Brad Biggs' final Bears mailbag before draft

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by little bear, May 6, 2014.

  1. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/chi-bears-mailbag-may5-20140505,0,5077365.story

    If the Bears go with a position other than defensive tackle in the first round, what are the chances they would consider Florida’s Dominique Easley in Round 2? – Mark S., Rockford

    I think Easley would be very worthy of consideration at No. 51 if the Bears are in the market for a tackle at that point and he is still on the board. But it comes down to one question we don’t know the answer to – how has the team’s medical staff evaluated his knees? Easley has the skill set to be a productive interior pass rusher but he missed most of last season with a torn ACL, the second he has suffered. The Bears had enough interest to send a contingent of folks to his work out in Gainesville last month, including defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni, who I imagine will have significant input. The hope is Easley is fully cleared for football activities in time for training camp and his situation is why I asked Bears general manager Phil Emery last week if he would consider drafting a player currently rehabilitating from an injury with one of his higher picks.
    “That’s a tricky slope,” Emery said. “There are a number of players that we like that are rehabbing from injuries, so that’ll be, where are we at in the draft? Who else is on the board? My preference would be not to, but if we did it would be because we felt like, through consulting with our physicians, our team doctors, that player would be ready to go this fall.”
    Whatever team selects Easley will have a good feeling about his medical future. He would be a first-round talent if he was healthy. You can bet the team that selects him will consider it a value selection.


    If you were Phil Emery and Aaron Donald was still available at No. 11, would you trade up ahead of the Giants to take him? It shouldn't cost too much just moving up three spots. Plus, I think Emery should remember the only other time he's traded up it turned out pretty well, moving up five spots to nab Alshon Jeffery in the second round. – Robert O., Eureka, Ill.

    If I was convinced Donald was a Pro Bowl talent, it would be a move worth exploring but you have to wonder what kind of price the Titans would put on the 11th pick. I’m guessing such a move could cost a third-round pick, maybe a little more. The Bears jumped only five spots from No. 50 to No. 45 in the second round of the 2012 draft to select Jeffery. That trade cost them a fifth-round pick at No. 150 overall. Comparing a trade for Jeffery to a potential deal to obtain Donald is apples to oranges, though. Just because one move worked doesn’t mean you should make another move.

    I know Phil Emery feels Aaron Donald will be gone before the Bears pick at No. 14 and the reason why he might be taken by a team that doesn't really need a defensive tackle over other positions only proves just how much better he is than the rest of the tackle class. I do believe he will be there considering the teams who will pick ahead of the Bears like the Giants, Vikings, Rams and Raiders, might need a tackle but not nearly as much as they need other positions. The most likely team, the Giants, need to keep Eli Manning out of the hospital and with an aging and injured line and the lack of depth in the offensive line pool it's likely they fill that role or maybe a defensive end, wide receiver or safety. The Raiders just let go of Terrelle Pryor so a quarterback, linebacker and wide receiver seem more plausible than a tackle. The Vikings also need a quarterback, safety, cornerback and defensive end after the loss of Jared Allen. I have a feeling that if no team trades up to get Donald then he will be around at 14. My question is would they trade up to get one of the most sure-fire defensive tackles to come around in a long while? – Frank D., Skokie

    Lot to digest here. Let me make a few quick points. I understand the point you are making that there could be teams ahead of the Bears with greater needs than a tackle. But it will take only one team to feel like Donald is the “best available” player and pull the trigger on him. Everyone loves talking about using the “best available” theory when attacking the draft. That is why I pegged Donald to the Bucs at No. 7 in the mock draft I did for Sunday’s edition. Yes, Lovie Smith has one of the best three technique tackles in the NFL in Gerald McCoy but given Smith’s desire to collect defensive lineman and considering his control of the draft in Tampa, I think there is a real possibility this happens. I think you are also minimizing the possibility a team trades up to select Donald. The Cowboys are enamored with him and they have been aggressive in recent drafts. They were at No. 14 in 2012 when they traded that pick and their second-round selection to jump up to No. 6 and draft LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Please keep in mind the Raiders’ trade of Pryor to the Seahawks has nothing to do with their draft plans. They deemed Pryor not worth keeping and I am skeptical he has much future in Seattle. I like Donald a lot but I don’t know that would peg him as one of the “most sure-fire” tackles to come around in a long while. It wasn’t long ago – 2010 -- that Ndamukong Suh and McCoy went 2-3 in the draft. I wouldn’t rule out a trade up by Phil Emery but doing so might leave him shorthanded when it comes to finding a safety, cornerback, running back and some other positions he would surely like to address in the rest of the draft.

