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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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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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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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Data Entry: Looking at WR fits in the Draft

| March 20th, 2018

 

Before the Combine, I looked at WRs who found success in coach Matt Nagy’s offense in Kansas City and identified physical traits that they all shared. When examining their Combine performance, I found three drills they all typically excelled at:

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

Now that major free agency dominoes have fallen and attention is starting to turn more towards the draft, let’s look at all the WRs from the Combine and see how they fared in these three drills. This will help identify what wide receivers might be good fits for the Bears in the draft this year.


Hit All Three

Out of the forty-four WRs at the Combine, there were 7 who hit all three physical thresholds. They are shown in the table below.

A few thoughts on this group:

  • For my money, DJ Moore is the best WR in the draft for this offense, and I’ve thought that since before the Combine. He’d be a great pick for the Bears in round 2 if he’s still on the board, but it’s also unlikely they look at a WR that high given their investment in the position in free agency.
  • It’s important to remember that simply hitting these three thresholds does not make a good WR. It just means that physically they would be a good fit in this offense, and probably warrant looking into to see how good of a WR they actually are. I am not saying these are the 7 best WRs in the draft.
  • Many of these players are actually projected to go on day 3, including Antonio Calloway, Richie James, Tre’Quan Smith, and Jester Weah. All are very good fits for this offense and are names to keep in mind for the Bears in the later rounds. Michael Gallup has a chance to still be there in round 4 as well.
  • Antonio Calloway is an interesting case. He’s had a laundry list of off-field problems but is immensely talented. If he wasn’t such a problem, he’d likely be drafted in the first two rounds. Could the Bears look for a late-round flyer there?
  • Richie James also jumps out to me as a guy who fits really well. He’s a small school prospect projected to go in the late rounds, and is a small, shifty WR who profiles well into this offense.

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Audibles: Fuller Transitioned, Draft Thoughts, Kevin White, Q Brothers, Links!

| March 8th, 2018

A lot seemingly going on in the land of the Bears. Let’s take a look at some of it.


Kyle Fuller, Transitioned

There was much debate this off-season about the best approach to Fuller, a player with one of the most tumultuously bizarre starts to an NFL career many can remember. He’s been at turns terrific and terrible, including missing an entire season for injury reasons the organization did not believe were valid.

Ryan Pace had to answer a simple question: did Fuller’s 2017 performance convince him the corner was worthy of top corner money? Applying the transition tag answers that question with a definitive NO. The Bears like Fuller. But if they valued him as a top corner, there were plenty of deals struck at the position last off-season to set the market.

The Bears will now see how the marketplace values Fuller. And they’ll know that if they want him on their 2018 roster, it is fully in their control.


Three Thoughts on the Draft

The official email account of DBB receives more action in the lead-up to the draft than at any other time. And thankfully there are now people like Data and Andrew writing here because my god do I find the whole draft process to be a colossal bore. Here are three general thoughts.

(1) Unless a team has designs on one specific player (Bears with Trubisky, Falcons with Julio…etc.) they almost ALWAYS want to trade back. GMs and scouting departments live for this shit. The more times they can get on the clock, the more opportunities they have to pad their resumes. (So stop emailing me and asking me if the Bears want to trade back.)

(2) Ryan Pace has made three first-round picks. Kevin White, a freak athlete who can’t stay on the field. Leonard Floyd, a freak athlete who struggles to stay on the field. Mitch Trubisky, quarterback of the future. But there’s more pressure on this off-season for Pace than any previous one. Don’t be surprised if his approach veers more conservative on draft weekend.

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Backing It Up: Should the Chicago Bears Draft Luke Falk as 2nd String QB?

| February 15th, 2018

The Chicago Bears have found their answer at starting quarterback, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely set at the position. It remains to be seen who else will be in the quarterback room with Trubisky this year, backing him up.

We know for sure one guy who won’t be there: Mike Glennon. Glennon’s a fine backup, and I’m sure he’ll land somewhere in 2018, but it won’t be Chicago. Then there’s Mark Sanchez, who undoubtedly proved an excellent mentor to Trubisky, and is someone I’d like to see stay with the organization in some capacity. I just don’t know if I want him out on the field if Trubisky gets injured. (Actually, I’m pretty sure I don’t.)

So what are the Bears to do?

Certainly there is never a shortage of veteran backups looking for a landing spot and the hot rumor has Matt Nagy looking at Chase Daniel this March. But there’s also another option: a rookie quarterback later in the draft.

When Ryan Pace was first hired as Chicago’s GM he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t be opposed to drafting a quarterback every year. Well he didn’t take any in years one and two, so maybe he’s due for another QB in year four?

One quarterback prospect expected to go in the later rounds, who has gotten a fair amount of press coverage due in part to making a positive impression on multiple teams during Senior Bowl week, is Washington State University quarterback Luke Falk.

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Bears Fans Should Love Pace’s Aggressiveness

| May 3rd, 2017

“I don’t want to be average around here, I want to be great and these are the moves you have to make.”-Ryan Pace

For the first time in my lifetime, at least the parts I can remember, the Bears have a General Manager who gets it.

They have a GM who doesn’t just want to make the playoffs or compete with the rest of the division.

They have a GM who wants to kick everybody’s ass.

And, for some reason, people are mad about it.

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