Bears

Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Quarterback

Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Quarterback

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 10:39 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Third in a series

The marquee position in the NFL will be exactly that when the 2011 draft opens. But the Bears do not project as players on the first or even the second day.

The Bears

The Bears used their last two No. 1 picks on quarterbacks, both of them named Jay Cutler. With a contract extension in place, the Bears believe they are as set at this franchise position as the Packers (Aaron Rodgers) and Lions (Matthew Stafford) think they are.

The depth chart consists of Caleb Hanie, a restricted free agent and someone who has not had anything approaching unqualified endorsement from coordinator Mike Martz. The Bears used a late-round pick last year on Dan LeFevour, who wasnt able to play well enough in preseason to win a roster spot outright, and the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed him and pre-empted signing him to the practice squad.

Need: Not a priority in the early rounds but Todd Collins wasnt an answer and the Bears need someone in the pipeline.

The 2011 draft

More than any position in any draft, quarterback is influenced by qualitative as well as any quantitative components of prospects. Leadership is more important at the position than time in the 40-yard dash. Its why one team chooses Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf or perhaps Tim Couch over Donovan McNabb.

That is where the 2011 draft becomes the equal of many for intrigue. Draft analysts project as few as two quarterbacks being selected in the first round or as many as four. Two could go in the top 10.

Its all in what you like in a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers at No.1 overall, the Buffalo Bills at No. 3, any team less than satisfied with its situation at quarterback, all need a quarterback. If you believe theres a franchise QB at No. 3, that need trumps everything else, ESPN analyst Todd McShay said of the Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick is OK but you need a franchise quarterback.

But when they all look at the available talent, will they see Manning? Or Leaf?

Alex Smith, Jamarcus Russell and David Carr were No. 1-overalls in the past 10 years, and quarterbacks went No. 1 overall in 10 of the last 13 drafts. A miss at the top at this spot can be catastrophic.

The Best Bets:

1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri He may be the best of class, and at nearly 6-5, 234 pounds, he possesses arm strength and physical stature. A consensus top-10 pick but a franchise-grade leader?

2. Cam Newton, Auburn As many questions as answers perhaps, with doubts ranging from character to fit in an NFL offense. A one-year star with as much upside as anyone in the draft. Carolina has done major background work.

3. Jake Locker, Washington A fall-off from the first two, according to most observers. Projected to go late in the first round, Locker is another very mobile quarterback who needs the right system and mentor.

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.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

10-20codyparkey.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”