Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Evening edition: Bears sign another TE, Wooten still out of work and Tom the Terrible

In the world of the Bears it has gone back to our customary quiet period. But there is always something percolating out there in the weeds of what we call the NFL.

The Bears signed their 8th TE in Chris Pantale who was with the New York Jets and played the final five games of the 2014 season.  He played at Boston College , he was the 18th ranked TE for the 2013 draft. Here is the scouting report:

Bio: Four-year starter who finished with 21 receptions/189 yards/2 TDs as a senior when he missed three games with a broken bone in his foot. Junior totals included 21/236/3. Career totals of 31/338/4 came during his sophomore season.
Positive: Hard-working tight end who does the little things well. Strong at the point of attack, stays square, and easily turns defenders from the action. Keeps his head on a swivel and remains disciplined with assignments. Solid pass catcher who comes back into the clearing to make himself an available target then extends his hands and makes the reception away from his frame.
Negative: One-speed tight end and nothing more than an a short-range threat. Was never a big part of the passing offense at Boston College.
Analysis: Pantale was a well-rounded college player, yet lacks the physical skills to start in the NFL. He's a terrific blocker with reliable hands and enough ability to make a roster as a third tight end.
Cory Wooten is still unemployed and is visiting the Detroit Lions.  San Francisco is showing interest in Lance Briggs and Lovie claimed Khaseem Greene. 

Lastly, while I normally don't write on other teams, I had to comment on Tom Brady's recent suspension. While it is for four games and the appeal will probably get it down to two. I feel it's a just suspension based on the simple premise of obstruction. Tom can't deny he did not obstruct the Wells folks, he refused to hand over electronic devices, his meeting with the Wells team came off as evasive. While on the whole it might not seem like a lot, but there is precedence here. During the "Bountygate" deal on of the Saints LB, Hargrove did not cooperate fully and was handed an 8 game suspension that was knocked down to 4.  

The sad fact of all this is no matter what Tom Brady knew or did not know, his legacy as the greatest will always have a cloud over it. Everyone can say what they want, but he is tarnished.  Years to come when we wax on about what a great QB he was, eyebrows will raise and the soft murmur of, "but ..." will be heard. Much like today when you mention, McGwire, Bonds, Sosa and other seemingly tainted super stars.  All the hard work, Super Bowl rings, beautiful wife and family it comes down to 1 psi and the legacy is stained irretrievably.   

On a positive note, the Cutler's are expecting child number 3!  


Monday, May 11, 2015

Bennett contract, Carden on White and Fangio on Shea

Rookie camp ended yesterday and the good news no one got injured.  The interesting tidbit that came out of the rookie camp was Shane Carden comment regarding Kevin White. Shane responded to a question about working with White and he said, " He is open when he is not open".  I think we can expect Kevin White to be a game changer for the Bears, if not himself, it will help Jeffery and Royal. There had been talk already how White will force defenses to look at the Bears differently. No more sitting in tight zones. That right there should help Cutler.

On to Martellus Bennett. As I said before, I take a dim view of a player that wants to redo his contract in the middle of it.  I don't know what Bennett is asking for, but he is not in the same league as Gronkowski or Graham.  Frankly, while I like Bennett he is not elite in any regards.  I would rank him on the same level as Greg Olsen who gets $5M per season (the same as Bennett). I think the issue for Martellus is that his contract has no more guaranteed money. Regardless, for me, he has not proven himself to warrant a new deal. I am sure the Bears will work something out, but being an old curmudgeon, I would say play or sit out.

Saturday, Vic Fangio had his first press conference and had nice words in regards to Shea McClellin. Fangio said Shea would be at ILB and he felt the biggest issue is that Shea had been moved around too much. From that it has come out now that Lovie might have been overruled in where to play McClellin. What I have read it sounded like Marinellin wanted Shea at DE.  I know many have given up on Shea, and I have to a point, but the young man has talent and I am beginning to wonder if it was not the Bear coaches all along that have misused him.  It will be an interesting camp for the LB's.

Now back to Shane Carden. From his interview it appears the Bears were considering drafting him. The Bears told his agent if he slipped out of the draft they wanted to sign him fast.  He has many of the attributes Ryan Pace looks for in a football player. It will be a good battle for the #3 spot.

Lastly, over the next few days we will see if the Bears sign any tryout players. Fox said there were a couple of openings on the roster.

