Football

Welcome back to the 4th installment of On the Clock: proving that teachers have much more time on their hands to smoke dope and watch NCAA highlight videos than we let on. Speaking of: those last two articles? Yeah, 2500 words that can mean absolutely nothing if the draft doesn’t play out the way that all the pundits seem to think it will. Since I wrote them, I’ve seen several more players mocked to the Bears at 43 and 50, so I’m going to use this last preview piece to try to cover a few more players not included in the original 12 that I DIY “scouted” earlier this week. I’d like to be able to tell you this is the last piece in the series, but when it comes to draft stuff I’m more George Lucas than I’d like to admit; by next Friday I could be publishing “On the Clock 9: the Argument for Taking a Punter at Pick 43”.

 

Noah Igbinoghene- CB Auburn
Once again, while the Bears wait it out and see if teams ahead of them in the early second like Carolina, Jacksonville, and Indy pick up that second wave of potential starting corners, Igbinoghene could be the Bears selection at 43 or 50. However, his frame (5’10”- 198) and his lack of time playing CB (two seasons after being converted from WR) could push teams into using him exclusively as a slot corner. He defends the run super well for such a small player, but I’m gonna be honest, most of his highlight reel is him getting away with pass interference and he only had one career interception at Auburn. I don’t think he’s the fit for this team, but if you’re wondering why I even put him on here, its because he crushed it against Georgia this year and we all know how much Bulldogs tape the Bears front office watches.

Tee Higgins- WR Clemson
Higgins being available when the Bears pick would be a stretch, but crazier things have happened and I think if he’s there at 43 the Bears go and get him. I’ve seen him mocked all over the place (including the first round Raiders pick obtained from the Bears), but it seems like now he’s being talked about like an early to mid second round pick, and possibly one of the better options of that second tier. Higgins would instantly make the Bears offense better and wouldn’t need any sort of real effort to get him touches. He gets open on his own and his tape shows a player who maybe doesn’t have the whole route tree down, but I mean he’s 6’4”, he averaged 19.8 yards a catch last year, oh and he ran a 4.43 at Clemson’s pro day. Several websites have him going to Houston at pick 40, but if Bill O’Brien fucks this one up too the Bears will thank Brandin Cooks and smile politely as they announce a major steal.

KJ Hamler- WR Penn State
If the Bears are looking for a player to provide almost exactly what they’ll be going without now that Taylor Gabriel is off the team, KJ Hamler is the pick at 43. Hamler has juice and all I see is him destroying everyone off the line. He has what looks to be an incredibly similar skill set to Gabriel, and since offenses like Nagy’s are predicated upon finding players that fit the system instead of vice versa, Hamler might be wearing the Blue and Orange next season. He has issues with drops and durability, which means he isn’t the finished product and to be honest I don’t know if I’d want another slot-type receiver, but from looking at it from a purely “let’s stretch the defense” perspective, Hamler is a pick that makes a lot of sense.

Amik Robertson- CB Louisiana Tech
Holy shit, you guys. I had been sleeping on this guy as soon as I saw that he was 5’8, but then I watched his highlight tape. I know JustBombsProductions tend to be a little hyperbolic, and I don’t wanna go too crazy with The Ringer’s player comps, but the names I got from my research were Tyrann Mathieu 2.0 and Steve Smith, but a Cornerback. So I got curious and watched the tape and I was blown away by how physical Robertson is. He’s out there laying dudes out and gave me the same Kyle Dugger vibe of “grown ass man nerfing a bunch of dorks”. His ball skills look great, his physicality is outstanding, and if he’s as scrappy as the tape and his scouting report says, he’s a dark horse for a Bears pick and will certainly win over the fans. Dude looks like Tim Jennings but hits like Adrian Amos. He played for a small school, but if he’s as competitive as they say he is he will be using that as motivation.

Grant Delpit- S LSU
Your desire to see the Bears take Delpit with one of their two second round picks is entirely tied to how many tackles you saw him miss last year (an average of one a game). His sudden inability to wrap up has been shrugged off by those who say he played all of last year injured, but is a frightening thing against NFL competition where one missed tackle can end in misery for the entire defense. If you aren’t dissuaded by his near Chris Conte-esque tackle numbers, Delpit is an absolute stud with great ball skills, a tremendous ability to go sideline to sideline, and the ability to be a playmaker from anywhere on the field. The Bears could do much worse than drafting Delpit, because if he his tackling returns to it’s 2018 form, he could be a major star in the making.

