Thoughts On Michael Sam, His Announcement, and Phil Emery’s Response

michaelsamFirstly, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam’s announcement that he’s gay is a momentous occasion for American sports. I’m not sure that can be overstated. A lot of people I follow on Twitter filled my timeline with “I’ll be excited for when this sort of thing ISN’T news”, which struck me as code for “I don’t want to hear about this.” If you truly do want to see a time wherein this sort of announcement is commonplace and routine, then you must recognize that this is a major step toward that reality. We’re not to the point yet that this isn’t a big deal, and we were never going to get there without someone like Michael Sam.

If you needed a reminder of how hard things are going to be for Sam, the anonymous quotes from player personnel executives in Peter King’s SI piece have you covered. A sample:

‘“We talked about it this week,” the GM said. “First of all, we don’t think he’s a very good player. The reality is he’s an overrated football player in our estimation. Second: He’s going to have expectations about where he should be drafted, and I think he’ll be disappointed. He’s not going to get drafted where he thinks he should. The question you will ask yourself, knowing your team, is, ‘How will drafting him affect your locker room?’ And I am sorry to say where we are at this point in time, I think it’s going to affect most locker rooms. A lot of guys will be uncomfortable. Ten years from now, fine. But today, I think being openly gay is a factor in the locker room.”

I asked this general manager: “Do you think he’ll be drafted?”

“No,” he said.’

That strikes me as backwards thinking. The only way things like this will be more normal in ten years is if more players come out between now and then. This is the first step on that road. Furthermore, this anonymous GM cites the potential for a locker room distraction as a reason for not drafting Sam. This is a big enough talking point around the league that Jon Stewart did a segment on it last night, and it’s a shocking display of willful ignorance. There are obvious, storied examples of how integration actually creates a stronger cohesion. It happened with the racial integration of sports and the military, and when the military began allowing openly gay service members in 2011, there was no negative effect. We have specific examples of this exact “distraction” concern not actually mattering, and yet the same people persist with it as a way to avoid change. (I also have limited patience for anonymous quotes on topics like this.)

I agree with what Deadspin’s Drew Magary wrote here, that teams “would much prefer the headache of not drafting Sam to the headache of drafting him.” But the thing is, that potential headache is all perception! Manti Te’o was a headache too, but the Chargers took him and it disappeared. Riley Cooper’s story blew up for two weeks, but then he started catching touchdowns and no one cared. Sam’s story will obviously have more staying power, but there’s one big difference: it’s not a negative story. There will be more media attention, of course, but it won’t be for the wrong reasons. A team with any sort of basic competence with PR should be looking at this as a positive opportunity to embrace, not as a minefield to avoid. Hopefully there’s more than one team that views it that way.

With that out of the way, I feel like I’ve done Sam a bit of disservice by focusing entirely upon his sexuality. As a draft prospect, he should absolutely be evaluated based on his potential to perform on the field. (Obviously prospects are graded on intangibles, and off-field incidents can be red flags. But being gay isn’t a red flag, and by all accounts Sam was a quality locker room presence at Missouri.) What do the Bears think of Michael Sam? Phil Emery released a statement on Sam yesterday:

“Michael stated with great poise and confidence who he is as a person and football player and I have tremendous respect for him in the way he conveyed his thoughts and the courage it took to state them publicly,” Emery said in a statement. “Each and every player in the NFL is a unique individual, as we all are in life. We all ultimately gain respect in our jobs by how well we perform at our chosen profession and if the level in which we perform adds positively to the collective goal of success. Michael stated this and I agree with his thoughts,” Emery said. “It is about his skill set as a football player to add positively to a team’s goals and that’s how he will be evaluated.”

First of all, kudos to Emery and the Bears for that statement. Second, Sam is a consensus mid-round prospect; ESPN’s Scouts Inc. has him ranked 119 overall. I’m not sure how that anonymous GM from earlier could gather that he’s “overrated”; I suppose the fact that he won SEC defensive player of the year despite being a 4th-round prospect might factor in. But even though he isn’t likely to go early (and wasn’t likely to go early before his announcement) he absolutely should be drafted.

Does that mean the Bears should be interested? On one hand, I could see it; he’s a bit of a “tweener” as Michael C. Wright notes for ESPN Chicago. Sam played 4-3 defensive end in college, but he’s a bit undersized for the position. The Bears obviously value versatility, and their selection of Shea McClellin demonstrated Phil Emery’s willingness to go outside the box. The flip side to that, of course, is that McClellin has been a very big disappointment, having been unable to make the switches the Bears projected him to make. I’d think the Bears might take a look at Sam in that mid-round range, especially if he slides to to “concerns” about how big a “distraction” his presence might be. If he’s still available in the fifth or sixth round, there’s surplus value there, and I could see the Bears taking him.

