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Mullin: Don't dismiss NFL mock drafts

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Mullin: Don't dismiss NFL mock drafts

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 11:47 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

With the two sides idling in the matter of the NFL vs. group-formerly-known-as-the-NFLPA, the draft is still percolating and is now a little more than a month away.

What that means is the mock drafts are starting in earnest. Dont dismiss them entirely, because NFL teams are doing exactly the same thing, many times over. So its worth looking at a handful, and Ill do this from time to time as the draft approaches.

The Pouncey Pounce

Wes Bunting at National Football Post lays out a scenario that the Bears would dearly hope plays out.

Wes, who discussed some intriguing possibilities to watch for the Bears in some later rounds, particularly at wide receiver, projects Florida center-guard Mike Pouncey becoming a Bear at No. 29, with Baylor guard Danny Watkins being selected by New England at No. 28.

The qualifier, if you want to call it that, is that Mike is not as good as his brother Markice was as a rookie starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Wes thought here is that while the Bears would probably like to go tackle first, Pouncey is too good to pass up. A very possible scenario is for the Bears to move JMarcus Webb from right to left tackle and Chris Williams, who was barely adequate at left tackle, from left guard to right tackle, where he was better in 09.

The Bears are prepared to move forward without Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza could move back from right guard to his original NFL position. But Garza has years on him and Edwin Williams could not hold the starting job at right guard when he had his 010 chance. If Pouncey is there, hes a Bear.
The Sherrod Scenario

Sports Illustrateds Don Banks on SI.com has Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod. Don also has two quarterbacks going in the first three picks, with Blaine Gabbert to Ron Rivera and Cam Newton headed to Buffalo at No. 3 (wonder how Cams father feels about that).

Part of Dons thinking is that Sherrod would be the best tackle remaining, which the Bears would not mind in the least. In DonsWorld, Mike Pouncey goes one pick ahead of the Bears at No. 28 to New England. The problem I see with that is that if the Florida center-guard lasts that long, the Bears would have vaulted a team or three and gone up to grab the guy that line coach Mike Tice loves and would project as the franchise center in the post-Olin era.

Same with Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, another Bears favorite. Don has the Eagles taking Carimi, the self-proclaimed best OT in the draft, and if Carimi were lasting that long, which could well happen, would the Bears wait and hope, or trade up? Because trading up is a far greater possibility with personnel man Tim Ruskell alongside GM Jerry Angelo. Colorado tackle Nate Solder was gone at No. 22 (Indianapolis) and Anthony Castonzo from Boston College went at No. 19 to the New York Giants.

Behold the Run

What I do like particularly about Dons assessment is the run on tackles, which I see as absolutely the scenario. Tackles are at a premium anyway, and Angelo believes they go anywhere from one to two rounds above their grade simply because offensive linemen are difficult to find in sufficient quantities.

Mel Kiper said a week ago that teams like the Bears will be unlikely to find a premium OL product late in the second round. They and other teams know this, so when the first one or two go, the rush will be on to take one from a small but high-quality assortment.
The Cane Mutiny

The Bears definitely will go offensive line, according to the scenario of Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki, and they will come out of day one with Miami tackle Orlando Franklin, Nolan projects.

This is one of the first times Franklins name has come up at this level of the first round and Nolan has Franklin going to the Bears even with Sherrod on the board. But as much as Angelo likes Florida players, he is every bit as sold on Miami products, given the success of Devin Hester and Greg Olsen on the current roster.

Nolans projections include Carimi No. 13 to the Lions; Tyron Smith No. 20 to Tampa Bay; Pouncey No. 21 to Kansas City; Castonzo at No. 22 to the Colts; Solder No. 24 to the Saints. Theres that run thing again.
Just worth noting.

Some things to remember through all of this and the draft-info blizzard coming over the next month:

One is that there isnt much real NFL news happening right now. A break could come before the anticipated Apr. 6 court date regarding decertification and the lockout matters. But the draft, always an interesting, absorbing diversion in the lull before NBA and NHL playoffs and semi-meaningful baseball, is the best game in town right now.

The other is that this is seriously difficult forecasting. Not just the Bears pick at No. 29, which is in the cluster range where your best bet is a pool of 3-5 players who should be on the board then. Its also a dicey year at the top:

Wes sees Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley going No. 1 overall to Carolina. Dons call is Blaine Gabbert. And Nolan has the Panthers selecting Alabama defensive tackle Marcel Dareus.

There. Glad we cleared all that up.

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.

Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event

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USA TODAY

Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event

This past Saturday, Prince Amukamara provided a great surprise when he showed up during a graduation ceremony to honor high school seniors who had been a part of the Museum of Science and Industry's (MSI) "Welcome to Science" initiative.

Students listened to brief speeches from CDW Vice President of Networking, Digital Workspace and Security Solutions, Bob Rossi, a number of Bears employees and Amukamara. 

Students engaged in open discussions on how they can further their dreams with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  And through a donation from CDW’s Tech Fore! Kids program, students got perhaps the biggest surpise of all, as they were provided new laptops. CDW continues to help enable the MSI the opportunity to work with youth and further their interaction with STEM.

CDW Tech Fore! has done previous work with Chicago Bulls College Prep, and other schools and Boys and Girls clubs over time. The MSI's program looks to provide a diverse array of teens the chance to dive deeper into what it takes to have a career in science. On top of this, students are able to collect service leearning hours while simultaneously furthering their leadership and public speaking skills. 