Update:  The Bears have released LB Khaseem Greene and DE Austin Lane. They did sign QB Pat Devlin, LB Kyle Woestmann and DT Terry Williams. Bringing the roster to 89.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Draft realities and now we get started

Now that there has been a week since the opening of the draft it is time to really look at what the Bears accomplished. Overall, the grades for the Bears six picks has been pretty much an A grade. Yes, some question the drafting of Langford, since it perceived the Bears need an edge rusher. However, when you look at these six individuals it is plausible that within the next two seasons all could be starters. For me? The two picks that I believe will have the greatest impact on the team this season will be Jeremy Langford and Adrian Amos.

In doing a follow up on Langford, most out of the Big Ten will tell you that Langford is fast and can break off the long run. Also, good blocker and receiver.  Gase/Fox like backfield by committee and this being Forte's contract season, I think Langford and Carey will see plenty of action.  Many scouts believe the Bears scored big with this selection and could be Forte's replacement.

On Adrian Amos, the Bears now have a true center fielder at FS, something they have not had in a long time.  Amos is fast, good coverage skills and plays up the middle. He does need to work on his tackling technique but if all do there job up front that weakness should not be an issue. I am sure Rolle will be a big influence on him. What Pace really like about Amos was his versatility and that gives him an edge over someone like Vereen. Vereen will be fighting for a spot and likely will be a special teamer.

The other news is that the Bears picked up T, Paul Cornick from the Broncos. He is 6'6" 310# and plays right tackle. I checked his scouting report out of ND State and the young man has some decent attributes to get a lot of playing time. He was labelled a developmental prospect so who knows but Fox./Gase know him so that gives him some creditability.  No doubt it will be a dogfight for roster spots on the Oline.  That brings the roster to 89, as Chuck Canning indicated. I wonder is that spot left open for Collins?

Rookie mini camp opens tomorrow. All but Grasu have signed, and he is flying into Chicago today so assume he will be signed later this afternoon.

Update: Collins signed with the Cowboys. Chuck since you were interested in how his deal would work. Here is a link to Over the Cap and how his deal worked out.

Update: Paul Cornick failed his physical today, so another roster spot opens up.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Post draft recap and UDFA

The Bears 2015 draft is done, and by all accounts the Bears did well. Like I said yesterday, Ryan Pace stayed to his knitting and took the BPA.  I also agree with Ryan when he said it will be three years from now to know how really good this draft was.  I can see everyone of these players being serious contributors if not starters. Here is my take away from these picks:

1. Most of them have been long term starters in their careers, meaning productivity.

2. Strong work ethic.

3. Team first attitude 

4. Speed at their respective positions and versatility.

I think we are seeing the blueprint of what Pace looks for, and the type of players he wants to draft. For me, the two I will be most excited to see develop will be Adrian Amos at S and Jeremy Langford, RB.  They both typify numbers 2,3 and 4.

Now its time for UDFA, and the list follows. The two players in bold are ones that I believe will have a shot at making the roster. I especially like Anthony Jefferson out of UCLA at S. He comes in at 6'1" 200# and here is the write up on him.

Positive: Tough college safety best defending the run. Picks up assignments over the middle the field, effectively times his pass defenses and shows a nice burst to the ball. Aggressive, quick up the field defending the run and wraps up when tackling. Solid job diagnosing plays and shows ability in zone.
Negative: Does not always take correct angles to the action and late getting to the spot laterally. Struggles in man coverage situations and does a lot of face guarding.

Analysis: Jefferson is best as a traditional strong safety in a system where he's able to face the action.

Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina
Sam Carter, S, TCU
Jeremiah Deter, K, Toledo
Jacoby Glenn, CB, Central Florida
Chad Hamilton, G, Coastal Carolina
Anthony Jefferson, S, UCLA
Cameron Jefferson, OL, Arkansas
Rick Lovato, LS, Old Dominon
Levi Norwood, WR, Baylor
Olsen Pierre, DL, Miami
Tony Pierson, RB, Kansas
John Timu, LB, Washington
Brian Vogler, TE, Alabama

(Note: I will be leaving this afternoon for a camping trip and will return on Wednesday. So look for a post on Friday)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pace playing the board by the book

You have to give Ryan Pace credit. The built their board and have stayed with it, not overreaching and taking unnecessary risks with their selections.  The two selections yesterday, Goldman and Grasu, are solid choices. It is important to remember, the first three selections are players that should start within first three years of their careers.  Right now, the Bears are being given an A for their draft picks, that is outstanding.