If they do select him, I’m confident that it will be a decision based solely upon his football abilities. And since that’s good enough for Michael Sam, it’s good enough for me.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

154 responses to “Thoughts On Michael Sam, His Announcement, and Phil Emery’s Response”

  1. mdavis

    depending on scheme changes, if he’s there in the 5th round i think it could be a solid pick for the bears. as you mentioned Jay he’s that tweener type at 6’1″ 260, and he lacks the athleticism to be a stand up outside backer. if he was brought in as a situational pass rusher and special teamer though, i think he could carve out a nice niche.

    as for the whole “will this affect his stock?” if he drops past the 5th, i may have some questions. SEC defensive player of the year still counts for something. But we’ll see how he tests out at the combine and his pro day.

    1. Funn Dave

      After reading what people were saying over in the BN Cubs section, this post pretty much restored my faith in Chicago sports fans.

      1. Matt

        Agreed. I’m doing the precisely the opposite of this by making this post, but you spoke 100% on his football abilities with no regard to his sexuality. This is an example of what everyone is striving for with these issues. Kudos.

  2. Gopher Cub

    I have been reading and hearing a ton about Michael Sam and I would just like to say this is simply the best evaluation of the man that I know of. It can’t be understated that he should be based entirely on his football performance and potential. Great job Jay, honestly.

  3. jh03

    Well written, Jay.

  4. Funn Dave

    Good shit, Jay. Poor Goodell must have such a headache after that GM’s comments were reported. I almost feel sorry for him.

  5. Matt

    Here, I’ll translate what that dissenting GM actually meant: “I’m homophobic. I don’t want any gay players on my team. But that’s not OK to say, so I’m going to create this lame excuse about his talents so I don’t come off as a d-bag or as backwards.”

  6. Greenroom

    Great write-up and perspective, Jay. I am not sure what your day job is, but you need to be writing full time. Keep up the good work and lucid commentary.

  7. J. F. Edwards

    The hoopla from backwards-thinkers is downright sickening.

    I mean, you can be a murderer, pimp, drug lord, or wife-beater, and play in the NFL and that doesn’t seem to be a problem for a locker room. But if you’re gay that’s just too much to handle?


    1. Greenroom

      this is hilarious. well played, sir

  8. Ajbearsfan

    Let the kid play football geez!

  9. rick

    bears sign a defensive end !oh ya a linebacker coach and a d line coach!

  10. CP

    I have to be honest here. I have been reading the Cubs site for a couple of years now and truly enjoy the information that is provided to us Cub fans. There are multiple updates and bullets and information nearly every day. It is greatly appreciated.

    I was equally thrilled when the Bears section was going to get started. However, that excitement has quickly diminished to complete disappointment. This section is really a bit a of joke as we are lucky if there are 4-5 updates in an entire month. Frankly I think it negatively impacts the Bleacher Nation brand.

    I am not sure how two sites could be any more different in their quality than these two.

    1. Jeremy

      CP I agree with you. I was looking forward to the Bears side of this site, but have been left disappointed. Stories seem late or not at all and it’s just been overall disappointing. The last post is a week old now. I come everyday thinking there is something new, to be let down. Brett has a nice flow and reporting style that keeps the Cubs side fresh and entertaining. This side is just flat and uninteresting…

    2. frank

      Brett works the Cubs’ site full time, while Jay has another job. That was stated at the very beginning.

    3. Brett

      I understand folks’ concerns, and Jay and I are talking about how to best approach things. Folks have to understand, though, that doing this thing while having another full-time job (as Jay does) is really darn hard. I did it for three years in the early days of BN Cubs, and I suspect folks would barely recognize the way things were done in that day, in terms of coverage. It’s just a different animal, and Jay has been doing the best he can. This week has obviously been tricky.

      Thanks for the feedback, folks.

      1. Charles

        I knew going in that Jay had a full-time job and writing up the type of analysis he does is not easy and takes time. To compare him to Brett who does this full time is not fair. Would I have likes an article or two more, sure, but let’s give Jay time to get his feet, find his voice and build up a list of stories to cover. I’ve tried blogging for professional purposes myself years ago and it’s not easy to do so I stopped due to the time commitment. Give it time. I’m sure Jay and Brett will come up with a with a great solution we’ll all embrace.

    4. Funn Dave

      Guess I’m a little bit late to the party, but I completely disagree. It’s the offseason. IMO, BN Cubs is oversaturated with articles. They can get quite repetitive, and it’s hard to keep up if you have anything remotely resembling a life outside of BN. I was actually afraid that Jay would try to do daily updates during the offseason, which I think would be serious overkill. I also read ESPN’s NFC North blog, and the stuff they post there during the offseason is an absolute joke. I see no need to post stories when there’s very little substantial news to relate.

  11. Jeremy

    Brett thanks for always taking time to hear your followers. I think it’s more you have spoiled us on the Cubs site so well that we expect the same on the Bears side, even though its not you doing it. I still look forward to every part of this site.

    1. frank

      Agreed–and it’s not even so much that it’s not Brett doing it–Jay comes up with some insightful, well-written material, and the discussions, though limited, have been pretty good. The quality has been good, but I think people are looking for more quantity, more quickly delivered–and that’s awfully hard to do while working another job.

