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September 13, 2009

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The Bears trade the 49th pick in the draft to Seattle

April 25, 2009

The Chicago Bears made a move downward as had been rumored by the Chicago SunTimes this morning the Bears traded the 49th pick in the draft to the Seattle Seahawks.

Trying to recoup picks from the Jay Cutler trade landed No. 68 in Round 3 and No. 105 in Round 4 from Seattle.

The trade means the Bears will not be selecting on the first day of the NFL draft today. We’ll have more on possible selections later tonight. Looks like the Bears may go with a WR in the third and address more needs on defense in the third and the fourth rounds.

Angelo came out and said that the Bears did try to get a deal done for Anquan Boldin. They spoke at length with the Arizona Cardinals but were unable to come to an agreement.

They had hoped things would fall better for them regarding some of the WRs they were targeting. They were obviously looking at Nicks, Robiskie and Britt. Two of those three went in round one, Robiskie early in round two and Mohammed Massaquoi went #50 to the Cleveland Browns immediately after the Bears traded 49 to Seattle.

Some of the other players off the board include Phil Loadholt the OT from OU, Sherrod Martin the safety from Troy, William Beatty the OT from UConn, William Moore the safety is off the board. Paul Kruger the DE from Utah is now off the board as well as David Veikune a DE from Hawaii I covered extensively at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The trade means the Bears will not be selecting on the first day of the NFL draft today. Looks like the Bears may go with a WR in the third and address more needs on defense in the third and the fourth rounds.
We’ll have more on possible selections later tonight.

Chicago Bears Draft Day Thoughts

April 25, 2009

This is as close to a mock draft as you’re going to see out of me today. I honestly just don’t see the point of making a wild prediction or even a slightly educated prediction about every team that is likely to select a player today.

However given that I have been steadily covering the Bears’ draft needs and off-season activity since Day-1 of the NFL combine I will provide just some thoughts of how this day and the draft may develop for the Chicago Bears.

First of all I’ll cover some basic thoughts on the needs. The Bears obviously need a wide receiver, an offensive lineman with a bit of versatility (able to play more than one position) a free safety and a pass rushing threat.

The good news is there is a plethora of talent available at those positions that are likely to be there with the Bears select at the 49th pick overall in the second round. Most Bears fans who have followed this blog and other media outlets covering the draft hype up until this point know precisely what I am about to write next and for the most part everyone is about unanimous on the idea of who the Bears should take if things roll as we all hope they do.

There is a group of wide receivers that I have now taken to calling the big three. Not because they’re the three best WRs in the draft, nor the biggest players overall. They are the big three because they have been talked about and scouted and analyzed extensively by myself and just about every other Bears outlet. The big three are obviously Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks and Brian Robiskie, players that we hope and pray will fall out of the first round. All three are considered first round worthy selections, but the good news is not all three will be drafted in the first round. The question is if one of the three goes in the first round will the other two quickly follow in the early part of the second round?

That’s the ultimate and primary question Bears fans want to know and they’ll follow closely as the draft wears on. Most fans will be out working hard today with spring clean up projects, fertilizing the lawn, pulling up thatch, clipping off dead parts of plants and trees. All the fun stuff you do on a Saturday during the spring. Then the draft will start later this afternoon and fans will sit and start to watch the coverage on the NFL Network or ESPN. Each time a WR is taken off the board in this draft fans will start to grind the gears as to what the possible implications are for later in the draft.

Most fans hope that a lot of the first round is dedicated to players who don’t necessarily fit the needs of the Bears. Three QBs going in the first round would be a positive development. A slide in the draft by Percy Harvin would definitely hope the Bears out. A few DTs going in the first round would help out the Bears so on and so forth.

The key to the entire draft may be what happens from about pick 22 to 48 for the Bears. That is the area of the draft where members of the big three are most likely to go. A span of 27 picks that could arguably make or break the draft for the Bears in 2009.

Dream scenario: The members of the big three fall out of the first round leaving 17 picks between the Bears and landing the wide receiver needed to help put this offense over the top for the next three to eight years. One of them is left on the board at 49 the Bears make that selection and then start planning to fill the rest of the needs from the third round on.

