Vasher and hauled in a pass 40-yards down the field from Cutler. Bennett also snatched the ball out of the air on a diving reception that brought a roar from the crowd. Bennett’s consistency is the most promising sign and it really helps that he shows to showing the signs of the same rapport he had with Cutler at Vanderbilt. ’08 may have been a wasted year for the rookie, but ’09 could be a year that makes the fans forget all about that.

With Juaquin Iglesias struggling to adjust to the pro level, the need for Bennett to step up his game and show why he was a third round pick is even more apparent. Iglesias had the first drop of the practice tonight and has made too many drops for our liking. Most people are beginning to ask who exactly was the third round selection and who was the fifth round selection between Iglesias and Knox. Knox is taking to the game like a duck to water, continuing all the great catches and route running he showed in OTAs. Further cementing his status on the team and moving up the depth chart to second team WR.

On defense Pisa Tiniosamoa is another player showing why the Bears were excited to sign him. He has laid the wood to both Garrett Wolfe and Kevin Jones on more than one occasion. Even at the smallish 224-pounds Tiniosamoa has made up with it with his intensity. Still you have to worry about things a bit when your strong side linebacker is tipping the scales in the range of some safeties.

Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer took the day off for the most part with the veteran injury excuse of “general soreness”. This gave Jamar Williams the reps with the first team defense at the WILL ‘backer spot. Williams got popped pretty good by Olin Kreutz towards the end of practice. Williams is another player that has been the story of OTAs showing that he’s versatile enough to play all three LB positions while being the first player to come off the bench if an injury occurs.

Perhaps the best excitement of practice was the debut of the Wildcat formation or the Cane formation as the Bears are calling it. Devin Hester lines up behind center with Cutler split wide and fireworks happen. It’s just another reason to get Hester the ball in space or on a misdirection play that let’s him use his speed and moves in the open field.

As I predicted in an earlier article rookie Al Afalava is moving up the ranks in the secondary. He’s moved up to take reps with the second team defense. Even though Afalava was only around for a week of OTAs, he is out there showing off why the Bears are essentially experts at finding solid talent late in the draft. The more Afalava improves the better for the overall health of the secondary.

Unfortunately the secondary is not all stable. Nathan Vasher has been described as looking like a first year player, getting lost in coverage and beat by younger receivers. The sixth year veteran may very well be participating in his last Chicago Bears training camp. Coupled with his injury problems and his lack of consistent play Vasher looks like he’ll like be supplanted by Zack Bowman once Charles Tillman returns to reclaim his starting job.

At this point it’s one person’s opinion, although he has a lot of overall backing from everyone else in attendance in practice that there is absolute new attitude on the D-Line. The Rod Marinelli effect is being felt and the players continue to rave about as much as the media does. Adewale Ogunleye stated this is the first time he’s been able to implement what he’s being taught into real game situations (via game film). Alex Brown has taken to Marinelli’s approach like a duck to water. Not surprising given Brown naturally plays like Marinelli coaches. Rookie Jarron Gilbert is showing why the Bears are excited about his potential. Gilbert is versatile strong and very fast, he’s taking to the intensity. One observer made the comment that some D-Lineman have a tendency to look like Tarzan and play like Jane, while Gilbert is Tarzan on both counts.

Israel Idonije is looking like a slimmed down beast. Down 40-pounds from 306-pounds to 266-pounds. This gives Idonije a fierce burst off the ball and his already impressive power is magnified by the speed he possesses. This could be Idonije’s coming out party this year and it’s none too soon to have happen.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

Chicago Bears Training Camp Day 2

August 1, 2009

By all accounts coming out of Bourbonnais today’s first practice in pads went well for the Chicago Bears. No injuries to any major players although DT Matt Toeaina came up limping and later had his knee wrapped. All players who were supposed to practice were suited up and ready to go. If Toeaina’s injury is of any significance it likely spells the end of his career as a Chicago Bear.

This is good news after hearing the report that Tommie Harris was limited this morning during the workouts. His knee will likely never be 100-percent but as long as he’s taking up space in the middle of the defense and making some plays here and there I won’t complain to much. The situation with Harris is what it is.

Elsewhere along the defensive line Alex Brown uncorked a nasty bull rush on Orlando Pace in pass rush drills. Brown knocked Pace over on a fierce move that sent the future hall of famer flat on his back. Brown joked about it after practice that it shouldn’t be mentioned because “I don’t want him killing me out here tomorrow.” This type of play by Brown is typical though even against a stud like Pace. There aren’t a lot of guys that have kept Alex Brown from wreaking havoc in the backfield the past few years.

Sure we would like to see higher sack totals from Brown, but his play against the run has been invaluable and has won the Bears more than one game. Last year especially against the Eagles on the fourth and one play from the goal-line really sent a message.

Elsewhere Jay Cutler looked sharp making big throws to Greg Olsen, Devin Hester and the newly adapted Earl Bennett. Bennett is starting to show some consistency in his play on the practice field. Giving hope for the future and reason to pay close attention to him in the first pre-season game of the season.

Olsen made more than one nifty catch today and he is proving to be the go to guy for Cutler we all thought he would be. The third year in most NFL players’ careers is usually they really break out and it seems that Olsen is right in line after the first two practices to do just that. Olsen made a circus catch between Danieal Manning and Brian Urlacher in coverage.

If they were going to give out a game ball for practice today it would undoubtedly go to second year CB Zach Bowman. Bowman was making a lot of plays today, poking a way a nice reception that Devin Hester hauled in. Picking off Cutler on another pass. All around Bowman was just making solid plays today showing that he is ready to take full advantage of the opportunity he’s getting with Charles Tillman out.

Bowman made his second INT of the young camp season, and earning rave reviews from Lovie Smith two days in a row. If it keeps up Bowman could really push Nathan Vasher who struggled a bit yesterday and wasn’t mentioned at all today according to various sources. Bowman has been running with the first team defense and has been taking full advantage of it. This is very good news to hear out of the young player and shows once again that Jerry Angelo can find good defensive backs in the later rounds of the NFL draft.

Back on offense the Bears are giving Kevin Jones a lot of reps with the first team offense. Jones has slimmed down a lot and his burst of speed is back. Having a full off-season to work out and focus on getting in football playing shape versus rehabbing an injury has benefited Jones. The Bears know that they need Jones to be healthy and productive to help keep Matt Forte fresh for the stretch run. Jones getting used to running with the first team offense is a positive sign for the Bears.

Jones is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, same as Forte making sure that the Bears don’t lose that dimension on offense when Forte takes a seat. If Jones can even revert slightly to his old form, it will be a great coup for this offense. Cutler will help to take the load off of Forte yes, but hte best rushing teams in the NFL lately have all had two productive running backs. Just like the Bears had with Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones during the Super Bowl run. If Forte and Jones can both be productive the Bears will be in a solid position to win a lot of games.

In another positive sign for the defense Brian Urlacher picked off a Cutler pass and returned it for a touchdown. What Urlacher does in camp may not matter much to most of us considering his veteran status. However when they line up against the Packers it will be interesting to see exactly where he is at health wise and if he can be a top linebacker in the NFL going forward. There is little doubt that Urlacher is still the leader of this defense and his play will only benefit everyone around him.

Pisa Tiniosamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer both made some nice plays today. Tiniosamoa popped Kevin Jones in a nice run between the tackles. Hillenmeyer picked off a Cutler pass showing that he is back and healthy and likely won’t give up his roster spot without a fight.

More on offense Josh Beekman continues to be the starter penciled in at LG. Beekman according to the much maligned K.C. Joyner was a solid guard for the Bears last year. Performing quite well even though it looks as though Omiyale will eventually take his place. Beekman though will not go down without a fight likely pushing ahead and making Omiyale’s job even tougher. This is the level of competition you want to see on an annual basis during training camp.

Lastly seeing the high lights of Jay Cutler throwing passes in practice is absolutely phenomenal. Sure those passes don’t count for much right now, but it’s still a thing of beauty to behold. His rocket arm and the tightness of his spiral really changes the entire mood and spectrum of this franchise. He has made solid completions to Devin Hester on more than one occasion and you can see the ease at with which Hester is able to haul in Cutler’s throws. It doesn’t matter what type of route it is whether it’s a deep pass or a pass over the middle between the zone coverage. Cutler makes all the throws makes them crisp sharp an on target.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

53-man battle royale: Mark Anderson

May 15, 2009

Where have you gone Mark Anderson of 2006? The rookie sensation who had 12 sacks over 16 games as a part time starter for the NFC Champion Chicago Bears. Anderson also caused four fumbles on his way to a run at the defensive rookie of the year honors.

However if you closely examine Anderson’s 2006 season you find that his success came in spurts, but also came against some of the worst pass protecting offenses in the league for that year.

When you break it down, Anderson had 8.5 sacks against teams that were in the bottom ten in the league in sacks allowed on the season. Anderson had 2.5 sacks against the Detroit Lions, 2.0 against the Buffalo Bills, 2.0 against the Seattle Seahawks, 2.0 against the St. Louis Rams, teams that were just awful in pass protection in 2006.

