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Where is the Positional Value for the Chicago Bears in the 2020 Draft? (Part Two)

| April 21st, 2020

Yesterday I looked at top 50 prospects and found there is likely to be excellent value at WR, with solid value expected at DB, OT, and QB. Today, I want to look at the top 175 prospects to roughly fall in line with the Bears’ 3rd pick, which is 163.

The table below shows how many players were drafted in the top 175 picks at each main Bears position of need in the 2010-19 drafts. Because every draft is different, I provided a range from the least to most players at that position drafted in the top 175 picks within the last 10 drafts, as well as an average. The last column shows how many players from that position are ranked in the top 175 right now according to a composite big board.



 

Look at the ranges compared to how many players are currently ranked in the top 175 to get an idea of what positions are strong or weak in terms of depth for this year’s draft. For instance, 28 WRs are ranked in the top 175 prospects this year, while an average of 21.4 go in that range, and never more than 25 in the last 10 years. That suggests there is likely value to be found at WR in round 5 (though we never know exactly how a draft will unfold). A few other thoughts:

  • Offensive tackle likewise sees a higher number of prospects ranked than have been drafted in the last 10 years. This position was strong in the top 50 as well, suggesting quality options can be found throughout the draft.
  • Interior offensive line and tight end both presented poorly in the top 50 but are above average in the top 175, suggesting the depth is better than the top end talent and the Bears might do well looking to address these spots on day 3.
  • On the flip side, quarterback and defensive back are both below average in the top 175 but above average in the top 50. This suggests the Bears likely want to focus their attention on those spots with high picks if they’re going to be selected.

Let’s go through position-by-position at the likely value spots for the Bears’ 5th round pick and see what players are likely to be options.

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Where is the Positional Value for the Chicago Bears in the 2020 Draft? (Part One)

| April 20th, 2020

The 2020 NFL Draft is upon us.

The Bears have a long list of needs but short list of picks. They are currently slated for two picks in Round 2 (43 and 50) and then don’t pick again until the middle of round 5 (pick 163). But trades could always shake that up.

In order to maximize those limited draft resources, the Bears need to be smart about finding positional value with their picks. We never know exactly how a draft will unfold, but we can examine historical trends to see what positions are most likely to provide value this year.


The Setup

I looked at every draft from 2010-19 to see how many players at each position were drafted in the top 50 (their 2nd round picks) and top 175 (their 5th round pick). Since this is Bears-specific, I especially focused on their top 4 needs that I identified after free agency died down: wide receiver, offensive line, defensive back, and edge rusher. I also looked at tight end and quarterback since those are two future needs that have gotten a lot of attention from fans this off-season. A few notes:

  • My source for this data did not differentiate between CB and S, so I combined the 2 into DB.
  • They did differentiate between interior offensive line and offensive tackle, so I kept those separate.
  • They had LB and DE as separate, with some edge rushers on both lists. I included all DE as edge rushers (even though some were more 3-4 DEs, not true edge rushers) and manually went through the LB list, looked up scouting reports for every player, and included anybody who was talked about as an edge rusher.

I then found a composite big board that averages player rankings from 18 different draft analysts and used those rankings to compare to historical trends.


2nd Round

Here is the data for players drafted in the top 50. Because every draft is different, I provided a range from the least to most players at that position drafted in the top 50 picks within the last 10 drafts, as well as an average. The last column shows how many players from that position are ranked in the top 50 right now according to the composite big board linked above.

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Looking at RB Fits in the 2020 NFL Draft

| April 14th, 2020


Running back isn’t one of Chicago’s biggest needs heading into the draft, but they do need to add speed and diversify how they use their backs, so they might look for a player who can combine some of Tarik Cohen’s big-play ability with David Montgomery’s steady presence as a lead rusher.