 

Well friends, this series has come to a pause for now, but there’s still quite a bit of time before the NFL Draft comes to us live from a series of bougie living rooms and basements so who knows how much stuff I can crank out before then. Take care of yourselves, wash your hands, and please pay for me to have a PFF Premium account before I have to start an OnlyFans page.

Football

Welcome back to another installment of On the Clock, where I scour mock drafts and pretend that I watched any college football last year (which I did not- fuck the NCAA).

Previously, I made the argument that the Bears need to stay at 43 and 50 and not trade back, instead looking to solidify two areas of need with rookie starters. We looked at the consensus top two interior linemen, and 4 potential second-tier receivers that could be game breakers. However, with two major holes in the defensive backfield, an instant starter (or two) in the secondary could pay bigger dividends than a lineman or wideout. One consensus between all the mocks I’ve seen is that the Bears most likely wait until the later rounds to find depth for both the linebacker corps and defensive line rotation, so we will spend this entire section looking at the secondary.

 

What the Bears need: 

The Bears need a Safety and a Cornerback immediately. Deon Bush is a great depth piece, but he is not a starting safety (look back at last year’s opening week Packers game for an understanding of how easily Bush can look too hard in the backfield and get beat deep; also his inability to make plays on the ball in the red zone). Similarly, Kevin Tolliver, Artie Burns, and Tre Roberson are either career backups or unknowns. If Roberson plays in the NFL the way he did that made him the CFL’s premiere defensive free agent, that eliminates the need for a top pick on a CB, but as of now he’s still an unproven commodity. Since most mocks have the Bears looking Safety or Cornerback in the second round, let’s take a look at some of the prospects.

Xavier McKinney- Alabama
Xavier McKinney is a game-changer on defense and there’s no debate about it. In Chuck Pagano’s defense, he would have the ability to be a matchup nightmare. He lined up all over the field last year, as a sort of hybrid defender who can do it all. He’s got tremendous ball skills and watching his tape shows someone who is an instinctual blitzer. Pagano would be able to be super creative with a talent like this. He’s a playmaker, forcing turnovers at ease and always being around the ball. I’ve seen him mocked as early as pick 20, but if he falls it would be difficult to see the Bears pass on him.

Antoine Winfield Jr- Minnesota
How interested you are in the Bears taking Winfield sort of depends on what you want the safety opposite of Eddie Jackson to be: should he be an inside the box safety, someone who can play the deep middle to free up Jackson to read the QB, or a hybrid? Watching Winfield’s tape, it’s clear he plays a very similar game to Eddie Jackson. He is an absolute ballhawk and when he gets the chance, he’s a threat to take a fumble recovery or interception to the house every time. He picked off seven (!) passes last year. He has a long injury history, so there is risk to the pick, but if healthy, he and Eddie Jackson as a 1-2 Safety combo would be an absolute nightmare.

Jeremy Chinn- Southern Illinois
Aching for a return to the Bears defense of 2018? Jeremy Chinn’s pro comp is Adrian Amos, so if that holds true you should be rooting for the Bears to pick Chinn in the second round. Chinn has been talked about as everything from the first Safety off the board to someone that can be available for teams with a pick in the 60s, so if the Bears trade one of their first two picks to fall back in the second round, Chinn could be available as a value pick. I’ve also heard him talked about like a lighter version of Isaiah Simmons and could be asked to bulk up and play the roaming defender role in some defenses, which presents some interesting pairings with who the Bears already have. Let’s hope if the Bears take Chinn he can beat up on NFL teams like he did your Youngstown States (Youngstowns State?).*

Trevon Diggs- Alabama
Diggs is another Alabama DB that the Bears could be looking at to fill their other outside CB spot. He’s a bit more of a raw athlete than a polished defensive back at this point in his career, but the mocks that link him to the Bears indicate a belief that the talent around him can help him build those skills and make him a top-tier corner. He won’t play the run as well as it was played last year, but he has the ability to close off one side of the field. In short, Diggs is a stud that got ethered on prime time television last year by LSU, so there’s naturally going to be some question about how well he can hold up against top competition.

