The last several years, the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock held a pre-NFL Combine conference call with media members to field questions on draft prospects for all 32 teams. With Mayock now employed by the Oakland Raiders, Daniel Jeremiah has taken over the mantle as chief-draft guru for the NFLN.
With the Chicago Bears not having a first or a second round pick this year, there weren’t a lot of questions that had a specific correlation to what the Bears may do, but there was one such question posed that mentioned the Bears by name.
In terms of a pass catching running back or somebody who’s got a little bit of versatility there, who do you see in the third round or later, somebody perhaps the Bears would focus in on?
I know running back is a sore spot for some of you Bears fans, what with popular Jordan Howard still under contract, but even if the Bears do hold onto the bruising Howard, they’ll still need another back to take the place of Benny Cunningham and (hopefully) Taquan Mizzell, and to take over when Howard’s contract expires after the 2019 season.
Here’s how Jeremiah answered the question.
Yeah, it’s interesting, I was just going through this the other day and kind of looking at guys’ pass production for these running backs. Yeah, as you can imagine, there’s not a lot there. So these guys don’t catch a ton of balls.
There’s the kid from Washington State has a ton of production, James Williams. I think he had 83 catches. But he’s a little bit later on down the list for me. I’ve seen enough in Miles Sanders that it wouldn’t shock me -- maybe if he works out great he could climb his way all the way into the second round, but because there’s so many names at running back, he’s somebody I could see in that third-round range would be a nice sweet spot for him.
Bryce Love is somebody that didn’t catch a ton of balls, but I think there’s going to be a little bit of a discount on him because of the injury, and I think he does have some of the traits you could look for that could develop into that type of a role.
Washington State’s Williams is a guy I’ve started to look at more closely. He certainly looks like a fit for the Matt Nagy offense. He’s a bit on the small side at 5’11”, 200 pounds, but he’s not coming to the NFL as a 20-carry a game workhorse. He’s a shifty player that is great out of the backfield.
A question was posed about fits for the Kansas City Chiefs at running back in the middle to late rounds, and since they run a similar offense to the Bears, Jeremiah's answers apply to the Bears too.
When you look at running backs in the middle rounds, there’s a lot of really good options that you can look at. It’s kind of just what flavor do you want. Some guys that I’m a big fan of, when you look at Justice Hill from Oklahoma State who’s one of the smaller guys with big-time juice, just ultra twitched up, he’s a home run hitter in the backfield.
Then you’ve got somebody like Ryquell Armstead from Temple, who is going to carry 220 plus pounds and has that acceleration in the hole, no hesitation, just hits it. He is a tough, physical runner who I like. So that’s kind of the small back that’s a little bit of the bigger back, and then Jalin Moore, who I’m going to be biased about, is from App State, who got hurt this year coming off of an injury, but some of the best balance you’ll see of any running back in this draft. He’ll make you miss. You just watch him against Penn State in that game to open the season, spinning off tackles, making people miss, lowering his shoulder. He had a late touchdown in that game that almost won the game. He’s another one that’s real interesting in those middle rounds, so there will be a lot of options there.
I should mention Elijah Holyfield, as well, who is a fun player to watch from Georgia. Obviously Evander Holyfield’s son, and talking to some folks down there in Georgia, they said if you came out to our practice and we told you that there’s one kid on the field whose dad was the heavyweight champion of the world, it wouldn’t take you 30 seconds to figure out who it is, just with the way he plays. Those are some really good options there in the middle rounds.
There was also the following question that could apply to the Bears. Especially now that Robbie Gould is off the table.
Just a general philosophical question for you on team building. What are your beliefs about potentially using a draft pick on a kicker?
After a bit of laughter from Jeremiah...
I would say I’m against it, quite simply. You know, early on, I should say. When you get into day three, I think at that point in time you can go for it.
Last year was unique in terms of the punter situation with Dixon, who was a unique guy. I would feel more comfortable in believing in a punter a little bit earlier. A placekicker is just — I don’t know, man; to me I’ve seen it crash and burn, and I wouldn’t want to use a high resource on a placekicker. I’d rather draft one in the sixth or seventh round, bring in a free agent, and I’ve seen it more times than not, the odds are no different on that late-round pick versus that free agent of who’s going to end up winning that competition.
I think what happened in Tampa probably spooked a lot of people around the league.
What do you guys think about the running back options for the Bears in the draft, and could you see them drafting a kicker this year?