    I've read in a few articles Phil Emery has said that Lamarr Houston can play the three-technique tackle position. Any chance the Bears decide their front four is Willie Young, Houston, Jeremiah Ratliff and Jared Allen on running and passing downs? – Johnny A., Arlington Heights

    That is certainly possible and Emery didn’t rule out that possibility last week but my impression has been Houston is most comfortable playing on the outside. I think in a perfect world he projects best as a left end in a base 4-3 defense. Your scenario would certainly be a way to get Young on the field more and the Bears believe he is a young player with considerable upside. The equation you might have to weigh most here is how you feel about Young at left end vs. a possible draft pick at the three technique position with Houston playing left end? Ratliff could also play three technique and will likely spend time at both interior positions this seasons. In a perfect world, I think he projects best as a nose.

    Have you watched any video on LSU running back Jeremy Hill? At 6-1, 233 pounds, he looks awfully quick and agile for his size. He seems to be projected in the second to third round. Do you think the Bears would pick this guy up if he is available to them in the third even though the need on defense is greater? – Todd Y., Melbourne, Australia

    Most scouting folks tend to rank Hill, who left LSU with one year of eligibility remaining, as the second or third running back available in the draft. He led his school in rushing the last two seasons and paired with current Bears backup Michael Ford for a time. Hill was extremely productive last season with 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns and while he doesn’t have top-end speed, he’s very physical and has a nice burst. The big question mark for him will be character and I suspect teams will approach him cautiously. That is where he could fall in the draft a little and have more backs selected ahead of him. Hill sent a letter to all 32 teams earlier this year in an effort to answer questions as he missed the 2011 season following an arrest on sexual assault charges. Last spring, he was arrested following an altercation at a Baton Rouge, La., bar. Hill pled guilty to misdemeanor battery following the bar incident in which there was video of him approaching the victim from behind, striking him in the face and then high-fiving a friend. Previously, Hill pled guilty to carnal knowledge with a juvenile after an incident involving a 14-year-old girl when he was 18 and a senior in high school. So, character is going to be a very real question for any team that selects Hill.

    Do you think linebacker Ryan Shazier of Ohio State could be converted to safety? He ran a 4.38-second, 40-yard dash and weighs 228 pounds. -- Doug B., Mount Carroll, Ill.

    Shazier doesn’t have ideal size to be a linebacker and I know some people have wondered about the possibility of him shifting to safety but I tend to doubt that will happen. Shazier actually weighed 238 pounds at the combine when he was not able to run because of a hamstring issue. At his pro day, some timed him as fast as 4.36 seconds. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim addressed the issue last week when meeting with reporters in Phoenix and said size isn’t an issue with Shazier, comparing him to 49ers linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, who had similar frames when they were drafted. I think Shazier would project best as a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.

    Say by some odd chance when the Bears are on the clock with the 14th pick, Aaron Donald, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor and Justin Gilbert are all still on the board. Who do they select? – Cody S., Momence, Ill.

    My bet would be on Donald but I find it unlikely that collection of talent would be on the board at No. 14. It would probably take a nice run on quarterbacks, offensive tackles and wide receivers for those players to all remain available. In that scenario, Bears general manager Phil Emery could also be tempted to trade down a few slots if the compensation package was too good to pass up. Personally, I think Donald’s floor is No. 14. He could be gone before then.

    What do you think is the more likely scenario: 1) With nearly the same offensive personnel returning, the Bears offense is even better this upcoming season in the second year of the Marc Trestman offense. 2) With a year of the Trestman offense on film for D-coordinators of the league to review more heavily, the Trestman offense will offer fewer surprises and revert to the mean. – Kevin, Chicago

    The Bears were very potent on offense last season, averaging 27.8 points per game to rank second behind the Broncos. Trestman has a better feel for his collection of talent now and certainly there is room for growth across the board on offense. Defenses probably have a better idea of what the Bears are doing too but I don’t see a significant drop off coming, especially if quarterback Jay Cutler remains healthy, which is a legitimate concern. Keep in mind the Bears were very healthy on offense last season with the exception of Cutler, who missed five games. That is always a wild card for every team on both sides of the ball.