Bryce Hall- Virginia
Hall, like Diggs, is a big, physical CB (both are over 6’ and 200lbs) with injury histories. Neither of them are the ideal run stopping CBs, but the Bears secondary doesn’t necessarily rely on outside defenders to stop the run (save for Kyle Fuller’s game winning tackle against the Lions last year). Hall is effective close to the line on bubble screens, corner blitzes, and quick slants. He limited opposing QBs to passer ratings around 50 the last two seasons and led the nation in pass breakups two years ago. Hall is more of a zone CB, so it would be interesting to see if that scheme fit would work in Chicago. I’ve also seen him mocked to Denver in multiple places, where he would also make a lot of sense.

Kyle Dugger- Lenoir-Rhyne
The Ringer really must have Ryan Pace figured out, tabbing Dugger to be the Bears pick at 50. It all makes sense, a D-2 player that was absolutely dominant? That’s absolutely on-brand for Pace and Dugger’s tape is pretty ruthless. Not only is he an outstanding returner with tremendous ball skills, he honestly looked like a grown ass man playing against little kids, because he was. I mean it’s D-2 so like you’ve got this dude that runs a 4.49 and put up 17 reps of 225 at the combine, and he’s going against the pud from your high school who went to Middle Tennessee Grand Canyon Valley Technical Institute A&M and Dugger is hitting dudes so hard they quit on the spot and go back to their hometowns to sell life insurance with their dads. Of all the prospects he’s the oldest (24) and with the level of his college competition he’s probably the biggest question mark, but I am seeing Dugger mocked to a lot of teams in the second round, so he’s doing something right. He could be another Bears player to come from D-2, or the Bears could instead choose to invest in a more proven commodity.

 

With all the garbage presented to us fans as “The 2019 Chicago Bears Offense”, it might be tempting to focus on that side of the ball with the first two picks in the second round. However, the holes in the defensive backfield are huge and glaring and if the Bears go out and take a defender with one of these first two picks, I think the potential for the Bears D to return to form in 2020 is much higher, ESPECIALLY if Tre Roberson is as good as advertised. Just imagine a Bears secondary of Roberson, Fuller, Skrine, Jackson and Antoine Winfield Jr., and you can hear the crowd after the Bears hold Green Bay to their 9th straight 3 and out chanting “Holy Shit” like Braun Strowman just sidewalk slammed some cruiserweight into the shadow realm.

 

*While looking for a good cover photo for this article I stumbled upon the one of Jeremy Chinn that I ended up using because the size of that man’s arms literally turned me into Vince McMahon: WOULD YOU JUST LOOK AT HIM? THAT’S SUCH GOOD SHIT!

 

Tomorrow will be Part 4 of On The Clock: The Leftovers!

Football

Welcome back to our short series to hopefully get you a little more fired up for the draft that takes place in two short weeks, but let’s be real: anything that falls under live sports is just going to kill it since we’re all dying for something that isn’t a rerun. I’ll gladly take watching Mel Kiper talking over college football highlights instead of rewatching The Town for the tenth time in April.

Today we’ll be looking at some of the players that I’ve seen mocked to the Bears should they happen to stand pat and select players at picks 43 and 50.

 

The Linemen: 

The case for going after someone on the offensive line is painfully obvious to anyone who watched the Bears play offense last year. Protection was inconsistent and the run blocking was spotty at best. With the retirement of Kyle Long, the Bears need to shore up the inside of their line and hope the outside of the line continues to progress. Below you’ll find short scouting reports on two players the Bears could be looking at if they are still available in the second round.

Lloyd Cushenberry: IOL, LSU
I’ve seen Cushenberry mocked to the Bears, admittedly a lot less recently than initially. Throughout this process it looks like his stock has dropped a little bit after a superb week of workouts at the Senior Bowl lifted his stock to right around where the Bears pick. It looks like he will be there when the Bears pick in the second round, and while he has been touted as an almost immediate starter, there will undoubtedly be people wondering if Guard could be better filled between Alex Bars and Germain Ifedi while the Bears make a sexier pick here.

