Bears

Mock Draft: Bears stick to best player available, wait to take a running back

Mock Draft: Bears stick to best player available, wait to take a running back

Mock drafts are, at best, educated guesses. At worst, they’re blindly throwing darts at a board. 

For the first time since 2014, the Bears will not make a selection in the first 10 picks of an NFL Draft. And for the first time since 2010, the Bears won’t have a first- or second-round selection at all. That makes for a lot more guesswork in projecting this year’s NFL Draft for those outside Halas Hall — and those in it as well. 

“We’re trying to project right now who will be there (at No. 87),” general manager Ryan Pace said of his team’s first pick this year. “So I would just say that third-round cloud, for example, is just bigger than it is in previous years. There’s this bigger pool of players that we’re talking about.”

So with that in mind, here’s a stab at who the Bears could wind up with after the dust settles on Saturday:

Third round (No. 87 overall): Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame

Ryan Pace goes for a true “best player available” play here, given the Bears don’t “need” a wide receiver, at least right now. The 6-foot-4, 220 pound Boykin blew up at the NFL Combine this spring by running a 4.42 40-yard dash, vaulting the Tinley Park native into some second-round discussions. But if a team doesn’t take a shot on his outstanding athletic profile and the upside he flashed in his redshirt junior year in South Bend (59 receptions, 872 yards, eight touchdowns), the Bears could. Boykin would be a good fit with the Bears, especially given he’d be provided at least a year to learn the offense and refine his game without necessarily having the pressure of needing to start, as Anthony Miller had a year ago. 

“There’s so many variables and so many scenarios, because there’s so much space before we pick,” Pace said. “There’s a bigger pool of players, so you’re playing out every one of these scenarios. ‘Man, what if this player fell?’ Or there’s just a bigger pool of players we’re talking about. A lot of scenarios. That’s probably the challenge that exists with that.”

More than any pick, No. 87 will be an opportunity for Pace to pluck someone he, Matt Nagy and scouts like who perhaps has fallen further than expected. The Bears don’t “need” Boykin right now. But in a year? They very well could. 

Fourth round (No. 126 overall): Will Harris, S, Boston College

Harris’ 4.41 second 40-yard dash was the fourth-fastest among safeties in this draft class, and he totaled 158 tackles for Boston College in the last two years while steadily improving as a run defender. He doesn’t profile as a ballhawk based on his past production (five interceptions in four years) but the Bears could see Harris as someone with long-term potential to play next to Eddie Jackson in the future. 

If the Bears do take a safety around this part of the draft, remember: Pace unearthed Adrian Amos and Jackson in the fifth and fourth rounds, respectively. While not everyone has become a key starter (Deon Bush, Deiondre Hall), the Bears’ front office does seem to know what to look for in mid-round safeties. 

Fifth round (No. 162 overall): Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn

Pace has selected someone from below the FBS level in each of his last three drafts: Hall (Northern Iowa) and DeAndre Houston-Carson (William & Mary) in 2016, Adam Shaheen (Ashland), Tarik Cohen (North Carolina A&T) and Jordan Morgan (Kutztown) in 2017, and Bilal Nichols (Delaware) in 2018. Ballentine, from Division II Washburn, participated in the Senior Bowl and is regarded as having the athleticism and makeup to make it in the NFL with the ability to play either outside or in the slot. 

PROJECTED TRADE: Bears acquire a sixth-round pick (No. 204) from New England for 2018 seventh round pick (No. 238) and 2020 seventh-round pick

The Patriots are notorious for hoarding picks and frequently trading down, so if the Bears want to move into the sixth round, targeting New England’s comp pick here makes sense. And trading down would land the Bears, in this scenario, their running back:

Sixth round (No. 204): Travis Homer, RB, Miami (Fla.)

Part of this projection is having all three of Darrell Henderson, Miles Sanders and David Montgomery go off the board before the Bears pick at No. 87. If any one of them — Henderson especially — is available when the Bears pick in the third round, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Pace to jump at the opportunity to draft a running back. 

The Bears waited until the sixth round to address their most obvious need last year — edge rusher, in drafting Kylie Fitts — so we’ll say Pace does the same thing this year (running back in 2019, though, is far less of a need than edge rusher was in 2018). Homer averaged six yards per carry in three years at Miami and flashed some pass-catching potential. At the least, he could be a third-down back as a rookie with some special teams upside — think a replacement for Benny Cunningham — who could have an opportunity find a larger place in the Bears’ offense. 

