Football

TAG TEAM, BACK AGAIN!

The gridiron guru Tony and I are back after yesterday’s Bears draft chat to breakdown how the rest of the North drafted and I swear to science if the Packers just unearthed another 10+ year starter at QB I’m committing hara-kiri and calling it an NFL fandom career…

Wes French: Tony, lets get right to it…are the Packers stupid like a fox or just plain stupid?

Tony Martin: Wes, my friend, you are truly the gift that keeps on giving. Here I am, thinking I have to go back to watching that shitty Waco show on Netflix and you slide back into my inbox to talk more football? Miraculous.

As for the cheese heads, I think they really fucked up taking Jordan Love. I love that they have a notoriously fickle QB who wants at least one more run at the title and they instead did something that does not help the team at all and alienates their biggest star. I’ve said for the last week that the Packers are a handful of players away from a championship, and they actively hurt their chances with their pick. It’s rare for a pick to hurt a team in April, but the Pack managed to pull that one off. I went to Green Bay’s website and looked at their articles about the draft which are so hilariously full of spin you’d think it was a Trump presser. There’s a bit in an article by Mike Spofford where they say that Green Bay didn’t feel like there were any receivers available at the end of the 1st that could take a starting job over Devin Funchess, Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow, Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, which might be the take of the century. Then to draft a RB in the second in an already crowded backfield? Pure schadenfreude, my friend. I feel like Brian Gutekunst watched Jerry Krause in the first episodes of “The Last Dance”, turned to his family, said “Hold my Spotted Cow”, and traded up to alienate his talent.

Is taking the heir apparent a few years early a decent move anymore? The current trend in the NFL is to try to win that championship during a QBs first contract to maneuver around the salary cap, so Love sitting for one year makes sense but not 2, 3 or 4 years. I think the Packers are trying too hard to eventually become San Francisco, with a run first offense to be run by a game manager, so as Green Bay slowly dismantles it’s current core, expect them to refocus on the defense in the attempt to do what the 49ers have done. I think this is the first sign of a slow, painful rebuild, and it couldn’t have happened to a more obnoxious organization.

WF: My Packer fan pals are in the mega-spin zone right now trying to justify it. One keeps saying “14-4, they’re gonna be fine. It’s a new brain trust, let it play out”; a few others are trying to talk themselves into Funchess like receivers on their third team in as many years are the reliable type; and one special friend of mine is slowly losing his shit more and more by the day.

I really do think you can back up and justify the Love pick if you kinda squirm to the side and squint real hard. The part that makes it tough is what you mentioned about the new path being to use the window of QBs on rookie deals and splash cash on whatever you need most. Rodgers is well known to have a contract that kills them with dead money if he’s moved the next two years and there’s also the part where he’s a fucking all-time great at the position. I get the injury coverage concern, but shit how many times is their solution going to involves drafting a QB as Aaron’s State Farm on the field instead of bolstering his weapons/protection?

Could you imagine if instead of moves for mediocre/shit backup QBs they’d been using most draft capital/literal capital to give him more help? And then they back it all up with a fucking RUNNING BACK in the 2nd Round, one that can’t catch to boot? I don’t give a shit what the rest of the draft looks like, to me these moves mean a white flag on the Rodgers era and getting a head start on what’s coming after. They can say they have a team in place to contend, and if (when) it goes south they can use the line about this window closing and trying to retool on the fly and you can bet they find a way to move Rodgers next year.

TM: The Packers might have screwed the pooch, but I’d have to say I like both Minnesota and Detroit’s drafts more than Chicago’s. I love the Lions draft, to be candid. Okudah is a stud, their 3rd round pick of Julian Okwara was a solid add on who will bring serious juice off the edge, and I like D’Andre Swift a lot. I think there’s a chance they found three starters and assuming they all don’t retire to get away from Matt Patricia, they have built a pretty solid core for life post-Stafford. Luckily for the Bears, the Lions should be shitty next year but not shitty enough to get Trevor Lawrence or even Justin Fields at the top of the 2021 draft. The Lions are the Chicago Bulls of football, stuck in the worst kind of purgatory. I think Swift takes over lead RB duties early on in the season, Okudah will be put to the test with a murderers row of top tier WRs on the Lions schedule, and Okwara will be starting week 1.

WF: I feel like the Lions could only have messed up their top two selections is if they were the Raiders. The only real problem I have with Detroit’s draft is not moving back a few spots to take Okudah (or taking Isiah Simmons over him) but I think Miami and San Diego both knew they were the teams taking QBs, no one from the 5-6 spots immediately behind them was putting any pressure on them to move and they each got their man staying put. You’d also like to pair Okudah with a guy like Darius Slay…but Okudah was a huge need because they alienated and traded Slay. I do love Okwara and I think going two guards in the middle rounds is solid, but the early 2nd selection of Swift was sort of confusing. Detroit needs defensive help BADLY. There were several guys they passed on to go RB and I feel like in today’s NFL that’s a WHAMMY!

