I have heard the rationale. Matt Slauson is not an athletic fit for what the Bears want on their offensive line. Fine. But let’s try a quick experiment.
Rank the Bears offensive linemen in terms of quality, including Slauson.
Yesterday the Bears released their second best offensive lineman and, in my mind, their second best offensive player in 2015. They released a player who seamlessly slid over to center a season ago and put a patchy offensive line on his back.
Even more importantly they released a leader on the field and in the locker room. They released a player who after suffering through the indignity of 2014 and transition of 2015, his held proudly high, deserved to taste the candy apple at the end of the boardwalk.
Is Cody Whitehair going to be great player? I certainly believe so. But he’s yet to play a down in the NFL and until he or any other draft pick does the question mark remains at the end of the sentence.
The Bears released a good player. A valuable player. And a not particularly expensive player. How does this make the 2016 a better team? It doesn’t.
(1) The Leonard Floyd pick will be the most heavily scrutinized moving forward but he will actually have little pressure on him in 2016. With Houston, Young and McPhee already situated at OLB, Floyd will be able to assimilate into Vic Fangio’s defense by doing what he does best: getting after the quarterback.
(2) Cody Whitehair is ready to play right now and the Bears should start him at left guard immediately. What does this mean? It means the team should follow the old offensive line maxim and play their best five. Leno. Whitehair. Slauson at center. Long. Massie.
(3) No, I’m not confident Hroniss Grasu is the future at center for the Bears. And that’s fine. You’re allowed to swing and miss in the name of athleticism. Giving him another season to develop, with Slauson at center, is probably the best thing for him.
(4) I like Pat O’Donnell. I really do. But North Dakota State’s Ben LeCompte – who accepted the Bears invite to camp – is a special player and a special kid. Don’t be surprised to see an actual competition emerge this summer. (The Bears didn’t go out and invite the best punter in the land to camp for no reason.) Read this piece on one of the best punting performances I’ve ever seen.
(5) I won’t be surprised to see Jonathan Bullard have a more productive Bears career thanFloyd and that’s not knocking Floyd. Bullard is a grinder. Staying away from all the draftspeak, Bullard just made life horrible for offensive linemen and he went up against some terrific ones in the SEC.
In the third round the Bears picked one of the most athletic defensive linemen in the draft in Bullard.
According to Mock Draftable, Bullard’s most comparable current NFL player is Sheldon Richardson. He fits the physical profiles they look for at 6’3″, 285 pounds, running the 40-yard dash in under five seconds and a 10-yard split of 1.65 seconds, among the best at his position in the draft. Oh, and his arms are nearly 34 inches long.
I am not going to spend much time over the next mont breaking down which college players is going to go where. Frankly, I don’t care that much. Instead I’m going to write about college players I really like. Cody Whitehair might be my favorite player in this year’s draft.
Four-year starter voted team captain in 2015. Tireless worker bee in the weight room and in practices who brings a high degree of dependability and consistency to the table. Team-oriented. Played exceptionally well while out of position at left tackle for Kansas State. Atypical body composure and control. Is almost always in complete control of his body thanks to outstanding core strength and balance. Extremely efficient with his movements after the snap. Has played both guard and both tackle spots and has roster value at all five positions. Mirrors with a wide, stout base and has great feel for keeping defender squared up throughout the rep. Confident, composed and competitive. Smooth and athletic when asked to pull and has radar to find target and strike accurate blow. Makes up for shorter arms with massive hands that function as vise grips. Consistent with hand placement and extremely sticky blocker. Combines hand strength and balance to snatch and control a defender until the whistle blows. Can sink hips at contact and should be able to stalemate bigger players across from him. Exceptional body control and core strength allows him to successfully redirect defenders who get to his edge.
He can play all across the line. He’s nasty. And he reminds me of Zack Martin, who might be one of the two or three best guards in the league. I think Whitehair will get there in a couple years.
