As real-life Draft Day moves along, it’s hard not to have at least a passing interest in what’s happening up ahead of No. 8 with who may or may not be taking Bo Callahan.
Presumably the Cleveland Browns (coincidentally with that No. 1 overall pick – is this Hollywood stuff or what?) know which and how many of teammates came to Baker Mayfield’s birthday on Sunday before last. Or maybe Sam Darnold is in freefall because nobody’s coming to his in June.
And how about the task force dealing with Josh Allen’s tweets from high school, or the Miami Dolphins doing a one-off version of the Bears-Mike Glennon vignette, assuring Ryan Tannehill that he’d be the 2018 starter even if they draft a quarterback in Round 1, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero?
“And appearing tonight in the role of ‘Vontae Mack,’ please welcome, everyone, Roquan Smith!
But seriously, folks...
Could the Bears in fact be thinking that, with good-but-not-great choices likely for an edge rusher this draft, might the better option be to go for coverage sacks, meaning a major upgrade at defensive back with their No. 1 pick?
The name of Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward has floated quietly to the surface in the last 24 hours. But the Bears lavished $18 million guaranteed in a three-year, $27 million contract for Prince Amukamara, and chose/were forced to match the Green Bay offer of four years, $56 million to Kyle Fuller. So the notion of high-priced redundancy in depth seems a little head-shaking.
Except that the Bears desperately need “elite” in their secondary, playing six games annually in a division that includes Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and now Kirk Cousins – three of the NFL’s less-intercepted passers over the past several seasons.
Amukamara has gone 2,339 snaps without an interception, his last being of Cousins early in 2015. The Bears didn’t think Fuller was worth $14.9 million for one prove-it year initially (they used the transition tag at $12.97 million instead), but had to dig a lot deeper overall as it turned out.
Ward or Minkah Fitzpatrick or whomever the Bears pick at No. 8 will command a deal in the range of $18 million guaranteed, which will make the Chicago secondary pricey for at least the next two years. But first-round contracts come with that fifth-year option, and the Bears have misspent guaranteed chunks before (Mike Glennon, Jay Cutler, Marcus Cooper, Markus Wheaton).
When Bears GM Ryan Pace went all-in and then some last April to ensure beating everyone to Mitch Trubisky, he took more than a little second-guessing. The criticisms and doubts were over both whether he needed to trade up to secure Trubisky (personal text messages to him from some of the greatest NFL personnel guys said that he did the right thing leaving nothing to chance), and whether he’d gone after the right guy. The 49ers had in fact spoken to a second team besides the Bears in the moments before the trade with Chicago.
The state of the 2018 NFL Draft may offer some early vindication of Pace’s move.
Matt Nagy suggesting that he rated Trubisky the No. 1 quarterback last draft was pretty much what you’d expect him to say now that Nagy’s in Chicago. But the Chiefs were intent on landing a quarterback that they, too, traded up in Round 1 for theirs (Pat Mahomes). It wasn’t Deshaun Watson, either, for whom Houston also traded up.
The point is, Pace and his department had incorporated early assessments of the 2018 quarterback class into their deliberations and decision to go for Trubisky. And looking at Allen, Darnold, Mayfield and Rosen, would the Bears 1) have preferred any of those four over Pretty Boy Assassin? (No), and 2) could the Bears have been even remotely sure of being in any position to be sure they got the QB they graded the highest? (No).
Even with as badly as Mike Glennon performed, the Bears would’ve theoretically needed to lose three more games to have been at No. 2 this draft, instead of the New York Giants, who played a weaker schedule than the Bears and would’ve been No. 2 with a tiebreaker if the two were 3-13.
Meaning: Pace was leaving nothing to chance last draft and even less than nothing at risk in his (belated) drive for a franchise quarterback. He needs Trubisky to be The Guy but if it weren’t Trubisky last year, it well could have been the third or fourth option from this quarterback class. Not special, and besides, Trubisky’s already a year ahead of all of them.