      1. Funn Dave

        Very much agreed. Even if Jay didn’t have another job, I’d want him to continue posting well-thought-out articles as necessary instead of token articles five times a day (not that the Cubs articles aren’t well thought out).

  12. Jon

    So the Bears are sticking with a 4-3. Kinda a big deal.

    1. Funn Dave

      Yes, I admit I was a bit surprised that we didn’t get a story about that. But what’s the difference if it gets addressed at a later date?

    2. frank

      I don’t know–I thought it was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Emery has said that the team does not currently have the personnel to run a 3-4, and that a transition would take time. I don’t know if that can be overhauled in a year–maybe it can. The Saints did it, but they had a lot of the key players for a switch already on the roster and essentially “playing out of scheme.” You could say that they’re no good at a 4-3 either (as I believe you have correctly stated in the past), but apparently, they believe it’s easier to fix competence than it is to fix roster construction.

  13. Ajbearsfan

    See I read somewhere they were going to employ the 3-4 most of the time and the 4-3 would be grown in at times. I worry about this defense again this year. We need linebacker help, defensive line, corner and safety positions. I’m worried the draft isn’t going to cover it all. And we need a slot receiver. Let’s hope free agency is kind to us.

  14. Ajbearsfan

    Thrown in not grown in. Stupid big fingers on iPad!

    1. mdavis

      Earl Bennett is a good slot, and Wilson is going to get his opportunities. I don’t view that as a glaring need considering whoever they have there is option #5. I think we’ll see Emery rebuild this defense like he rebuilt the O. a nice mixture of draft and free agency.

      I’m sitll hoping Gilbert drops to 14 and the Bears take him. I think DL is deep in the draft, and Gilbert gives them a corner with good size, shut down ability, and he’s a terrific return man as well.

      As for the 4-3/3-4, people get too hung up on this i think. I believe we’ll see some hybrid looks. base 4-3, and perhaps in some passing situations deploy a 3-4 type of look. But they just don’t have the personell to make the switch. So i don’t think that is what i’m concerened with, as much as the players they get to plug in.

      Safety, i think people can scratch off Ward, Byrd, Whitner. As much as we’d all like one of them, the Bears just dont pay a premium for the position. I think someone like Roman Harper is a more likely target, and pair him with a 3rd/4th rounder in this years draft

      1. frank

        I agree with your assessment of the slot receiver position–an upgrade would be great, but there are more pressing needs to fill. I also think they’ll use a base 4-3 more often than a 3-4, though I think we will see hybrid looks. They just don’t have enough of the right type of personnel to go to a 3-4 all that often. And it seems that people forget that a 3-4 can be played just as poorly as can a 4-3. The defense, up til this past season, worked very well in a 4-3.

        I don’t think they go for Roman Harper though. Although a likely upgrade (almost anything would be), he has been declining, will turn 32 during the season, and will probably command more money than they’re going to be willing to pay.

        1. mdavis

          Yup truth. Maybe not Roman Harper specifically, i just meant someone in that type of financial ballpark. I’m not sure he’ll be able to get paid all that much, but we will see.

          Also, just saw some tweets from the combine presser. McClellan is moving to strong side backer, will get some work at the mike too. Bostic still at the mike, but will get some work at Sam as well. Sounds like they’d like DJ Williams back, which, if he can be had on a 1 yr deal I’m all for. And I was looking through some prospects, if a guy like Skov, or Bullough is there in round 2 or 3, might be hard to pass them up as the future in the middle. Just spit ballin.

          1. frank

            The big thing is who’ll they’ll be able to sign in free agency because that’ll have a big effect on the draft board. I agree that Skov or Bullough would be hard to pass up in the 2nd or 3rd, because although he may be great outside, I don’t think Bostic is the answer in the middle. I think if they can get DJ Williams back on a reasonable deal, they have to do that. I think they have to go DL with the 14th pick, but if Clinton-Dix is there, he might be hard to pass on as well–again, free agency may shift priorities a bit.

            1. mdavis

              agreed for certain. I think Bostic is destined for the Will (whenever they part with Briggs obviously). I didn’t realize how big Bullough is, dude is 6’3″ 265. damn.

              I guess I’m just not as sold at taking a DL at #14 as most. Jernigan would be a good fit, but I just think there’s a ton of depth in the position that someone could be there in rd 2 like Sutton, Donald, Hageman. And a playmaker at corner could be hard to pass on, even Dennard would be a solid pick. that being said, if the best player on the board is a DT i’m all for it. Clinton-Dix would be tough to pass on too, but I almost think they could try and move back a couple of slots, maybe get an extra 2 and 5 and still get either him or Pryor, if S is the pos they wanted to go.

