Bears

Draft could close gap between Bears, Packers

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Draft could close gap between Bears, Packers

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 8:56 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The gap between the Bears and the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers can be reduced to seven points, basically the winning margin of the NFC Championshp game. But if the Bears are going to close the gap or even keep pace with the Packers, it will begin next Thursday night.

Or else.

The reason the Packers were (and are) better than the Bears right now boils down to the simple fact that Green Bays performance in the draft has been substantially better than the Bears.

Consider:

Of the Bears starting offenses and defenses in the NFC Championship game, barely half (12 of 22) were their draft choices. That doesnt include safety Chris Harris, who was their draft choice (2005) but they had to trade with Carolina to get him this time. It does include, however, Tommie Harris in his final game of a declining Chicago career.

On the other side, 14 of the Packers 22 starters were draft picks.

That wouldnt be terribly impressive except for the fact that Green Bay had nine draft choices on injured reserve, including starters like linebacker Nick Barnett, safety Morgan Burnett and tight end Jermichael Finley. No Bears draft choices were on the final IR list.

The bigger point

Bad as too many recent Bears drafts have been, the Bears have not embarrassed themselves in drafts this decade the way they too often did in the 1990s with a Stan Thomas, Marcus Spears, John Thierry, Pat Riley, John Allred and Cade McNown.

At this point at least their top picks in four of the last five drafts are still on the roster, and later-round picks like JMarcus Webb, Kellen Davis, Zackary Bowman, D.J. Moore, Henry Melton and Johnny Knox have at the very least held onto roster spots.

But the point is hardly the number of drafted players are still on anyones roster. That becomes a case of figures dont lie but liars figure.

The real point is blue players, the elite-level players, players you win because of, not just with. These are the players relied upon to lift your team in situations like playoffs, not the bottom third of the roster. Of that bottom third, nearly half of those will be inactive on game days anyway.

In the past five Super Bowls every team had blue players already in place. More important perhaps, they landed at least a Pro Bowl player in the drafts of at least one of the previous three years:

2006 Colts (Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark)

Bears (Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher, Lance Briggs)

2007 Giants (Eli Manning)

Patriots (Logan Mankins, Wil Wilfork, Brandon Meriweather)

2008 Steelers (Heath Miller)

Cardinals (Antrel Rolle, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie)

2009 Saints (Jahri Evans, Roman Harper)

Colts (Antoine Bethea)

2010 Packers (Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji)

Steelers (Maurkice Pouncey)

Higher expectations

Contrary to some scenarios, the Bears need very much to score big with their first pick of the draft. Arguably, the strategy needs to be staying put for the best available player regardless of position.

It may be natural to assume that a pick in the mid- to late-20s cannot be expected to alter franchise history. But the Packers hit on Aaron Rodgers (25th, 2005) and Clay Matthews (26th, 2009). And they landed a starting offensive tackle as a rookie, an NFL hit by any measure, in Bryan Bulaga at No. 23 in the 2010 draft.

Trading down may be the convenient, even easier, approach. Adding picks is never a bad thing.

But that has produced next to nothing seriously noteworthy in the top rounds of any recent Bears draft. If little of franchise-turning impact is expected at No. 29, then what is anyone expecting out of picks even lower than that?

The Bears arguably have not found a franchise-mover in the first round since Tommie Harris at 14th in the 2004 and his stay at the elite level was over after 2007. Matt Forte (2008) is on the edge of stardom and Devin Hester (2006) is already there, but both were second-rounders and Hester achieved Pro Bowl status as a returner, not a position player.

Green Bay set itself at quarterback with a No. 1 pick (Rodgers). The Bears needed roughly twice that cost to settle that position (trade for Jay Cutler) after neither Rex Grossman nor Kyle Orton solved it.

The Packers secured more Pro Bowlers (Matthews, 2010 alternate B.J. Raji) in the 2009 draft than the Bears have in their combined first-round picks since Brian Urlacher in 2000.

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.

NFL teams seriously concerned about tech safety for virtual 2020 NFL draft

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USA Today

NFL teams seriously concerned about tech safety for virtual 2020 NFL draft

The NFL Draft is going "fully virtual" this year, which means the Bears won't get to witness the firepower of their fully armed and operational battle station. 

And because the NFL is ultimately a league run by dads, concerns about technology use are HIGH:

The article goes on to quote several people within the organization, including head coach John Harbaugh/your dad:

"It's a big concern," Harbaugh said during the Ravens' pre-draft news conference. "Hopefully we'll be okay. I really wouldn't want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that."

Everything is awful right now, but the idea of John Harbaugh going Full Dad (never go Full Dad) with his newest draft picks is undeniably less awful than most things. Kenneth Murray's going to have to confirm that it's really him three different ways. Jonathan Taylor's going to get three digits into sending his phone number to the team before Harbaugh sends an all-caps email forcing him to stop. Michael Pittman Jr.'s explanation of TikTok will be pointless. 

NFL front offices have spent decades trying to outsmart and outposition each other, and that's all going to be worthless because they have to log on to the internet on their own. It's going to be great.

RELATED: Bears won't get to use state-of-the-art draft room this year

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Check out these crazy 2020 NFL draft prop bets

Check out these crazy 2020 NFL draft prop bets

The NFL confirmed on Monday that the 2020 NFL Draft will be a completely virtual experience with general managers, scouts and other key personnel conducting the three-day event from their homes. It'll be a big adjustment for a process that inherently relies on group decision-making in a face-to-face environment.

It'll be a new viewing experience for draft fans, too, who've become accustomed to top prospects strutting across the main stage donning their new teams' hats and bro-hugging Roger Goodell. The emotion of the moment will be diminished, but it doesn't mean it won't be fun for viewers who want to up the ante for what amounts to the biggest fantasy football draft in the country.

The virtual NFL draft has spawned a new collection of prop bets in Las Vegas, and they're absolutely epic. Check it out:

Who will No. 1 overall pick hug first?

Mom 5/4
Dad 5/2
Girlfriend 3/1
Friend 7/1
Sibling 7/1

Highest number of people in the same room

Over/Under 9½

Total dogs showed during the first round

Over/Under 3½

Total cats showed during the first round

Over/Under ½

Will any draftee experience local technical difficulties?

Yes -300 (1/3)
No +200 (2/1)

Will any first-round draftee put on the wrong team hat?

Yes +300 (3/1)
No -500 (1/5)

Will any draftee be shown drinking beer?

Yes +700 (7/1)
No -2000 (1/20)

Will any draftee pop champagne?

Yes +600 (6/1)
No -1700 (1/17)

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.