4/24 Biggs' Bears mailbag

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by little bear, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. little bear

    little bear Head Coach

    Sep 6, 2008
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    The Tribune's Bears reporter answers readers' questions about the draft, Dominique Easley, Shea McClellin's position and Alshon Jeffery's future

    Let's say that the Bears go with a defensive tackle at No. 14 and a player like C.J Mosley, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Kony Ealy falls into the 20s. How much would it take to trade back up and grab one of them up? That way the Bears nail two of their top needs in the first round. – Arnold A., Edinburg, Texas

    Interesting question and something you see happen on occasion when a team will make a pick in the first round and then swing a deal to add an additional first-round selection near the end of the round. I would say the likelihood of this happening for the Bears is very slim. The price tag for a draft pick, even closer to No. 32 than No. 20, is going to be high. Figure on that costing general manager Phil Emery his 2015 first-round draft pick and at least one other solid pick and maybe two. A club trading a first-round pick this year is going to want a sweet deal because it needs interest while it waits to collect on a 2015 first-round draft pick. Also, another team might look at the Bears and figure they’re going to have a pretty solid 2014 season so the draft pick in 2015 will not be very high. It’s always good to add as many pass rushers as possible but I’m not sure Ealy would be an ideal fit after the Bears went out and signed three defensive ends in free agency. There are probably greater needs and you nailed two of them with a safety and a linebacker. Finding a defensive end later on in the draft would be a good idea.

    What is the word on Dominique Easley from Florida? He looked great until the knee injury. Any chance the Bears are interested? – Bob S.

    The Bears would not have sent defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni to Easley’s workout in Gainesville last week if they were not interested. Whenever coaches start making trips to look at players, it is a sure sign of at least moderate interest in a player. How the Bears evaluated Easley, who suffered a torn ACL in practice early last fall, I don’t know. Easley is an interesting prospect and he might be the next projected three technique tackle after Aaron Donald. But he’s coming off his second ACL injury and the medical questions are valid. His value is interesting though. Some think he could be in play at the back end of the first round. Others think he’s a third-round pick and the disparity is because of the injury. If a team feels good about where Easley is at physically, he will not fall too far and the best bet is he comes off the board at some point in Round 2. He’d be worthy of consideration for the Bears at No. 51 if available, provided the team doesn’t go with a tackle in Round 1.

    With Jon Bostic best suited for the Sam linebacker position and Khaseem Greene possibly being the Will linebacker of the future, have the Bears ever considered Shea McClellin for the Mike position? I think with his length (6-3) and speed he would be the perfect fit. – Hector S., Apopka, Fla.

    I don’t know that the Bears have determined what Bostic’s best position is just yet. He got most of his playing time in the middle last season and wasn’t quite ready. It sounds like he’s a possibility on the strong side and in the middle. McClellin could potentially get a look in the middle but I believe he is best suited to play on the strong side. I don’t think McClellin has the lateral movement to be an ideal fit in the middle but the Bears are clearly ready to try about anything with him. His straight-line speed does not tell the entire story. Right now, I’d call D.J. Williams the leading candidate to be the starter in the middle. The Bears believe McClellin has been an asset to the pass rush even though he hasn’t produced adequate sack numbers. He’ll be better suited to rush the passer from the strong side than in the middle, in my opinion. Playing on the strong side he should be able to get downhill against the run instead of engaging an offensive tackle immediately at the line. He should be able to create angles against blockers and the ball carrier and have more space in which to work. We’ll see how it plays out.

    In obvious passing situations, Lamarr Houston will slide inside to tackle, and Willie Young and Jared Allen presumably will man left end and right end, respectively. Where does that leave Shea McClellin in the nickel? The Bears would only have two linebackers on the field and I can't see them having the strong-side linebacker on the field for coverage with Briggs. They did it with James Anderson last year, but that was more related to trust in Jon Bostic than Anderson's cover skills. From what it looks like now, I don't see how McClellin is anything other than a run down player if he wins the strong side job, which is the weakest part of his game. Seems to me that the signing of Allen signaled the end of the McClellin experiment. Am I missing something here? Should we expect Emery to try and move him to a 3-4 team? – Joe F., Oswego

    You make some interesting points here but it is possible Young or Allen could also move inside on occasion in the nickel package. I think the bigger point you’re missing though is it is impossible to have too many quality pass rushers. The pass rush was arguably the weakest part of the defense last season so if general manager Phil Emery believes McClellin is an asset rushing the passer – and his public comments indicate that – I don’t see how Allen’s arrival signaled the end for the former first-round pick. McClellin’s future hinges on his performance and not the performance of other players on the roster. He’s still young and if the position change kick starts his career, the Bears would be wise to hold onto him. Remember, Emery referenced Jason Babin back in January when he talked about McClellin, a player that took a while to come into his own. But if a new position doesn’t get McClellin going, the Bears will have to be prepared to move on. One other thing to consider: I don’t think trying to trade him to a 3-4 team right now would bring a lot in return.

