Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and beyond

Kevin C. Cox

Check out my Thoughts on the NFL this week, and be sure to leave a few of your own in the comment section.

1) If you're already getting sick of the Johnny Football hype train, then be glad that the Cleveland Browns turned down the chance to be the featured team on HBO's Hard Knocks. Can you imagine how much more Johnny Manziel would be force fed to us had the Browns accepted?

Since Cleveland has a first year coach they were able to refuse the show, but that still leaves eight teams in the running that can't refuse. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears and New York Giants all meet the criteria to be featured this season. Unless some team volunteers, my money's still on the Bears being "asked" to allow cameras to follow them around.

2) Speaking of Manziel, did you see that he was picked in the Major League Baseball draft? The San Diego Padres made Mazniel the 837th player selected and further showcased just how silly their draft is.

3) For some fans of the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman, you're probably glad to see him make the cover of Madden NFL 15, but I'm sure there are some of you wishing for the cover curse to take hold of the brash cornerback.

4) Why does the most profitable sports league in America need free hotel suites, free parking and free tee times at the best golf courses? If you haven't checked out The NFL's extravagant demands for Super Bowl host cities, you really need to. When it comes to hosting a Super Bowl, the juice does not seem to be worth the squeeze.

5) I had no problem with the San Francisco 49ers handing a potentially $126 million deal to Colin Kaepernick. That's just the price of having a franchise quarterback in today's NFL. Believe it or not, the 49ers actually gave him a team friendly deal, and if you're so inclined you can get the details from or sister site Niners Nation.

6) The idea that Tom Brady is no longer a top 5 quarterback is laughable to some, but the numbers tell the story that Brady is slipping. With that being said, I'd expect him to come back with a vengeance in 2014, just to prove the doubters wrong.

7) Offensive line guru Mike Tice had some issues in Chicago, but he's hoping to get back on track in Atlanta. As the Falcons O-Line coach, he's expecting big things from a team that stumbled to a 4-12 record last year, and I tend to agree with him.

"The offensive line has to be the engine that lets the fancy rims and the paint job look good. If the engine's not working, the paint job looks like (expletive). ... We're the engine, and we have to fuel all those great players we have in the skill positions because we have a bunch."

Atlanta has the skill players on offense to be a Super Bowl contender, they just need the o-line to come through. Health, the draft and free agency has them feeling good about the unit in 2014.

Quarterback Matt Ryan took a lot of criticism last year, but he actually had a very good season behind a bad o-line and without his top receiver for most of 2013.

8) In case you missed it, Chicago is in the running to host the NFL Draft in 2015, and the dates being proposed by the NFL point to a four day draft taking place. I wouldn't be surprised to see TV ratings and Twitter buzz drive the Draft to even longer heights.

Would a day per round be overkill?

9) The 2011 draft class was the last one that Jerry Angelo presided over for the Chicago Bears and, now that's it's been three years, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com is taking a look back and grading each teams draft haul. The Bears were lone lone F of the year.

His best pick: defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who hopes to be healthy this year and earn a second contract with the Bears. His worst pick: offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, who was traded away, and his value pick was safety Chris Conte.

Bears fans might cringe at the sight of Conte on the list, but the guy has started 40 games during his tenure and produced six interceptions as a deep middle defender. Sure, he has struggled in coverage at times, but he has been the best safety on the roster the past two seasons.

10) ESPN Analyst Todd McShay isn't the only member of the media that is high on rookie Chicago Bears safety Brock Vereen. NFL.com's Gil Brandt lists Vereen as a a potential impact player.

The Bears need safety help, and Vereen has the potential to be the answer for them. He's a very good athlete with speed and strength who started at both safety and corner for the University of Minnesota in 2013. Vereen is a hard worker and smart player who should start this season. At the least, he'll be a special teams presence. Football runs in the family: Brock's brother is New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen, while their father, Henry, played in the CFL.

The Bears report to training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in just 45 days...

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