Three compulsories loom as make-or-breaks for Mitch Trubisky Bears 'installation'

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USA TODAY

Three compulsories loom as make-or-breaks for Mitch Trubisky Bears 'installation'

The popular focus of the Bears offseason has been on a new offensive coaching staff phasing in a radically different system and playbook, integrating new “weapons” brought other teams and other schemes, and fusing them all together around a trigger/detonator in the person of quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

More than any of that, however, is Trubisky himself, the real linchpin “weapon.” All of the offseason additions, beginning with coaching staff, projects to make only marginal more impact than Dowell Loggains, Josh Bellamy, Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright if Trubisky himself is not much, much better than he was last season.

In three primary areas.

In figure skating and diving, the obligatory must-do’s were called “compulsories” – basic skills at which competitors were required to demonstrate proficiency. For Trubisky, improvements in three specific compulsories are the keys to this young quarterback’s development.

Trubisky is in his own molten state, still a raw, largely unknown with fewer NFL starts (12) than all but four projected starting quarterbacks (Jimmy Garoppolo, Pat Mahomes, AJ McCarron, Deshaun Watson) for 2018, but the poorest record (4-8) of any other anticipated starter, those four included. “Work in progress” is an understatement.

The Trubisky “installation” is in fact massive. Beyond the specifics of scheme, RPO’s and all the rest, Trubisky will go to training camp with precious little shared game experience with virtually any of his chief so-called weapons. Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson weren’t Bears last year. Kevin White worked chiefly with Mike Glennon and the No. 1 offense while Trubisky was primarily with the 2’s. Anthony Miller was in Memphis.

But the Trubisky developmental group – coach Matt Nagy, coordinator Mark Helfrich, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, backup Chase Daniel – has three chief points of attention with what was drafted to be the foundation of the franchise:

Rediscover accuracy

For all of the positives coming out of his abbreviated rookie season, Trubisky completed just 59.4 percent of his passes – not good enough for an offense based in significant part on ball control with the pass. Substandard receivers account for some of the accuracy issues for a quarterback who completed 68 percent in his one year as a college starter. But Mike Glennon completed two-thirds (66.4 percent) of his throws in his four games throwing to largely the same group.

More to a larger point, the Bears were 2-4 when Trubisky completed less than 60 percent of his throws. His completion rate is nothing short of pivotal in keeping possessions sets of downs and entire possessions on schedule, converting third downs and resting his defense.

Nagy dialed back the offense at one point during OTA’s, Trubisky played faster “and you saw completions out there,” Nagy said, “and that's what it's all about.”

Only the Carolina Panthers reached the playoffs with a quarterback (Cam Newton) completing less than 60 percent of his passes. Slightly better statistically, Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz (60.2) was leading the MVP discussion before a season-ending knee injury, and Blake Bortles (60.2) had Jacksonville a fourth-quarter away from the Super Bowl. But the Eagles and Jaguars were top-five in both scoring offense and scoring defense. And Nick Foles got the Eagles to a Lombardi Trophy completing 72.6 percent in the postseason filling in for Wentz.

Tom Brady completed 63.9 percent as a rookie and never below 60 percent in 17 years as a starter. Aaron Rodgers, never below 60 percent in 10 years as a starter. Drew Brees, 15 of his 16 seasons at 60-plus, including the last 14 straight. Ben Roethlisberger, 12 of 14 seasons at 60-plus percent. Peyton Manning, 15 of his 17 seasons at 60-plus percent. Those five account for 17 Super Bowl appearances.

Trubisky was drafted to be that echelon of quarterback. Reaching that level begins with completing passes.

Stay the ball-security course

Trubisky may not have been dominant in any area as a rookie, but he bought into the emphasis placed on ball security by John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. He ranked 12th with a very respectable 2.1-percent interception rate. Of the 11 passers rated ahead of him, only Jacoby Brisset in Indianapolis failed to get his team to .500, and eight of those 11 were in the playoffs. Ball security matters.

And it is something to watch through training camp and preseason. Adam Gase made ball security the No. 1 objective with Jay Cutler when Gase arrived in 2015. Cutler went a dozen straight practices and his 33-pass preseason without throwing an interception. The carryover was obvious; Cutler had the best season (92.3) and second-best interception rate of his career in 2015.

The same is expected, and needed, from Trubisky for the new offense, and the “old” defense, to work.

“He had, I think was a three-to-one or maybe even a four-to-one touchdown to interception ratio in college,” Helfrich said. “That works. That’s a good thing. We need to continue that. We can’t put the defense in a bad situation, our team in a situation, because there’s times in the NFL they’re going to get you and I think a quarterback kind of has that innate ability to take care of the football versus turning it over when he, for lack of a better word, panics.” 

Trubisky lost two fumbles in the span of 12 games. Very respectable and a strong starting point for his year two.

Get the ball off on time

Trubisky in 2017 tied for fourth in percentage of pass plays sacked (8.6), a problem that might be laid at the feet of an offensive line forced by injuries into seven different starting-five combinations. Might, but far from entirely.

Nagy’s passing offense is rooted in timing. Receivers during practices have precision drilled into them, meaning being exactly where they’re supposed to be at precisely the instant they’re supposed to be there. Trubisky’s tutoring has stressed plays being on time.

Only the Buffalo Bills reached the playoffs with a quarterback (Tyrod Taylor, 9.9) taking sacks at a rate higher than 6.6 percent. Alex Smith went down at a rate of 6.5 percent running the Kansas City offense under Nagy and coach Andy Reid.

Trubisky’s mobility is an obvious asset for extending plays. But getting the ball out of his hands is the goal, and his decision-making and execution will be key in how long his line has to sustain blocks. Trubisky early on evinced a grasp of balancing the reward of rescuing a play under pressure against the risk of taking a sack.

“Ball security is very important so I'm just trying to take care of the football,” Trubisky said not long after taking over for Glennon last season. “But at the same time you want to stay aggressive and you could say the sacks are a result of that.”