TM: The Vikings drafted 15 dudes this year. 15 dudes! That’s an entire basketball team! Sure, a lot of those guys might not make the team, but I think they struck gold late with Kenny Willekes from Michigan State in the 7th round, and I expect him to not only make the team but be someone the Bears have trouble blocking a couple years from now. I estimated the Lions nabbed at least three starters this year, but I think the Vikings could see up to 5 immediate starters from this class. Justin Jefferson snatches ankles after the catch and is a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it. I think Cameron Dantzler is going to be a project but he’s a future stud at CB- pair that with their first round corner Jeff Gladney and that defensive backfield can straight up wreck shit for the next 4 years. I personally look forward to them destroying Jordan Love while the Bears and Nick Foles are busy winning their third straight Super Bowl.

WF: I’m not sure how the Vikings fit 15 guys in, but theirs is the type of draft that can plug a lot of gaps on the cheap. I think the most impressive thing about the 2020 Draft in Minnesota is that they came in with 12 picks, left with 15 players AND added a 4th (from Chicago for Gipson) and two 5ths in 2021. Rick Spielman deserves a ton of credit for adding so much draft capital and value to his team. I think Justin Jefferson is fantastic and the type of receiver the Packers probably should’ve been moving up further for. I’m also a big fan of the Gladney/Dantzler picks and feel like they shored up the CB position in one draft. Not easy. OL Ezra Cleveland and S Josh Metellus are guys I heard discussed for the Bears, too, and now we get to hope they’re busts because the damn Vikings took them. Fuck that horn.

TM: Honestly what it’s all going to come down to is coaching. Our current global condition is changing how teams are interacting with their new prospects and it’s the teams that adapt best to these new circumstances that will get the most out of their picks.

Also, while we’re speaking of uncertain futures – I have a question for you: do you think this is the year where the supplemental draft is huge? If the prospect of a severely shortened NCAA/NFL season is on the horizon, do players forgo that extra season and declare? Could we see a massive second wave of players picked in July? If that is the case, would the NFL allow those players to petition for the supplemental draft en masse?

WF: I lean YES, I think the supplemental draft could see a few teams spend future pick capital on guys that decide “you know what? fuck this sitting around not playing football this Fall, I’m going” and the value for it is there. Depending on how things unfold regarding the Pandemic™ I wonder if the NFL goes even further and expands rosters/practice squads and uses them as more of a taxi squad for teams to pluck from as the world tries to find a way to 1) not kill or infect too many millions more while 2) NOT GIVING UP THEIR NFL SUNDAYz!

TM: Okay before this gets buried, I LOVE the idea of a taxi squad in the NFL. It’s a brilliant idea, and maybe they could expand it to 2 taxi squads, one of veteran players and one of prospects. Holy shit I’m so into that idea.

WF: It makes way too much sense, so it’ll never happen. But if it does YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST,,,,FOLKS!

Football

Friends, foes, fellow Packer haters, welcome back to On the Clock: Round 2 edition. Today, I’ll briefly touch on how our fellow NFCN teams fared in the first round and then look forward to the second day of the draft.

Also, unrelated to the NFCN teams or the Bears, the best moment from last night was CeeDee Lamb’s girlfriend trying to look at his phone and him snatching it back from her, clearly trying to keep his side piece a secret. You can’t coach that hand quickness, and he’ll fit in perfectly in Dallas, where he can invite his mistress to the quarantine-violating house parties his teammates throw. A classic Jerry Jones pick.

Detroit Lions: CB Jeff Okudah
Consensus here is that the Lions made a smart pick by staying at 3 overall and not trading back, and I’ve gotta agree. We’ll know exactly how great Okudah is by the end of his rookie year, since he’ll be expected to match up against Allen Robinson, Devante Adams, and Adam Theilen (maybe- we’ll get to that in a minute) twice a year each, and then DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans/Chris Godwin, and AJ Brown. It’s a murderers row of top tier NFL wideouts, so Okudah is facing a trial by fire. With that series of upcoming opponents, the Lions made the right call to fill a need, until 4 years from now when he’s demanding a trade or retiring to get away from that garbage organization.

Minnesota Vikings: WR Justin Jefferson, CB Jeff Gladney
Justin Jefferson is a great player who snatches ankles before and after the catch like a point guard. His highlight tape is just disgusting, and the analysis all seems to say the same thing: this was a consensus great pick, but after the edible kicked in I was a little confused because he was primarily a slot WR in college, and the Vikings traded away their best outside WR this offseason. Adam Theilen works out of the slot quite a bit, so it seems like a square peg/round hole situation. Is Theilen going to kick outside primarily to best play to Jefferson’s strengths? Is Jefferson going to be expected to play outside? If the Vikings can figure out how to use him correctly, Jefferson is going to be a nightmare twice a year.

