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Data Entry: Positional Draft Trends Should Help Shape Bears Approach

| March 27th, 2018

 

The Bears have picks near the top of days one, two and three of the draft this year. (The picks themselves are in rounds one, two and four.) With several positions of need, the team needs to weigh the value of a position and the depth of players at that position on their board.

One must factor how many players typically get drafted at certain positions in certain parts of the draft. If they don’t draft, say, an edge rusher in round one, how many will likely be gone before they pick again in round two? And if they pass again in round two, how many will typically be gone by the time they’re up again at the top of round four?

With those questions in mind, I looked at the last ten drafts to see how many players were drafted at positions of interest in each round. I looked mainly at positions which are clear needs for the Bears this year, which in my book are edge rusher*, interior OL, cornerback, and offensive tackle. I also looked at wide receivers, tight ends and running backs, because I think the Bears might continue adding more weapons around Mitch Trubisky.

*I’ll note that the edge rusher numbers might be a little off, because I couldn’t find lists that grouped edge rushers effectively. I ended up counting all DEs and OLBs who I know are edge rushers from the ESPN draft positional lists. Full data can be seen here.


Round 2

Let’s start by looking at how many players at each position should be gone before the Bears pick in round two

We’re just looking at data for players drafted in round one because they pick towards the top of round two. I didn’t bother putting tight end, wide receiver, and running back in because those are likely positions that won’t be considered until later in the draft. The table below shows the average for the last ten years, last five years, and the high and low amount from the ten-year sample.

A few thoughts:

  • Edge rushers go early. Pick eight might be considered a reach for any edge in this class not named Bradley Chubb, but the top guys will all likely be gone before the Bears are back on the board.
  • There aren’t many interior offensive linemen who get drafted in the first round, so the Bears could look for value by landing one of the top guys there in round two.
  • Most of the other positions have around four-five guys drafted in the first round of a typical year, while edge mostly hovers in the five-six range. So if you’re looking at what types of players might realistically be there for the Bears in round two, it’s mostly somewhere around the fifth or sixth best prospect. Of course, who that prospect is depends on what board you’re looking at.

Round 4

After picking at 39 in the second round, the Bears don’t have another selection until the top of the fourth round, pick 105. They follow that shortly with pick 115 (all of this assumes there are no trades). Let’s look at how many players are typically gone by then at the various positions, adding in running back and tight end this time.

A few thoughts:

  • Here we see a bit more differentiation among positions. Positions where two plus guys are usually on the field (WR, edge, CB) tend to have 13-15 players drafted in the first two days, while RB and TE, which typically play only one at a time, have five-seven guys go in the first two days. This makes sense given the need for more bodies at spots that have more players.
  • A somewhat interesting exception is at OT and on the interior OL, which typically have fewer players drafted in the first two days despite needing two-three of each on every offensive snap. I don’t think that suggests extra value, as there are typically fewer OTs or G/C selected throughout the draft than WR, CB, or edge. It’s probably just because teams rotate through those other positions more, while offensive linemen play every snap if healthy. Plus the other positions roster more reserves for special teams than OL does.
  • The WR numbers are very interesting to me given the perceived depth at this position in the draft. No more than 15 WRs have been drafted in the first two days over the last ten years, and I’ve seen at least 20 names thrown out as day one or two values. I think there’s an excellent chance that solid WRs fall to the Bears in round four of this draft, especially since the consensus seems to be that most of the top guys are pretty similar overall, and teams will value them differently depending on their scheme. As I’ve written before, the Bears have a clear physical profile to look for at WR in their new offense, and options should be available for them in round four. This seems like an ideal spot to grab a player as the WR4 this year who can hopefully grow into more while providing depth/injury insurance in the meantime.
  • This is also supposed to be a very deep draft at running back, and not a lot of those guys go high either. There could be some value there in round four (or even five) should the Bears want to add a more complete back behind Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.

Conclusions

I find these numbers helpful to keep in mind as a ballpark for what should roughly happen in the draft, though it’s important to note there is always year to year fluctuation based on the quality of players at different positions in the draft. Still, I think it’s clear to see that the Bears should likely look at an edge rusher somewhere early in the draft, but they can probably afford to wait a bit at wide receiver and running back given the perceived depth there.

In the next few weeks I’ll look at Ryan Pace’s draft history to see what trends I can find, how those might factor in here, and what kind of players he might be interested in (including a few names) for some of these positions.

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  • SC Dave

    So Wood, where do you think Cunningham fits in all this? Would a RB be drafted to compete against him, or will they just dump Bennie?

    Cohen ain’t going anywhere, and hopefully Nagy et. al. won’t be stupid enough to jettison Howard.

    • I’d be ok with Cunningham as the RB3 if they don’t land anybody in the draft, but IMO they ideally get somebody who’s a better runner than him for that spot.

      It’s a really important role given Tarik Cohen is the RB2. If Howard goes down, the RB3 will be the lead back. Need somebody well rounded who can run and catch.

      • SC Dave

        Gotcha. For some reason, the idea of Howard being unable to play just doesn’t register in my mind. 🙂

      • Any mid RDers who fit that bill AND can KR?

        That’s exactly the type I wanted last yr in FA and Pace got exactly that in Benny, but he’s not as explosive as I hoped.

        Can always upgrade

  • That Guy

    I think it’s worth remembering: last year everyone agreed we were fucked at Safety, and the draft was chock-full of early-round can’t-miss prospects. And Pace bypassed his chance to pick a Safety every round until he got Jackson, who looks like he is The Answer at FS.

    Are we gonna see something like that again, with the obvious needs at LB and Oline not addressed in the first day or two?

    If we get the LB equivalent of Howard or Jackson in Round 5, we’re in good shape. I just hope Pace doesn’t outsmart himself in this draft.

  • leftcoastdave

    Really good article here if you delve into some of the tweets, esp. Robinson.

    Quote from the end: “Pace has sure done a tremendous job bringing men of character to Halas Hall, and Long has taken notice. Anybody else ready for September yet?”

    https://dawindycity.com/2018/03/27/chicago-bears-10-player-tweets/6/

    • SC Dave

      Talk is cheap, and tweets cheaper still.

      Let’s see something on the field.

  • BerwynBomber

    “DaBearsBlog @dabearsblog I just want so much more information about how the Skins feel about Cousins. They clearly don’t like him. But why specifically?”

    Thought I had heard/read this off-season that a lot of teammates thought he had been aloof and more about his payday the last couple of years. I also imagine the Kirk Cousins Victimhood act might get old when a guy is being franchised for +$20M a year.

    • SC Dave

      I know the latter notion would grate on me in short order.

      • BerwynBomber

        Yeah, I thought those viral “how do you like me now?” videos of Cousins made him look like a doosh.

        • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

          I agree that he did not look good in those videos at least from an outsider view. However, the DC press were harder on him than the Chicago Press was on any Bears QB over the last 20 years, so I kind of understand the emotions he had at the time.

          • SC Dave

            I find it hard to believe that the DC press was ever harder on a QB than the Chicago press was on Grossman.

          • BerwynBomber

            Yeah, the CHI press used to be vicious. Guys like Mariotti, Lincicome and Verdi offered no quarter.

            It is cupcake stuff these days.

          • AlbertInTucson

            Marotti and Licicome.

            SMH.

            Even his PEERS couldn’t stand Mariotti.

        • willbest

          As far as other players are concerned he more than made up for it by negotiating a fully guaranteed contract.

    • BenderMcLugh

      I’ve got a friend and the local bar whos’ a longtime Vikings fan, and he is not pleased with Cousins to say the least. I couldn’t even convince him to give him a chance, he thinks they are going to be really bad this year. I don’t agree because of the D, but here’s hoping!

      • SC Dave

        Maybe if all Vikings fans think the same, they can WILL the Vikings into suckdom.

    • willbest

      Playing on the tag twice will do that. Hard to blame the guy for not giving a shit about the organization.

      • BerwynBomber

        They paid him nearly $50M the last two years. Hard to shed tears for the dude.

        And I don’t think playing on a tag for a QB is nearly as bad as for most positional players for the simple reason that QBs have significantly longer careers; i.e., they’ll eventually get paid. As Cousins did.

        • willbest

          Not shedding tears, but keep in mind that they paid him league min his first 4 years, and despite being the best QB on their roster after RG3 lost his knee it was a complete circus. So it was 53 million for the 6 years he gave them, 3 of which he was a bona fide NFL starter.

          And the whole owner-GM blowup of last off season in the middle of his negotiating a long term deal probably had a lot to do with his aloofness this year because he knew he was going to be gone. He no longer “bought in” even if he did all the work he was supposed to do.

          • SC Dave

            Good points both ways, gentlemen.

      • But they tagged him because Shanny thought he was just a ‘system` QB. It’s a bit of hubris on his part I think. He probably figures if he can turn a 4rth RDer into a franchise, imagine what he could do w more natural talent.
        Not saying it was the right approach, but think that was the reluctance.

        As a QB, he’s not as good as Stafford, but he’s got weapons, a good HC and D that won’t make him have to become Brees.

    • I watched a lot of Cousins cuz of my friend.
      He reminds me of Romo. He can be Rodgersesque on certain nights, but other nights he turns into bad Cutler.
      And like Romo there seems something just off about him as a leader, so i can understand the Foreskins reluctance thinking he’s just a ‘system’ QB.
      Also, for some reason, Cousins always starts seasons shaky, so if we catch the Queens in Sept, might be able to catch him flat.