              1. frank

                I think though, that if the DL is better, the whole defense is better, and if you can get a real difference maker there, rather than “just” a good player, you have to do it. Yes, Seattle built from the back, but that’s hard to do. That said, Dennard or Clinton-Dix would be good picks, and I like Hageman’s potential. As for DE, Ealy would be a good pick but I doubt he will be there in round 2. Donald has had a great career, but at 284 lbs., he seems awfully undersized for a DT. I don’t know much about Sutton, but at 288 lbs., he seems small for a DT as well.

                1. mdavis

                  right right, but if they bring back Melton and say, Ratliff? That pushes DT down a bit in my book, because you’re looking for a #3 guy to be in the rotation. Donald, by all accounts dominated the Sr Bowl and he’s drawn comparisons to a Geno Atkins type. Sutton is another one of those guys whos quicker and disruptive. When looking at that under tackle 3 tech, in the bears one gap scheme, its more about quickness. Melton is 290-295. So i guess i just feel there’s enough comparable players in the draft that should be around, that if a shut down corner is there, they should give pause, but i’m always for best player available.

                  1. frank

                    That is true–but if they’re looking at a more traditional 4-3 rather than the Cover 2 version, they may be looking for the Ted Washington/Keith Traylor types over the classic 3-technique tackle. Bringing back Melton and Ratliff would push DT further down on the priority list, I think, but you also need a DE now, with McClellin moving to LB. Maybe Kony Ealy? A free agent? If they do address (dare I say “fix”?) the line in free agency, then I’d say Clinton-Dix, if he’s there, would be the pick to make.

                    1. mdavis

                      right i could see that, but just dont see that player in the draft…at least not at #14. I suppose Nix, but i view him more as a nose in a 3-4. DE is rich in FA if they can grab someone. Bennett of course, Tuck, Johnson, I’d like Wootton back.

                      in the draft, Ealy is a chance, but I’d want to move back to take him. Otherwise i think Crichton (Or St) or Kareem Martin (UNC) could be nice mid round targets. I’m particulary a fan of Martin. Has that traditional size, good football player.

                      It’s just hard nowadays because so many of these pass rushers, are those OLB types now. tough to find.

  15. frank

    Oh–just read that the salary cap is projected to be $130 million, and not the $126 million it was projected to be earlier. That extra $4 million in cap space will be a help.

    1. mdavis

      def helps. I’m not getting overly caught up in the cap situation though because they do have more flex then what is being made out. I have a hard time seeing Bush back. His cap number is in the $3 mil range. The elephant in the room is Peppers and that $18 mil cap hit. I just do not see him back unless he takes a big pay cut to lower that number. Maybe build in incentives where he can earn back what he takes in the cut. and of course, Cutler’s deal. Any amount of that can be converted to a signing bonus at any point in the deal. So that $22 mil he’s on for now, can be lowered signifcantly should they choose.

  16. frank

    I agree that Nix is more of a 3-4 nose tackle, but he could probably play a run stuffer in a more traditionally schemed 4-3, I think. But do you go with Nix at 14? I don’t know. And yes–I think it is harder to find traditional 4-3 linebackers and ends these days. I don’t know much about Crichton or Martin–but yes, if they get a DE in free agency, that changes the draft board a good deal.

    1. mdavis

      yeah to me Nix is a terrible pick at 14. I view him more as a 2nd round talent. or at least back of the 1st round, if they wanted to move back. I’m more of a fan of Martin myself, has the protypical sizem 6’6″ 275, 11.5 sacks as a senior. Coul be a nice option in round 2 or 3. Crichton I’m not as familiar with, but from what I’ve read he’s in that same tier.

      1. Jon

        plus, I don’t trust Nix’s knees

        1. mdavis

          yeah i just don’t see the fit either. he’s much better suited for a 3-4, and i think there will be 10-15 players that are a lot better talents ahead of him on the board at 14.

          1. mdavis

            and knees are def a concern, probably why a guy like Easley is going to drop a round or two.

        2. frank

          Agreed–all things considered, though some analysts have the Bears taking him at 14, I think he’s a pretty big risk there.

  17. Josh Kirby

    Hey, what do you guys think about the Bears looking into drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix first round? He could make it to the bears pick, wouldn’t be a reach, is fairly polished (as most Alabama players are), and fills the obvious need at Safety. He’s quite the ballhawk in my opinion, which is something the Bears haven’t had in a while and could definitely use. Thoughts?

    1. mdavis

      Yeah, I agree, definitely should be in the conversation at #14. I’m personally hoping for Justin Gilbert to drop there, as I said up there, but if he’s gone, Clinton-Dix certainly would be interesting. The only knock on him is he’s not an overly physical player, so that’s something to keep an eye on, but talent is talent, and he’s a top 2 safety in the draft for sure.

    2. frank

      I think if he’s there, they have to strongly consider him. I prefer a DL, believing that if the line is better, the entire defense is better. But as mdavis has said, it’s a deep draft for linemen–and safety does fill a need, especially if they let Wright walk.