#1. Do I like the Bears selection of Leonard Floyd with the ninth overall pick in the draft? Honest to goodness, I have no idea. Adam Jahns spelled out the reasons this selection is no sure thing but the reasons the Bears made the move are clear: they wanted more speed and athleticism on the edge. They got it.
#2. The Bears moved up to get Floyd because the whole world, especially the whole world here in New York, knew the Giants coveted the Georgia linebacker. If the Giants value a pass rusher enough to make him a top ten pick, chances are he’s a damn good pass rusher. The last time the Giants got that position wrong in the draft was pre-George Young.
#3. This wasn’t the Bears choosing from what was left on the board when their time came to pick. This was the guy they wanted and they aggressively pursued him. For that, Ryan Pace should be applauded.
He’s a freakish athlete and Pace/Fox/Fangio knew the Giants wanted Floyd. (It was not a well-kept secret in New York.) I love when organizations get the guy they want and the Bears did just that by trading up and getting the deal done. If he becomes a double-digit sack guy, the Bears will look back at this as one of the great trades in organization history.
The notes from CBS:
STRENGTHS: Has the requisite burst to surge past tackles as a speed rusher with underrated strength. He is surprisingly powerful at the point of attack, flashing dynamite in his hands with an effective hand slap to knock away blockers attempting to gain control.
His first-step burst and acceleration get him into the backfield quickly off the edge or knifing inside. Excellent movement skills for his tall, lengthy frame. Relentless nature and speed to collapse the pocket or chase down plays from behind. Because of his agility and closing speed, could move to a more traditional linebacker.
WEAKNESSES: The two major knocks on Floyd are weight and durability. Has lean bone structure with twig limbs, thin torso and scouts have concerns about how much weight he can add – looks like A.J. Green in his Georgia uniform, which isn’t a positive comparison for a pass rusher. Below-average functional strength.
Struggles to generate movement at the point of attack or convert speed to power. Too easily controlled on the edges. Can be eliminated by blockers when he doesn’t effectively use his length.
COMPARES TO: Barkevious Mingo, Cleveland Browns – Neither players is known for ideal power features. Floyd and Mingo have lean athleticism and get-off quickness to threaten the edge and keep blockers guessing.
IN OUR VIEW: A highly intriguing size-length-athleticism prospect, Floyd can stab, dip and flatten around the edge, maintaining his balance without losing speed to the pocket. He is deadly in space, but Floyd’s lack of functional strength and growth potential are glaring concerns. One of the best athletes in this draft class, his is not one of the best football players and would need to land in a scheme that protects him in a niche role.
1. What happens with the quarterbacks? Most believe Paxton Lynch will be gone in the first fifteen picks but will somebody have to move up to get him? Does Connor Cook sneak into the first round? Is the surging Christian Hackenberg a real story? (I know several people who believe Hack is going tonight. I think they’re nuts.) Quarterbacks set the draft’s tone and make organizations do crazy things.
2. The Cowboys, Dolphins, Giants and Bears have all been mocked with Ezekiel Elliot repeatedly. So where does he end up? If teams view him as a superstar, will they be willing to sacrifice a great deal to go up and get him?
3. Will the Bears look to bail out of the eleventh pick? I think this is their hope for tonight, barring someone from the top of their board falling into their laps.
4. How far does Myles Jack – arguably the best player in this draft – fall?
Shit happened since the last Mock Mock draft, huh? The first two picks were traded, the third and fourth picks are huge question marks and the previous consensus top pick could plummet. Oh, and the top linebacker supposedly has a bum knee that will prevent him from having a long career. Shit definitely happened.
The Rams and Eagles made big moves for quarterbacks who definitely aren’t consensus top picks. Hell, one of them was thought of as a late-round sleeper last December. That caused a huge shakeup in the top 10 picks, but probably doesn’t effect the Bears pick too much.
The final Mock Mock Draft is going to have some pretty big changes from last time. At least, I think it will, I don’t even remember who I had going where. Shit, I don’t even remember who I had the Bears picking.