With this type of production against teams that were this bad at protecting the passer it’s easy to see how Anderson’s numbers were so inflated. Feasting against the worst pass protecting teams is exactly the reputation Anderson built for himself.

So the question is will he be able to better take advantage of Rod Marinelli’s arrival and get back to that level of production?

I find the likelihood of that to be highly unlikely. Anderson has some natural pass rushing ability, but there isn’t one aspect of his game that he does very well. He has decent size to be a weak-side pass rusher at 6-foot-4 255-pounds. But he is under-sized by the regular standards of what would be considered ideal.

Anderson’s speed off the edge is also not very impressive for a player who needs to be making his living off of rushing the QB. While he may have the most speed off the edge of any player on the Bears’ roster, it’s inadequate. Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye have average speed at best when it comes to running the curve.

While Brown has superb closing speed and both the starters hold up well against the run, getting to the QB is the weak point of their games.

You can even argue that Ogunleye has given up at this point in his career given how big of a failure he has been in Chicago.

Anderson further hurts himself by not being able to hold up well against the run thus limiting his role to a third down rusher. As a starter Anderson was man-handled against the run making it easy for teams to run at him.

The only plus side of Anderson’s failure was the fire it lit under the ass of Alex Brown. Brown has in turn become one of the best DEs in the league against the run. Brown saved the game against the Eagles with his fourth and one stop on the goal-line.

With the arrival of both Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton Anderson may be on his last chance to be a part of the D-Line rotation. Both the rookies have attributes that Anderson lacks. Also by virtue of their draft standing this year they are both guaranteed a spot on the roster.

So the battle for Anderson may be for his very NFL career this year. With Marinelli here, and a load of competition behind him it’s Anderson’s year to put up or shut up. If he doesn’t show signs of big things in the pre-season you will likely see him not a part of the Bears’ final 53-man roster.

NFL Draft Combine Updates D-Lineman and LBs

February 24, 2009

Getting back into the combine we come to the coverage of some of my favorite players in all of football. The defensive front seven, war hogs of hell. I’ve grown up a Chicago Bears fan, so it’s easy to see that this is just naturally in my blood to root for and watch these gladiators. It’s simple really the Bears didn’t get the nickname “The Monsters of the Midway” from their history on offense.

With that said I plan to keep a close eye on the DEs and some of the LBs because whether Bears fans are ready to admit it or not it maybe time to start looking for a player who could push Urlacher for playing time, and perhaps be the future. Urlacher got old fast by football standards and we may only get one perhaps two decent years out of him production wise.

First up in the 40-yard dash is a player that has been mentioned a lot around here. DE Michael Johnson from Georgia Tech who has all the athletic measurables in the world by all accounts, but apparently needs a heart transplant. I however am of the opinion that if he has first round type talent and dips to far into the 2nd or maybe even the third round he may be to tempting to pass up. A lot of people questioned Simeon Rice’s heart for a number of years when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, but Rod Marinelli got a lot out of him during his tenure in Tampa Bay. Johnson’s measurables are similar in stature at 6-7 266-pounds.

As expected Johnson blows it up in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.66. That’s moving down the line for a player of his size. Most LBs can’t run that fast. He looks the part that they say, he’s built, cut, trim, well proportioned…he has it all…..lub dub, lub dub….lub dub aside.

Next up is a four-year starter at DT from Iowa Mitch King. Mayock instantly addresses the heart issue with Johnson by comparing him to King who is a white farm bred boy who’s 6-1 281. “I tell you what if did a heart transplant between Johnson and King you would have a Hall of Fame DE.” King is a kid who is really to small to play DT, to big to play DE, but he just flat out makes plays.”

King definitely looks good running his 40-yard dash doing so in 4.81, which is pretty darn good for a DT prospect. I’m with Mayock you can’t coach heart or work ethic so you’d like to hope that King winds up somewhere and has a good career. You root for the guys that just love to battle in the trenches and epitomize every work hard superlative compliment you can throw out there.

One of the heroes from the Sugar Bowl victory for the Utah Utes steps to the line for his 40-yard dash. 6-4 263 DE a RS Sophomore for the Utes. Mayock rates him as #5 on his list of top DEs in this draft. Paul “Freddy” Kruger runs a 4.84 in the 40-yard dash. Like what you see from a kid who has spent his entire career underrated, undre recruited, and under respected. Perfect fit as a later round selection if he lasts that long runs a 4.84 40-yard dash.