  18. Josh Kirby

    it’s a really deep draft at a lot of positions, but I don’t think Safety is one of them. I think it would be wise to snag him and fill in the d-line later. This is an important draft for the Bears as they have a lot lf talent now and need to make a push. It would be a good idea to draft a guy that can step in right away and be an immediate upgrade like Clinton-Dix. I’m not sure any defensive lineman they could pick up could create such an immediate upgrade as Ha Ha can. The fact that his first name is Ha Ha is just a bonus.

    1. frank

      That makes sense–I guess the question is whether or not there will be as much of a difference maker on the defensive line as Clinton-Dix would be in the defensive backfield available at 14.

  19. Jon

    IMO, Calvin Pryor is every bit as good as a Clinton-Dix

    1. frank

      Jon–I don’t know as much about Pryor–comparison?

      1. mdavis

        i’m a fan of Pryor as well. Big kid, much more physical. He’s probably a first rounder too, and with a good combine and pro day work out, wouldnt shock me if he jumped over Clinton-Dix on some teams boards.

  20. Josh Kirby

    I’ve watched Clinton-Dix and really think he has a knack for reading a QB. Being physically gifted is definitely helpful, but I think when it comes to Safety, the intangibles he brings is off the charts.

    1. mdavis

      Its not that Clinton-Dix isn’t physically gifted, he is. Has prototypical size as 6’1″ 210, and I expect him to run somewhere in the 4.5-4.55 range at the combine tomorrow. Its that he’s not an overly physical player. And at the safety position, you want a guy who is going to lay the hammer. Which is where the difference is between Pryor and Clinton-Dix. Pryor doesn’t have the range, but certainly a more physical player.

      All that being said, I would be surprised if a safety is taken first round by Chicago. They have just never placed big value on the position. But with a newer regime in place that could change, of course.

      1. Josh Kirby

        Fair point, they’ve always seemed to put their focus on the line. Which is a very defensible strategy. In my opinion, the smartest move would be to pick up d-lineman later in the draft (it’s super deep this year) and pick up that compliment to a quality line (and fairly good CB play) in either Pryor or Clinton-Dix first round.

        1. mdavis

          yeah i think i’m with you in addressing D-Line in round 2. Its deep. I’d maybe put more of a focus on corner, with Gilbert or Dennard there, because right now other than Jennings, the Bears have no one, and those shut down guys don’t come often. But if they picked a Clinton-Dix or a Pryor, I wouldn’t be mad either. Really, they need help everywhere so as long as its not a head scratcher Shea McClellan type pick, I think i’ll be pleased,

          1. frank

            Zach Zaidman said on the radio this morning that free agency will set the draft board–but it sounds like he’s expecting them to go DL with the first pick. If they bolster DT in free agency, they’ll go DE at 14 and vice versa. Of course, those are just his expectations/prognostications, but he is around Halas Hall a lot.

            1. mdavis

              yeah still very early in the process. Only problem with that thinking is i’m not convinced there’s a true DE that will drop to #14 worth of that pick. But FA will go a long way in telling us who they may target for sure.

              1. frank

                Agreed–the draft doesn’t seem as deep with DEs as with DTs. The one I find intriguing is Ra’shede Hageman–though he’s pretty raw and is really kind of a boom or bust guy. He can play anywhere on the line and is an athletic freak. Problem is, they can’t afford another DL bust–so the questions are whether Pasqueloni can make this guy a real defensive lineman, and whether he’ll do the work to become a great defensive lineman if he’s been succeeding by virtue of his athletic ability. That said, with a need at safety, and a thin draft at the position, how do you pass up a Pryor or Clinton-Dix if they’re there at 14? I’d guess the only way is if you address it in free agency–but even if they get one, they’ll still need depth at the very least.

                1. mdavis

                  Agreed. Hageman is a an athletic beast. Huge potential. Huge bust potential too. I just don’t think I’d like him that high though. Other guys should be on the board rated higher. And the more and more I think bout it, I think I’m firmly in the playmaker in the secondary camp. DT is deep, I have a feeling Melton and Ratliff will be back which should help, and there should be talent available at round 2.

                  Gilbert, Dennard both considered shut down types would be nice opposite Jennings. Ha Ha, Pryor would certainly upgrade the safety spot as well.

                  1. frank

                    I think I’m still leaning toward a difference maker on the line, and agree that Hageman is a risk. If the line can force the QB into errors, that helps the LBs and the secondary. A QB with all day to throw will pick even the best secondary apart. And they need to be able to stop someone–anyone–from running for 200 yards a game. That said, given the Bears’ needs and the relative depth at need positions in the draft (and the possible return of Melton and/or Ratliff–even Collins), I wouldn’t be opposed to Pryor or Clinton-Dix at 14 either.

                    1. mdavis

                      def a good point. upgrading the line has that trickle down effect. But i look at the NFC north, and they’re seeing Megatron 2 times a year, Jennings/Patterson (up and comer) in Minnesota, Jordy Nelson, and damn it’d be nice to have a lock down guy.

