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Mullin: Don't dismiss NFL mock drafts

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Mullin: Don't dismiss NFL mock drafts

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 11:47 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

With the two sides idling in the matter of the NFL vs. group-formerly-known-as-the-NFLPA, the draft is still percolating and is now a little more than a month away.

What that means is the mock drafts are starting in earnest. Dont dismiss them entirely, because NFL teams are doing exactly the same thing, many times over. So its worth looking at a handful, and Ill do this from time to time as the draft approaches.

The Pouncey Pounce

Wes Bunting at National Football Post lays out a scenario that the Bears would dearly hope plays out.

Wes, who discussed some intriguing possibilities to watch for the Bears in some later rounds, particularly at wide receiver, projects Florida center-guard Mike Pouncey becoming a Bear at No. 29, with Baylor guard Danny Watkins being selected by New England at No. 28.

The qualifier, if you want to call it that, is that Mike is not as good as his brother Markice was as a rookie starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Wes thought here is that while the Bears would probably like to go tackle first, Pouncey is too good to pass up. A very possible scenario is for the Bears to move JMarcus Webb from right to left tackle and Chris Williams, who was barely adequate at left tackle, from left guard to right tackle, where he was better in 09.

The Bears are prepared to move forward without Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza could move back from right guard to his original NFL position. But Garza has years on him and Edwin Williams could not hold the starting job at right guard when he had his 010 chance. If Pouncey is there, hes a Bear.
The Sherrod Scenario

Sports Illustrateds Don Banks on SI.com has Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod. Don also has two quarterbacks going in the first three picks, with Blaine Gabbert to Ron Rivera and Cam Newton headed to Buffalo at No. 3 (wonder how Cams father feels about that).

Part of Dons thinking is that Sherrod would be the best tackle remaining, which the Bears would not mind in the least. In DonsWorld, Mike Pouncey goes one pick ahead of the Bears at No. 28 to New England. The problem I see with that is that if the Florida center-guard lasts that long, the Bears would have vaulted a team or three and gone up to grab the guy that line coach Mike Tice loves and would project as the franchise center in the post-Olin era.

Same with Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, another Bears favorite. Don has the Eagles taking Carimi, the self-proclaimed best OT in the draft, and if Carimi were lasting that long, which could well happen, would the Bears wait and hope, or trade up? Because trading up is a far greater possibility with personnel man Tim Ruskell alongside GM Jerry Angelo. Colorado tackle Nate Solder was gone at No. 22 (Indianapolis) and Anthony Castonzo from Boston College went at No. 19 to the New York Giants.

Behold the Run

What I do like particularly about Dons assessment is the run on tackles, which I see as absolutely the scenario. Tackles are at a premium anyway, and Angelo believes they go anywhere from one to two rounds above their grade simply because offensive linemen are difficult to find in sufficient quantities.

Mel Kiper said a week ago that teams like the Bears will be unlikely to find a premium OL product late in the second round. They and other teams know this, so when the first one or two go, the rush will be on to take one from a small but high-quality assortment.
The Cane Mutiny

The Bears definitely will go offensive line, according to the scenario of Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki, and they will come out of day one with Miami tackle Orlando Franklin, Nolan projects.

This is one of the first times Franklins name has come up at this level of the first round and Nolan has Franklin going to the Bears even with Sherrod on the board. But as much as Angelo likes Florida players, he is every bit as sold on Miami products, given the success of Devin Hester and Greg Olsen on the current roster.

Nolans projections include Carimi No. 13 to the Lions; Tyron Smith No. 20 to Tampa Bay; Pouncey No. 21 to Kansas City; Castonzo at No. 22 to the Colts; Solder No. 24 to the Saints. Theres that run thing again.
Just worth noting.

Some things to remember through all of this and the draft-info blizzard coming over the next month:

One is that there isnt much real NFL news happening right now. A break could come before the anticipated Apr. 6 court date regarding decertification and the lockout matters. But the draft, always an interesting, absorbing diversion in the lull before NBA and NHL playoffs and semi-meaningful baseball, is the best game in town right now.