Seventh round (No. 222, from Denver via Philadelphia): Yosuah Nijman, OT, Virginia Tech 

The 6-foot-6, 324 pound 23-year-old has good athleticism and size but poor technique, making him an ideal prospect for offensive line coach Harry Hiestand to develop behind the scenes. Interestingly, this would be the first time Pace has picked an offensive tackle since the last selection of his first draft (Tayo Fabuluje, who never played in the NFL). 

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Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan wonder if John Fox had a point about the Bears having the worst offseason in the NFL (1:00), then offer up some prop bets for the Bears in 2019 involving Eloy Jimenez's home runs and Khalil Mack's sacks (5:00), undrafted free agent rookies making the roster (10:00), when/if the Bears will cut a kicker during the season (12:45), running back production (16:30) and how many games Adam Shaheen will play (25:50).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

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Bears summer prop bets: Eloy home runs vs. Bears sacks and others

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USA Today

Bears summer prop bets: Eloy home runs vs. Bears sacks and others

With over a month until football comes back for Bears training camp, JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis & Paul Aspan are killing that time on the latest Under Center podcast by taking a way too early look at some fun Bears prop bets. Here are some of their favorites that they discussed and a couple bonus props.

Eloy HR vs. Akiem Hicks + Khalil Mack + Roquan Smith sacks

Well, That. Was. Awesome.

As far as Crosstown moments go, Eloy’s 9th inning go-ahead home run immediately jumps into AJ vs Barrett territory. Dude broke his bat and still managed to (momentarily) crush one entire fan base while convincing another the rebuild has turned a corner. Poor Jose Quintana. He never had a chance.

With his absurd hot streak of six home runs in his last nine games, Eloy now has 12 homers in 47 games which skews his pace to about one every four games. With 91 games remaining that would put his season total around 34, but it’s safe to say he’s at least in the 25-30 HR neighborhood. Now if they keep throwing Eloy inside fastballs, Akiem Hicks & Khalil Mack could each pass Michael Strahan’s single season sack record of 22.5 and it won’t matter.

As for Hicks, Mack and Roquan Smith, might as well dub them the HMS trio with a trip to London on tap. Those three combined for 25 sacks in 2018 and with five sacks thru the first four games of 2018, it looked like Mack might have a real chance to threaten Strahan’s mark on his own. But then injuries, triple teams and the constant adjustment / readjustment nature of the NFL by opposing offenses held Mack to 7.5 sacks in the final 10 games he played, even if we can all agree he deserved at least two more for this.

Hicks tallied 7.5 sacks and shows no signs of slowing down, so a double digit sack season for him seems to be well within reach. And Smith’s sneaky five sack total in his rookie season will likely only increase with Chuck Pagano’s penchant to blitz and ‘wreak havoc.’

This is a total coin flip, so while you contemplate, let’s go back to the latest, greatest moment in this Crosstown rivalry:

Ozzie is the freakin’ best.

Eloy was probably thinking of that moment on this entire drive up to Wrigley Field Tuesday.

And salty Cubs twitter is (are?) my favorite Cubs fans.

Relax, I’m putting you guys in the World Series later, so take it easy.

Do the Bears cut their kicker before or after their Week 6 Bye?

At least give me some credit for not leading with the obvious kicker prop.

This bet starts with the Week 1 kickoff, because based on what we’ve seen from this ‘oh this is fun --- wait they’re still in real trouble’ kicker competition, who knows if the Bears are still playing kicker roulette leading up to the opener. At first I had this at Week 3, but that puts us all in a world of despair that we don’t want to imagine.

The original prop I...um...proposed...earlier this offseason on the podcast was Over/Under: 2.5 Bears kickers during the regular season. Two kickers seem all too likely while anything over that spells disaster, so we’ll make this more of a timing thing. Which doesn’t really make it any better.

An early season change that involves anything other than a trade for Robbie Gould will send the fan base into a panic. A late season change that involves anything other than a trade for Robbie Gould? Much worse.

