Draft Grades: Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears addressed their most glaring need by trading for Brandon Marshall earlier this offseason, but continued an aggressive approach during the draft. They made some bold moves in an effort to catch the Packers and keep pace with the Lions. But if they don’t pan out, it could prove to be a rough start to GM Phil Emery’s career.

I jumped aboard the Shea McClellin bandwagon this offseason, but he’s not a top 20 talent and I’m not sure how he fits in Chicago. McClellin excelled in 2011 based on his performance in a hybrid end/linebacker role at Boise State. In Chicago, however, he’ll likely revert back to playing the traditional 4-3 end role. When playing with his hand on the ground, McClellin looked simply ordinary, so I’m not sure what the Bears thought they saw. He would  have been better off landing in a 3-4 defense.

Alshon Jeffery was worth a 2nd-round pick, but I’m not sure he had value here for the Bears. Their receiving corps is suddenly crowded and it’s tough to imagine him playing a significant role as long as Brandon Marshall is ahead of him on the depth chart. He does have some developmental value, but if they’re trying to win now, there were other impact players on the board.

Brandon Hardin was a definite reach in the 3rd round. He’ll compete for playing time at strong safety, but will need to beat out Major Wright and Craig Steltz.

Evan Rodriguez was also a reach. He’ll likely shift to fullback, and it’s tough to justify filling that need as early as the 4th round.

Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy will compete for a job in the Bears secondary, but it’s fairly crowded back there. The top four corners are essentially set in stone, leaving Frey and McCoy to compete for one roster spot. It’s tough to imagine both players surviving the final cuts in training camp.

The Bears potentially added two starters in this draft class, but both McClellin and Jeffery are big risks. Neither players put together a consistent collegiate career, which raises some concern. Emery’s approach to this draft felt like a desperate attempt to make a splash. It may pay off down the road, but he did very little to help them in the immediate future. Overall, this was a very average haul for the Bears.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Chicago Bears select Alshon Jeffery, Grade B+

Alshon Jeffery has a ton of talent and potential, but there were good reasons why he fell to the 2nd round. That said, at this point in the draft he is well worth the risk for the Chicago Bears.

The only concern I have is the fact that they’re pairing a receiver with work ethic and effort issues with Brandon Marshall, who isn’t exactly a great role model. I would be more comfortable with this selection if the Bears had a better leadership situation on offense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bears Comments Off

Chicago Bears select Shea McClellin, Grade B-

I’m not crazy about this pick for the Chicago Bears. Shea McClellin primarily played with his hand on the ground as a junior at Boise State and was less than impressive. As a senior they moved him around more and the really excelled in a hybrid end/linebacker role.

For this reason, I liked him as a 3-4 linebacker, but he’ll be playing a traditional end role in Chicago.  As a true end, he’s probably more of a developmental prospect than I’d like to see in the top 10.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Bears 2 Comments

Draft Needs: Chicago Bears

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Chicago Bears [full archive here].

Season Recap: The Bears started the season 7-3, but injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte lead to an 8-8 finish. Chicago addressed their depth problems by signing Jason Campbell and Michael Bush, and traded for Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall; reuniting him with Jay Cutler. The Bears are a team to look out for in 2012.

Team Needs:
1. Wide Receiver: Brandon Marshall was acquired for two third round picks, but the moves shouldn’t stop there. Jay Cutler needs multiple weapons in order to maximize his potential. Reuben Randle or Stephen Hill paired with Marshall and Devin Hester would give Cutler three lethal weapons to work with.

2. Cornerback: Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman are entrenched as the starters, but more depth is needed. Jayron Hosley or Alfonzo Dennard are possible selections in round two.

3. Defensive Tackle: Henry Melton, a former college running back, played exceptional at defensive tackle. Stephen Pae was drafted last season and has potential to contribute, but the Bears need to add another player for depth. Ideally, a pass rushing defensive tackle would fit best. Brandon Thompson, out of Clemson, would be a great selection in round two.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Bears, Draft Needs - 2012 1 Comment

Redskins should have learned from Jay Cutler trade

The Washington Redskins gave up an awful lot for the right to draft Robert Griffin III. In fact, it was the first time a team parted with three 1st-round picks since the famous 1989 Herschel Walker trade (ask Vikings fans how that turned out).

But while the Walker trade may be the best comparison, a more relevant example may be the Chicago Bears trade for Jay Cutler prior to the 2009 NFL Draft.

The Bears have failed to give Cutler the support he needs.

The Bears sent their 2009 and 2010 1st-round picks, a 2009 3rd-round pick and Kyle Orton to the Broncos in exchange for what they believed was a franchise quarterback (Cutler).

And while Cutler did lead the Bears to the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago, the Bears haven’t exactly risen to the join the game’s elite.

So what went wrong?

The Bears thought adding a franchise quarterback would answer all their problems, but Cutler joined a franchise with an aging and struggling offensive line and an undersized and ineffective receiving corps. And without 1st-round picks in 2009 or 2010, the Bears had to wait until the 2011 draft before spending a meaningful draft pick on either position (Gabe Carimi).

The Redskins are now in a similar position. RG3 may be on board, but he’s just one man. And, unlike Cutler, Griffin is an unproven commodity who still needs a good deal of development.

I wholeheartedly believe that  you need a franchise quarterback to win in the NFL, and RG3 might be that guy. But you also don’t win with just a franchise quarterback.

Until the Redskins surround Griffin with talent, they aren’t going anywhere fast.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Redskins 1 Comment

2011 Draft Grades: Chicago Bears

With just five picks there’s only so much you can do, but the Chicago Bears did a decent job adding a few players who can make an immediate impact in their quest to make another deep run into the playoffs.

Gabe Carimi falling to them at No. 29 seemed almost too good to be true, however, the Bears could find a way to screw this up if they’re not careful. The Bears coaching staff reportedly views Carimi as a left tackle. In the right system he could potentially play that position, but not in Mike Martz’s pass-happy offense. Carimi is a tough, physical player but lacks the athleticism to hold his ground against the NFL’s elite pass rushers while Jay Cutler stands in the pocket for what sometimes seems like an eternity. I do like Carimi, but I’m just not convinced he can be effective on the left side in Chicago.

Stephen Paea is a great fit for the Bears defense and could be a steal at No. 53. The release of Tommie Harris earlier this offseason opened up a gaping hole on the defensive line and Paea could potentially step in as the starter from day one. The only concern with Paea, and probably what kept him out of the 1st round, was the fact that his on-field play fell well short of his physical capabilities. He needs to find a way to play up to his full potential on a more consistent basis.

Chris Conte was a reach in the 3rd round and doesn’t fill a glaring hole either. The Bears would have been wise to add a receiver with this selection, or perhaps another offensive lineman. Conte will compete for a backup job, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll beat out Major Wright or Craig Steltz.

I’m not a fan of Nathan Enderle. He has a big arm but that’s about the extent of his NFL talent. His accuracy is severely lacking and I simply don’t see him making an impact in the league. He is definitely not an upgrade over Caleb Hanie.

J.T. Thomas isn’t anything special, but was a three-year starter at West Virginia and could win the backup weak-side linebacker job. The key to him making the roster will be his ability to contribute on special teams, which I believe he has the speed and athleticism to do.

The Bears added two potential long-term starters out of their five picks, which qualifies this as a decent class. However, I have to knock their grade down slightly if they’re going to play Carimi at left tackle. On the right side he would be a significant upgrade over J’Marcus Webb, but I don’t think he’s considerably better than Frank Omiyale at this point in his career. It’s a risky move, which could turn out to be a wasted pick if he fails to make an immediate impact.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Draft Grades - 2011 Comments Off

Draft Needs: Chicago Bears

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Chicago Bears [full archive here].

Season Recap – Chicago rebounded from a 7-9 record in 2009 by finishing with a 11-5 record and winning the division in 2010. Jay Cutler improved under Mike Martz and the Bears’ defense looked like their old selves. Chicago fell one win short of the Super Bowl after losing to Green Bay in the Conference Championship. The Bears won’t have it easy in 2011 while battling the defending Super Bowl champs and the emerging Detroit Lions within the division.

1. Left Tackl
e – Somehow Chicago found a way to win with one of the worst lines in the league. The Bears gave up a lead leaguing 56 sacks, as Jay Cutler took a beating all season. Cutler needs a blind side protector and there will be one available in the first round. Derek Sherrod would be a great selection. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Bears, Draft Needs - 2011 Comments Off

Chicago Bears looking for backup QB in draft

You can’t read too much into pre-draft visits. Just because a team meets with a player doesn’t mean they’re actually interested in that guy – after all, there’s no guarantee that they like what they see up close.

However, when a team invests a large number of visits into players at certain position it is a strong indication if their intentions.

Such is the case with the Chicago Bears, who have either already worked out or set up visits with three quarterbacks.

North Carolina’s T.J. Yates, Idaho’s Nathan Enderle and TCU’s Andy Dalton – all potential mid-round selections – have scheduled workouts with the Bears.

The best of the group is Dalton, who I believe could come off the board as early as the late 2nd round. As a result, he’s probably a long shot to land in Chicago. Both Yates and Enderle, however, should still be on the board in the 4th round or later making them reasonable options.

Last year the Bears drafted Dan LeFevour out of Central Michigan in the 6th round (and later cut him). Since that didn’t work out, it’s possible that they’ll try to land a quarterback earlier in the draft to increase their chances of finding someone who can stick on the roster.

Other possibilities in the 4th or 5th round include Greg McElroy and Ricky Stanzi.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Bears Comments Off

Andy Dalton generating interest from teams

With a large class of potential 1st-round quarterbacks the middle-tier guys haven’t received much media attention. One under-the-radar guy that is starting to generate some buzz, however, is Andy Dalton (my 4th-rated quarterback).

According to various reports, Dalton has either already met with or is scheduled to visit the Bears, Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Patriots and Vikings.

Dalton could wind up starting for someone in 2011

I have Newton rated ahead of potential 1st-round picks Cam Newton and Jake Locker, mainly because I believe he is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year’s draft class. He isn’t the flashiest player with the strongest arm but he is a solid pocket passer with above-average athleticism.

The reason for all the interest in Dalton is the fact that he fills a variety of needs for different teams.

Teams like the Bears and Patriots are looking for a quality backup quarterback, and Dalton can fill that role immediately. He may not end up ever starting for those franchises, but he can provide some insurance behind Tom Brady and Jay Cutler.

Others may look to him as a short-term starter. The Vikings, for example, may miss out on the opportunity to land a top-tier quarterback in the 1st round. However, if Dalton is on the board in the 2nd or 3rd round, they could select him and plan on making him the starter for 2011. Given the uncertainty surrounded free agency, this would be a safe way to ensure that they have someone other than Joe Webb at quarterback if they’re unable to address that need in free agency. In that scenario Dalton may only start for season, but he would be a cheap one-year starter who would then become a valuable backup once the new franchise quarterback is brought in.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Browns, Chiefs, Patriots, Vikings Comments Off

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment