Bulls

Miller: Signings, character issues could steer Bears clear of CBs

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Miller: Signings, character issues could steer Bears clear of CBs

With the recent signing of veteran cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite to make up for the loss of Zack Bowman to the Vikings, it could signal the Bears would target other positions early in the 2012 NFL Draft. There are questionable character issues surrounding the top corners in this years draft crop. Specifically, where the top corners could be selected by the Bears with the 19th overall pick of the first round.

Morris Claiborne, LSU CB, 60", 185 lbs: He is simply off the table as Claiborne most likely will be a top-ten pick. A recent report emerged concerning Claibornes Wonderlic test score, which was a lowly 4. But this is not so concerning as Claiborne has a learning disability that was well known and reported by the National Football Posts Greg Gabriel. Gabriel was head of college scouting for the Bears and is now a contributor for the NFP. Greg followed up with his own story stating, Claibornes learning disability was well known.

Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama CB, 510, 191: Has Jenkins changed his ways since being dismissed from the Florida Gators football program? NFL teams will do interviews at two schools as Jenkins ability is elite, but is he a choir boy or a rabble-rouser? The Bears have had their fair share of both, but after the Sam Hurd debacle a year ago, I highly doubt it. Jenkins was dismissed from Florida for drug (marijuana) related issues. Jenkins came clean at the Combine, but what team is buying in? It wont be the Bears.

Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama CB, 62, 192: Another talented cornerback who recently had marijuana charges dropped. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has vouched for Kirkpatricks character but teams will question IMG, where he is training, as long time journalist Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange has reported there were some unsavory characters allowed into the IMG training facility. Again, the Bears are not going to select a first rounder with any blemishes at all due to last years black eye thanks to Hurd.

Alphonzo Dennard, Nebraska CB, 510 203: No. 19 in the first round is way too high for a player that many think is built for safety. Top end speed is in question with Dennard. Not a chance he'll go at 19, which leaves the Bears with one cornerback with 1st round talent when deciding to select in the first round.

Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina CB, 61 193: Gilmore is young. He elected to forgo his senior year and enter the 2012 draft early. Gilmore is experienced with 40 games played. He has impressed with his athleticism and removed all doubt during this years Combine posting 4.40 speed. Gilmore is moving up draft boards and may have positioned himself second to Claiborne due the off the field issues of the players above.

If the Bears are thinking cornerback, Gilmore would be the only one who may fit in the first round.

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

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USA TODAY

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

New York Times veteran NBA writer Marc Stein tweeted late Friday that multiple teams were interested in fourth-year swingman Rodney Hood.

We know that the Jazz are one of the rumored teams interested in embattled forward Niko Mirotic and while it wouldn’t seem to make sense on the surface, Rodney Hood could be a good fit for the Bulls.

Hood will be a restricted free agent this summer and the Bulls would retain the rights to match any offer if they felt like the former Duke Blue Devil was the right piece to join the new core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn.

There is one complication in a potential Mirotic for Hood deal; the salaries don’t quite match. Utah would need to send another player like Alec Burks to Chicago in the deal. The Bulls would have to be OK taking on Burks’ $11.5 million salary for the 2018-19 season and his cap hit in free agency. Good news though, the free agent class this summer is very thin at small forward, the main position the Bulls have a need for.

Another road block, the Bulls are set to max out LaVine this July, and they may be wary on tying up a good part of their cap space for the next four years on two players.

Acquiring Hood hurts the ‘tank’ but you’d have a three-month audition of a 25-year old shooter that on paper would seem to work with the current rotation. If the Bulls felt like Hood wasn’t a good fit, let him walk in free agency. They would then keep their cap space intact for the 2019 super free agent class.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.