Also, like a lot of people, I laughed when the Vikings took Jeff Gladney at pick 31, when Kristian Fulton, Trevon Diggs, and a haul of other secondary help was available, but Gladney is a solid pick. He’s physical, and a huge improvement over the departed Xavier Rhodes. It pains me to say it, but I think Minnesota improves on both sides of the ball with their picks, unlike…

Green Bay Packers, QB Jordan Love
Y’all, I could not stop laughing when Green Bay decided that time is a flat circle and Aaron Rodgers-ed Aaron Rodgers. I was truly nervous that the Packers would add an interior run stopper after getting thrashed by San Francisco in the NFCCG, or the second wide receiver so Aaron Rodgers isn’t throwing to Devante Adams and a handful of dweebs with hyphenated last names found in the discard pile of some small school’s draft class, but yet here we are.

It’s a smart pick when your team is playing well but not going to be a serious title contender, but I truly believed that the Packers were one stud skill position player away from getting over the top and challenging Kansas City next year, and instead of Denzel Mims, Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman, or literally anyone else, Aaron Rodgers is now in charge of training his replacement. I think Jordan Love will be a good to great NFL QB, but it’s fucking hilarious that the front office chose to plan for 4 years from now when they were one game from the Super Bowl last year. People are going to rake that organization for that all offseason, and I’m fucking here for it. This draft pick is essentially the organization telling Rodgers to inject bleach to prevent the coronavirus, but instead of Anthony Fauci running in and being like “no, don’t do that”, you’ve got Ted Thompson there alone, laughing as he sends all the emails from the rubes that bought “stock” in the organization straight to the trash folder.

 

Now, the part you care about: Players Available

The Bears pick at 43 and 50, so there are 10 teams ahead of them. Do they hold pat and wait for Kyle Dugger, Jeremy Chinn, or Grant Delpit? Do they move up to get a crack at drafting Xavier McKinney, Antoine Winfield Jr, Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims, or Trevon Diggs? There are some stud players still on the board, and I waited until this morning to type this up to see what the recent mocks have the Bears doing, so let’s take a look:

USA Today:
(43)- Jaylon Johnson (CB- Utah)
(50)- Cole Kmet (TE- Notre Dame)
Grade: D (Ew I hate this so much) 

CBS Sports:
(43)- Kristian Fulton (CB- LSU)
(50)- Tee Higgins (WR- Clemson)
Grade: B+ (This would be a solid haul based on Fulton’s ability)

Sports Illustrated:
(43)- Jeremy Chinn (S- SIU)
(50)- Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL- LSU)
Grade: A- (This is the most likely scenario)

SportingNews:
(43)- Kristian Fulton (CB- LSU)
(50)- Josh Jones (T- Houston)
Grade: B (The Bears can do better and if they pass on Cushenberry to draft a backup tackle I’ll cry)

Bleacher Report:
(43)- Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL-LSU)
(50)- Jeremy Chinn (S- SIU)
Grade: A- (This is also a very likely scenario)

The Bears are looking at an embarrassment of riches given the various slides up and down the board and a couple of head-scratching picks at positions of need (Jaylon Reagor at 21?). Also, early 2nd round picks are a lower cost to move up to get, so you better believe that if Ryan Pace truly thinks someone like Xavier McKinney is worth the loss of later round picks, he’ll do it (see Anthony Miller).

I might not have a ton of faith in Pace at this point, but the Bears are a couple spots away from playoff contention given league-average QB play. The free agent signings empowered Pace to play around a little bit if he thinks he can find a star at CB, S, or IOL, so I’m gonna rank my top 10 players remaining for the Bears that are still available at the beginning of round 2:

1. Xavier McKinney- S
2. Trevon Diggs- CB
3. Tee Higgins- WR
4. Antoine Winfield, Jr- S
5. Lloyd Cushenberry- IOL
6. Grant Delpit- S
7. Denzel Mims- WR
8. Jeremy Chinn- S
9. Kyle Dugger- S
10. Michael Pittman- WR

If I’m Ryan Pace, here’s what I’m doing:

Option 1: Trade Up
Bears trade pick 43, 163, and 200 to move up to pick 34 and draft Xavier McKinney, and then take Cushenberry at 50.

Option 2: Trade Back
Bears trade 43 or 50 to get some 3rd/4th round players and I cry. However, if the Bears get a stud at their remaining 2nd round pick, I guess it could be okay. I’d rather see them get less for pick 50 than deal 43, unless Cushenberry is sliding, in which case the Bears trade 43 and still get interior line help.

Option 3: Stay and go BPA
This is classic Pace, but if the Bears are in win now mode, he needs to get “his guy” today.

I’m pumped for today, y’all! I hope you are too.

Over/Under the amount of fans dressed like “Superfans” for the pick announcement: 1.5