Bears

View from the Moon: Day 2 draft blogging

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View from the Moon: Day 2 draft blogging

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 5:34 p.m. Updated: 6:21 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
North drafting

The drafts second day brought some skill players into the NFC North as Minnesota took the drafts first Notre Dame player, tight end Kyle Rudolph. Coach Leslie Frazier and personnel head Rick Spielman are not wasting a lot of time getting beyond Brett Favre.

The Detroit Lions took a bit of a gamble in Boise State wide receiver Titus Young, a lightweight (174 pounds) burner who caught 150 passes in his combined junior-senior seasons after being suspended as a sophomore.

Interestingly perhaps, the Lions supplemented two of their absolute strengths with their first two picks. Young will be opposite Megatron (Calvin Johnson). On the defensive line, Nick Fairley was drafted to play inside on a line that already has Ndamumkong Suh.

The Lions won their last four games of 2010 to finish 6-10. They will not be 6-10 in 2011.
Never mind
The 8th Court of Appeals granted the owners their block of the players block of the owners block of the players going back to work.

And from a press room wag with a sense of Hollywood Squares history: All they need now is Wally Cox to block. Or maybe Paul Lynd or Ruth Buzzi.

Tice take

Coach Lovie Smith kept a veil over plans for Gabe Carimi but offensive line coach Mike Tice pulled it back a little on Friday, stating that he sees the Wisconsin rookie tackle as an outside player, meaning tackle, not guard.

Tice said he and the Bears were surprised that Carimi was available when their turn approached at No. 29. Carimi was rated fourth among their line prospects, which confirmed what Jerry Angelo said after Thursdays first round, that the number of quarterbacks taken in the first round (four) helped push Carimi down.

And yes, size does matter. Its nice to have a guy in the building as big as I am, said Tice, himself 6-8.

Thinking DT

Back at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, draft guru Wes Bunting of National Football Post told me that LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis was a player to watch when the Bears turn came in the draft, particularly the second round.

Wes was among the first to point out that Nevis fits the scenario that Jerry Angelo, Tim Ruskell and others have cited working in the Bears favor. The proliferation of 3-4 defensive schemes have sent teams scurrying for jumbo defensive linemen and more linebackers.

The Bears and Lovie SmithRod Marinelli dont mind bulk but they treasure speed. So where a 3-4 scheme may pass over a D-lineman smaller than 310 pounds, the Bears did quite nicely with a healthy Tommie Harris at 290 pounds and Julius Peppers at 283.

So when Nevis weighed in at 294 at the Combine, he may have dropped off some draft boards but gone up on the one in Chicago.

I'm comfortable at any weight that I'm asked to play at, Nevis said. But that's what I got down to for the Combine

And just as the level of competition in the 2010 Big Ten was a plus for Gabe Carimi, Nevis career against offenses of the SEC prepared him well by the competition and the athletes you go against, Nevis said. They are big, strong, fast as well as smart.

And there was something at stake every Saturday. Every Saturday was like playing for a national championship game.

Something else to like about Nevis: Like Carimi, he was a four-year man at LSU, although not a starter until his senior season. He had just 10 sacks for his career, 4 as a junior and 6 as a senior. He is not a run-stuffer but more an undersized disruptor who is a shade under 6 feet but had nearly 30 tackles for loss in his final three LSU seasons.

Someone to watch as Saturday evening plays out

Happy kid
Fans will be following the NFL career of Gabe Carimi soon enough. In the meantime they can follow the rest of him on Twitter, @GabeCarimi, where this afternoon the rook tweeted, on the toad to chi town! so stoked to be a bear!

Carimis coach at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema, dropped by the NFL Networks draft desk and explained why the Badgers have a nice tradition of players with good size: Were in Wisconsin. You go to the grocery store, youre going to see big people.

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.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday.