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Some Thoughts on the First Round of the NFL Draft

| April 26th, 2019


It was just about the most boring evening of television I’ve ever endured. And yes, I endured it on the off-chance Ryan Pace made some ridiculous move back into the first round. Here are some thoughts on what transpired, starting in-division.

  • Packers added Rashan Gary (DL, Michigan) and Darnell Savage (S, Maryland). Like the latter player a lot. Don’t like the former, who comes into his rookie season with major injury concerns. Green Bay has been trying to rebuild their defense for a few years. Have they finally done it? (No.)
  • Vikings drafted a center. Yes, he’s supposedly the best center in the draft but he’s still a center. To quote Andrew Dannehy’s Twitter feed: “Sensible pick, but, again, doesn’t concern me. He’s not gonna block Mack, and they still don’t have anyone who can.”
  • Lions got their tight end. I look forward to T.J. Hockenson being an All-Pro tight end for the Colts in five years.

Tweet of the Night

The Bosa family – father and two sons – are the only such trio to all be drafted in the first round since the Mannings. The Mannings win the tiebreakers for not being open racists on social media.


More Thoughts

  • The biggest story of the night was the breaking news surrounding Tyreek Hill. And I don’t know how any team, after hearing Hill openly discuss abusing his son while threatening his girlfriend, could respond differently than the Chiefs. “Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach announced the team has suspended wide receiver Tyreek Hill from all team activities pending an investigation.” is the first headline. His release is coming next. From a humanity standpoint, this is a good development. From a football standpoint, this is a huge development for the AFC.
  • Lou Riddick, unsurprisingly, had the best take when it came to the Raiders taking Clelin Ferrell to the Raiders at four: “If he’s productive, nobody will care where he was taken.” The rookie wage scale has changed everything…except the commentary surrounding the NFL Draft.

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Draft Prospect: Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State

| April 25th, 2019

Watch college football. See guys I like. Put them in my notes app on the phone. Tell you about them 6-8 months later. There’s a reason we don’t charge you to read this site, folks!


Video


Analysis

From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com:

Overview

Hill is an undersized but excitable runner with a go-go tempo that can work for and against him on any given series. He runs tough along the interior and has the vision and agility to slip tackles, but his lack of size and explosive top-end play speed could work against him. Hill might not have the skills needed to handle third-down duties, so he could be pigeon-holed as a try-hard backup with average upside.

Strengths
  • Consistent play and production in all three seasons
  • Feet have good life and runs with a wide base
  • Willing to keep runs play-side in search of daylight
  • Limber hips to balance and recover against contact
  • Fast decision-maker on the move
  • Able to slam on brakes for sudden cuts from a full sprint
  • Shifty in the open field
  • Tight, rapid spin move to rid himself of a tackle
  • Runs like his hair is on fire and fights hard against the tackle
  • Has access to sharp, lateral cuts to bounce the run wide
  • Outstanding ball security with just five career fumbles

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Draft Prospect: Gary Johnson, LB/SS, Texas

| April 24th, 2019

I watch college football. Sometimes I see a guy who makes me go, “Oh he’s interesting.” I make a note in my phone. I share those fellas with you. Make sense?


Video


Analysis

From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com:

Overview

Active inside linebacker with plenty of passion and aggression but a fundamental lack of NFL-caliber movement skills in space. Johnson is capable of handling downhill duties between the tackles but could struggle to match up with today’s space-oriented offensive attacks.

Strengths
  • Active, high-energy player and vocal leader
  • Aggressive demeanor is always on display
  • Key reader with quick response to guard movement
  • Patient to sift through moving bodies and find running back on the other side of it
  • Squares pads downhill to squeeze his run fits
  • Downhill mindset and takes shots in gaps to try and make a play
  • Solid tackle-for-loss total in high-flying conference
  • Core special teams member despite being full-time starter
Weaknesses
  • Marginal athlete with segmented, heavy movements in space
  • Short-strider lacking desired sideline-to-sideline range
  • Struggles to access desired lateral burst in his flow to the ball
  • Allows climbing guards to get into him first
  • Inconsistent playing off of blocks
  • Comes in hot and lacking body control as an open-field tackler
  • Could struggle to cover if matched up in space

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ATM: Don’t Let The Bears Surprise You

| April 23rd, 2019

If there’s one thing Ryan Pace has done consistently during his time with the Bears it’s draft with the big picture in mind, often surprising fans with his selections.

It’s also been clear that Pace doesn’t always see the team’s needs the same way as fans and media members do.