Likely scenario: One or two of the big three will go to either the Colts Giants, Vikings or Titans. The Colts would like to find someone to replace Marvin Harrison and while not a lot of experts have the Colts grabbing a WR in their draft slot, no one predicted Anthony Gonzales would be the pick a few years ago either. The Titans have been working hard to get a receiver the entire off-season. Every time the Bears are mentioned as a suitor, the Titans are usually named in the same report. The Torry Holt sweepstakes, the Anquan Boldin trade talk, the Titans are in the mix. I have a feeling that either Britt or Robiskie will be the pick at 30.

What to do if all three of the big three are off the board? Well the Bears will not likely touch one of the next two receivers on the board that they have been linked to the most. Juaqin Iglesias and Mohammed Massaquoi while second round worthy are just as likely to be there at 99 as 49. That’s a lot of players between then and now.

Plan B: If the big three are gone the Bears can go after safeties Louis Delmas and Rashad Johnson, DE Michael Johnson or OT Phil Loadholt or Guard Duke Robinson. There is also talk of other pass rusher types being available af 49 that the Bears may look at. Larry English, Lawrence Sidbury are two that may be thoughts at that point in the draft if they fall that far.

Plan C: Trade down a way into the later part of the second round, grab a safety like Patrick Chung from Oregon and add a second third round pick. If the nine players most closely linked to the Bears are gon at 49 it may be a good time to consider trading down in the draft to avoid making a reach. Recouping a loss third from the Denver trade may give Jerry Angelo the chance of landing four future starters from this draft. Angelo’s plan is already to get three from the current crop of draft picks he has, the opportunity to add a possible fourth future starter may be to enticing to pass up if the value at 49 is gone.

The likelihood that one of the big three falls to the Bears at 49 is less than 50% and probably closer to 20%. Meaning that the other scenarios in this draft are a lot more likely. The Bears can get better value in the third and fourth round at WR if big three are off the board. Plus with other teams likely wanting to target players the Bears aren’t as high on, trading down remains a 50-50 option in my opinion.

You can’t escape the hype

April 25, 2009

Well sports fans it’s finally here, the day of the 2009 NFL Draft. The official end to the second season of the National Football League. Make no mistake this IS the second season. It may sound like silly cliche to explain the hype surrounding the NFL Draft, but make no mistake the league survives because of the second season.

Take for instance just the coverage that the draft gets on a monthly basis leading up to weekend of on ESPN. Mel Kiper Jr has a solid career and perhaps the most famous hair cut on TV because of the draft. With the invent of the internet the draft has taken off into a completely different world of hype and coverage.

Now comprehend the magnitude of the Mock Draft phenomenon a database by a Washington Redskins site lists 221 mock drafts. This doesn’t include all the updates that constantly occur from the end of the college football season until the day of the draft. Fans just can’t get enough of the draft coverage.

So the question is why? Well the popularity of the NFL for one. It’s the most popular sport in the U.S. and with all the marketing opportunities that stem from it appealing to the most marketable class of people in the country (18-35 year old males) it’s easy to see why an entire second season can spring up just from the draft hype.

The amount of draft hype is insane given the rare success of first round draft picks and the even further failure of draft picks there after. Less than 50% of first round picks wind up with a successful NFL career. But if you were to listen to all of the scouting experts just about every player drafted from one to seventy-five in the league will have a long tenured career of 10 or more years in the draft.

Then the level of hype is magnified ten fold over a period of roughly four months. Non stop coverage, talk of the combine, Pro-Days, personal workouts, private workouts, official visits, and analysis so thorough it would make the folks at NASA envious.

However even with the more recent recognition I have had in the fact that most players don’t live up to the hype I still can’t escape it. The Chicago Bears traded away their first round pick for the next two years in the Jay Cutler trade yet myself as well as many other Bears fans have not dropped in our collective level of excitement. I still want to see who the Bears draft at 49 and I’ll be faithfully watching the draft unfold pick by pick up until the Bears make their selection.

So while I recognize the gigantic level of ridiculous hype and the enormous lack of clarity shown by most fans and analysts and experts during this period of time. I still recognize it is the NFL and any football is GOOD football.

Prospect Preview: Juaquin Iglesias

April 23, 2009

Finally I get to writing a prospect profile on wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias from the Oklahoma Sooners. I didn’t want to do all of the prospects all lumped together I wanted to try and spread out their prospect previews over a couple weeks time. So I stalled and stalled on doing this write up.

Then I started to do more research on Iglesias who seems like he is quietly the Matt Forte of this year’s draft class. By that I mean the front office seems to like him a lot. They have thoroughly scouted him via the combine, private workouts and the Oklahoma Pro Day. He’s been one of the most talked about possibilities at 49 overall in the draft since the combine.

So I began to ask myself why, why is a receiver from Oklahoma so highly thought of when so many of them have bombed? The more I started to watch Iglesias the more film I watched the more of a sinking feeling I got regarding him possibly being in a Chicago Bears uniform. I’m now officially beginning to wonder if he is so highly rated because he’s from the Sooner nation. I mean his highlight reel isn’t anything spectacular. His production is nothing world beating, he had one big game against Kansas 12 catches for 191 yards ZERO TDs. He makes a lot of catches with defenders hanging on him, which is good but bad at the sametime because it shows he’s not getting a lot of separation.

So I’m looking for the one thing that makes Iglesias worthy of the 49th selection and I have yet to find it. He’s not overly 6-foot-1 210-pounds. He’s not overly fast 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, and his vertical leap isn’t overly special at 34 1/2 inches. So what is it that makes Iglesias an NFL worthy prospect?

He has decent production from 2008 74 catches for 1,150 and 10 touchdowns. His production improved from year to year and he was a three year starter for the Sooners. He sorta does everything average to good but nothing exceptionally well. He’s a good route runner, has good hands, is the same size as Hakeem Nicks so you can’t knock one guy and compliment the other for their size. He is who he is a prospect that is probably a better value later in the third to fourth round and you wonder if you getting a beneficiary of the hype machine that is Oklahoma.

They had a great offense in 2008 arguably the best offense of all time. Against some pretty mediocre competition and they were completely shut down in the National Championship game by the Florida Gators. So you wonder why do so many players get the level of respect that they do coming out of Norman every year?

Some guys just have the benefit of being a good player on a great team therefore that makes them automatically great players compared to the rest of the kids out there.

He has positive attributes that a lot of receivers have but nothing jaw dropping. He doesn’t seem as tough after the catch or even as fast as Hakeem Nicks. He’s not as big or as fast or as polished as Brian Robiskie. So while there is things to like about him, I’m just not feeling it regardin Juaquin Iglesias. If he ends up a Chicago Bear I’ll support him and hope for the best. But if he doesn’t end up sticking around in the league then I won’t be all that shocked either.

The Percy Harvin Effect

April 23, 2009

Word as most draft fans know is beginning to circulate that Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin tested positive for marijuana use at the NFL combine back in February. Harvin by most accounts is considered perhaps the most explosive offensive weapon in the draft and arguably a Top-15 pick in this weekend’s draft.

So already speculation has been building as to the possibility of Percy Harvin sliding all the way to the Bears at the 49th slot of the second round. I can answer this question emphatically and in a way that hopefully will put all of the speculation to rest, NO. Percy Harvin will likely not fall out of the first round of the NFL draft because to many teams see to high a value in him as a prospect and a player.

Charlie Casserly reported tonight on NFL network’s path to the draft show that three teams he already spoke with said that if Harvin begins to slide into their area he IS THEIR GUY at that draft slot. Surely they will have to answer to Harvin’s positive test, but the risk/reward factor for them will be to great to pass up. Harvin is an extremely valuable and multi-dimensional talent that will make a group of fan’s very happy when he does begin to fall in the draft.

