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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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Draft Prospect: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College

| April 12th, 2019

For those of you who are new here, here’s how I handle the NFL Draft. I watch a bunch of college football and when players stand out to me, I put their name in the Notes app on my phone. I don’t do any research on them. Just put their names in there. Then, around now, I see if they’re actually in the draft and find out what professional scout-types think.


Video


Analysis

From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com:

Hard-charging defensive end who calls on initial quickness, play strength and outstanding instincts to counter his lack of length and athleticism. Allen’s toughness and ability to diagnose quickly could allow him to play early as a run defender, but limitations as a rusher could push him inside on passing downs. He has average starter’s potential and could be in consideration by odd or even fronts at defensive end.
Strengths
  • Relentless effort from snap to whistle
  • High football IQ with instant play diagnosis
  • Usually first off snap with good initial burst
  • Disruptive penetrator in the B-gap
  • Double digit tackles for loss in three straight seasons
  • NFL-ready play strength to handle himself at point of attack
  • Eyes work around blockers and stay peeled on backfield
  • Hands and upper-body power to stack-shed
  • Forward lean for momentum into bull rush
  • Hard press to outside edge before making inside charge
  • Base strength to power through redirect blocks
  • Attentive in looking to challenge throwing lane with 19 batted passes over three years
  • Experienced as a reduced rusher

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64 Comments

Draft Prospect: Saquon Hampton, CB, Rutgers

| April 11th, 2019

For those of you who are new here, here’s how I handle the NFL Draft. I watch a bunch of college football and when players stand out to me, I put their name in the Notes app on my phone. I don’t do any research on them. Just put their names in there. Then, around now, I see if they’re actually in the draft and find out what professional scout-types think.


Video


Analysis

Safety prospect with good size whose college versatility could get whittled down to a more specific role. Hampton might not have the agility and coverage twitch to handle man coverage in the slot, and his run support is too passive when he’s backed way off the line. His run support is more instinctive and effective as a down safety and he should be able to handle man coverage on big tight ends. He will need to crank up the aggression level and consistently play to his size to make it as a backup in the league.
Strengths
  • Team captain, team leader
  • Possesses NFL size with a frame to add more
  • Offers big nickel and dime linebacker options
  • Above-average ball-tracker
  • Decent trigger to plant and drive from off-man or a pedal
  • Looks to attack ball side of the target and impact catch or take it away
  • Physical enough to jar the catch loose at impact
  • Operates with good feel for pursuit angles from box safety
  • Searches for ball-stripping opportunities
  • Consistent career roles in kick- and punt-cover teams

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Which Wide Receivers in the 2019 Draft Fit the Testing Profile for Matt Nagy’s Offense?

| March 25th, 2019

Last year, Data Entry looked at wide receivers who found success in coach Matt Nagy’s offense in Kansas City and identified physical traits they all shared. When examining their Combine performance, all typically excelled at three drills:

  • 40 yard dash: 4.51 seconds or better
  • Vertical jump: 35.5 inches or higher
  • Broad jump: 10 feet or longer

Receivers who were targeted for that offense usually hit at least 2 of those 3 thresholds, with many of them hitting all 3. And this seemed to hold true in Chicago, as Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel all hit at least 2 of 3 (it’s worth noting that Javon Wims hit 0 of 3, though a 7th round pick is far less of an investment than was put into the players listed above).

Though the Bears have far less of a need at the position this year than they did in 2018, it’s still not out of the realm of possibility they invest a later pick in somebody to improve positional depth, so let’s look to see who from this year’s crop matches the physical profile. As always, these test results are not a way to say how good or bad a wide receiver will be, but simply if they match the physical characteristics of previous players who have excelled in this offense.


Hit All Three

There were 42 wide receivers who did tests at the Combine, and 17 of them hit all three thresholds. They are shown in the table below.

A few thoughts on this group:

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How Well has Ryan Pace drafted? (Spoiler Alert: Very.)

| March 18th, 2019

The Bears were really good in 2018, and are poised to be good for the next few years. The man responsible for that turnaround is Ryan Pace. He has used a combination of draft picks and free agents to assemble nearly the entirety of one of the most talented rosters in football.

But somehow Pace doesn’t get his due as one of the best general managers in the NFL, largely because he got a lot of bad press early on as he oversaw three necessary losing seasons to overhaul one of the oldest and worst rosters in the league. But I’m here to fix that today by highlighting just how good he’s been at the most important part of a GM’s job: drafting.

The premise of this study is simple enough: try to find a way to quantify how well teams have drafted since 2015. Of course, that’s easier said than done, because how do you quantify a draft? There is no one perfect metric to measure the success of a draft pick, so instead I used a bunch, hoping that they would combine overall to give us a clearer picture of draft success.

