We now have a complete staff. A staff made up of teachers. A staff pasted together by trust. One way or another our whole staff has some type of connection. The combine is now over and I personally think we've learned alot. I also think I'm getting closer to figuring the twins out. One thing I am confident of is Emery making the right decisions heading into the new season. Unlike last year I think we have multiple picks that we can be happy with at the 20th slot in the draft. Grab your note pads and open your imagination as I take you into minds of the cerebral twins. Be sure to take notice of the draft grades in parenthesis.
Free Agent Targets: Josh McCown
Overview: We will not be drafting a quarterback in rounds 1 thru 5. If we get a quarterback in the 6th round he will be either a cerebral guy or a measurable guy. We dont have too many picks to play with so drafting a quarterback is not an option right now. We dont have too much cap space so dont expect to see a glamour pick free agency wise. The only way we sign a glamour FA quarterback is if everything else we do in free agency goes wrong. For those of you who think we should draft a quarterback shame on you. Our staff has not yet determined and rated the skill set of our current quarterbacks. And if you look at who will be available in free agency this year and next there is no better option than Cutler. If you look at who will be available in next years draft there is no absolute beast of a talent.
Final Word: Jay Cutler is our guy whether you like it or not.
Draft Targets: Johnathan Franklin(72.3), Zack Line(63.7), Christine Micheal(71.4)
Overview: If we made no moves at the runningback position in free agency or the draft i would be ok. We do have a need for a fullback so we may try to address that in the draft if one of our guys of interest fall into out hands. How we use E-Rod hasnt been determined just yet. Whether he is at fullback or H-back he will have more opportunities to touch the ball this year. We could get creative and line up Bush or Unga at fullback but we will let training camp determine that. Don't be surprised if we trade Bush for another draft selection and some cleared cap space. Our transition from supposed run offense to our now win-the-game-offense means Bush's value may not be as high as it was when we signed him. That does not mean that Bush isnt capable of succeeding in our offense so dont rule out the idea of keeping him.
The three backs the Bears have shown interest in tell me a couple things. After watching film Franklin is a lower-center-of-gravity version of Matt Forte. He could fall into the 3rd or 4th round, and depending on our options for that particular round he may be the last option on our board. Though Christine Micheal is one heck of a back that probally has no chance of falling to us i think the Bears have interest in Christine and Zack Line as fullbacks. They both would provide the needed power at the position and the ability to catch the ball. Unlike other fullbacks they will have ample opportunity to touch the ball. Dont sleep on Zack Line, he was one heck of a runningback. If you look at Zack Line's draft grade i think we can definitely pull that off in the 4th to 5th round area. Drafting a kid like Line will also solidify the idea of using E-Rod more like an H-back than fullback.Final Word: Having Forte is now a luxury rather than life or death. I think I like it that way.
Draft Targets: Tyler Eifert(83.3), Zach Ertz(82.2), Gavin Escobar(79.0), Joseph Fauria(60.8), Travis Kelce(80.0), Vance McDonald(76.0), Ryan Otten(62.2), Jack Doyle(n/a), Zach Sudfield(n/a), T.J. Knowles(n/a)
Overview: Maybe we can finally see a tight end involved in our offense. I think we will see that this year. As much as i've enjoyed the thought of Eifert catching the ball from Cutler i dont think it's gonna happen. I'm looking at the confirmed interest we have in a kid like Jack Doyle, and im looking at all the tight ends we already have on the roster and i dont think we will be drafting a tight end higher than the fourth round. I beleive this problem will get resolved in free agency or by numbers. When i say numbers i think we are going to give so many guys the opportunity to compete one will show up as a winner for the position. Regardless of who we line up at tight end the play calling will work to the players strengths according to Marc Trestman.