For me personally I think Harvin is overrated and think he’ll be one of the 50-percent failure rates that happen every year in the NFL draft. I see Harvin and I see Peter Warrick from Florida State. The speed and the ability in the open field is uncanny and it’s why I look at him with a huge skeptical eye. For me the character concerns even compound the fact that I wouldn’t draft him all that high.

Now the next question generated by the speculation surrounding Harvin might be does he fall far enough to the point where the Bears can trade up to get him later in the first round? As I discussed in this previous blog post about the Bears’ trade options in moving up that idea is also nearly impossible. Most of the ammo the Bears had to trade up with they gave up in the trade for Cutler.

Now with that first part of this blog out of the way, there is reason to believe that Harvin’s positive drug test can positively effect the Bears’ chance of landing a good player in the draft at 49th overall.

A few scenarios I’d like to touch on real quick are pretty easy to follow and likely make the most sense regarding our Chicago Bears:

A) Percy Harvin could slide in the draft to a team that likely would have taken a Hakeem Nicks, Brian Robiskie or Kenny Britt.

What I am saying here is that the Bears have been targeting three solid receivers who project well not only for the Bears’ draft needs, but could have realistically slid to the 49th spot in the NFL draft prior to the Harvin news. Now that the Harvin news has come out there is a team in the first round that will pass on Percy Harvin for another player who has Harvin’s overall value in round one. They will grab the next best player that fits into their needs that is on their big board. This will cause Harvin to begin his slide in the NFL draft to a team that may be likely to take one of Nicks, Robiskie or Britt in the first round.

B) That team will draft Harvin instead of one of those three

Since Nicks, Britt and Robiskie will begin to slide in the draft as a consequence to Harvin’s sliding it means one of those three will be closer to where the Bears are drafting at 49th overalll in the second round. A team that would otherwise be taking Nicks, Britt, or Robiskie late in the first round will now pass on them. Taking Harvin late in the first round and causing the

C) The increase in the likelihood that Britt, Robiskie, or Nicks does fall to the Bears at 49.

There was already by most accounts a chance that one of the BIG THREE will fall to the Chicago Bears. The three that have been scouted over, discussed, profiled, worked out by the Bears coaching staff and scouting personnel over and over again. These three perfectly fit the type of receiver the Bears are looking for in the first place. They fit that role that is open opposite Devin Hester who more closely resembles Harvin’s game-changing explosiveness in the open field.

The likelihood has now increased, by how much? I can’t precisely say, and no one really knows. But the good news for right now is that helped the Bears out at least indirectly. Hopefully on Saturday it will be come a direct positive effect in which the Bears benefit by landing one of the big three receivers that we have been discussing since the end of the NFL scouting combine nearly two months ago.

Higher priority for the Bears wide receiver or pass rusher?

April 21, 2009

Right now both the wide receiver and pass rusher/under-sized DE position is one of the deepest pools of talent in this draft. Plus there is recent talk that certain pass rushers may be falling out of the first round and falling into the second round leaving the Bears on quite the quandary come draft day.

While there is little doubt that the Bears’ offense severely struggled due to the lack of a premiere pass catcher in 2008, conversely the defense lost games because of a lack of a pass rush. You can literally point to three to four games where a lack of a pass rush lost games where as the passing game was consistent enough to win games for the Bears. Plus the addition of Jay Cutler will only help the current roster of receivers improve.

All that is true but the most recent development is the recent talk that premiere pass rusher Larry English’s stock has begin to fall. Apparently at 6-foot-2 255-pounds English is to small to line up as a DE, but when you think to stand him up as a 3-4 OLB suddenly he’s to slow. Not a good problem to have if you’re Larry English, but a nice problem to have if you’re the Chicago Bears.

Why? Because English is a fearsome pass rusher, plain and simple he has speed of the edge and is going to succeed in this league. Pass rushers that are as explosive off the edge as English is are at a premium. If a team is foolish enough to pass English because he doesn’t fit into the ideals of size and speed then that’s their loss.