The other is that this is seriously difficult forecasting. Not just the Bears pick at No. 29, which is in the cluster range where your best bet is a pool of 3-5 players who should be on the board then. Its also a dicey year at the top:

Wes sees Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley going No. 1 overall to Carolina. Dons call is Blaine Gabbert. And Nolan has the Panthers selecting Alabama defensive tackle Marcel Dareus.

There. Glad we cleared all that up.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Is Adam Shaheen finally starting to live up to his potential in Bears offense?

Is Adam Shaheen finally starting to live up to his potential in Bears offense?

"Where is Adam Shaheen?"

It was a fair question and one that was uttered often by Bears fans through the first 11 weeks of the season.

The rookie tight end — a second-round pick (45th overall) this spring — had little impact on the 2017 season through 10 games, playing only around a quarter of the team's offensive snaps.

But Sunday's loss at the hands of the Detroit Lions marked the best game of Shaheen's young career. He caught all four of his targets for 41 yards and a touchdown.

That total doubled his season yardage line, and his four catches were more than he had in the first nine games combined (three). Two of those three catches — and 39 yards — came in the Week 10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, one game prior to Sunday's.

He even made an impact as a blocker, too:

"These last two weeks, playing with the starters has been a big confidence-builder for me," Shaheen said. "Getting those early catches. Hopefully continue to build on it."

Shaheen has gotten his chance to show what he can do in a Bears offense that's missing veteran tight ends Zach Miller (out for the year with a knee injury) and Dion Sims (who missed Sunday with an illness), and he's taken a common sports trope — "next man up" — to heart.

"I feel like I've gotten better every game in the receiving role," Shaheen said. "Taking advantage of the opportunities I've been given.

"The more you rep it in games and the more you're actually out there running around, catching the ball, you build up some confidence."

And with that confidence comes more comfort in the offense and on the NFL gridiron for a raw tight end who played Division-II football at Ashland.

It's a cycle the Bears need to continue as the year moves on and delves into a focus on the future with the 2017 playoffs an extreme longshot at this point.

Even with Shaheen's big game and a clear rapport developing with quarterback Mitch Trubisky, the rookie tight end wasn't in the game on the final drive when the Bears were running their two-minute drill.

Why?

It still comes down to how raw Shaheen is, along with fellow inexperienced players (running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen).

"In a two-minute situation, not everybody on the team knows all of that," Bears coach John Fox said. "We have Adam Shaheen, we have Mitchell Trubisky, we have Tarik Cohen — they are playing in their eighth games in their NFL careers, as rookies.

"They have a lot on their plate as it is, and they can't do everything. They're definitely good, young players, for sure."

View from the Moon: Bears 'siestas' continue, leaving progress difficult to find, but it’s there ... somewhat

View from the Moon: Bears 'siestas' continue, leaving progress difficult to find, but it’s there ... somewhat

Consider this a connect-the-dots exercise, with the end game being to figure out what the overall picture is. Because the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions was many things, a couple actually very good, but too many of them kinda-to-very bad...

The overarching point of the 2017 season, per senior Bears management, is progress. Not just on the part of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who had a fourth solid performance in six NFL starts; but on the Bears as a whole. A week after showing anything but, the Bears showed something that could masquerade as progress.

How real is it? The Bears in the past eight days have given few reasons to trust it.

Because while coming close against a respectable Lions (6-4) team counts for something, the Bears are still 3-7 at the end of the day and 3-13 under John Fox against the NFC North – a division winning percentage of .188, which would be lower than that of the Marc Trestman Bears (.250), who managed to win their three NFC North games in two seasons vs. Fox’s three.

As concerning perhaps, the loss left the Bears 3-9 under Fox in games decided by three or fewer points, the hallmark of what simplistically can be ID’d as “losing” teams.

“We’ve had a lot of close games, and it’s just finding a way to close those out,” Trubisky said. “We’re going to work towards that, and figure it out for sure.”