Martellus Bennett could definitely get the job done in our offense but i dont think we will want to spend the money he will be asking for. Myers was Oakland's Brandon Marshall. He was the reliable target on every play. So the addition of Myers would definitely take some pressure off of Marshall. Dickson has yet to hit his peak and he could definitely get the job done in Chicago. Thinking in the mindset of Phil Emery these free agents would fall right in tune with this years class of tight ends, if not ahead of them. If you are thinking of the other free agent tight ends i think they throw up more red flags than the three i chose. Dustin Keller is getting old and is battling the injury bug. Delanie Walker is old and undersized. And Anthony Fansano is a mediocre pass catcher and getting close to being old too. So factor that into your thinking as we try to assume what the Bears will do in regard to solving our tight end dilemma.
Eifert is ahead of the class by leaps and bounds. In my eyes my liking for Ertz regressed after watching him at the combine. He is still good but not to the level i had him in my mind. Though McDonald was a combine stud there still seems to be something missing from him. I'm just not sure what it is. I wouldnt fuss about drafting him but he teeters more toward the bust side than the boom side. The two guys i would be happy with are Kelce and Escobar. Though Gavin ran a slow 40 time his shuttle and 3 cone were outstanding and that speaks volumes to me in the manner of running a route or getting open on a quarterback scramble. I would also be ok with Otten,Sudfield, and Fauria trying to compete for the position. But i would also be ok without them if you get my point. One person to watch out for at his pro-day is a kid named T.J. Knowles. He is a 6'8 254 tight end at Sacremento State. Just his height alone makes him worthy of a closer look.Final Word: I believe we will head into a a new season with a different tight end. As long as they prove to be better than Kellen Davis im good.
Free Agent Targets: Brandon Banks
Draft Targets: Tyrone Goard(56.0), Tavon Austin(85.4), Stedman Bailey(79.0), T.J. Moe(60.00, Ryan Spadola(51.0), Ryan Swope(67.4), Connor Vernon(55.4)
Honorable Mentions: Marlon brown(52.6), Brandon Kaufman(68.0), Rodney Smith(65.8), Jasper Collins, Reggie Dunn, Charles Hawkins
Overview: If we didn't make any moves regarding this group we would still have a better receiving corp than alot of teams. It looks like we were sure to sign up receivers early this offseason to see if any of these young guys can fit in Trestman's offense before they signed anywhere else. If we decide not to sign the Awesome Tavon Austin in the first round then I dont expect us to add to this group until the fourth thru sixth round. From the interest we've shown to a guy named Tyrone Goard and Emery's admitting we need more speed i think we have two needs at receiver to fill. Emery wants to make sure we have a back-up big body to put behind Marshall or Alshon if either one them goes down. And he wants to make sure we can add a burner in the mix. If for some reason we dont add another dynamic receiver dont be surprised to see Eric Weems role be expanded.
The new coaching regime is attacking the Hester situation differently then the old. They have confirmed Hester will compete for our returner positions but we have yet to hear about him and our offense. This different approach works out for the better. Hester will have the opportunity to have a role in our offense but if it doesn't work out then there are no disappointments because we arent expecting it. If Hester decides to retire or somehow gets traded then we have a need to fill at the returner position. Even if Hester remains the returner position needs to be something we address. Please do not expect Weems to be a starting returner because that's what mediocre teams allow, and Trestman wont settle for mediocre.
Before i discuss the receivers of interest i will address the receivers we need not to show interest in. Kenny Stills(66) took the spotlight with his speed and he has some very good film. But one thing that came out in combine workouts is his lack of ability to run routes correctly. If our staff is willing to accept him as a student he would definitely be somebody we look at. But i dont think we will go that route. Yes Marcus Wheaton(81.8) is fast but he also showed the same lack of ability to run routes during his workout. Robert Woods(83.1) was awesome but he will be taken in the 2nd round and that is one round i guarantee you we dont draft a receiver. Marquise Goodwin(68.6) stole the show from receivers not named Tavon Austin, but he is better at running the 40 than being a receiver. He may have potential but he wont be in our plans. Corderalle Patterson(90.6) is another guy that got alot of spotlight but he too showed he cant run routes very well. Quinton Patton(83.8) is a guy i would love to have on this team but he will be long gone before we even eye receivers not named Tavon Austin. Alot of us including I spoke of settling for Ace Sanders in the later rounds but i've now changed my mind. His film is awesome, but after the combine workouts you take notice of how limited Ace is. I was not impressed by Ace's workout. Since we have a limited number of picks i think we take a pass on him.
