ESPN: Bears Draft Plan Vertical Passing Attack
http://a.espncdn.com/i/teamlogos/nfl/med/chi.gifArea of concern -- Vertical passing productivity
Step 1: Trading for Brandon Marshall
Draft plan: Draft Stanford tight end Coby Fleener
Marshall is a great addition to the Bears' offense, but his acquisition is somewhat offset by the recent news that Johnny Knox, Chicago's best vertical receiving threat, will likely start the 2012 season on the PUP list due to his horrific back injury.
The impact of Knox's loss is hard to overstate from a metric perspective. Jay Cutler's 11.4 vertical yards per attempt (VYPA) and 12.1 stretch vertical YPA (SVYPA) last year were both very good totals, but those figures drop to pedestrian levels (10.0 VYPA and 8.4 SVYPA) when Knox's numbers are removed from Cutler's metrics. (Note: vertical passes are aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield; stretch vertical passes are thrown 20 or more yards.)
Marshall will fill in more than adequately for Knox, but to get to the upper echelon of passing, the Bears' offense should mimic some of the other great offenses around the league and get a matchup nightmare at the tight end position.
Fleener fits that description perfectly. His 6-foot-6, 247-pound frame matches up quite well with Rob Gronkowski (6-6, 265) and Jimmy Graham (6-6, 260), as does his performance when he was flexed out as a wide receiver.
Last year Fleener caught 13 of the 20 passes thrown his way as a wideout and gained 281 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at his pro day. Add in the 10-yard defensive holding penalty he drew on another target and it equals 291 yards on 21 targets, or a ridiculously high 13.9 YPA.
That alone would justify taking him with the No. 19 pick in the first round, but combine that with his superb 8.8 YPA on 20 targets thrown to him when lined up as a standard tight end and it shows why it would be sensible to make an early draft investment here.
2012 NFL draft - Draft plans for Jets, Bears, Vikings and Buccaneers - ESPN