Oh, you want to bet that they’ll stick with one kicker all season? It won’t be hard to find someone to take that bet. Just make sure you get like 5-1 odds to make it worthwhile.

Will Trubisky throw 10 more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (including playoffs for both)

Here’s how this one breaks down by the numbers

Note: “by the numbers” in no way means these have been calculated by any sort of algorithm, python or R - you’ll need to find someone much smarter than me for that kind of data analysis. I’m pro-analytics but I would hope I’d be in a front office if I had that kind of brain power.

Trubisky had 24 passing touchdowns in 14 games last season and we have to account for some growth in his second year in Nagy’s system so let’s give him 30 TD in 2019. Over the last four seasons, Kimbrel has averaged right around 36 saves per season, so let’s cut that in half to 18. And also use it as an excuse to show this again.

The wrinkle in this one is the playoffs. If the Cubs are going to make a deep playoff run, they’re gonna need Kimbrel to shut the door, conservatively, every other game. 11 wins for a World Series, so let’s (once again conservatively, we know how Joe Maddon likes to use his closer) say at least 6 saves.

I know how much Bears fans don’t want to hear the Jared Goff - Trubisky comparisons, but for this example, just hear me out -  it makes sense!

Goff got the Rams to the Super Bowl (or the Rams got Goff to the Super Bowl??), with the former first overall pick throwing one total touchdown pass in the playoffs. Based off that blueprint - and mix in a Freezer Left or a Chicago Special -  it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the Bears could do the same without needing Trubisky to throw more than one touchdown pass in each playoff game. So we’re right in the range of 34 TD to 24 saves.

Stop yelling at me about not automatically assuming Trubisky is gonna be better than Goff. This is a good thing! We’re talking about the possibility of a Cubs World Series & a Bears Super Bowl.

Will the Bears have twice as many sacks vs Rodgers, Stafford & Cousins as those three QBs have passing TD vs the Bears?

I was going to make this a straight up prop of sacks vs touchdowns until I went back and looked at the numbers from their six games last season again.

Bears sacks vs Rodgers, Cousins & Stafford:                                    21!!!

Rodgers, Cousins & Stafford total passing TD vs Bears                    8

We have to account for some regression here, as the Bears sacked Stafford six times in a single game and Rodgers five times in a single game. I also can’t bank on the Bears D to keep this trio completely out of the end zone in two of the six games as they did in 2018.

Boil it down and the Bears averaged 3.5 sacks per game against their NFC North foes and that’s a tall order to run back in 2019. But even if the Bears replicate that, I’m gonna take the three princes of the north to throw 2 TD per game, which leaves the final count at 21 Bears sacks vs 12 passing TD.

Will the Blackhawks & Bulls combine for more total wins than Trubisky’s lowest passer rating this coming season?

For those of us who need want a little action on the back burner thru football season, March Madness, the start of next baseball season, the Masters, and want to (hopefully) sweat it out all the way until the end of the next NBA & NHL regular seasons.

The Hawks (36 wins) and Bulls (22 wins) combined for 58 total wins last season. Mitch turned in a total clunker against the Rams (33.3 passer rating), so if that happens, the Hawks & Bulls are probably - probably -  a safe bet.

But if you throw out that Rams game, Mitch’s 2nd lowest passer rating of 2018 was the week before, against the Vikings, when he posted a 61.9 rating (hey, they won!). Even allowing for the most optimistic of Trubisky growth spurts in his 2nd season under Matt Nagy, if ya threaten everyone at Halas Hall with a couple of Malort shots, even they would admit Mitch is gonna have at least one bad game next season.

If that (foul tasting) *hiccup* is in the 60-65 passer rating range (or if you’re optimistic about the Blackhawks & Bulls - let’s say  65-75 range) this could be an all the way down to the Bulls and Hawks final games next April, wager.

Ah April...just like June...when it’s still cloudy. Rainy. And we’re stuck inside coming up with ridiculous prop bets because it feels like summer will never show up, ever again.

Bears regular season wins vs Cubs playoff wins

Hey, if the Bears are going 12-4 again, this one is easy. This is also easy if you’re a White Sox fan who will obviously take the Bears. But whatcha thinking Cubs fans? 11 wins for a World Series...I gotta proposition for ya! (RIP Prop Joe, still too soon.)