• In 2015, Pace used the seventh pick on Kevin White after signing Eddie Royal to a big contract and already having Alshon Jeffery onboard. Later in that draft he took Jeremy Langford with Matt Forte coming off of a career year.

• In 2016, Pace traded up for Leonard Floyd despite having Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Later he took Cody Whitehair, a move that led to the release of fan-favorite Matt Slauson. He then drafted Nick Kwiatkoski despite having just signed Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman.

• In 2017, Pace took Mitch Trubisky shortly after signing Mike Glennon, grabbed Adam Shahen after signing Dion Sims and took Tarik Cohen after Jordan Howard’s breakout rookie season.

• In 2018, Pace drafted Roquan Smith despite still having Trevathan and Kwiatkowski, then grabbed yet another inside linebacker, Joel Iyiegbuniwe. He later traded up to take Anthony Miller after signing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel then took Javon Wims in the seventh round.

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Analyzing Chicago’s Roster Needs Heading Into the Draft

| April 22nd, 2019

The draft is this week so it’s time to think seriously about what positions the Bears need to address with their limited picks. Let’s start by taking a look at their current roster so we can see what positions they might need more help at. My best guess at an approximate depth chart if they played a game this week is shown below.


 


A few thoughts:

  • This list has 48 names on it. Teams dress 46 players for game day. Remove one of the kickers and probably Nick Williams and that’s your 46 man active roster.
  • Honestly, where are the holes on that roster? Kicker is one, but otherwise running back is the weakest spot, and even that isn’t completely terrible. Outside of those two positions, it’s hard to see a spot where a rookie is going to beat out the veteran ahead of him for a spot on the active roster.
  • Combine the caliber of this roster with the lack of high picks for the Bears, and Chicago is probably not looking at rookies making instant impact in 2019 outside of running back and kicker (barring injury).
  • One exception to this might be on special teams. The Bears lost core special teamers in Josh Bellamy, Benny Cunningham, and Daniel Brown this offseason, and only brought in one veteran to replace them in Marvin Hall. There are snaps to be earned on special teams in training camp, and rookies at positions like TE, LB, CB, and S could be in that mix.

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Zimmerman Podcast: Draft Analyst E.J. Snyder [AUDIO]

| April 19th, 2019


Highlights:
  • The schedule is out. Bill and E.J. discuss key games, oddities about the schedule and the misnomer of having a hard schedule based on last year’s strength of schedule and how little that really means.
  • Snyder, draft analyst from Windy City Gridiron, breaks down the running back prospects in detail, plus some key prospects to look out for at safety, corner, edge and tight end.
  • Bill and E.J. breakdown draft strategy – should Ryan Pace look to trade up or trade down? Should he take a running back at 87 regardless?
  • A full discussion on how to approach the kicker position.

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Thoughts on the 2019 Chicago Bears Schedule

| April 18th, 2019

Commenting on difficulty level of a particular season’s schedule is silly. If the Bears are the team many expect – a team contending for the title – nobody on their schedule should frighten them, in any building. The Bears are good. Good teams beat other good teams.

But here are my thoughts on how the schedule shook out.

(The schedule is in the post directly above this one. See it? It’s right there!)


  • In the Evening Hours. Those of us who love the early Sunday game knew this schedule was going to break the wrong way. The NFL has been hungry for a good Bears team for years and they’re going to put them in front of a national audience every single chance they get.
  • The First Five. The Bears will be home to the Packers and Vikings, at the Broncos and Redskins and playing the Raiders in London. The natural reaction to this stretch is “the Bears should be no worse than 4-1 to start the year”. But more to the point, the Bears won’t be underdogs in any of these games (barring something bad happening this summer). It’s not a difficult start.
  • Bye Before Saints. If the Bears want to be in the Super Bowl next season, the Saints will certainly be in their way. Well, the Saints are on their schedule and the Bears will have two weeks to prepare for them. If the Bears don’t knock New Orleans off under these circumstances, and at home, they can’t expect to have the NFC playoffs come through Soldier Field.
  • The Middle Bit. Chargers, Eagles, Lions, Rams Giants. Five decent teams. Three at home. These are the kinds of games that determine a season. Bears played coin flips games with New York, Philly and Detroit last year. Easy to see a few of these games coming down to a play or two.
  • The Final Five. Tough, on paper. Lions are always good on Thanksgiving and realistically should have beaten the Bears in that spot in 2018. At Packers and Vikings are rarely a cake walk. And we’ll see what the Chiefs and Cowboys are in 2019, let alone what they are in the cold, primetime, Chicago air.

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