  • Kevin

    Just wondering why you picked the specific positions for round 2, but opened it up a lot more for round 4? Is there a reason why positions like WR wasn’t included in the first section? Would be interesting to see how other positions stack up too, like whether safeties, WRs, D-Line get any extra love or anything like that

    Thanks for all your work, love what you do and keep it up!

    • That’s a good question.

      Mainly because WR is no longer enough of a need to think they’ll address it with that high of a pick. Those first 2 picks are likely going to spots that could use day 1 contributors, and the needs there are at interior OL and OLB. You could argue there is room for a guy to earn a role right away at CB and OT as well, so I included them. Could have probably included ILB as well, but think that’s not likely unless they take a guy in round 1.

      I have the numbers for the other positions too, just kept the table a bit simpler.

      And I have other reasons too that will be laid out in more detail in the upcoming weeks.

      • Kevin

        Ah okay, yeah I just found it a bit curious because it opened up a lot more for round 4 position wise, so I just wanted to know what the reason was. I would argue that you could potentially see a D-Lineman picked. The Bears need to give Goldman and Hicks more breathing room so they’re still able to go all out at the end of games. I think they’re working them too hard, so a high pick for D-Line could be beneficial.

        Pace has done a great job so far in FA though to let the Bears go BPA in the first few picks though!

        Looking forward to what’s coming in the following coming weeks! Keep up the great work man!

        • That’s a great point. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a DL addition. But like with edge, those numbers are harder to quantify due to how players are listed (some DE would be OLB in this system, and they’d likely be looking to draft a 5-tech, who might be listed as a DT or DE).

        • Irish Sweetness

          We’re drafting one of those meaty RBs in the fourth, Kevin. I have already informed the blog.

          Aside: I see we had Equanamious(?) Brown in for a meet.

  • evantonio

    In today’s episode of Bears Things I Didn’t Know:

    Curtis Conway is married to Laila Ali

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      Go Curtis!

    • SC Dave

      Who is Laila Ali?

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        Dave I know you are old. There is a thing called google.com now where you can search anything you want. Just type her name in and you will learn all about her. You may know her dad, Muhammad.

        • SC Dave

          I ask those questions to point out that I dont care.

          Especially since its usually some bubble-headed bimbo whose only admirable quality is fine breasts.

          I did, in fact, then look her up and thought about adding that Curtis better not fuck with her unless he wanted his ass kicked, but instead opted to wait for a response.

        • Pretty Boy Assassin

          Please, if you’re going to use snark, you gotta do a LMGTFY.

          http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Laila+Ali

  • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

    This is interesting. I wonder how often it will be called on an Offensive player.

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/category/rumor-mill/

    • SC Dave

      Weird link… assume you were referring to new contact rule and not kickoff times for west coast teams?

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        sorry fixed the link about lower the head on tackles.

    • SC Dave

      And if so, most interesting of all is how often linemen will called for it.

  • SC Dave

    New contact rule… lowering head to make contact a (potentially DQ) foul… applies to ANY player anywhere on the field.

    • Sactowns#1

      If it did then they would basically have to eliminate the RB position.

      • SC Dave

        Went and added edit to the second part since you were already replying…

        But yes, it will be tougher to be a RB.

        I bet Barkley is thrilled.

      • Irish Sweetness

        Yup. ‘Lowering the head’ ?? So yes, now it basically means the RB position is illegal by default.

    • EnderWiggin

      Here’s a vid I made while working with Arto about 5 or 6 years ago concerning Matt Forte and the Crown of Helmet rule.

  • Joecashflow

    73 yd fumble, dumbest play of the year, rewarded with contract. Cooper.

    • Ah shit. Forgot about that dumbfuckery.
      As embarassing as the Houston sack dance

      • Joecashflow

        Bears have at least one dumb shit play a year. Cooper was 2017. Don’t know if the signing was a GM who doesn’t want to admit another FA screw up or they actually saw something in him. I didn’t.

        • Dis Guy Trublinsky (Johnnywad)

          The Cunningham touchdown that turned into a Touchback has to be up there.

          • SC Dave

            That was much more dumb shit of Fox than of Cunningham.

    • ButtonShoes

      It’s the Bears. I expect this from them.

  • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

    We signed our long snapper today. Most exciting news this offseason.

    • AlbertInTucson

      Hardly.

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        I would argue that the long snapper is the most important position.
        2013 Mannelly gets injured misses last 2 games…. Bears lose both missing playoffs.
        2014 Mannelly does not play because he retired. Team falls apart. Gould starts missing FGs

        I can’t see this being just a coincidence.

    • Scraggs? Pirate scurrvy

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