Bears

Moon: Bears' draft pick could pose some problems

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Moon: Bears' draft pick could pose some problems

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 10:48 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

All of the talk swirling around whether draftees should or would boycott the draft has not obscured the fact that there indeed will be one. And it will not be an easy time, with the Bears picking at No. 29.

I had a brutal time with Chicago with this mock draft, not that anyone cares, joked Todd McShay, college scouting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. on a conference call Wednesday. I dont have the perfect answer for them.

Hopefully, for the Bears sake, Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell do.

The need areas on both lines are well documented and they need a young Tommie Harris, a guy who can be that three-technique, McShay said. But can you get him at 29 overall? I dont think you can.

Insiders at Halas Hall are extremely high on Henry Melton, who has added muscle on up to 294 pounds and he right now is the heir apparent to the banner that Harris put down. Unfortunately the Bears arent able to be in close touch with Melton right now because of the labor situation but Melton could be enough of a factor to allow the Bears comfortably address offensive line first.

Linebacker is a possibility for the Bears in McShays mind. And Angelo is a firm believer in keeping a strength strong, a philosophy that points toward defense.
No No. 1 pick at all??

The Bears could choose to be without a pick in round one for the third straight year.

I think the Bears may be moving back and acquiring an extra pick on day two, McShay said. That may wind up being the best scenario for the Bears.

Nate Solder from Colorado could fall to the Bears because he does not have the rankings of Gabe Carimi, Mike Pouncey, Tyron Smith or Anthony Castonzo.

But waiting on the offensive line could work for Chicago.

Addressing the tendency of Indianapolis draft legend Bill Polian to draft offensive skill positions in his first rounds, McShay went against some analysts and said that there is sufficient depth in the offensive line class for a team to make a move there in the second round rather than the first.

McShay has moved Miamis Orlando Franklin into that range of the Bears in the late first round. While theres a lot of very good football players, probably one through 26, theres a drop-off after that, McShay said. Orlando Franklin could become one of the surprises of this class.

Gabbert vs. Newton

It wont involve the Bears but Missouris Blaine Gabbert has solidified some standing ahead of Cam Newton in the race to be the first quarterback taken. McShay has rated them that way for some time.

I dont view it as a leapfrog, McShay said. When he started studying tape on them closely, it didnt take longAndrew Luck was No. 1 if he was coming out, with Blaine Gabbert No. 2 and Cam Newton No. 3.

But neither should be expected to hit with the splash of some recent high No. 1 picks. I dont think theres a Matt Ryan or Sam Bradford in this class, McShay said. I think we have to take a step back from the last few years and go back to the old way of taking a year with a guy and letting him sit a year. Hes the only quarterback in this class I would draft in the top 10.

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.

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

NFL owners voted for sweeping changes to the kickoff play Tuesday, a decision that presents a new challenge for Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Player safety was the focus of the rule change. Collisions will be reduced and the play will look more like a punt than the traditional kickoff fans have become used to. Here's a breakdown of what's coming in 2018:

With less contact and physicality in the play, Tabor's game planning will be tested. Kickoffs won't require as many power players like the ones traditionally seen in the wedge block. Skill players like receivers, running backs and tight ends could be viewed as more valuable special teams pieces, as was suggested by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks.

Tarik Cohen could become even more lethal under the new rules. If kick returners end up with more space to navigate, Cohen will improve on the 583 return yards he managed as a rookie. He'll conjure memories of the recently retired Devin Hester.

The ability to contribute on special teams is critically important for players on the roster bubble. It'll be interesting to see if the Bears apply the approach suggested by Brooks. If they do, undrafted players like Matt Fleming and John Franklin III suddenly have more value and a better chance to make the team. 

For a complete breakdown of the new kickoff rule, click here.

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Chicago Bears left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. deserves a lot of credit. After starting his career as a seventh-round pick and something of a longshot to ever earn a starting job, he's become an irreplaceable fixture at the most important position along the offensive line.

The four-year, $38 million contract extension he signed last offseason is evidence of that.

Despite his value to the Bears, Leno is still somewhat underrated across league circles. That may be about to change.

Leno was recently named Chicago's best-kept secret.

Leno has consistently improved as a pass protector since he was drafted in the seventh round in 2014 and is now one of the team's top 10 players. If he hit the open market, Leno might be a $60 million player with the way the offensive line market is exploding. Over the next four years, the Bears should save about $20 million on the market price for their starting-caliber left tackle.

Leno has enjoyed steady improvement since his rookie season. His grades from Pro Football Focus reflect that: 53.6 (2014), 56.3 (2015), 71.2 (2016) and 80.4 (2017). 

The Bears' offensive line is poised for a big season in 2018. Leno and Bobby Massie are back as starters at tackle. Rookie second-round pick James Daniels will pair with Kyle Long at guard and third-year pro, Cody Whitehair, will get back to focusing on being the team's starting center.

If Leno's trend of improved play continues, he's a great candidate to go from best-kept secret to league star in 2018.