I’m pretty sure the first and second rounds of MLB’s draft are still going on live. Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised that MLB has pacing issues for its made-for-TV draft. Back to the drawing board for Rob Manfred and friends.
- The Cubs drafting one of the top college arms with their first pick, then doubling down by selecting one of the top high school arms in the second round really put the NFL Draft at top of mind for me. Just 283 days until the Chicago Bears go on the clock, in case you were curious.
- I’ll admit that it is way too early to go deep diving into the 2023 NFL Draft. But it is never too early to explore it in a cursory manner. There have been enough mock drafts to place players on our radar and put a number of things into perspective. Particularly, from a Bears-centric point of view. For instance, there is no secret the Bears have needs at receiver. And if Darnell Mooney puts up a season similar to his performance last year, he could be in line for a hefty extension. One that puts him in the $20M AAV club. And if that happens, the Bears would be wise to couple Mooney with a receiver on a rookie-scale deal. Perhaps a first-round pick such as Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Jordan Addison would make sense in that regard.
- To be clear, receiver isn’t the only position of need. And if recent trends continue, perhaps the best pick value when at receiver is in Day 2. Then again, we should be mindful of the talent and upside drop-off that can happen after Round 1. You know, like it did in this most recent NFL Draft. Throw out the assumpiton that receivers with high-end upside will be available when your favorite team goes on the clock. Remember, six receivers were taken in Round 1 in the last draft. Three more were off the board by the time Chicago’s football team was making its first pick. In other words, the top 9 receivers of last year’s class were already chosen when the WR-needy Bears were ready to make a pick. And then four more were taken before Velus Jones Jr. became Ryan Poles’ first investment in an offensive player on draft weekend. As much as I wanted the Bears to go hard at the receiver position, I understand why they didn’t (given what happened earlier on the board). With that in mind, the Bears should be willing to jump the board and start a receiver run if they are picking as high as some expect.
- Although it is far too early to link the Bears with specific names (beyond the obvious ones at obvious spots), I don’t think there is a problem looking into the future at positions the Bears should be addressing. For example, the Bears will start training camp with questions at left tackle, right guard, and right tackle. They can cut this year’s starting left guard (Cody Whitehair) next offseason and save $9.9 million (with a post-June 1 cut) in cap space and create $3.9 million by parting ways with this year’s starting center. This isn’t to say the Bears should (or even would), but instead it goes to show how fluid the offensive line situation is right now (and will be in the future).
- And let’s keep in mind that the Bears have a whole other side of the ball they need to rebuild, too. Linebacker Roquan Smith is playing on an expiring deal. Nicholas Morrow, who figures to start alongside Smith in two-LB sets, is on a one-year deal. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson is a year away from being a year away from free agency, which means the Bears will probably want to have an idea of what they want to do at the position. Safety Eddie Jackson could be someone who gets discussed as being on the chopping block at this time next year. But if you’re going to cut someone, remember that you’ll need to replace them in the lineup. And after the Larry Ogunjobi situation, the Bears never really properly addressed a long-term solution at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot.
- This feels like a good draft to land in the top-5, then trade back for a team desperate for a QB:
- Then again, for the Bears to do that it would take Justin Fields to play exceptionally well and for the team to still not win games. Is that the best-case scenario for this team’s big picture? Being good, but not good enough? What an odd place to be in as a fan.
- TL;DR version of the Bullets above — The 2023 NFL Draft will be an interesting one to follow from a Bears perspective because they’ll (1) have their own first-round pick, (2) be projected to be slotted with a top-10 pick, and (3) probably be unpredictable because the GM doesn’t have a track record and because the team has a ton of needs.
- Let’s snap back to the present:
- This week begins with the Bills and Raiders reporting to camp TODAY. Bears rookies will start checking in on Saturday. The rest of the squad is set to report next Tuesday (the 26th). And the first practice open to fans is next Thursday (the 28th). See you there! I’ll be wearing a bright orange hat. You can’t miss me!
- It has been 34 days since sack machine Robert Quinn didn’t show up for mandatory minicamp. There have been reports that Quinn wants out of Chicago. And one beat reporter keeping Quinn off his projected Week 1 roster hints that a trade out of town could be realistic. But it feels like we’re not really close to reaching a conclusion to that story arc. However, perhaps we’ll get some clarity in that area sometime soon.
- Ya know … we’re still waiting for safety Jaquan Brisker to sign his rookie deal. Brisker, the 48th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is the Bears’ only draft pick who remains unsigned. But this is just a formality. Right? Right!?!? Because I can’t wait to see this guy tormenting NFC North QBs:
- Not having a camp QB controversy is one of those things I’m looking forward to this summer. No wasting reps with Andy Dalton. And no trade rumors surrounding a possibly disgruntled veteran QB3. It’s all Justin Fields, all the time with the first-string offense. Hopefully, there won’t be beef between the new coach and quarterback — as there apparently was in Minnesota last year. Former Vikings LB Ben Leber drops an anecdote sharing how it was clear that the (now former) coach didn’t love his quarterback:
“It’s not like I’m not breaking news here that Mike Zimmer did not like Kirk Cousins,” Leber said, via CBS Sports Radio’s Zach Gelb. And I think that showed in the way that Kirk behaved and the way that he carried himself. The team was never given to him, or he was never allowed to earn the trust of the team, because the head coach I think just didn’t like him.”
- Blackhawks fans have spoken. And they believe the tank is on its way:
- Bulls rookie Dalen Terry suffered a right hamstring injury in the team’s Summer League finale. But after watching him go down uncomfortably, that it is just a hamstring issue brings a sigh of relief. Then again, that’s easy for me to type. It’s not my hamstring.