Today we wrap up the draft with rounds 4-7. Many fans are still clamouring for more defense. I suspect we will see some added in these later rounds. However, when you look at the current roster, there are a lot of defensive players. Especially, at DL and LB, so for me a CB or S would be interesting.  For me, I would look for a RB, OL and DB.

Will keep things updated as the selections happens.

4th Round: Jeremy Langford RB Michigan State 5'11" 208#

Two year starter at MSU. Production was consistent and is a multifaceted running back. May not be a 25 carries per game back, but with Forte and Carey we might see a more rotational use of running backs. Here is Langford scouting report.

Positive: Skilled ball carrier who presents himself as a three-down back. Instinctive, displays outstanding vision, and will pick his spots. Grinds it out on the inside, carries the load and effective as a short-yardage runner. Patient, effectively uses his blocks and gets a lot of momentum going up the field. Displays the agility necessary to turn the corner. Picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact using an effective straight arm to knock defenders away. Has a smooth and fluid style, easily changes direction or alters the course of his runs. Displays a short burst through the hole, which he turns on in a single step. Solid receiver out of the backfield.
Negative: Despite his 40 time plays like a one-speed back struggling to beat defenders into the open field. Lacks the size to be an interior pounder at the next level. Not a back who's going to make a lot of defenders miss.
Analysis: Langford has been the go-to guy on the Michigan State offense and is a terrific ball carrier who pays attention to detail. He's an underrated prospect who will be effective as a spot starter or in a rotational system on Sundays.

5th Round: Adrian Amos S Penn State  6.0' 205# 

3 year stater and has played cornerback. Had 3 interceptions and 7 pass deflections. Another solid value selection. Here is his scouting report.

Positive: Nice-sized defensive back prospect with a degree of versatility. Displays good route recognition in zone coverage, shows a burst to the ball as well as solid closing speed. Quick up the field defending the run, works to get involved in the action and wraps up tackling. Plays tough aggressive football.
Negative: One speed defensive back who struggles down the field. Not a strong open-field tackler. Loses out in battles when he should not.
Analysis: Amos was a solid college defensive back but lacks the physical skills and overall quickness for the next level. He could find a place as a dime back if he plays well on special teams.

6th Round: Tayo Fabuluje T TCU 6'6" 353#

Transferred from BYU and started two of three seasons. Sat out 2013 due to personal reasons. He was slotted as a 6th round pick and will be a project.  This link is an interesting story on Tayo  Here is the scouting report.

Positive: Large, sometimes dominant blocker with exceptional upside. Displays better than average blocking range, stays square and keeps the defender in front of him. Keeps his head on a swivel, works well with teammates and explosive at the point of attack. Can be a devastating run blocker, driving opponents off the line and finishing blocks. Sets with a wide base, keeps his feet moving and quick in all his actions.
Negative: Looks overweight and out of shape. Lumbers about the field. Does not sink his hips at the line of scrimmage.
Analysis: Fabuluje looked like a legitimate first-round prospect during the 2012 season before sitting on the sidelines with personal issues the following year. He was inconsistent as a senior at times displaying dominance then looking poorly conditioned and out of sorts in other games. He offers the underlying skill to start at the next level if he's willing to commit to off-season conditioning and then plays to a high level.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kevin White grades are in ... A for the Bears

The pundits had it right, the Bears grabbed Kevin White, WR from WVU.  I checked around this morning to see what the various outlets had to say and almost everyone gave the Bears an A for this selection. He was the best player available, was a need and now changes the complexion of our receiving corps. Four receivers are solid, Jeffery,  Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson and Kevin White. I know the Wilson is still unproven but he will do fine with more playing time.  White is not a finished product by any means, but his work ethic and approach to the game will make him learn quickly. Most graders have him rated as a pro bowler, we will see but Pace made the right selection based on what was in front of him.

Second and third rounds tonight. Most expect the Bears to wheel back to the defense and there are plenty of players to choose from at 39th pick.  If Pace is going to gamble it will be in the second round. This too is an important pick because most would say you first three rounds, the should start or get there in two years. I like at #2 is Eric Rowe CB Utah. He was a 4 year starter and played both corner and safety. What intrigues me is he plays solid facing the play and especially up the middle. It fills a need and gives the Bears loads of flexibility going into the 3rd round.

