Bears

Adam Shaheen’s college coach: ‘His ceiling for greatness is unbelievable’

Adam Shaheen’s college coach: ‘His ceiling for greatness is unbelievable’

Lee Owens has coached at Division II Ashland since 2004, but before that, he was a head coach at Akron and an offensive line assistant at Ohio State. 

During those two stops, Owens coached 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor and 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Orlando Pace. And, as a side note, in 2007 Owens hired Matt LaFleur to be Ashland’s offensive coordinator. A decade later, LaFleur is now the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. 

Can Adam Shaheen, the hulking 6-foot-6, 278 pound second-round pick of the Bears, follow in those others’ footsteps? 

“His ceiling for greatness is unbelievable,” Owens said. 

The Bears made a bold move in taking a Division II tight end who didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of high school and played basketball for a year before getting the itch to return to football. But perhaps the more surprising part of Shaheen’s selection with the 45th pick was that he had college eligibility remaining. 

While the best players at college football’s top level frequently turn pro with a year left, that’s not the case in Division II. 

“It’s kind of unheard of,” Owens said. “I don’t remember any cases at all.”

Shaheen impressed those who watched him across the NFL — Bears area scout Jeff Shiver was “pounding the table” for Shaheen, general manager Ryan Pace said — because of the way he moves for someone of his size. His basketball background makes him a natural at “boxing out” in the end zone, where he’s adept at positioning himself to beat opposing defenders. 

Todd McShay said a scout texted him raving about Shaheen last October, which tipped off the ESPN draft analyst to watch his tape. And that film study led to this conclusion: “He’s the real deal.”

“Now the level of competition, I get it, and it was very clear that he was just kind of manhandling some guys,” McShay said on a conference call Sunday. “But he, at 278 pounds, has good speed, very athletic, very good hands, does a great job on contested throws, can run after the catch and I just think he’s got a chance to be an impact starter.

“… I like the pick. You got a young quarterback who at some point who in (Mitch) Trubisky who will take over and now you give him a young security blanket to grow old with, if you will.” 

While Shaheen will have to deal with a significant step up in competition, one thing Owens noted is that Ashland runs a pro-style offense. That means Shaheen isn’t totally foreign to the blocking assignments required of him at the NFL level, an area of his game that probably will need the most growth going forward. 

“Is he as polished as he needs to be? Absolutely not,” Owens said. “I would love to have him for another year. He’s made great strides in the two years he’s played. And it’s not a case of him not being able to do it, but he needs more work. He’s plenty strong, he’s plenty big, and he’s got a great base and great feet and he’s not afraid of contact, so I don’t question his ability to get better and better at that.”

From a personality standpoint, Owens lauded Shaheen’s maturity and how he handles both success and pressure. And the guy who saw Pace and Taylor in college sounds convinced his latest player to make it to the NFL was well worth a top-50 draft pick. 

“All those kind of things make you a great pro, Adam obviously has that,” Owens said. “I look long-term and I see him playing a long time and having an unbelievable career.”

Should the Bears trade for this Ryan Pace player?

Should the Bears trade for this Ryan Pace player?

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks wants out of L.A. It's no secret the Rams are trying to trade him, and he expressed his desire to be traded on Twitter on Friday.

The Bears have a need in their offense for a speed wide receiver, and Cooks has been one of the most explosive weapons at the position throughout his career.

Prior to last season's offensive meltdown in Los Angeles, Cooks recorded four-straight 1,000-yard seasons and averaged more than 15 yards per catch in three of those years. He's still only 26 years old and has plenty of juice left in his legs to offer his next team a similar level of production; he would be a dynamic complement to Allen Robinson and would round out Chicago's wide receiver corps.

And here's the thing: we know Ryan Pace loves his former Saints. He just rewarded Jimmy Graham with a two-year, $16 million contract despite a market that likely wouldn't have valued his services anywhere near that amount.

But Graham was one of Pace's guys from his days in New Orleans, and so is Cooks.

The Saints traded a first- and third-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft to move up for Cooks (they moved from No. 27 to No. 20 to select him). Pace was New Orleans' Director of Player Personnel at the time; his voice was a powerful one in the decision to acquire Cooks.

The biggest impediment to making a move for Cooks is his contract. He signed a five-year, $81 million deal with the Rams in 2018 and has a $16.8 million cap hit in 2020. With Robinson looking to break the bank on a contract extension in the coming weeks, it's highly unlikely the Bears will commit that much money to the wide receiver position. Any trade will have to include some kind of restructured contract or an agreement that the Rams carry a significant portion of Cooks' cap hit.

There's also the issue of compensation that the Bears could send to Los Angeles for a player as dynamic as Cooks. A trade would require at least one of Chicago's second-round picks. Maybe that's all it will take, but the Rams would be justified asking for more.

The dollars have to make sense and the compensation has to be appealing enough to get a deal done. But there's no doubt Pace is at least researching his options.

Cooks, unlike Graham, would be one of Pace's guys who Bears fans would welcome with open arms.

Bears land two potential starters in latest NFL.com mock draft

Bears land two potential starters in latest NFL.com mock draft

The 2020 NFL draft is less than four weeks away and now that the first wave of free agency is over, team needs have begun to crystallize.

For the Chicago Bears, that means youth at tight end and a starting-quality safety will be high on their draft wish list. According to Chad Reuter's latest NFL.com 2020 mock draft, the Bears check both boxes with potential starters in the second round.

At pick No. 43, Chicago adds LSU safety Grant Delpit, who prior to the 2019 college football season was considered by most draft analysts to be the most gifted defensive player not named Chase Young.

Delpit's final season with the Tigers wasn't the best for his draft stock. He lacked the splash plays that made him a household name last season, but he still displayed the kind of aggressive and fearless style that would make him a strong complement next to Eddie Jackson, who the Bears want to get back to playing centerfield. Delpit will slide to the second round because he's an inconsistent finisher, but he'd offer great value for a Bears defense that needs an aggressive run defender on its third level.

At No. 50, the Bears snag a potential starter at tight end in Purdue's Brycen Hopkins

Hopkins is a wide receiver in a tight end's body; he's everything Chicago's offense has been missing. Regardless of who wins the team's quarterback competition this summer, a player like Hopkins has the kind of playmaking ability to instantly become one of the early reads in the offense's passing game. 

With veterans Jimmy Graham and Trey Burton already on the roster, a player like Hopkins could be eased into the lineup with the expectation that he'd eventually become the primary receiving option at the position by the end of his rookie season.

Not a bad second-round haul. It's critically important that Ryan Pace hits on his second-rounders, too. The Bears' next pick doesn't occur until the fifth round, which is usually when special teams players and practice squad candidates are added.