Another in a long line of absolutely insipid Bears press conferences in our collective lifetimes, but at least we all got what we wanted.
While the Hawks continue to fart away any chance of being reasonably competitive under coach Jeremy Prinze Jr., we spend the front end of this edition reveling in just how unlikely and fortunate what the Bears did this past weekend was while we save the grave dancing for next week in spite of being in the immediate wake (GET IT?) of another blown lead in a game where Colliton can show literally anything worth salvaging. Give a listen and sip the Kool Aid.
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:
(43)- Jaylon Johnson (CB- Utah)
(50)- Cole Kmet (TE- Notre Dame)
Grade: D (Ew I hate this so much)
(43)- Kristian Fulton (CB- LSU)
(50)- Tee Higgins (WR- Clemson)
Grade: B+ (This would be a solid haul based on Fulton’s ability)
(43)- Jeremy Chinn (S- SIU)
(50)- Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL- LSU)
Grade: A- (This is the most likely scenario)
(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)
(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
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!
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 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 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.
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.
Just when I thought I learned all I could about Matt Nagy this past season, I watched the 49ers playoff win again the Packers and was given yet another reason why I think this guy is a legit fraud. Case in point: In a post-game news conference, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about his play calling and therein, the lack of pass attempts. Shanahan’s response was as unselfish as it was honest:
“‘Cause it was working,” Shanahan said of calling run play after run play. “If it’s working you stay with it. Our guys were running so hard. Our line coming out the ball, our backs. All eleven of our guys how they’ve been all year. The guys fought hard as heck. We’re going to put it all in their hands.”
When I heard this, I immediately thought to myself: “Self, this is a guy who is confident enough in himself that he isn’t trying to prove himself to everyone. This something we are never going to hear from Matt Nagy.”
The reason why is because Matt Nagy needs to be cute, needs to be the guy who is changing the game, needs the attention and admiration.
Shanahan doesn’t. He was born into the coaching game and realizes it isn’t about the guy calling the calls, it’s about the guys on the field. If running the ball gives you the best chance at winning, then you run the shit outta that ball. Shanahan saw his dad do this, relying on Terrell Davis all the way to back to back World Championships. Sure, he had John Elway under center, but at that point, John Elway, while very good, was a shell of his former self. Think more game-manager than game-changer.
But you didn’t come here to read about Elway or the 90’s Bronco’s. You want to hear yet another reason why Nagy has failed the Chicago Bears this season. The Shanahan quote and comparison is simply the cherry on top of the Matt Nagy May Not Be Cut Out For This Shit Sundae.
Nagy is guy who constantly is trying to prove himself – something he has done often in his football playing career. He has always been a try hard guy; constantly being told No, but always asking and trying again. This mentality has served him very well in getting to this point, but now, in his current role, it can be viewed as counterproductive. Nagy is trying to prove himself as this game changing offensive mastermind – the RPO CFO if you will – and is being blinded by his own aspirations.
So, would a Nagy offense that focused more on the run game made a difference between a 10 wins and 8 wins this past season? No. But that’s not the point. The point is adjustments needs to be made on almost a play by play basis. Throw away your scripted first 10 plays – run the plays that will give you the best chance to win, regardless of if they are on a play sheet or if it is run or pass.
As fans, we often take a micro look to on field performance. A run play didn’t work? Oh, that player must suck. A QB throws an interception? He blows, put in the backup. However, if you take a more macro look at Bears offensive struggles in 2019, a majority of the blame needs to be placed at the feet of the Head Football Coach, Matt Nagy. The offensive talent on this team was never put in a position to succeed – that’s on him.
The 2020 Bears will be better, but only if their coach and leader takes a look inside himself and realizes…it’s not about him.
Final Grade – D