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What to Watch for At 2017 Combine

| March 1st, 2017

The NFL’s annual meat market kicks off this week and here are a few things to watch for:

The Quarterbacks

In case you haven’t noticed around here, this off-season is about one thing: finding a quarterback. This week is going to be the Bears first real chance to sit down and talk football with the top four guys: Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky and Pat Mahomes.

The Bears know who Brian Hoyer is, have a good feeling about Jimmy Garoppolo and are at least relatively familiar with all of the other veteran options. Their pro personnel department has done their work. They don’t know the quarterbacks in the draft simply because they haven’t had the opportunity to study them beyond their game tape.

Does Watson have enough meat on his bones? What does Kizer attribute his inconsistency to? Is Trubisky really short?  Does Mahomes have any clue when it comes to reading coverage? These are some of the questions the Bears need to ask.

The most important part is going to be the interview process. The Bears need to find out what makes these guys tick. They won’t publicly broadcast that information, but we’ll hear the buzz. The Bears could fall in love with a quarterback here and that could change everything.

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Finding A Quarterback: The Draft

| February 23rd, 2017

Editor’s Note: Andrew wrote this so we’re posting it as rumors swirl around the Bears QB position.

The best way to solve a quarterback problem is through the draft, but nobody has perfected that art. Or even come close.

Ron Wolf is probably the best there has ever been at evaluating quarterbacks. He traded a first round pick for Brett Favre, drafted Mark Brunell in the fifth round, Aaron Brooks in the fourth and Matt Hasselback in the sixth. He also drafted Jay Barker, Kyle Wachholtz and Ron McAda. The Patriots hit the jackpot with Tom Brady, but they have a long, long list of quarterbacks who didn’t pan out. The Cowboys wanted Connor Cook and Paxton Lynch over Dak Prescott.

For what it’s worth, my favorite quarterbacks the past few years have been Carson Wentz, 2016; Marcus Mariota, 2015; Derek Carr, 2014; EJ Manuel, 2013; Andrew Luck, 2012 and Jake Locker, 2011. What can I say? I like guys who have big arms and can move around.

That said, I haven’t spent anywhere near as much time on the quarterbacks in the draft in the past as I have this year. Time will tell if that’s a good thing. I can say that I like all three of the top quarterbacks more than I liked anybody in the draft last year, but not as much as either Mariota or Jameis Winston.

Before I break down the top quarterback prospects, here are a few things I’m taking into consideration.

Anonymous Scouts are Liars Or Fake

Every week somebody writes a story quoting an anonymous scout. They’re full of crap. 99% of anonymous scouts are people trying to pass off their opinion as someone else’s.

The Offense Doesn’t Matter, To An Extent

The line between a pro-style offense and a spread is more blurred than ever. Pretty much every college team runs a spread or, at least, something that used to be considered a spread. The Bears and most other NFL teams run a lot of spread concepts. The league wisely adjusted to what the colleges were giving them.

All of the top quarterbacks in the draft this year play a sort of spread system and all of them will have to have their reads simplified in the NFL. If their coaches don’t simplify it for them, the coaches will be fired. The Cowboys made things easy for Prescott, the Seahawks kept the training wheels on Russell Wilson for nearly three years and Cam Newton still runs a college offense. How did Adam Gase get Jay Cutler to limit his turnovers? He simplified the offense.

That said, there’s never been anyone who has played in the “Air Raid” offense and been a successful NFL quarterback. The player has to show at least some ability to read defenses or make adjustments.

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Get a Quarterback, or Why I Could Give a Shit About the 3rd Pick in the Draft

| January 25th, 2017

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Matt Ryan put the Falcons up 24 on the Packers and nobody thought the game was over. Why? Because the Packers had the best quarterback in the sport not named Brady.

The AFC Championship game was played by two quarterbacks with 6 Super Bowl rings and 9 Super Bowl appearances – more appearances in the Terrific Title than every other quarterback in the league combined.

Let me make something clear, Bears fans. “With the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Johnathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama” is not going to put the 2017 edition of the Bears into the postseason. The Jets have two of the best defensive ends in the game. Aaron Donald is a game-changing defensive lineman. Geno Atkins. Gerald McCoy. Ndamukong Suh. You know what those teams are all doing on Thursday April 27th? Picking shortly after the Bears. Sturdy defensive linemen are nice and all but they don’t move the needle. Pass rushers do. Playmakers on offense do. And, most importantly, quarterbacks do.