With that in mind, let’s look at what running backs in the draft could be fits for this offense. Last year I identified four physical characteristics that running backs who thrive in this offense generally share:

  • Short. This is measured through height, which usually comes in at or below the average RB at the Combine (5’10”).
  • Well built. This is measured through weight, which usually comes in at or above the average RB at the Combine (214 pounds).
  • Good acceleration. This is measured through the first 10 yards of the 40 yard dash, which should come in above average (1.59 seconds or better).
  • Explosive. This is usually measured through the vertical and broad jumps, which typically measure out better than the overall RB average of 35″ and 118″, respectively.

Every running back Andy Reid brought in to Kansas City for this offense hit at least 4 of those 5 thresholds (explosiveness has 2). David Montgomery, Chicago’s 3rd round pick last year, hit 3 of 5. So this is clearly a physical profile that the coaches are looking for.

As always, these test results are not a way to say how good or bad a running back will be, but simply if they match the physical characteristics of previous players who have excelled in this offense.


4-5 Thresholds Hit

As was the case with WR (but not TE), this is a physically gifted draft class for running backs. 16 of the 28 who did at least 4 of the 5 tests hit 4 or more of the physical thresholds. They can be seen below, with missed thresholds in red.

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Looking at WR Fits in the 2020 NFL Draft

| April 7th, 2020

Last week I identified wide receiver as Chicago’s biggest roster need heading into the draft, so today I want to look at wide receivers in the draft and see which ones might be a fit for this offense. I’ve done previous work looking at wide receivers Andy Reid brought in to Kansas City, where he trained Matt Nagy. 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 seems to hold true in Chicago, at least in terms of the wide receivers in which the Bears have invested most. Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel all hit at least 2 of 3 thresholds. 2019 4th round pick Riley Ridley only hit 1/3, and 2018 7th round pick Javon Wims 0/3. (A day 3 pick is less of an investment.). Given that the Bears are likely considering WR in round 2 again this year, I think it’s worth looking at what players who might be good physical fits for this offense.

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.


2+ Thresholds Hit

Unlike at tight end, this is a very athletic wide receiver class; 31 of the 45 WRs who did at least 2 of these 3 tests at the Combine hit at least 2 of the three thresholds. Their results are shown in the table below (missed thresholds are shown in red).

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Light, Fast & Explosive: Looking at TE Fits in the 2020 Draft

| March 25th, 2020

It’s no secret that the Bears are looking to upgrade the tight end group this offseason, after the position gave them historically bad production in 2019. If past positional overhauls are any indication (RB in 2018 offseason, WR in 2017 offseason), Ryan Pace will likely look to add players both in free agency and the draft.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bears have added Jimmy Graham to this group in free agency on what is essentially a one-year deal.]

Last year, I looked at the Combine performance of every tight end drafted for a Reid offense in Philadelphia (1999-2012, 2016-present with Doug Pederson) or Kansas City (2013-present) to see if any patterns emerged.  Three traits stood out:

  • Light: every tight end was 258 pounds or less, with an average of less than 250 pounds for the group as a whole. That is appreciably lighter than the NFL average of 255 pounds.
  • Fast: the average NFL tight end runs a 40 in around 4.70 seconds. 8 of 10 in this sample size were faster than that.
  • Explosive: explosiveness is usually measured through jumps, and the average vertical jump for tight ends is just under 33″. 8 of the 10 in this sample beat that, with an average of 34.3″.

This then gives us a rough profile of a tight end who would be targeted as a pass catcher in this offense. They should be under 260 pounds, run a sub 4.70 40, and have a 33″ or better vertical jump. These all make sense. The main purpose of a TE in this offense (at least for the U TE) is to be able to catch passes. They need to be athletic and able to challenge defenses down the field.

I’ll note these test results are not a way to say how good or bad a tight end will be, but simply if they match the physical characteristics of previous players who have excelled in this offense. Think of it as a way to identify what players are a priority for evaluation.

Now let’s look at which tight ends in the draft this year fit the profile. The table below shows all of the tight ends from the Combine, sorted by how many thresholds they hit. Misses are highlighted in red, while measurements that player did not provide are in purple.

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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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