    If the Bears were to draft a RB in the later rounds, would they look for a slasher/receiver type like a De'Anthony Thomas or a Charles Sims (if available), or more of a bull/pounder back like a Tyler Gaffney or a James Wilder? – Kevin P., Louisville, Ken.

    Interesting question and I think you can make a good case for each. It will probably come down to what player the team likes more. A running back with strong receiving skills could be plugged into the offense to give Matt Forte a break from time to time. But it’s not like the team has a shortage of offensive targets. A bigger back might provide help in short-yardage situations where the offense has had some issues in recent years. But I wouldn’t draft a big back just have a big back. You’ve got to feel good about the individual player and how you project him at the NFL level.

    Can you see the Bears drafting a top cornerback or safety in first and a top defensive back in the second depending on who is available -- @JoeyB_81 from Twitter

    I wouldn’t dismiss this scenario because the team has needs at both positions but the Bears are also in definite need of adding some young talent to build around on the defensive line. There is good depth at tackle in this draft but waiting to the third round to add a lineman might reduce the options more than general manager Phil Emery would like. There is also a nice crop of cornerbacks to pick from. Safety is the position where talent is thin.

    With all of the defensive tackle talk this spring there's been no mention of Stephen Paea. Do you still see him being in the mix at nose tackle? Will he be cut? -- @rayclark44 from Twitter

    I envision Paea still being a significant part of the rotation and in position to compete for a starting job. It will be interesting to see how things fall with new defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni, who will likely be pretty influential on defense. Paea played in 13 games last season and made 10 starts but he was replaced in the starting lineup by Jeremiah Ratliff for the final three games. Paea had 29 tackles with 1 ½ sacks and eight quarterback pressures. He hasn’t been dominant and needs to improve but I don’t think the Bears have the kind of depth to consider replacing him on the roster, not by a long shot. It’s a contract year for Paea so I am sure he will be motivated to put together a fine season.

    Should we expect Alshon Jeffery to seek a new contract given his early production? -- @ChitownArsenal from Twitter

    Jeffery is not eligible to sign a new contract until the 2014 season is completed. He is under contract through the 2015 season and, of course, the Bears could control him with the franchise tag after that. I am sure the Bears will consider long-term options with Jeffery after this season, provided everything goes well, but to speculate on what might shake out would be extremely premature. Jeffery is represented by agent Eugene Parker, who often gets top of the market deals for his clients. To accomplish that, Parker would likely need Jeffery to get to the open market or at least complete his current contract. The Bears would no doubt seek a club friendly deal if Jeffery was to be extended after this season in order to compensate for the 2015 season in his rookie contract. So, I’m not convinced a deal for Jeffery is done next offseason. Let’s see how he performs first.

    What role do you see Josh Morgan having? -- @A_Palmer56 from Twitter

    The only receivers on the roster right now with defined roles are Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. After them, it is wide open and some of the players under contract right now could certainly be released before the season begins. It’s about creating competition for the position and seeing how everything unfolds. Marquess Wilson looks like he will get the first shot at the No. 3 spot but he hasn’t won anything yet. Morgan, Domenick Hixon, Eric Weems, Josh Bellamy, Terrence Toliver and Chris Williams are all in competition with Wilson. The Bears could certainly draft a wide receiver too. Figure on six receivers making the roster (maybe five). Certainly the reserves are going to have to have value on special teams. Morgan is a part of the mix.

    Linebacker? Do the Bears really need one? If they draft one, what does it say about Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and Shea McClellin? Lance Briggs is good for another two or three years. -- @drewmolina from Twitter

    Maybe you thought the overall linebacker play was better than I did last season. The Bears ranked poorly across the board on defense and linebacker play was a part of the issue just like the line and secondary. I think the defense could use help at all three levels. Briggs, 33, is preparing for his 12th season and at this point I think it’s a year-to-year proposition for him. Counting on a 33-year old (he turns 34 in November) to be good for a longer period might be a little dangerous. It would be great to see him play well into his late 30’s but that is a stretch. London Fletcher played 16 seasons and he wasn’t particularly good this past year before heading into retirement. He had a rare career.

    How about something different. The Bears acknowledged issues with coaching last year on defense. What do you think of the moves? -- @chibob57 from Twitter

    By adding Paul Pasqualoni, 64, to coach the defensive line and Reggie Herring, 54, to coach linebackers it was evident coach Marc Trestman wanted to add assistants with deep and varied backgrounds in the game to his staff. I think that was one of the real focuses in the search process. Pasqualoni has been a head coach, he’s worked on both sides of the ball and he’s been a coordinator in the NFL. Herring has also made a lot of different stops in his career and they’ve both worked in a variety of schemes putting them in position to add new ideas to the defensive meeting room. The Bears also added Clint Hurtt as an assistant defensive line coach. His experience is in the college ranks and the belief is he will connect well with the players.
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