Another player who fits the mold of a Larry English who I can personally attest to being a great player coming out of college is Terrell Suggs at Arizona State. Suggs didn’t work out at the combine so all his eggs were in one basket at the his ASU Pro-Day. I was there personally to witness Suggs pro-day first hand with all of the NFL scouts in attendance including Bears’ GM Jerry Angelo. Suggs that day went out and ran his 40-yard-dash in the high 4.8 second range. He was as high as 4.87 on some watches and as low as 4.72 on other watches. But the consensus for Suggs was that 4.8 was as good as it was going to get for his 40-yard dash time. I personally clocked Suggs in the 4.93 40-yard dash that day in the hot sun on Astro turf at ASU.

So Suggs went from a sure fire top-five prospect to a player who steadily fell until the Ravens traded up to grab him. A few years later Suggs is a 3-4 OLB who is a consistent Pro-Bowl level player. That to me is the type of player Larry English is that burst off the edge, as Mike Mayock calls it running the arc. That is where pass rushing money is made, not in the 40-yard dash times that so many people zero in on, but that 10-20 yards a DE needs to run to sack the QB.

Two other players who fit into that late first round to mid second round category who could be considered pass rush specialists are Connor Barwin and Aaron Maybin. Both have that size at 6-foot-4 245 to 255-pounds but may fall in the draft because of their timing in the 40-yard dash or their raw abilities may fall. There is little doubt that three are pure pass rushers with threat motors.

Then there is the Brian Robiskie, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks problem. One of those three could fall as far as 49, but all three are deemed late first round worthy. There is the sense that the three together fall into nearly the same category, late first round to second round WR talent. They are among the 35th to 50th best players in the NFL draft in the scope of overall talent. They have been covered in Bears draft talk ad nauseam since the end of the NFL combine in late February. All three would be great big strong receiver who could work the underneath routes with Devin Hester taking care of the deep routes.

So while the consensus near unanimous opinion is that the Bears should take a WR with the second round pick at 49. The question is what do you do with a great pure pass rusher still on the board?

Prospect Preview: Hakeem Nicks

April 21, 2009

Hakeem Nicks is an intriguing prospect if there ever was one. He could have been a good pick up for the Bears at the 18th spot in the NFL draft or he could possibly even fall as low as 49th in the draft. There is no way to say where he is better in his game than either Kenny Britt or Brian Robiskie. The three fit well together for the type of receivers they are and the type of receivers the Bears needs.

For starters it’s hard to argue with Nicks’ production, his hands, his work ethic his run after the catch his route running all the things that are far more important than a guy like Heyward-Bey who has built his reputation primarily on speed. Nicks’ intangibles are greater than Heyward Bey’s and that is enough to sell me on him as a prospect. In our receiver combine report we picked up on the scouting report given by Colts GM and receiver evaluator extraordinaire Bill Polian who gave strong compliments to Nicks.

Plus if you’ve seen Nicks play (I saw two of his games) you came away impressed with his ability. Nicks is a receiver who will be productive in the NFL because he is more polished than a lot of the other WRs who have come before him. A lot of Nicks’ yards came from his solid separation in his route running in short passes that he turned into big gains with ability after the catch.

His performance in the Citrus Bowl is all you need to view to know that he is big time receiver. He almost won the game by himself with his three touchdowns and 213 yards receiving. He just would not let his team lose because of something he failed to do.

Big time receivers show up for the big games and this is one game where Nicks was shining through. As well as the conference game against Miami. He made big catches in that game as well to help put his team in position for a win.

There is little doubt that if Nicks were to fall to as low as 49th in the draft he would be considered a steal if the Bears were able to scoop him up.

Prospect Preview: Mike Rivera

April 20, 2009

As previously mentioned most NFL teams are quite enamored with the hybrid OLB/DE types that fit into the 3-4 scheme. It’s all the rage this year with 10 prospects likely to go in the first two rounds of the draft. Thanks can go to Ware and Harrison of Dallas and Pittsburgh respectively.

On the flip side of the equation though is something of a bit of interest. With so many teams looking at the 3-4 hybrid types, the likelihood that some quality 4-3 OLB types slip to the later rounds of the draft are quite good.