But, if we do have such a interest in a guy like Ace Sanders(68.0) for his return ability and what he could possibly bring our offense in the likeness of Tavon Austin i think we should look into a young free agent by the name of Brandon Banks.
A possible interest in Tavon Austin needs not to be explained, it's obvious. Tyrone Goard is a 6'7 receiver, that in itself speaks for itself. Stedman Bailey can definitely be the dynamic guy we need in our offense. He is more than capable of being one of Jay's favorite targets. Ryan Spadola and Ryan Swope are our back-ups to missing out on a Tavon Austin. They ran nice routes and displayed a decent pair of hands so we have to keep them on our radar. T.J. Moe's 40 might not have been pretty, but look at everything else he did during his combine workout. Connor Vernon was by far the best catcher and student of the position at the combine. If he would've had a fast 40 he would be a lock for the first two rounds. But since he was slow we may get the opportunity to add him to our roster. Both T.J. and Connor's skill set fit perfectly in Trestman's offense. The good thing with drafting these two or picking them up as undrafted free agents is the fact we wont have to sacrifice anything.
The honorable mentions are some low key guys that we may sign as undrafted free agents. Marlon Brown, Brandon Kaufman, and Rodney Smith all cover our need for more height. Marlon Brown is a special receiver with plenty of upside but he just cant seem to stay healthy. Jasper Collins, Reggie Dunn, and Charles Hawkins are a couple low key guys that may turn out to be a gem if given an opportunity.
Final Word: You will notice that i critiqued a couple good receivers pretty hard but you must be mindful that our new offense will be built on discipline and perfection of route. The receivers Trestman has inherited are under contract but who we sign from this point on i expect to be considered good route runners. Defensive Line
Draft Targets: Margus Hunt(82.4), Brandon Williams (73.2)
Overview: This is one position that i think we got covered pretty good. We just have to make sure the revolving door brings in quality. Forget all the schemes about what to do with Melton. Whether we franchise or sign we gotta keep him. Nick Collins had plenty of bright moments and its much easier to keep him then to try to replace him with an unknown. I also expect us to re-sign Amobi so he can compete against an unknown for a roster spot. We definitely have to re-sign Izzy because we know what he brings to the table at the end position and lined up inside.
The Bears have been connected with both Margus Hunt and Brandon Williams. Hunt is a mammoth of a defensive end with speed, and Williams is one Hurculean chested defensive tackle with power and quickness. If either our second or fourth round doesn't go as planned and one of these two guys are still available we wont hesitate to pull the trigger on picking them.
Last Word: Shea McClellin better come ready to show us why he was picked in the first round.
Draft Targets: Manti Te'o(87.5), Micheal Mauti(71.8), Arthur Brown(90.3), Alec Ogletree(84.0), Matt Evans(n/a), Keith Pough(70.5), Tom Wort(57), A.J. Klein(56.3), Zavier Gooden(70.0), Khaseem Greene(78.8)
Overview: As much as we would like to replace Urlacher with something great this year i dont think it's gonna happen, and i think Emery will take notice of that as well. Even with all the hype surrounding Manti two things can happen, either he will be taken before us or Emery may choose to pass up on him and possibly take him at 50. But i think we make the committment to re-sign Urlacher and draft a guy that could grow into being out next MLB. A couple low key guys that could fall under that umbrella of Urlacher heirs are Mauti, Evans, Wort, and Klein. If we decide to let Roach go or look for the next Briggs we may find interest in Brown, Ogletree, or Pough. Those of you who think Ogletree is our next MLB are mistaken. He would get ran over everday and all day. Two names that i had to put on this list are Greene and Gooden. Gooden is the closest thing you are gonna get to Urlacher in this draft. His college career and draft highly resemble Urlacher's fall into playing middle linebacker. Urlacher was drafted as an OLB. Gooden is an OLB who would have to mature into the middle spot. There is nothing special about Khaseem Greene but he is more than capable at lining up at one of our linebacker positions.