                      Gilbert has the size and athletic ability to matchup with all of them, Dennard is probably the most technically sound, and has avg size (5’11” 190). Some later targets could be McGill (Utah, 6’3″ 215) Jean Baptiste (Nebraska, 6’2″ 215), The Flordia kids, Purifoy and Roberson, or Ohio State’s Roby who may drop to round 2, but I think leaves a lot to be desired, and i’m a buckeye fan. They have their workouts today, so it’ll be interesting to see the numbers roll in.

  21. Cubs_Questions

    Personally, I want to see the Bears take Aaron Donald at #14. With that said, I’m biased because I attend the University of Pittsburgh and want to keep rooting for him, but realistically I think he would be a good fit.

    1. mdavis

      I like Donald a lot. Reminds me a bit of Geno Atkins? But #14 is too high. If they want him, I’d prefer to move back in the draft to get him and pick up some extra picks.

      1. frank

        I think Donald’s a fit if they continue to play more cover-2. I still think Donald is awfully undersized though–he’s what? 275? 280? Atkins is about 300. I haven’t seen enough of him against big interior linemen though.

        1. Cubs_Questions

          Donald is around 285 lbs. I’ve seen a bunch of mock drafts with the Cowboys taking him at 16 and he just had a strong combine so I think 14 is definitely possible.

      2. Josh Kirby

        Agreed, if there’s ever a draft for the Bears to trade back to pick up more picks it would be this one. It’s a super deep draft and the bears have a lot of positions that would be immediately upgraded by late 1st rounders, early second rounders. I wouldn’t be mad to see the Bears trade down.

        1. mdavis

          certainly would like to see them move back. very deep talent, and it seems like emery was setting up that possibility with his comments at the combine. Maybe there’s a run on QBs and some team gets nervous, move up for a Carr, Mettenberger, McCarron (not high on him).

          But, if they do in fact move back, there better be a player they really like they can get later, and of course the offer will have to be expensive. Swap 1s, a 2 this year, ++

        2. frank

          I think you’re right–this would be a good draft in which to do that. The only problem I see is that this is likely the attitude of a number of teams–of course, since there’s less offensive depth in this draft, maybe they can catch a team that’s willing to pay to move up to get an offensive player they need. One GM did say that this is a talented draft class but an immature one–that has to be accounted for as well, especially since the Bears need help right away.

          1. mdavis

            yeah good point. but i actually think this draft is just as deep at offense, especially the WR position. Lot of playmakers available. But if there’s that one player, and some team is sitting at #21, and they see a few teams that might take that one player, ya never know. All it takes is one desperate squad.

            1. frank

              I don’t know–WR may be deep, there are QBs available, but they each have flaws–I don’t think any of them are locks to be a franchise type. RB has been pretty much devalued throughout the league, and I don’t think there are many difference makers at TE. Plus, I think offensive playmakers will go early. But yes–it just takes one team and if the Bears can pick up another second or third round pick, that would be a big help.

              1. mdavis

                some of the top guys have run (DB). Dennard ran a 4.42 (probs going to be in the 4.47-4.5 official range) Gilbert a 4.35, and Fuller a 4.4. That was big for Dennard, big knock on him was top end speed.

                1. mdavis

                  McGill ran an unofic 4.47. Jean-Baptiste 4.52, Clinton-Dix 4.5, Pryor 4.62.

                  obviouclsy its the 40…take it with a grain of salt. but some decent numbers from the DBs

                  1. frank

                    Pretty quick–all in the Jadeveon Clowney range . . .

                    1. mdavis

                      that guy is a freak of nature athlete. but another i htink has some bust potential to him and i question the work ethic and desire. when he sat out a game beacuase he was “sore”…i dunno, that just floored me.

              2. mdavis

                with the QB’s i think its a strong class. Especially compared to last year when a lot of teams passed, because it was weak. I’m personally a big fan of Bortles. but you figure he’ll go, Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr, and then you get those teams that were thinking they could wait until round 2, and now have doubts. Who needs to move up to get McCarron (who i’m not a fan of at all), Mettenberger, Garoppolo (i think def goes round 2 now) So ya never know. then again i’m a bit of a QB nerd having played it, so i’m probably biased to teams needing to draft the position haha

                1. frank

                  It’s so hard to tell with QBs though–the infamous McNown class was supposed to be a great one and only two had decent careers if I recall correctly–McNabb and Culpepper. I think this class has a number of good quarterbacks, but no great ones. For example, I’m not sold on Manziel–some say he’s another Russell Wilson, but I don’t think so. Wilson is a pocket passer who can extend plays. Manziel extends plays, but I don’t think he’ll be good enough as a pocket passer in the NFL; and if he runs like he does in college, he’ll get killed. Bridgewater has small hands, not much of an arm, benefited from a short pass system, and may not be able to take an NFL pounding. Bortles has a long release and his mechanics break down easily–but those things can be remedied with good coaching. That said, almost all QBs coming out of college have flaws and the key is how they take to coaching and improving themselves.

