Looks like Bears want quarterback in draft, but will they trade up to make sure they get their guy?

Looks like Bears want quarterback in draft, but will they trade up to make sure they get their guy?

All draft analyses are fluid, including the ones of NFL teams right up to the minute they are on the clock. But inside of two weeks until the 2017 selection derby, the conclusion here has become that the Bears will use their first pick — be it the No. 3 overall choice or another should they trade up — on a quarterback.

Earlier thought was that the Bears might be looking at a safety — LSU's Jamal Adams or Ohio State's Malik Hooker — but the Bears have conducted some of the most exhaustive research and evaluations in recent memory not of one quarterback but multiple quarterback prospects, in particular Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Texas Tech's Pat Mahomes and Clemson's Deshaun Watson.

And the expectation here is that Watson will be the Bears' selection.

How that happens, though, could be more interesting than simply using the third pick on the Clemson product.

To this point, the predominance of thought has centered around whether the Bears would trade down from the No. 3 pick. But a confluence of circumstances might be positioning the Bears for a possible trade the opposite direction. A trade up could allow the Bears to pick Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, the most dominant pass rusher in this year's draft, or more likely Watson, who checks every box for what general manager Ryan Pace wants in a franchise quarterback.

What are those circumstances?

Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson said during the owners meetings last month that the Browns are not trading the No. 1 pick. Policy statements in the NFL can be fluid, but Jackson and the Browns are having internal debates on whether to settle their quarterback situation with North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky or to stay the presumed course with Garrett.

Meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch made it clear that operators are standing by. "We're open for business," said Lynch, who shored up his quarterback situation with Brian Hoyer this offseason and has sparked whispers that he is keeping his powder dry for a run at Kirk Cousins next offseason. "We'll listen to anything."

Lynch confirmed last week that the 49ers had gotten calls for the No. 2 pick, and it would be a surprise if Pace and the Bears were not among those doing at least a little due diligence. Pace showed his willingness to be aggressive by trading up from No. 11 to No. 9 last year in order to grab rush-linebacker Leonard Floyd ahead of the New York Giants.

Does Pace make another call on draft day? For Watson?

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As comfortable as Pace appeared to be as recently as the owners meetings with Mike Glennon, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer is under contract at a very good price after this season, meaning he could settle in nicely as a backup if the Bears' quarterback addition this draft proves to be franchise-grade. And Pace has been very clear that improving and settling the quarterback position is Goal No. 1. So the thought that he is done at a position that important seems like a stretch, though impressions of him during the NFL meetings were pretty unanimous that he felt good if he had to go forward with Glennon. Remember he gave John Fox, Vic Fangio and the defense an edge rusher with the team's first pick last year with Floyd.

Would the Bears need to trade up, though? They would if they had decided their goal-pick was Watson (or Kizer or Mahomes, for that matter) and he was going to be stolen out from under them by the 49ers dealing the pick to someone else. The reason teams trade to get up that high is nearly always to snare a quarterback.

The team at No. 2 in the last draft, Cleveland, traded that pick and a fourth-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles, who wanted Carson Wentz. The cost was steep: the Eagles' 2016 first-, third- and fourth-round picks as well as Philadelphia's first-round pick in 2017 and second-round pick in 2018.

But the Eagles needed to move all the way up from No. 15 and had to offer a very sweet pot. The Bears would be moving from No. 3 to No. 2, meaning the 49ers would still have a top-five pick, plus whatever else the package includes.

For loose comparison purposes, in order to move from No. 4 to No. 3 in the 2012 draft, the Browns needed to give the Minnesota Vikings that No. 4 choice along with picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds of that draft. That involved the Browns wanting a running back (Trent Richardson), but it serves as a one-slot trade-up template.

However it plays out, there is no shortage of scenarios for the Bears. But thinking strategically, the Bears have no intention of being anywhere near this draft position again anytime soon. So the thought that the Bears can wait for the 2018 quarterback class is a bad one. Even if the quarterbacks are significantly better, the Bears figure they'll be long gone by the time their turn comes up in 2018.

So the time for the Bears is now, and as the stocks of Watson, Mahomes and Kizer rise — all have been intensely scrutinized by the Bears — the need might be to move up a spot to be sure of landing their idea of a prize.

And the 2017 draft is becoming rife with possibilities for doing just that.

Could a new head coach be coming to Bears/Packers rivalry?


Could a new head coach be coming to Bears/Packers rivalry?

Will 2018 be the final season of the Mike McCarthy era in Green Bay?

Albert Breer of MMQB made an appearance on Boston's 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday. During a segment of "Toucher & Rich," Breer said if the Packers (4-5-1) do not make the playoffs, 2018 will be McCarthy's last season as Packers head coach.