With the interest the Bears have shown in Matt Evans i wouldnt be surprised if we add two young guys to see if they are capable of filling Urlachers shoes after his departure. The guy i would like to see replace Urlacher is Tom Wort. Picking him up while Urlacher is present would be the best way to groom this young man for greatness.
Final Word: I think we go into the year with the same linebackers as last year, but I believe we will draft a future answer to one of our linebacker positions.
Draft Targets: Josh Evans(68.0), Bradley McDougald(54.8), Tyrann Mathieu(73.0)
Overview: This group is another strength on our team. Just think last off season this group was considered a weakness. We have three corners from last years roster that are free agents and until we determine who our next star corner will be we have to re-sign at least two of them. I expect us to re-sign Bowman and Hayden. D.J. will be the odd man out. Neither Bowman nor Hayden were spectacular but until we find an able replacement they will be on the team. The two Safeties weve shown interest in at the draft are going to be special teams guys who probally will go in the last two rounds or undrafted. If either one of them are undrafted expect us to scoop him up. I feel obligated to put Tyrann on this list because the kid has talent, and for two i dont think we will pass up the idea of drafting him late. He is everything we look for in a nickel back. His presence would allow us to let either Bowman or Hayden walk. If we can convince Tyrann to hit the weight room he could possibly replace Jennings in a year or two. His off the field issues don't really bother me too much. Until I see it come up after being drafted I cant and wont hold it against him.
Final Word: We have to find youth at the corner position. Im sure the Bears will identify someone at a pro-day
Draft Targets: Terron Armstead(73.0), Braxton Cave(57.3), Johnathon Cooper(86.9), D.J. Fluker(85.5), Reid Fragel(77.0),, Rogers Gaines(60.9), Lane Johnson(86.9), Barret Jones(85.1), Kyle Long(77.0), Luke Marquardt(68.1), Vinston Painter(51.0), David Quessenberry(69.2), Brian Schwenke(71.0), Menelik Watson(76.0), Larry Warford(85.3)
Overview: As I look at our active roster I realize how young we are. With a couple additions this group could be a coaches dream. Youth isn't much without talent but we have some young guys with ability. Because Scott did such a good job coming in for Carimi you have to bring him back and actually label him as the starter at RT until Carimi or someone else beats him out. Lance Louis is young and talented so we definitely have to re-sign him and give him the opportunity to retain his position. Hopefully Lance can have a full recovery from surgery.
The demand for Jake Long is unpredictable but I definitely think our staff is considering it. Regardless of whether we pull the trigger to get Jake Long we will still get an additional tackle in the draft. At guard Louis Vasquez is a possibility for us but he is more likely to be re-signed by the Chargers. The one guard who will be available is Andy Levitre and I think we should be in attack mode to attain him. With only five draft picks we must do as much as we can in free agency.
After watching what film I could and watching every second of the combine this group of Draft targets can definitely help us in our quest to protect Jay Cutler. Im not a fan of picking D.J. Fluker in the draft, but if we do, that may be an indication that we move Carimi to guard. I think that possible move is the reason we decided to look at D.J. Fluker. I did not list Fredericks because he wont fall to us at 50. I added Luke, Gaines, Vinston, and Fragel to the list because they could be late round or undrafted projects.
Final Word: I believe we will walk away from our offseason with a capable guard, and a young tackle and center. If we shore things up this offseason we wont have to worry for a couple years.