Right after the NFL draft is always a dangerous time to be optimistic because everybody is (except Browns fans). But there is reason to feel positive about the Bears right now and that is because they have guys who have done this before.
I didn’t like the Leonard Floyd pick. In general, I don’t like skinny football players. I didn’t have him in my Bears Big Board because I didn’t think he fit the physical profile for either John Fox or Vic Fangio, both previously preferring bulkier pass-rushers. But Fox has been around for “a minute,” as he says, and he knows what good pass rushers look like. If he signs off on Floyd, who am I to argue?
It wasn’t just Fox and Fangio who liked him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn once again polled scouts this year and Floyd came up first in terms of total votes amongst 3-4 outside linebackers, ahead of Joey Bosa and Shaq Lawson.
The mistake everyone in the general public makes is thinking we know everything or, really, thinking we know anything. It wasn’t just that Floyd was skinny, but I didn’t think he was athletic for his size. What I didn’t know is that his time in the three-cone drill was useless because he was sick that day — a nearly five-inch drop in his vertical from the combine to his pro day shows how much impact that could have. I also didn’t know the Bears had a 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds on Floyd. I was told that after the draft and that’s the time they have on his draft preview video on the team website. The 40 time itself doesn’t mean that much, but a faster 40 also means a faster 10-yard split. Add that in with his impressive jump numbers and agility drills and you see a freak athlete. The kind of athlete who sacks the quarterback a lot.
• Pace mentioned length roughly 1,875 times during the media sessions after the draft picks. I seem to remember at least one person writing that was going to be an important part of the evaluation process. Don’t remember who it was.
• I had Shaq Lawson higher than Floyd because I thought he had a higher floor as someone who at the very least could be a good run defender. I didn’t get the impression the Bears cared about how big Floyd is. They’re confident he’s going to get 10 sacks a season and they didn’t think they’d get that from someone else. As for run defense, they have two 330-pound defensive linemen to take care of that.
• Look at the entire first round. Take out the offensive linemen drafted and 22 of the 24 players taken in the first round were taken because of their impact on passing downs. The result was a lot of good defensive linemen dropping to the second round. The Alabama guys are both high first round picks just a year ago, but the NFL is changing. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes a trend.
• If the Bears didn’t take Floyd, I was told Sheldon Rankins would’ve been their pick.
• As soon as Cody Whitehair was drafted, I figured he’d be the starter at left guard. I thought Matt Slauson would move to center, but the Bears clearly don’t think he’s athletic enough. Again, they’re not alone. In McGinn’s pole amongst NFC North scouts at the end of last season, Slauson was voted last amongst left guards.
• Jonathan Bullard just looks the part. He has the body of a star defensive lineman and has the athletic upside that most of this year’s class didn’t have.
• The Nick Kwiatkoski pick makes perfect sense. Jerrell Freeman is 30 and Danny Trevathan has a long injury history. Kwiatkoski is very similar in that he’s athletic, good in space and should be good in coverage. Like with Floyd, the Bears aren’t going to ask their linebackers to take on blocks.
• I fully expect Deon Bush to start at safety next to Adrian Amos. As I said before the draft, the Bears want safeties who can run and hit. Now they have two who can do so.
• I understand the concerns about the lack of depth and top-line talent the Bears have in the secondary, but don’t underestimate Ed Donatell. He had a fifth rounder and two UDFAs playing a lot in the secondary last year and the Bears were fourth in passing defense. Fourth. I have no idea what to expect from Bush, Deiondre’ Hall or DeAndre Houston-Carson this year, but I’d be surprised if at least one didn’t make a big impact this year and two didn’t play well.
• Jordan Howard is perfect for the Bears and the Bears are perfect for Jordan Howard. Dude is pure power, to the point that he can’t handle a full load. He and Jeremy Langford should compliment each other very nicely.
• Daniel Braverman is Wes Welker. But Welker wasn’t good without Tom Brady. I think he redshirts this year and then we’ll reevaluate a year from now.
• I try not to overevaluate the draft too much, but I don’t think the Vikings got better. Laquon Treadwell is fine, but he’s not going to be able to create separation and they have a quarterback who doesn’t make tight throws. Mackensie Alexander is a fine prospect, but he won’t play for two years unless they have a major injury. I don’t see anyone else who helps them. This is the first time in a long time I can remember feeling that about the Vikings draft.
• The Packers always have at least one impact rookie. Kenny Clark will start and be an upgrade over B.J. Raji, but did they move the needle other than that? Jason Spriggs won’t play unless there’s an injury. Kyler Fackrell will be their fourth edge. They needed an inside linebacker and more depth on the defensive line. I don’t think Blake Martinez or Dean Lowry helps them.
• It’s funny seeing the Bears and Packers run a very similar defense, yet have completely different values when it comes to player evaluation. The Packers don’t care about length.
• I tip my cap to the Lions for the work they’re doing in the trenches. I wanted A’Shawn Robinson to be a Bear. A foot injury pushed him back, but I think he’s going to be a stud.