“Yes, I think it’s one of those situations where there’s friction between the quarterback and coach and part of it is I think Aaron has been frustrated for a while about the amount of help that he’s been able to get," Breer said. "McCarthy clashed a little bit with the front office over getting Aaron that help because he wanted to bring in veteran players.

"When Ted Thompson was still the general manager there, and he was until January, there were issues as far as, ‘Is he listening to me?’ And they changed things, to their credit, like to some degree this offseason; they bring in Jimmy Graham, they sign Muhammad Wilkerson, they were more aggressive with veterans.

"There’s just the feeling there, I think, that the time with Mike McCarthy has sort of run its course. When they initially hired McCarthy, that was after Ted Thompson kept Mike Sherman for a year and that’s the point they are now with a new general manager, Brian Gutekunst.

"You think after this year, there’s probably a decision point coming and it feels a little bit to me like Andy Reid at the end in [Philadelphia]. Mike McCarthy is not a terrible coach, but maybe everyone could use a fresh start.”

Let's face it: Aaron Rodgers and McCarthy have been on a reign of terror in the NFC North and NFC as a whole since McCarthy became Packers head coach in 2006.

Under McCarthy, the Packers have made the postseason nine times, including eight with Rodgers under center. As the Packers head coach, McCarthy is 19-7 (including the postseason) against the Bears, winning the last five matchups between the two rivals.

Of course, Rodgers deserves a ton of credit for the Packers' success against the Bears, though McCarthy's influence cannot be ignored. Breer said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could be a candidate to replace McCarthy as Packers next head coach.

"Two years ago, Josh McDaniels was in the [49ers'] coaching search until the very end," Breer said. "And one of the things the Niners were looking at was pairing different people together.

"When Josh McDaniels was in the running for that Niners job...the guy who at the time had emerged as the front-runner for the general manager job...and who had blown the Niners away was a Packers personnel man named Brian Gutekunst, who now is the (Packers') general manager."

McDaniels has previous head coaching experience with the Broncos in 2009 (8-8) and 2010 (3-9). He notoriously changed his mind last offseason after agreeing to become the Colts' head coach, choosing to stay with the Patriots instead.

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Can consistent playing time lead to Bears' LG James Daniels improving?

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Can consistent playing time lead to Bears' LG James Daniels improving?

As the Bears search for a fix to their lagging running game, a solution could be developing within their offensive line. 

Second-round pick James Daniels’ season has been divided into thirds so far: He didn’t play in the Bears’ first three games, then split reps with Eric Kush in the next three, and now has played every snap in the Bears’ last three games. While Daniels felt that soft landing of sorts, in which he rotated in and out on a series-by-series basis, was beneficial, getting consistent playing time has, in turned, help make him a more consistent player. 

“It’s taught me that I need to focus on my technique because I’m not good enough, I’m not big enough or strong enough to just block people without any technique,” Daniels said. “When I’m in the games I just need to be super-focused, dialed in on the play, on the snap count and what my job (is) and how I need to do it, just things like that. 

“… It’s just taught me to be better — of course, everybody I block, I have to be super focused. In college, you could get away with stuff. But here you can’t get away with it.”

Daniels, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades, had his best game of 2018 last week against the Detroit Lions. While it didn’t result in the Bears’ getting much out of their running backs — Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 36 yards on 18 carries — the Bears did see what he was able to do in that game as a step in the right direction. 

“His consistency is good,” coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s learning. He’s a kid that I think Harry (Hiestand) right now is doing a good job of making him understand that there are going to be times where you’re going to be beat but making sure that he improves in those areas. Leverage-wise, one of his strengths is when he does lose leverage or maybe misses a block a little bit he can recover well.”

Perhaps it’s unfair to single out Daniels here, though that comes with the territory of being a second-round draft pick. But the Bears’ interior offensive line hasn’t had personnel consistency, lurching between five combinations of guards in nine games: Kush and Kyle Long played the first three games, then Kush and Daniels rotated opposite Long for the next three. Daniels and Long started against the Jets, then Long got hurt, leading to Kush and Bryan Witzmann rotating at right guard with Daniels starting at left guard against the Bills. Sunday’s game against Detroit was the first time since Week 3 that the same two players — Daniels and Witzmann — played every snap of a game at left and right guard. 

The point here being that the interior of the Bears’ offensive line hasn’t been settled for almost two months. Consistent playing time for Daniels could help settle it, so long as he continues to grow with those regular snaps. 

“Just being totally confident in what he's doing — we believe 100 percent in that guy,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “And just being completely convicted and confident at what he's doing and then the second is experience. For some guys, the first thing has to happen before the confidence comes. We need that to kind of, whatever it is, believe it before you see it type of confidence is hard sometimes for a young player.”