Someone that definitely triggers debate is up DT from USC Fili Moala 6-4 308-pounds. Loved by the likes of Mel Kiper Jr and especially Todd McShay. Played next to and benefited from the production of Sedrick Ellis from USC last year. A prospect that I haven’t always felt was as highly regarded as McShay or Kiper Jr crowed about. I’m able to separate USC generated hype from actual production. Moala IMO is that type of player not as consistent or as dominant as he should be for a player rumored to be as talented as he is.

Just as I finish typing this it’s precisely what the two ex scouts from the NFL Network get into. They talk about how he is a high level talented guy but you just don’t see enough out of him to be blown away. Moala gets down the line in 5.14 in the 40-yard dash. Average among DTs just another thing that says what I’ve been saying all along about USC football players. Are there great ones that come out of USC? You bet, Sedrick Ellis was one of them I had him ahead of the Glen Dorsey last year. However things in the NFL always tend to even themselves out amongst players and some of the Trojans end up being exposed.

As I finish typing about a Trojan yet another one steps to the line. Kyle Moore 6-5 272-pounds, yet another manufactured hype player from the Trojans. He goes out and runs an acceptable 4.82 40-yard dash.

So the question is why do the USC guys dominate so well in college week after week. Simple they don’t see even remotely good OTs on a week to week basis. They may see one to three good guys a year that measure up as talented OTs. But then they run into the Arizona State’s, the UCLA’s the Wassu’s the U-Dubs who don’t have even a remotely decent offensive tackle and they expose them. The Sun Devils and Bruins specifically have had O-Line problems for a number of years and last year was no exception. Plus people by default think that these two typically top of the Pac-10 schools would have a great OT. But they flat out don’t so the USC’s of the world expose that.

Next up is the stud from Texas Brian Orakpo who goes 6-3 263-pounds. Orakpo won’t be around long enough for the Bears to select and he immediately shows why by running a 4.63 40-yard dash. If scouts think he can play the OLB in a 3-4 defense they’re probably right when you can fly down the line in the 4.63 range.

BJ Raji is one of the most highly regarded DT maybe a nose tackle on the big board of just about everyone. Unfortunately if you make him take his shirt of you might be able to catch a wave off his stomach. Obviously at 6-1 337 he’s not going to be put together like a man of steel, but you would still prefer to see some sort of definition instead of a jiggle. He is built like a freaking tank though low squatty just thick throughout. I’ll give him props for throwing up 33 reps on the 225-bench.

This set of experts can’t get enough of busting Michael Johnson’s balls. They go in and show tape on the kid show how he got a pretty good push and defeated Eugene Monroe, but then gets taken out by a TE. Please let him fall in the draft just enough into the third round or so who knows. He could be valuable with running a 4.69 40-yard dash. Buyer beware, but Rod Marinelli just might be the guy to get something out of him.

Is it redundant with my reporting on Johnson? Yeah I should perhaps move on to others.

Okay so Robert Ayers from Tennessee 6-3 272-pounds goes out and runs a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash. Highly regarded and highly rated by Mike Mayock, Mayock says “I have to see where he was at before his senior year.” Ayers may be a potential prospect that slips to the Bears.

A Northen Illilnois boy Larry English a great edge rusher 6-3 255-pounds. Mike Mayock likes him a lot said he dominated the Minnesota Golden Gophers the first game of the season. Extremely talented edge rusher one of those tweener types that could play DE or LB in the NFL. A lot of the fast DEs in college are a wee bit undersized by NFL standards so there are a bunch of them that look like Lawrence Taylor, Devon Ware type 3-4 guys. English gets down the line in a pretty decent time of 4.77.

The intriguing thing is though these under-sized DE types seem to be the type of DEs that Lovie Smith favors even while running his 4-3 defense. Neither Alex Brown or Adewale Ogunleye are Bruce Smith or Reggie White type DEs.

In the end what the Bears need anyway is speed off the edge.

Everrette Brown from Florida State is another one that may just happen to fall to the Bears. If the perfect storm happens as the Chicago media mentions and all the OTs, WRs and Safties are off the board by the time the Bears select there is a plethora of pass rushers that would fall to them. Brown is 6-4 252-pounds and goes and runs a 4.63 40-yard dash. So while I say the Bears should not take a pass rushing DE on day one, if a great one happens to fall and keeps on falling and all the other high need prospects are off the board then take the needed value at 18 cut Ogunleye and save yourself some cap money in the process.

Connor Barwin from the Cincinnati Bear Cats goes 6-4 255-pounds and runs a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash time. Yet another tweener edge rusher type who if you put his hand in the dirt would be a good DE in the cover-2 defense where pass rushing is a must.

Barwin will be available later in the draft possibly outside the first round to where the Bears can snatch him up after they take an OT at 18 because guys like Orakpo, English, Brown will already be off the board by 18.