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

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.

Football

Welcome back to uh, football season? With the uncertainty of COVID 19’s impact on the logistical aspects of the upcoming NFL season (not to mention everyone’s life), this league year is off to the most unique start any of us have ever seen. I’m not going to wax poetic about how this unique situation is allowing teams to manipulate players with the rescinding of contracts that were agreed upon in principle, my condolences to Leonard Floyd. 

I’m a big fan of the NFL Draft, mostly because a majority of my Bears fandom since my birth in 1986 has found the Bears drafting fairly high in the first round. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years reading mocks, dreaming of the perfect draft scenarios that would allow the team to select whoever it was that I had fallen in love with during the process. Of course, I am almost always wrong and I’d like to once more extend my condolences to Leonard Floyd. 

The last two seasons, however, I haven’t been as in love with the draft because I have no idea how to scout or watch tape on players in the top 50, compared to the top 15. The national media doesn’t spend as much time looking at the differences between Jeremy Chinn and Antoine Winfield Jr as they did looking at the differences between Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams, the ladder comparison being irrelevant since the Bears would end up drafting our savior Eddie Jackson in the 4th. However, I’ve been doing some research on a lot of the players being mocked to the Bears and I think I’ve got some takes on who might be available in round two. 

This year, like last year, the Bears are without a first round pick. However, unlike last year, the Bears are in a unique position, if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly. I have a feeling that lots of teams will be putting forth effort to compile picks for next year’s draft. With the pandemic shutting down various pro days and private workouts, teams are going into the later rounds with less of a feel for those late round gems simply due to a lack of exposure. I believe the Bears can use this to their advantage. 

Ryan Pace never stays put in the draft, and he has to know how hesitant other teams will be to invest capital into players they haven’t seen personally. Is this the time to try to move up with some of those later round picks? Currently, the Bears hold picks 43, 50, 140, 163, 196, 200, 226, and 233. I believe that they can maximize their picks by moving up and sacrificing some of next year’s mid to late round draft capital. I keep hearing about the quality of depth in this draft, and I would be thrilled if the Bears maneuvered their way into getting 5 picks in the top 150. 

I have confidence in Pace’s ability to find gold in the later rounds of the draft, but if you’re like me and you think the Bears are 3-4 impact players away from seriously competing for a championship, it might be worth it to sacrifice quantity for perceived quality. If the Bears find 3 above average starters in this draft, the value of next year’s sacrificed picks also goes down by way of being lower in the draft order. 

This week, I’ll be looking at several of the players being mocked to the Bears at 43 or 50, in the hopes that not only do the Bears stay put, but they land two instant contributors and those players fill those spots admirably. The players we’re going to take a look at will be:

Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama) 

Antoine Winfield Jr (S, Minnesota) 

Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL, LSU) 

Brandon Aiyuk (WR, Arizona) 

Jaylen Reagor (WR, TCU) 

Cesar Ruiz (OL, Michigan) 

Jeremy Chinn (S, SIU) 

Michael Pittman (WR, USC) 

We’ll break them up into two different articles, one looking at offense and one looking at defense. On a side note: it’s good to be back and I hope you and yours are safe in this crazy ass time.