My alma mater, Southern Illinois University, put up a double nickel in what might as well have been a play-in game for the FCS playoffs. The Cubs scored 13 runs on Saturday, which I wasn’t certain was even legal based on how they refused to score in their previous games. And I missed it all because I was helping my pops install a water heater. Day 2 of instillation is at my doorstep. But first, today’s Bears Notes.
UPDATE: SIU is playoff bound. Here’s hoping it ends better for SIU than it did for the last football team I was cheering for in the playoffs…
• I am simultaneously crying, laughing, and seeking help:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) April 18, 2021
• One thing all my favorite writers have in common is that they make me think. And the best ones have me thinking about things differently. That’s one reasons I’m happy to see Cam Ellis re-emerge at 670 The Score.
• Ellis latest is one in which he offers up the idea that we might have an inkling about Ryan Pace’s long-term future with the Bears based on his first-round pick. I’m not really into the double-secret extension conspiracy theory. However, I can vibe with the idea that Pace being allowed to leverage future draft assets to land a top-5 quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft is a sign that he might get a chance to see this plan through. Should Pace be in a position to do this? No. I strongly dislike the probability that Pace could put whomever follows him in a worse situation than the one he inherited upon arrival in 2015. But Pace has done enough in the eyes of the powers that be at Halas Hall to get at least one last opportunity to get it right. Makes me itchy just thinking about it.
• If you’re a Bears fan who happens to follow our Cubs coverage at the O.G. BN site, you’ll understand my fears about allowing Pace to thread the needle. There comes a time where everything runs its course. Which means a time to pivot will come. Organizations who ignore those signs are at risk of taking a fall. While forward-thinking ones tend to deal with it better. I feel like Pace is on thin ice, but am unsure of how much rope he’ll get. Then again, this all brings us back to Draft Weekend giving us an idea of what the future holds.
• The last time I felt this way about the Bears was in 2017. It was a time when Head Coach John Fox was about to enter the year before his lame-duck year and it was Pace who had some job security. And rather than piece together a draft class that could aid Fox in his quest for another contract, Pace rolled the dice on a class full of projects with unknown floors, but serious upsides. For what it’s worth, the Bears landed on Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson in this draft. But misses elsewhere at quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky), tight end (Adam Shaheen), and a project offensive lineman (Jordan Morgan) set those position groups back in a significant manner. And that’s how we got here in the first place.
• It would be nice if Chicago’s football team could add another dynamic pass-catcher to the mix, too. With that in mind, the Bears could draft any one of these top-15 receivers and I would be absolutely THRILLED with the decision:
My top 15 wide receivers in the 2021 #NFLDraft:
1. D. Smith
2. J. Chase
3. J. Waddle
4. R. Bateman
5. R. Moore
6. K. Toney
7. T. Marshall Jr.
8. A. St. Brown
9. A. Rodgers
10. J. Darden
11. E. Moore
12. T. Wallace
13. A. Schwartz
14. D. Eskridge
15. S. Williams
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) April 18, 2021
• How loaded is this class of receivers. It doesn’t include some of my other favorites, such as Josh Imatorbhebhe (Illinois), Dyami Brown (North Carolina), Tutu Atwell (Louisville), or Tamorrion Terry (Florida State). The raw talent of the players in this class of receivers makes it for one of the most interesting groups. But for me, it’s more than that. It’s the diversity in skill sets and upside for so many different players. There are big-bodied GUAGI types, quick-twitch ballers, open-field playmakers, route-runners who cut with precision. There’s something for everyone if you’re looking in the right places.
• And the best thing about this class is that potential gems can be unearthed throughout the Draft. On potential diamond-in-the-rough could be Tamorrion Terry. Learning that he led the country by averaging 58 yards on his nine touchdown catches as a redshirt sophomore in 2019 was eye-opening. The highlights are dazzling:
• One area the Bears should approach with a two-birds-one-stone approach is in the return game. I can’t help but think they’ll miss Cordarrelle Patterson. In other words, Chicago should seek a receiver/running back/cornerback who can help soften the blow of that loss. As long as the Bears are built on ball control and defense, they’ll need special teams to seriously chip in. With that in mind, I have eyes on Kadarius Toney, Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore, and Amari Rodgers as players who fit.
• If the Bears were to get into the red zone more often, this could be helpful:
Terrace Marshall Jr. didn't drop a single pass in the redzone at LSU (25 targets) pic.twitter.com/12FisbwNZ6
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 18, 2021
• This graphic is telling:
Bears QB have been awful but I will refuse to hear any more Jay slander from Bears fans pic.twitter.com/ZQOcxyLkmm
— John L (@ChiBearsStats) April 17, 2021
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