For the second time in his seven-year career, Allen Robinson is an Ed Block Courage Award winner.
Having previously won the award in 2015, the Bears announced on Wednesday that Robinson was again elected by his teammates as the Bears player who best "displays professionalism, strength, dedication and is a community role model." The Bears' star receiver has been a mainstay in the community since coming to Chicago in 2018, mostly through his Within Reach foundation.
When talking with reporters on Wednesday, Robinson spoke at length about what it means to him to win the award a second time.
"It means a lot," he said. "It means a lot because I think any award that you win that’s judged on by your peers, I think that means a lot. At the end of the day, you can do a lot in the community, you can do a lot on the field, but it really goes down to how you impact the people around you, and that’s on an everyday basis, whether that’s performance based, whether that’s motivational, whatever the case may be.
"To be acknowledged from my teammates for my community efforts and also for my efforts on the field, that’s definitely what you work for. You want to be judged by those guys because those are the guys who are putting in the same work as you.”
Fantasy football leagues around the country are beginning to schedule their drafts, and as is the case in every league regardless of the scoring format, running backs will be a hot commodity.
The elite running backs -- Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Saquon Barkley -- are easy picks at the top of Round 1. But finding value at the position in the next couple of rounds is where league titles are won. Will David Montgomery be one of those guys?
According to the analytics experts at Pro Football Focus, he might be. PFF is projecting Montgomery to be a top-20 running back in PPR (points per reception) leagues.
Another 250-plus touches seem more than reasonable for Montgomery in 2020. This number, like most statistical thresholds, is fairly arbitrary, but there has been a strong history of success from players that manage to reach this “milestone.” Overall, only nine out of 153 RBs with at least 250 touches in a season failed to finish better than the PPR RB24. Yes, 2019 featured three of those players in Montgomery himself, Carlos Hyde and Sony Michel, but the potential for the Bears' featured back to continue to improve his efficiency and pass-game role adds a bit more of a ceiling for 2020.
This seems like a logical projection for Montgomery, who currently has an average draft position (ADP) of RB21 (49th overall). That equates to an early fifth-round pick in 12-team leagues.
Running backs who are being drafted just ahead of Montgomery are David Johnson (Texans), Melvin Gordon (Broncos), Chris Carson (Seahawks) and even Todd Gurley (Falcons).
Fantasy owners who draft Montgomery would be wise to target Tarik Cohen as his handcuff. He can be had much later in fantasy leagues; he's coming off the board as the 42nd running back and 145th player overall.
Rarely is former first-round pick Roquan Smith mentioned as a weakness on the Bears defense, but entering his third season in the league, Smith needs a breakout year to justify the Bears' decision to select him with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
In fact, Pro Football Focus listed Smith among 15 players entering a prove-it year in 2020.
When he came into the league, Roquan Smith looked tailor-made for the modern NFL — a linebacker who excelled in coverage in college with the athleticism, instincts and feel for the game to be a difference-maker at the next level. Yet, the player we saw at Georgia has yet to really show up in the NFL with any degree of regularity. Smith has made a lot of tackles and missed relatively few (17 in 234 attempts), but his PFF grades reflect a player still trying to find consistency, particularly in coverage where he was so special in college. A top-10 draft pick in 2018, Smith enters Year 3 needing to show the Bears he can be a difference-maker on defense — not just another body who is a relatively solid tackler.
PFF's assessment of Smith is fair. It's actually kind of generous considering how bizarre his season was in 2019. While he's considered a critical starter in the Bears' defense, he isn't a star (yet) despite the fanbase thinking he is, or at least close to being one.
This may be a product of Chicago's post-traumatic draft-bust syndrome. Bears fans are so used to the team selecting first-round busts (Kevin White, Leonard Floyd and Mitch Trubisky), that even average play from Smith will feel like a breath of fresh air.
The reality, however, is that Smith is teetering toward settling in as a slightly above-average inside linebacker. And that's fine. But if he's going to ever become a star, it has to happen in 2020.