The days leading up to the draft for Matt Nagy are different now that he’s a head coach.
So much so, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that Nagy is a wild card when it comes to draft weekend. Nagy has new responsibilities and a little more sway than he was coaching quarterbacks or serving as an offensive coordinator. And while Nagy has a bunch of a experience observing Andy Reid throughout the process over the years, he simply doesn’t have the experience … yet.
- Bears GM Ryan Pace spoke with the media on Tuesday and discussed a variety of topics, but didn’t really tip his hand as to which direction the team was going with its first pick. Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times goes about sifting through what Pace said and translating it into something understandable just days before the draft. Pace called this stretch of time “a somewhat difficult time of year to talk” which should illicit a chuckle because everything is “talk” until the draft gets underway.
- It was worth noting that Pace said the team has come to a point where it is comfortable drafting from a group of eight players. Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly tries to identify the players Pace and the Bears might have at the top of their draft board. After Arkush lists Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Saquon Barkley as the highest-rated players on the board, things become less clear-cut. Since the Bears don’t need a quarterback and Roquan Smith’s size seems to be enough of a concern that Arkush believes it keeps him from being a good fit for the Bears and doubts about Denzel Ward’s ceiling, the top-8 is rounded out by Derwin James, Marcus Davenport, Tremaine Edmunds, and Da’Ron Payne.
- I wouldn’t necessarily co-sign doubts regarding Ward’s ceiling. Ward is the fastest corner in the draft (4.32 40-yard dash) and was a sticky cover corner for Ohio State who could be an instant starter inside or out. I suppose Ward’s size (5-11, 183 pounds) could be a factor that limits his upside, but his athleticism and experience suggest the best could still be yet to come.
- Because great players come in all shapes and sizes, I hope that Smith (6-1, 236) isn’t overlooked by the Bears. Smith owns high-end athleticism, plus instincts, and superb tackling ability. He has everything teams want out of a linebacker except size. Yeah, size matters … but so does talent.
- Let’s circle back to Payne, a player whose name hasn’t been associated with the Bears during the build-up toward the draft. A talented defensive prospect from Alabama, Payne checks in at 6-3 and 311 pounds and is favorably compared to Ndamukong Suh on his NFL.com draft profile. Listed as a defensive tackle, Payne has the highly-sought-after combination of power and athleticism that makes scouts drool. Payne is probably the best run-stopper in the draft, but his pass-rushing prowess could use some work. It’s hard to imagine Payne going in the top-10, in part because he has been most often mocked as a middle-of-the-first kind of prospect.
- Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom offers up the following warning: Don’t be surprised if the Bears trade up (again) so Pace can draft “his guy.” All things considered, it’s a pretty fair warning. The Bears have traded up in the first round in each of the last two drafts in order to take a top prospect at a premier position. And while there is nothing sexy about trading up for an interior lineman, Rosenbloom wouldn’t be shocked if the Bears moved up to draft Quenton Nelson with an eye on protecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
- Teams generally move up to take immediate impact players such as quarterbacks, pass-rushers, high-end cornerbacks, and receivers. I struggle to find a team in the top-10 moving up to draft a guard – no matter how good that guard projects to be.
- John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago tries to get to the bottom of what it takes to be drafted by the Bears. Mullin breaks down the traits that Pace has shown since replacing Phil Emery as Chicago’s GM. I think what stands out the most is the commitment to drafting a “high-ceiling” guy. The common denominator between Kevin White, Leonard Floyd, and Mitch Trubisky is the upside each brings to the table because of their talent and athleticism.
- Over at Pro Football Weekly, Greg Gabriel highlights nine players who could go later than expected because of medical questions. Among the players on this list who could be on the Bears’ radar are Iowa center James Daniels (“some arthritis in one knee”), Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck), Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn (offseason shoulder surgery), Wake Forest edge rusher Duke Ejofor (labrum surgery), and Ohio State center Billy Price (torn pectoral).
- Some evergreen stuff from Gabriel, who highlighted Florida receiver Antonio Callaway as a player whose character could come into question. Gabriel believes Callaway is a first-round talent but had several off-field issues that appeared as red flags. And then word came late last night via ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Callaway has some prior red flags. Schefter brings up a December 2015 accusation of sexual assault, which Callaway was eventually cleared of by a Title IX hearing officer in August 2016. He was also one of nine Florida players who allegedly used stolen credit card information, and was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It all adds up to Callaway’s stock tumbling despite his immense talent.