    Something I've been wondering about for a long time and is never talked or asked about is player development. A lot of Bears players haven't done so good and left for another team and played very well. For instance, Cedric Benson and Greg Olsen to name two of many. Is that on coaches, players or both? Seems to me the Bears need help in that department. What do you think? – John, Webb City, Mo.

    Fair question. I’ve always said the process is two-fold. It’s drafting and developing and the Bears struggled in that regard. That is why the roster lacks the type of homegrown talent teams like to have and why general manager Phil Emery has been forced to be so aggressive in other avenues acquiring players, primarily free agency. But I don’t know if Benson is best placed in this category. The Bears cut ties with him because of off-field issues. Olsen’s production, in my mind, was stymied by the offensive scheme in a lot of ways. There have been some misses in recent drafts but it is too soon to draw conclusions about the pairing of general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman. Every club has recent high-profile misses in the draft, the Seahawks included. The Bears simply need more hits.

    I’d like your opinion on Roger Goodell pushing back the draft. I understand wanting to make the NFL a “year-round” sport but now I'm sick of mock drafts and speculation. Yawn. – George M., Phoenix
    Speculation is the NFL would like a marquee event in each month with the Super Bowl in February, combine in March, free agency in April and draft in May. That would leave minicamps in June and then the opening of training camps in July to complete the calendar. The only event that has been moved for this year is the draft and you are certainly not alone wishing it was in our rear-view mirror at this point. No date has been announced for the 2015 draft and the NFL has talked about taking it on the road, or out of New York. Hang in there, we’re only three days away now.


    Brian Urlacher was a defensive back in college. What are your thoughts on Phil Emery taking Anthony Barr at No. 14 and moving him to middle linebacker? I think he is athletic enough. Your thoughts? – Ray L., Paradise Valley, Ariz.

    Barr is an interesting prospect because teams are trying to determine where he fits best. Some project him as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Clubs with 4-3 defenses are wondering if he can play with his hand down as an end. Barr had 23 ½ sacks over the last two seasons at UCLA, so pass rushing is what he does best. He’s very athletic and runs well. My feeling is that if a 4-3 team drafts him it will be with the idea of having him get after the quarterback and that makes it unlikely he would be shifted to middle linebacker. I think you want a player with that type of skill set hunting the quarterback. There is always going to be a greater emphasis on finding pass rushers than interior linebackers.

    Will the Bears have an all-defense draft in the first four rounds? -- @tree3323 from Twitter

    Anything is possible but I suspect they sprinkle in some offense before Round 5.

    Are the Bears willing to take Tre Mason with their second-round pick to complement and extend the career of Matt Forte? -- @ShrugSports from Twitter

    With the strength of the draft being on offense, I don’t think you can discount the idea of an offensive player in Round 2 with the 51st overall pick with the exception of a quarterback. I would be stunned if the Bears drafted a quarterback in the second round or third round. If the Bears have a significantly higher grade on an offensive player than they do a defensive player at a position that would be considered a need area, it makes sense. Drafting to fill needs can eventually cripple clubs when they repeatedly pass on better football players. But I don’t know if I would be driven to make such a move to “extend” the career of Forte. You’re drafting a player in the second round because you believe he can be a starter and fill that role quickly. The Bears don’t anticipate needing a starting running back right away with Forte under contract through 2015. He’s been an extremely durable performer. As far as “extending” Forte’s career, I don’t know if that is a real concern. There is another angle to consider and really it’s a discussion for another day, but third contracts for running backs can be tricky. You’re always paying for future performance and Forte will have eight seasons under his belt when his current contract is up. You don’t need to look at a lot of data to know running backs aren’t as productive in years nine and beyond. A quality backup running back is a need for the Bears. We’ll see how they go about filling. I would not be worried about Forte’s production and ability entering this season.

    Many people think trading down is right move but what would the Bears need in return to slide down five to 10 spots in the first round? -- @KevinMShannon from Twitter

    Trading down is only the right move if the compensation is solid. The Bears would benefit from more picks but they really need an impact defender with that first pick. The deeper you go into Round 1, the more challenging that becomes. It’s difficult to say what general manager Phil Emery could get in return and it is totally dependent on how far he would move. A couple slots isn’t going to net a ton, maybe a third-round pick.