Here are the metrics I used, with a quick explainer for each:

  • 1st team All-Pro nods: This is meant to be a measure of how well a team acquires top-end talent, the guys who can lead your roster to a championship.
  • Pro Bowl berths: Similar to All-Pros, but less demanding. Really good players can be Pro Bowlers without becoming All-Pros. Think of this as a measure of really good but not great starters.
  • Seasons as a starter: This is then intended to measure how many solid players teams acquire in a draft.
  • Career Added Value (AV): Pro Football Reference assigns a value to every season for every player, so I added this up for every draft pick from 2015-18. Higher AV = more total value from your draft picks (at least in theory).
  • Games played: This is more a measure of total depth measure than anything, because it counts everybody on the active roster the same. Basically a measure of how many picks stick around to contribute in some way, even if that’s mainly special teams.

Total data for every team (from Pro Football Reference) can be viewed below, with the teams placed in alphabetical order and average values for each metric on the bottom row.


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195 Comments

DaBearsPod: Post-Draft 2018 with Scott Wright of NFL Draft Countdown & More!

| May 3rd, 2018

On this episode:

  • (0:17) Introductory remarks from Jeff
  • (2:27) Jeff joins Trent & Ken on 1700 Des Moines to discuss the highlights of the Bears draft and expectations for the 2018 campaign.
  • (11:21) Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com breaks down the haul, with a focus on UDFAs from Dubuque, Notre Dame and LSU.
  • (27:42) A classic sermon from Reverend Dave on…who the hell knows?
  • Music from Chicago’s own Alan Gresik and modern jazz genius Cyrille Aimee.

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464 Comments

Five Final Thoughts on the 2018 NFL Draft

| April 26th, 2018

This space will be updated with information and commentary regarding tonight’s first-round selection by the Chicago Bears just minutes after that selection is made. This will include opinion from two well-respected league guys.


(1) I asked a current NFL general manager what position he thinks is underrated in this draft. “Wide receiver,” he told me. “Don’t be surprised if once the seal gets broken on the position there’s a mini-run.” The belief is there’s no star wideout in this draft but there are at least a half dozen “70 catch guys” (his phrase) in the mix.


(2) Based on some criticism I’ve read, I went back and looked at a few Quenton Nelson games. I didn’t need to. He’s exceptional. But one thing stood out to me: Mike McGlinchey is going to be drafted earlier than many expect.


(3) I asked a former high-ranking NFL personnel man which player will influence the drama Thursday night most significantly. He didn’t even hesitate. It was Lamar Jackson. “I have friends who think he’s the best quarterback in this class. I have other friends who don’t think he has any chance to play quarterback in the league.”


(4) The Saquon Barkley love makes sense. But why does nobody bring up Penn State’s horrendous track record of sending running backs into the NFL. Blair Thomas. Ki-Jana Carter. Larry Johnson. Curtis Enis! All early first-rounders. At some point, it’s not coincidence. Is this a reason not to draft Barkley? No. But is it reason for pause? Absolutely.


(5) Asked both of the aforementioned personnel men what the Bears need? The GM stumbled around and gave me nothing. The other was dead-on. “They need defensive backs that make big plays when they get their hands on the football. And there will be several available when they pick. That’s where I expect Ryan to target and I KNOW that’s what Vic wants.”

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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.

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ATM: Three Reasons The Bears Shouldn’t Draft Quenton Nelson

| March 21st, 2018

Quenton Nelson is widely considered to be the best guard to enter the league in several years and the Bears have a big hole at that position. But here are three reasons they shouldn’t draft the Notre Dame guard with the eighth pick.

3. Generational prospects are rarely generational players.

It seems like we have a player who is considered a generational prospect every year, but those guys almost never pan out.

It’s too early to make a call on either of the last two drafts, but look at recent history. Jameis Winston isn’t a generational quarterback like he was thought to be. Jadeveon Clowney is terrific, but hardly generational. What about Reggie Bush? Ndamukong Suh? Even Andrew Luck has been brilliant when he’s on the field. But generational? No.

The guys who end up being generational players are the ones no one — or at least very few — thought would be. JJ Watt and Aaron Donald both went closer to the middle of the first round, Randy Moss barely cracked the top-20, Aaron Rodgers went 24th.

The draft is a crap shoot. There is no such thing as a sure bet. This isn’t even the first time this decade we’ve heard someone described as a generational guard. Remember Chance Warmack? He went 10th and he’s a backup for another team now.

Nelson is bigger, stronger and more athletic than Warmack, but their predraft profiles are almost identical. It’s so rare that players who have the predraft hype of Nelson actually pan out.

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