Counterpunching Rival Picks, One Day 3 Steal, Draft Ratings Take a Dip, and Other Bears Bullets
It turns out that typing harder on my keyboard doesn’t negate the sounds of construction happening outside my window. Eh, it was worth a shot.
• Our not-so-scientific poll results from Sunday yielded 1,481 votes, of which 58.1 percent of respondents gave the Bears’ NFL Draft weekend a grade of *smiley emoji* — which left me feeling *surprised emoji*:
Grade #DaBears #NFLDraft weekend with an emoji
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) May 1, 2022
• Considering how the Bears (1) ended up waiting until Round 3 to address receiver needs and (2) didn’t draft an offensive lineman until Round 5, these results are a bit of a surprise. But I like surprises, so let’s talk about more in this set of Bullets to start our week.
• Dan Wiederer (Tribune) explores how the wave of trades helped the Bears land all that Day 3 draft capital. We won’t know if the results of these moves are good or bad for a few years, but we know we have lots to watch for in the seasons to come.
• Every year presents a ton of teachable moments. And when it comes to the NFL Draft, one of the lessons I’ve come to learn is to not judge a draft class by how it shakes out immediately. I’ve seen (and written) too many flowery pieces for classes that ultimately didn’t deserve them. And I’ve seen (and written) far too many critical words of classes that out-performed their expectations. But that’s not going to stop anyone from doing it, and it certainly won’t keep people from drilling the Bears for their efforts over the weekend. For instance, USA Today’s “For The Win” ranked the Bears’ draft class 30th. Considering there are 32 teams in the NFL, ranking 30th isn’t anything to hang your hat on, especially since Chicago had the most picks of any team in the bottom 10. Yikes.
• But it wasn’t all bad. The FTW team seems to love the Bears’ selection of Southern Utah OL Braxton Jones:
“At this point in the draft, it’s all about taking guys with high ceilings. Few of the prospects available on Day 3 have more appealing raw tools than the former Thunderbird book-end. A blocker with a mean streak and ideal size at tackle (6-foot-5, 310 pounds, 35-plus inch arms), Jones has the build/skeleton of a perennial Pro Bowler. Now it’s about getting him ready for a massive step up in competition at the next level — which won’t be easy. If the Bears implement the right program for Jones, then Justin Fields’ jersey just got a lot cleaner.”
• Day 3 is all about lottery tickets and traits. The Bears began the final day of the draft with three picks and finished it with the football equivalent of eight scratch-to-win tickets. All of which come with traits that hopefully will show up with consistency at the next level. If you were wondering how much faith GM Ryan Poles has in Head Coach Matt Eberflus and his staff, seeing the Bears draft eight toolsy prospects says everything.
• Even still … this is a popular post-draft sentiment when it comes to the Bears:
"Good luck, Justin!"
Bears QB Justin Fields is one of the losers of the NFL Draft, according to @bylindsayhjones. Check out all of her winners and losers here:https://t.co/OrojEYNA24 pic.twitter.com/huhKvFItjJ
— Mike Sansone (@TheMikeSansone) May 1, 2022
• Elsewhere in the division, it was pretty much a consensus that the Detroit Lions had one of the best NFL Draft weekends of any team. As a fan of one of the Lions’ division rival, that bothers me to my core. PFF gave the Lions an A+, while USA Today (Nate Davis), DraftWire (Doug Farrar), and Connor Orr (Sports Illustrated) gave “A” grades. Fortunately, as we know all too well around here, they don’t give Super Bowl trophies for “A” grades on the Monday after draft weekend. So we’ll patiently wait this one out.
• One reason the Bears didn’t score remarkable marks is because they didn’t reel in the big names at receiver or on the offensive line. Mind you, nine offensive linemen and seven receivers had already gone off the board by the time Chicago went on the clock. And a flurry of trade-ups ahead of them (Packers, Falcons) kept them from doing the other thing Poles was hoping to do in trading back to add more picks. That left the Bears with Option C: Take the best players on the board – regardless of position.
• And, for what it’s worth, seeing the Bears take two DBs with their top-50 picks after watching the Lions and Packers execute trade-ups with the Vikings (of all teams!) to bolster their receiving corps makes me feel better about Chicago’s selections serving as a counter-punch to what was happening elsewhere in the division. Let’s keep it a buck. If the rest of the NFC North is rolling out Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Jameson Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson, and Christian Watson, the Bears need to do better than what they were putting out in their secondary last season.
• Did the Bears do enough to help Justin Fields in the draft? Hardly. But it’s not as if they did nothing. Four offensive linemen should help rebuild the depth at a position Ryan Pace absolutely ignored thought his tenure as GM. And while they didn’t add any high-profile names, bringing in some speed with Velus Jones Jr. and Trestan Ebner isn’t inconsequential. Would I have rather those choices been made along the offensive line and at receiver with the second-round picks? Sure. I’d also rather not have tomatoes on my sandwich. But sometimes, they end up on there anyway and the grub still turns out delightful. The same can happen with this draft class.
• I’ll do my best to not spend the next few days, weeks, months, and years playing the “what-if?” game when it comes to who the Bears didn’t choose. But I can’t help but have an eye on the alternatives, which Jason Lieser (Sun-Times) explores.
• For those of you who have eyes on television ratings, then you’re probably curious about how things were shaking out on that front over the weekend at the NFL Draft. The folks at Front Office Sports report first-round viewership was down 20 percent from the 12.5 million who were watching last year. Getting an average of 10.03 million viewers is still a pretty hefty number of eyes on an event centered around players simply being selected by teams. But between society re-opening two years after COVID-19 peaks and the lack of star power among the quarterbacks, the record numbers for 2020 weren’t going to be matched.
• Last year was a perfect storm for strong ratings. Five high-profile quarterback prospects went in the first 20 picks. Three of them (Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields) went to big-market teams (Niners, Jets, Bears). A fourth quarterback (Mac Jones) went to a perennial NFL powerhouse (Patriots), while the fifth (Trevor Lawrence) had long been billed as the best prospect at the position since Peyton Manning. None of those types of prospects were on the board this year, and it was reflective of how many people ended up watching. Sorry NFL, but folks weren’t tuning in out of curiosity to see where Kenny Pickett was going.
• The Cubs’ Myrtle Beach affiliate was a walk away from a perfect game, but still came away with a no-no:
The @Pelicanbaseball threw a no-hitter last night! https://t.co/6is9hU4BYe
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 2, 2022
• Some baseball history:
Kelsie Whitmore Becomes the First Woman to Start in an Atlantic League Game – https://t.co/O87rqeawNr pic.twitter.com/gi6KVwjMf7
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) May 2, 2022