    What if any offensive positions do you see the Bears going for in the draft? -- @jmolina17 from Twitter

    I expect the Bears to go for a couple offensive players probably. Keep in mind, general manager Phil Emery has been pretty clear that the strength of this draft is on the offensive side of the ball. That is consistent with what pretty much everyone else has said. It’s a particularly deep draft for wide receivers, so getting another young wideout might make a lot of sense, especially if the team has a high grade on a player in the middle to late rounds. Running back makes sense. The Bears must upgrade their No. 2 option at tight end but it’s a particularly weak class at that position. It would be a mistake to rule out an offensive lineman in later rounds.

    With Kelvin Hayden’s healthy return could we see Isaiah Frey in the mix for the safety position? He has the size and is a ballhawk. -- @ryanwanders from Twitter

    I think Frey is a little undersized to play safety at 6-foot, 190 pounds. Typically, you’re going to want a safety to be 200 pounds or a little more. Frey was a terrific ballhawk during the offseason last year, in training camp and preseason. But he didn’t get his hands on enough balls during the season. He was credited with two pass breakups and didn’t have an interception as the nickel back so I would hesitate to call him a ballhawk at this point. He’s certainly in the mix for the nickel position again but the Bears will have competition for him with at least Hayden being in the mix.

    Is there a realistic chance the Bears pick a cornerback like Darqueze Dennard at No. 14 or is it only a safety or defensive tackle? -- @Chgobearfans from Twitter

    I would have to imagine there is a cornerback or two in the list of six players Bears general manager Phil Emery has as candidates for the 14th pick in the draft. Could Dennard be in that mix? Absolutely. He’s more physical than Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and that could potentially make him more attractive. The Bears are going to need a starting cornerback soon and getting one here would make sense. Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech could be another attractive target.

    The Bears really can't afford to take a cornerback in the first round, can they? Shouldn't every first-round pick be expected to be an immediate starter? Any cornerback wouldn't be a starter with Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman on the roster. The organization is obviously in it to win it right now, not a year from now. They have two positions where they clearly need an upgrade and are still looking for starters -- the three-technique and free safety. Shouldn't the first-round pick be focused on just those two positions since there are viable candidates for every other starting position on the team? – Todd G., Rensselaer, Ind.

    I disagree with this assessment. If some of the players at positions with a greater need are off the board, it would make sense to consider a cornerback. I don’t think you can minimize the need at that position when you consider Charles Tillman is 33, missed half of last season because of injuries and is on a one-year contract. If the Bears have a considerably higher grade on a cornerback than a safety or defensive lineman, that also might make sense. The Bears don’t have a lot of talent in the pipeline at cornerback and they wanted to add one in the draft a year ago but it didn’t happen. I would think a cornerback at No. 14 overall would be given an opportunity to push for a starting job. Phil Emery loosely touched on this subject last week.
    “In terms of the draft, you’re always looking for players who can contribute immediately, especially at the top end of the draft, that can provide not only a need but that can help provide some help, whether it’s a rotational player, a rotational starter,” he said. “If it’s sub-starter immediately as a rookie, that’s good. If he’s a starter as a rookie and you have a hole and he can fill that and his grade warrants that pick, that’s good too. But in terms of a window, I’m always thinking now, but obviously when you look at needs, you have to look at needs not only our perceived current needs, but needs in the future in relationship to the contracts that you have. You’re constantly looking at the big picture. You can’t just look at today or this season. You have to look into the future.”


    If Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are off the board I like Kyle Fuller. What are your thoughts? -- @leech11 from Twitter

    I like Fuller and from talking to scouts maybe the most intriguing thing about him is his versatility in the secondary. He can cover the inside slot and play outside and was particularly effective as a blitzer when he was the nickel cornerback at Virginia Tech. Now, a conversion to safety might not be the best move for Fuller but he can do a lot of things pretty well, including playing press man and offering solid run support from the cornerback position. I think he will be drafted higher than some people envision. The Bears not only brought Fuller in for a pre-draft visit, they want to Blacksburg, Va., and put him through a private workout.

    Why hasn’t there been more talk of the Bears drafting C.J. Mosley? They have a need at middle linebacker. -- @don4cars28 from Twitter

    It would not surprise me if Mosley was one of the six names on Phil Emery’s short list right now. The Bears used two picks on linebackers last year and they have not solidified the position yet. They have candidates on the roster to play in the middle and right now that looks like D.J. Williams’ job to lose. I would prioritize a tackle and a safety ahead of a linebacker if all things were equal though. Just my opinion.

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  2. omc1969

    omc1969 Veteran

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    Pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for Thursday !

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