                  1. mdavis

                    yeah, for sure agree with your assesment on Manziel .My primary concern with him is structure. NFL O’s are built a lot more on structure, and teams are going to scheme to keep him in the pocket and make plays. Mizzou and LSU did that to him this past season and he struggled.

                    I think Bridgewater will be fine in a west coast system. He has adequate arm strength, good accuracy. System needs to fit, for sure, but def ability is there.

                    Bortles is defintely raw, but he has the tools. I think Houston should take him 1, i really do. He gets a little sloppy with his footwork, and the release can be long, but a guy like O’Brien can clean that up. Not to mention I love the fact that he came in to combine and decided to throw. Top 1-3 QBs almost never throw, but he comes in and competes and I think had a real good workout. Great anticipation on the dig and deep out.

                    And one thing is almost always true, is teams will reach for QBs.

                    1. frank

                      Yes, the system will be key for Bridgewater. Bortles probably is the best bet in this draft, but he might be better off someplace where he can learn for a year. And you’re right, teams will reach for quarterbacks–and in this draft, I hope teams reach for offensive players early and often in the first round.

  22. Jon

    Boy this Bears section has really gone to crap. Plenty of action the past week or so with the combine and other Bears tidbits, but no official discussion on it?

    1. mdavis

      Would be nice to have some combine posts, but I think Brett and Jay are still working through how to best operate the page, with Jay’s job and what not. We still have had some good conversation amongst ourselves.

  23. mdavis

    a little unrealted to the Def guys, but damn, if in the 6th rd Logan Thomas is still there….that might be a steal. Watched him throw yesterday, he’s got the tools. Every throw is effortless. His feet suck, and he’s real lazy on his drops. Accuracy leaves something to be desired but I think that’s connected to his feet. 6’6″ 250 and ran a 4.61, rocket arm. That’d be a hell of a developmental guy. Aaron Murray could also intrigue me too in that 6-7 area.

  24. frank

    I know what you mean–hard to say though. He was playing out a year that couldn’t possibly help his draft status, and could really only hurt it–and an injury could’ve ended everything (except maybe insurance money if he was able to get himself insured). They said the same thing about Alex Brown when the Bears drafted him. That said, it would’ve been an easier call if he had played all out all year.

    1. mdavis

      right right, i guess its tough to say considering i was never in the position he was. i cant find the article, but i remember watching the combine sunday, and on the ticker it said something to the effect of “Mayock sees several red flags about Clowney that could drop him out of top 5” or top 10… it’ll be interesting to see. Do you take a chance on the physical specimen, or do you go with a more sure thing? I don’t think he falls out of the top 10, but dropping out of the top 5 i dont really see as that big of a stretch.

      1. frank

        I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that he drops out of the top 10. I read that the Bears recently made a coaching hire with ties to Louisville and Calvin Pryor–Clint Hurtt.

        1. mdavis

          yup that’s right. could put him on the radar. Also just read the Browns prefer Derek Carr to Manziel….#14 is around the range I think a team will have to move into to get him, and the Browns have a later first rounder and a bunch of extra picks this year as well. Could be a good trade partner to move back and get extra value.

          1. frank

            Interesting–I wouldn’t be adverse to moving back a few spots and getting another pick or two, so long as the extra picks aren’t TOO far back. Of course, I don’t think I’d complain about picking up Pryor at 14 either, especially given the need. Cleveland has 5 picks in the first 3 rounds: 4, 26, 35, 71 and 83. I don’t see Pryor or Clinton-Dix on the board as late as 26 though. And I don’t know that Cleveland would give up the 26th and 35th for the 14th.

            1. mdavis

              Yea def don’t see either of those 2 making it to 26. but a guy like Aaron Donald, maybe. Dennard possibly, but i think he’s securely top 20. Looking at the trade value chart pick #14 is 1,100 points. #26 is 700 #35=550, #71=235, #83=175. Based off that, its not that drastic to think itll cost them #26 and 35. Usually the team moving back wins the deal. But, if they wanted to go for more picks, then 26, 71, 83 would be almost even….which means Cleveland might have to throw in a 5 or 6, or, they could just roll with equality.

              1. frank

                I don’t think I’d be against picking up 26 and 35 for 14–but I’m still thinking that the farther back you go, the fewer difference makers there are. Yes, there are lots of holes and lots of needs, but I still think I’d take one difference maker over 2 serviceable/average starter types. I still think at 285, Donald would get swallowed up in the middle of an NFL offensive line. People bring up the Warren Sapp/ Geno Atkins comparisons, but those two each outweigh Donald by 15-20 lbs. and are an inch or two taller. I guess it depends on if there’s room for him to grow, or the scheme they’re going to play. In hybrid or 3-4 sets, where does he play?