Caesar Ruiz: C, Michigan
Ruiz presents a similar upside if picked by the Bears as Cushenberry, however Ruiz is unquestionably the best interior offensive lineman in the draft this year. Bears fans might be bored by the pick, but watching any of his highlights will shut their stupid mouths quickly. His tape is dominant and it’s quick to see why he’s the most heralded prospect of the bunch. He would fit perfectly in Matt Nagy’s offense, since he has the speed and strength to peel off combo blocks and get to the second level on runs out of Nagy’s preferred read option look. The real question is if Ruiz will still be there at 43, given that he is being mocked anywhere from there on the low end all the way up to picks in the mid 20s.

 

The Receivers:

The 2020 wide receiver class is so stupid stacked with talent that it could go down as one of the best classes in NFL history. Since the Bears won’t have a crack at any of those top prospects, they could be looking at a wide receiver that isn’t the total package yet and needs a bit of time to develop. This is unfortunate when you look at how slow Javon Wims and Riley Ridley are coming along, but if the Bears added any of the following players I think the offense would instantly improve drastically. However, be advised that all of these players have also been previously mocked to any and all of the Bears division opponents.

Brandon Aiyuk: Arizona State
Aiyuk brings the speed and ability to go over the top that Taylor Gabriel brought the Bears when healthy, but while Gabriel was 5’7” and 168, Aiyuk is 6’0” and 205. Watch his highlight video and get excited. Aiyuk has tremendous breakaway speed and can take any route to the house. He causes separation that just can’t be coached or schemed, and on his highlight package there’s a double move he puts on an Oregon DB that made me laugh out loud.

Jaylen Reagor: TCU
Apparently Jaylen Reagor can squat 620 pounds, which is absolutely bonkers, but watching his tape shows someone who looks much faster than his combine 4.47 40 yard dash (and instead more like his preposterous 4.22 hand-timed 40 at TCU’s recent pro day). His pro comps are Stefon Diggs and Percy Harvin according to The Ringer, but unlike Harvin his tape is filled with him making high-point catches that you wouldn’t expect a 5’11” guy to make. He might make a better outside WR and therefore a better fit for the offense, but who knows if he can still win those jump balls against CBs that are 2-4 inches taller than him. As an added bonus, he runs the reverse so well it reminded me of early Randy Moss, back in those Vikings days when you held your breath every time he touched the ball.

Laviska Shenault Jr: Colorado
I had no idea who this dude was until draft season, but if there’s someone with better tape out there I haven’t seen it yet. I love this dude’s tape and will be a sucker and probably draft him in fantasy, which might actually be me putting a curse on him. Shenault is all over the field, bodying out DBs on slant routes, making contested catches in traffic, and also running the Wildcat with crazy success. Basically, he looks like Cordarrelle Patterson. He breaks away with a beautiful second gear, and if he does get caught, well, he led all draft eligible receivers with 46 broken tackles in the last two years. Most of the scouting reports I’ve seen on Shenault mention his lack of polish as a proper WR and how he will need an innovative offensive mind to get him involved, and maybe that makes Chicago an optimal fit for him.

Michael Pittman: USC
Most scouts don’t expect Pittman to be around when the Bears pick, which would be a shame because damn, he is so polished. When watching him play, he looks a lot like Allen Robinson and throughout this draft process he has often drawn comparisons to the Bears’ best offensive player. With that in mind, he is unbelievably talented and blocks as well as he runs routes. He has highlight tapes of him straight up Mossing college DBs, and while he might not fill the Taylor Gabriel/Tyreek Hill burner role in the offense, he is certainly capable of dominating NFL defensive backs. If the Bears got him and had him line up opposite Allen Robinson, I think Anthony Miller makes the Pro Bowl simply because safeties would be so preoccupied with shading towards the outside guys that Miller would feast on single coverage looks or filling the middle seams against Cover 2 or Cover 3 looks.

Is drafting an IOL or WR irresponsible when the Bears defensive secondary is missing half their starters from last year, and 3 of the 5 DBs that were on the field during their phenomenal 2018 season? I guess that’s up to the front office to decide. I have a feeling if the Bears stay at 43 and 50, you could see one of these names in a Bears jersey next season, and that’s not too bad. I think a lot of the signings Pace made in the second wave of free agency were designed to allow him to look at the best player available at almost every slot, so we’ll see! Shit, now I’m excited for draft season all over again. I hope you are too. We’ll be back on Thursday for part 2: the DB Derby.