One such prospect is Mike Rivera from Kansas University who showed some explosive athleticism at the KU pro day. By LB standards Rivera about jumped out of the gymnasium with his 38 1/2 inch vertical which would have been a full inch and a half better than all of the other LBs at the NFL Scouting combine. More importantly Rivera is not projected as a weak-side prospect with his 6-foot-3 245-pound frame.

Rivera is a converted MIKE ‘backer who started playing the SAM position in 2006. From that point forward he was a tackling machine racking up over 95 tackles per season over three seasons, including an average of 10 tackles for a loss. These are ideal numbers for a SAM ‘backer prospect who needs to be big and physical to match up with the strong-side run formation where the TEs typically line up.

Rivera’s stock is on the rise and rightfully so with his 4.62 speed in the 40-yard dash to go with his vertical leap. That type of straight line speed will help him match up well with TEs in the 4-3 cover-2 the Bears primarily run. He also showed ability against the pass with seven pass break ups in 2007 and four more in 2008. His seven pass break ups were second on the team and is pretty high for a linebacker prospect who is not typically asked to make a lot of plays in the passing game, where it’s not typical for TEs to be a primary receiving option in college.

Rivera is yet another prospect who is being scouted over thoroughly by the coaching staff and looks like he could be brought in in the later rounds of the draft. It’s no secret that these unheralded but productive college players with solid athleticism are being worked over by one of the most productive scouting departments in the league. Productive by defensive standards as Angelo and his crew have shown time and again that they can unearth project players who develop on special teams and turn into above average pros later in their careers. Perhaps Mike Rivera will be just that type of player come the second day of the NFL draft.

Prospect Preview: Safety Troy Nolan

April 19, 2009

Well this one is one of the easiest scouting reports I’d had to do on a player given that I’ve seen him practice and play first hand at ASU games the past two season. The benefit of being an ASU football season ticket holder pay it’s dividends in this case.

So can I put up a non-biased scouting report of Troy Nolan’s talents? Well I’m going to try.

For me personally Nolan can look like Ed Reed in one instant and then look like he’s lost in space the next. Why would I dare mention Ed Reed? Consider just for a moment that he was the Ed Reed of college football, while Ed Reed is the NFL version of well duh Ed Reed. By this I mean Nolan is a ball hawk with 10 career INTs of which five went for touchdowns. 167 yards for those return yards after he picked the ball off so I know Nolan can set up blockers and get into the end zone ala Ed Reed.

Thing is Nolan is not always consistent with his game. Sometimes he over pursues the play and ends up really costing the team. He is a good tackler, will stick his nose in and make a play on the ball carrier. But his most impressive aspect of his game is his ball hawk ability. He has good size, 6-1 209-pounds, but lacks the real speed you’d like to see out of your free safety. He’s not going to light the track on fire with his 4.61 timed 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but his game speed is better than his timed speed.

His ball hawk skills were pretty consistent although after a big junior it took him awhile to get going for his senior year. He wound up with seven pass break ups to go with his four picks so it as no fluke. He was a second team All-Pac-10 performer which doesn’t say much to most people, until you consider created by god himself as the perfect athlete and safety (if you believe the hype) USC Trojan Taylor Mays plays in the same conference.

The negatives are enough that he likely won’t get sniffed until the later rounds. The 40-yard dash time from the combine will scare some teams as will some of his lost in space lapses in coverage.

The Bears recently worked him out privately at a work out scheduled for another player. Nolan happened to be around so he was put through some positional drills. Since the Bears have a dire need in the secondary for a safety prospect and the Bears are known for finding starting caliber safeties late in the rounds it wouldn’t shock me if he ended up a Bear.

Nolan is another safety prospect that is among the long list of prospects the Bears are scouting seriously. The positions the Bears are scouting the most players at are in no particular order wide receiver, offensive line, safety and strong side outside linebacker. It shouldn’t therefore shock most fans when the Bears go with a number of these scouted prospects that appear on this list.