                1. mdavis

                  Yeah but Donald has some frickin dominate tape. Was very disruptive this season, great Sr. Bowl week, great combine. He actually may jump Jernigan I’ve been reading. But defintely a good point about playmakers. Also will have lots to do with who they are targeting. Wish they hadn’t moved the draft back so late haha, i’m ready now.

                  1. frank

                    What conference is Pitt in this year? Are they in the ACC already? I think if the Bears continue to play a good amount of Cover-2, Donald would be a great pick. His quickness makes him disruptive, which is what Emery has stated he’s looking for, but I’m not sure how his size will translate when it comes to plugging the middle and stopping the run. I think that extra 20 lbs can make a big difference in that regard.

                    1. mdavis

                      i wanna say they played in the ACC….but not positive. If they are drafting him to be the 3 tech then he’ll be perfect. If Ratliff comes back hes going to be more of the beef guy at the 1 tech plugging up the middle to stop the run. But just read McShay, Donald is shooting up the board. Hell, he may not make it to 14.

  25. frank

    Agreed–he’d be perfect as a 3 technique. and if it’s the ACC, he probably had at least some good competition. I too, heard that he’s shooting up the draft boards due to his combine performance.

  26. cubbiekoolaid2015

    Now that the combine is over I’ve compiled a list of 7 players that I would be perfectly happy with the Bears drafting in the first round.

    1. Calvin Pryor S Louisville
    – Big hitter who showed better speed then expected at the combine. Could help in both the run and pass game.

    2. Ha Ha Clinton Dix S Alabama
    – Not the big hitter and physical presence that Pryor is but he should be able to make up for that with better closing speed and better instincts. Better against the pass then run. Could play corner.

    3. Timmy Jernigan DT FSU
    – Run stopper with loads of ability. Very athletic and is exactly what the Bears d-line needs.

    4. Justin Gilbert CB/KR Oklahoma St.
    – Amazing man to man coverage skills and clearly has the speed to keep up with anyone. Also athletic enough to go up in jump ball situations against taller wideouts. Could make both Tillman and Hester expendable even though I want both back. I think Gilbert has lockdown corner potential.

    5. Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh
    – Another run stopper who could clog the middle and get after the QB. Really like him and would love to see him and Melton together on the line.

    6. Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan St.
    – A physical corner who again, could make Peanut expendable.

    7. C.J Mosley LB Alabama
    – The leader of a very good defense in Alabama. Good closing speed in the run game and an improving cover backer. Could help against the run immediately and bring much needed leadership that WILL be lost in the next few years.(Peanut, Briggs)

    The best thing is I feel that at least 5 of these players will be available when the Bears are drafting… Maybe the perfect opportunity to trade back and add a pick or two.

    1. frank

      Can’t say that I disagree with any of your picks. Mosley may or may not be available at 14, but I doubt the Bears will draft a LB that high though. I’ve voiced concerns about Donald’s size here before, and am not sure that at 285 lbs, he’ll be the run stuffer in the pros that he was in college–but as a 3 technique he’d be great, and would probably make Melton expendable, saving some cap space in the process. All in all, a nice list.

      1. mdavis

        Agreed with most of what you have up there for sure. I’ve long been hopeful Gilbert drops to 14.Agree with Frank though, I do not see Mosley as a fit/the pick. I would not be surprised if they took a shot at a guy like Bullough in the 2-3 round range. I like Jernigan, but he had an avg combine and only 1 year where he stood out (past one). And If Donald is the pick, i don’t see him and Melton on the line together because they are both 3 tech guys. You’d want to pair Donald up with a guy like Ratliff instead. But yeah defintely a good list, I think Gilbert and 1 of Donald/Jernigan will most likely be off the board. Would like Dennard too….will be interesting to see who they start bringing in for private workouts/meetings

        1. cubbiekoolaid2015

          I agree with both of you. I should of added that list was in order so Mosley would be my least favorite pick of the 7 but I wouldn’t hate it if he was the pick.(would hope we’d trade back to get him though) I see what you guys are saying about Donald and Melton. It probably wouldn’t work… Donald and Ratliff would be a nice combo though.

          mdavis, I think I might do cartwheels if Gilbert is the pick after watching his combine and tape. He could be a legit all pro CB and KR.

          1. mdavis

            agreed. i forget which scout said it, but said in the past 5(?) years, the only other corner he’d draft ahead of justin gilbert is Patrick Peterson. thats some high praise. but i dont think he gets past the Giants.

  27. Jakelamotta

    Just curious – what is the future of this Bears page? Jay, you’ve written some great stuff and I look forward to more of the same – but what is the plan?

    1. DrReiCow

      I second this. I enjoy Jay’s writing, and there is a lot of draft news buzzing about (heck, the combine just ended), that I’d love to read the bleacher nation take on.


  28. Funn Dave
    1. frank

      They’ve also re-signed Garza and Kelvin Hayden, both to one year deals. Garza at $1.5 M.

  29. frank

    Just read that the salary cap will be going up again–about another $3M to $133M. Especially in the Bears’ case, every few million helps . . .