Before free agency, quarterbacks didn’t have to be great to win titles. They could be Jim McMahon or Mark Rypien or Doug Williams or Jeff Hostetler because the money was there to build a great team AROUND the position. Those days are a distant memory.

But Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have distorted the “franchise quarterback” conversation in the other direction because over the course of their careers, their divisions NEVER FEATURED ANOTHER GREAT QUARTERBACK. (Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is better than anything Brady and Manning ever consistently faced in the AFC East and South.) That’s why they are in the playoffs every year, with two of the three having limited success in the tournament. The other franchise-type guys: Eli, Flacco, Brees, Ryan, Rivers…etc. guarantee their teams nothing due to one primary factor: competition.

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Pace Wisely Using Draft to Invest in Offense

| May 11th, 2016

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With just two drafts under his belt, Ryan Pace is doing something neither of his predecessors did. He is using the draft to build an offense and support the quarterback.

One of the first things I wrote for DBB came at a time when we didn’t know if Jay Cutler was going to be the quarterback. It was clear the Bears had failed to provide the quarterback with necessary weapons and I argued Pace needed to do better.

Through two drafts, he has.

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Bears Select Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida

| April 30th, 2016

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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.

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Draft This Guy: Cody Whitehair, Guard, Kansas State

| April 29th, 2016

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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.

From NFL.com:

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.

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Chicago Bears Big Board 2.0

| April 25th, 2016

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All the homework is done and the Bears are just left waiting to see who is there for them to pick. By now, they have a list of players they think might be available and have them ranked on their board, but nobody has access to that list outside of John Fox and Ryan Pace. So, here’s my best guess.

First, a few things I considered:

• The best player available thing is just GM talk. They look at positions of need and this list will reflect that.

• I won’t pretend to be a scout, so my “scouting reports” are based heavily on things actual scouts (current and former) have said. I do a ton of research on the draft prospects and put more weight on what those who do the job for a living say than the guy with 1,563 Twitter followers.

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DBB / Art of Men Draft Contest: Final Weekend to Register

| April 22nd, 2016

Art Logo

This weekend is the final opportunity for you to register for the DBB / Art of Men NFL Draft Picks Contest. There are ONLY two ways to register:

  • Follow Art of Men (@ArtofMen) on Twitter and send a message reading “Draft Contest”.
  • Go to Art of Men’s contact page – http://artofmen.org/contact/ – and fill out the form with the message being “Draft Contest”.

The contest will be simple. Everyone registered will submit their guess for the Bears first round pick. Those who get that player right will move on to round two…etc. The last contestant standing will receive two tickets to a Bears game this season. (Tiebreakers will be announced next week.)

If nobody gets the first round pick right, the tickets go to charity. Because, quite frankly, you don’t deserve them.

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Draft This Guy (Or Sign Him Post-Draft): Brandon Doughty, Quarterback, Western Kentucky

| April 14th, 2016

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If you read this space regularly, you know I don’t care about measurables. It’s not that I don’t think they are important. They clearly are a useful tool in the scouting process. I simply don’t care about them in the same way I don’t care about the Combine (which is actual pornography to measurables people), the salary cap (dead money! dead money!) and weekly power rankings.

Brandon Doughty isn’t going to be Peyton Manning. He isn’t going to be a ten-year NFL starter at quarterback. But when I watched him on the field this season I kept having the same thought over and over again, “This kid can play a little bit.”

I don’t think there is a star quarterback in this draft and I think a few years time will prove that teams reaching for Wentz, Goff, Lynch or Cook will find themselves in Ponder/Locker territory. Doughty needs a few years of serious NFL coaching and the Bears, with an established veteran QB and locked-in coaching staff, might be the perfect destination.

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Bears Should Say No On Spence

| April 12th, 2016

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You know Noah Spence’s story. He was a five star recruit, kicked out of the Big 10 because of two failed drug tests for ecstasy. He went on to Eastern Kentucky, had a productive year and made people drool as he ran around bad tackle prospects at the Senior Bowl. That was right around the time of the Super Bowl and everyone suddenly wanted Spence to be Von Miller. Here’s the thing: He isn’t Von Miller and isn’t close as a prospect.

I’ll get to the red flags later.

Spence has very real physical flaws that make me think he’d struggle even if he did stay clean. The best pass-rushers in the league are either long or athletic. Spence isn’t either. It isn’t just about his 40-yard dash time. He didn’t show particularly good agility or explosiveness.

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