The NFL playoffs are underway, but for teams not in the mix, free agency and the NFL Draft will increasingly take center stage.
To that end, some early looks at the Draft and other Bears Bullets …
- After a thrilling end to the college football season, Pro Football Focus released a list of its 32 best draft-eligible prospects. Ten of these prospects played in the College Football Playoffs, so you might have given yourself a good look at a potential blue-chip prospect if you made it through each of the postseason games. Four of the top-10 overall prospects on the PFF board played in Monday night’s championship game – and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson wasn’t one of them. You’ll want to give the list a look through in the coming days, weeks and months leading up to the draft.
- If you missed it earlier, Michigan star Jabrill Peppers is the latest early-first-round type to declare for the NFL Draft.
- There weren’t too many metrics that would suggest the Bears offense was good, but they ranked highly in this particular stat: Chicago’s offense averaged 7.58 yards per play on first down. That was good enough to be the second highest average in football, just behind the Atlanta Falcons (8.1 yards) who also owned the highest scoring average (33.8 points per game) in the NFL. While Atlanta parlayed its first-down success into points, the Bears didn’t, as they averaged 17.8 points – which ranked 28th of 32 teams.
- Jordan Howard was a major key to the Bears’ first-down success in 2016, which should give offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains more reason to use him more to get the offense going. Howard averaged 5.7 yards on first-down rushing attempts – and owned a 6.0 average on 1st-and-10 carries. No matter what happens this offseason, Howard has a compelling case to be given more than the 18 carries per game he averaged after becoming a starter. Especially if the quarterback situation isn’t in a better place.
- The other rookie whose development is worth keeping an eye on in 2017 is Leonard Floyd. Over at the Bears’ website, there is some quality video highlighting the top-5 plays of his rookie campaign. It’s really hard to beat this sack of Aaron Rodgers, strip and touchdown on Thursday Night Football.
- Looking for a team to root for in the postseason? The Dallas Cowboys are taking applications:
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— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) January 10, 2017
- The Packers-Cowboys game should provide a case study on team building that Bears management should keep an eye on. Both teams have drafted and developed strong offensive lines that help set the offensive tone. Whether it is Dallas’ mauling run blocking or Green Bay’s sturdy pass blocking, both offensive lines should be observed with a close eye this weekend.
- The Bears coaching staff has a unique opportunity in coaching the Senior Bowl, but Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards will get a chance to connect with draft-eligble players when he coaches in the East-West Shrine Game.