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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: 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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