What makes “progress” difficult to see, though, is that the Bears do not play like a team either coached to be or with the proven ability to play at a professional level all the time. Teams with that problem typically make coaching changes at the ends of seasons, since the conclusion usually is that the talent can be there, just that the coach in hand, fair or not, can’t get it out of the roster.

“We’ve shown spurts and moments, like we have for some time now,” Fox summarized. “But we have lulls. We have siestas. We just don’t do it for 60 minutes. ... People have ups and downs. Well, we’re in a stage as a football team where we have those moments in games. We have to do a better job of coaching it and we have to do a better job of executing it in games.”

The Green Bay Packers were one kind of measuring standard last week, and the 3-7 Bears were embarrassed against a foundering team that had been soundly beaten by the Lions the week before the Bears faced them, and buried 23-0 at home Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens.

The Lions were a different kind of quiz, a real offense putting up more than 27 points per game. The Bears allowed the Lions their requisite 27 points (seven of those coming on a touchdown return of a Trubisky fumble), but put up nearly 400 yards and 24 points of their own in a game that ended on a Connor Barth missed field goal from 46 yards, Barth’s fifth miss in 11 attempts from beyond 40 yards.

(Barth’s miss may have been particularly bitter for Fox, after watching Detroit’s Matt Prater win the game from 52 yards – the same Matt Prater who kicked for Fox in Denver in 2011 when Fox’s Broncos beat the Bears in the Marion Barber Game with Prater field goals from 59 yards to tie with 3 seconds left, and from 51 yards to win in OT.)

“All these games in the NFL – they’re hard games – but when you have a game like this that you should win, you just have to win those games,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright. “I think with us, when we win one of those close games, it will help us get over the edge and we’ll start stacking them up on top of each other.”

Then again...

The Bears seemed to lose their compass in the third quarter, with one rushing yard on four attempts. But they finished with 222 yards and the way they amassed them mattered: 125 and a touchdown for Jordan Howard; 53 for Trubisky, a number of them on designed runs; and 44 plus a TD for Tarik Cohen – all combining to average 7.4 yards per carry.

Bigger picture, the Bears were in the position of having at least a chance to tie because Trubisky managed to drive the Bears 55 yards in the final 1:32 from the Chicago 17 to the Detroit 28. This would constitute something shiny lying there in the mud, and make no mistake: This is a big deal.

To put Trubisky in some kind of context: Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, the fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, replaced Tyrod Taylor in the Bills starting lineup Sunday, against a Los Angeles Chargers defense allowing opponents to complete more than 64 percent of their passes. Peterman completed 11 of 14 in the first half, about 79 percent. But – five of the Peterman “completions” were to Chargers.

DeShone Kizer has been in and out and back in the starting lineup for the Cleveland Browns, suffering through a rookie season with one of the worst teams arguably in NFL history. But – Kizer, with 12 interceptions vs. four TD passes, is one of the reasons the Browns are in various “worst ever” discussions.

Trubisky threw 30 passes without an interception on Sunday, and 65 without a pick over his past two games. He’s thrown 145 NFL passes with just two interceptions, an INT rate of 1.4 percent that ranks ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and a list of others. Critics of his development can have their points, but the kid has learned ball security at an early NFL age even while averaging 32.4 pass plays per game.

The next step is getting his team over the top, because he is still completing just 53.1 percent of his passes and was missed badly on a number of throws on Sunday. His deft TD pass to tight end Adam Shaheen in the first half was NFL-perfect (where his guy or nobody catches it), but his throw low and behind running back Benny Cunningham at the goal line in the first quarter forced the Bears to settle for a field goal in a game decided ultimately by three points.

Trubisky clearly gets the big picture, too, pointing the thumb and not any fingers. He paused before answering a question about his rookie learning curve:

“I think adversity is a great teacher,” he said. “Overcoming the struggle is a great teacher. There’s no rookie excuse. You don’t get a freebie because you’re a rookie.

“My teammates trust me and they have confidence in me, so I’m preparing as I should. Coaches have me prepared and my teammates have my back. New situations are going to arise every time, but there are no excuses. I’m just looking at these opportunities as chances to overcome, and not dwell on it.”