2nd Round selection is Eddie Goldman DT FSU  6'4" 336#

Another nice pick by Pace. It will give the Bears again, a great deal of flexibility along the Dline. It was Chuck Canning that reminded us last year about how Jim Finks said you build a defense, inside out. Here is the work up on Goldman:

Positive: Large, explosive interior lineman with playmaking ability. Plays with excellent pad level, gets leverage on opponents and shows power in his entire body. Keeps his feet moving on contact, holds his ground or overruns blockers to get to the ball carrier. Intense player who effectively uses his hands to protect himself or get off blocks. Wide-bodied lineman who takes up a lot of room and can occupy blockers.
Negative: Possesses just a short burst of speed, which he cannot sustain. Ineffective trying to pursue the action outside the box. At times slow disengaging from blocks.
Analysis: Goldman is a space eating interior defensive lineman who makes plays on the ball or create opportunities for teammates. He's a natural at nose tackle but also has the ability to line up in specific four-man fronts. Though he may need a bit of time, Goldman has terrific potential and could be a longtime starter at the NFL level.

3rd Round selection is Hroniss Grasu C Oregon 6'3" 297

Excellent pick . Grasu was rated the top center in the draft and was ranked for the 3rd round, so not a reach at all. Here is his write up:

Positive: Versatile and dependable center with the ability to line up in a variety of blocking schemes. Quick off the snap, sets with a wide base and bends his knees. Plays with terrific pad level, stays square and fires into blocks. Explosive at the point, plays through the whistle and a terrific position blocker who seals opponents from the play. Can slide in space, keeps the defender in front of him and does a terrific job keeping the pocket clean and his quarterback upright. Quick out to the second level, redirects to linebackers and removes them from the action.
Negative: Struggles getting movement run blocking and not a mauler who drives opponents off the line. Lacks great bulk in the middle and can be overwhelmed by larger opponents.
Analysis: Grasu was a durable and effective center the four years he played at Oregon and enters the NFL with great upside. He's an athletic lineman who can be used in a zone-blocking scheme and offers growth potential, which will help him in a smash-mouth offense. Grasu should only improve as he physically matures and adds strength to his frame. He should have a long starting career at the next level. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

All is good with the Bears and myself

I am fine, and thank you for those that expressed concern. I want to thank Chuck Canning for stepping in and the rest of you fine folks while I stepped away.

The draft opens tonight at 7 p,m. Central and currently as we all know the Bears hold the seventh pick. Later today, I will lay out some of the mock drafts and try to figure out where the Bears are headed.

So lets talk about Martellus Bennett.  He is in the middle of a four deal and wants a new one, or an extension. If there is one thing that irks me about professional athletes, it is when they pull this, " I want a new deal" attitude. Make no mistake, I am a big fan of Martellus Bennett but come on just play football. If you can string a third season of productive football then we will talk.   The Bears are his third team in seven seasons, is he a great TE? No. He is not on the elite level as Graham or Gronkowski. He is productive but has a tendency to be too much about himself. For me Martellus still misses too many blocks, seems at times not with it to be acting like he is owed something.  He has had a reputation for being a spoiled player, and sadly now its rearing its ugly head.

In a few hours the draft will start. I did a review of the major analyst and here is how it looks:

1. White
3. Cooper
4. Beasley
5. Waynes
6. Schreff
7. Armstead
8. Dupree

I am going with Schreff at OL.  Offensive lineman are hard to find. Slauson is not getting younger. We know Mills is probably not the answer and Bushrod struggled with injuries. In 2014 we thought we had the OL for the future. In 2015, we saw what can happen with injuries and inconsistent play. We always say, it starts up front.  

The pick is in: Kevin White WR WVU 6'2" 215# 4.35 40. 

The pundits had it right that the Bears would offense and select White.  He was rated 7th overall best player available and the 2nd best WR in the draft. The following is White's overview :

STRENGTHS: Tall, slender frame with good muscle definition and functional strength in contested situations. Outstanding leaping ability and reflexes to make adjustments to easily secure balls away from his body and is at his best highpointing and plucking with his large, reliable hands.
Very good foot quickness to beat press and get vertical in a hurry with his downfield acceleration. Displays above average coordination and footwork in his breaks to create separation at the top of his routes and catch the ball without breaking stride to create after the reception.
Quick feet and good vision to plan after the catch, displaying his ability to create and be more than a chain-mover. Uses his size to overpower defenders on occasion, breaking tackles to gain yardage after the catch.
WEAKNESSES: While an excellent athlete, White isn't a burner and doesn't have the elite suddenness in space to consistently make defenders miss or dance his way out of trouble. He will have the occasional focus drop and while a very willing blocker, White has room to improve his technique to better sustain and avoid holding calls.