NFL Combine: Bears looking at another Eagle?


NFL Combine: Bears looking at another Eagle?

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Posted 8:56 a.m. Updated 1:53 p.m.

By John Mullin

If the Bears somehow find Anthony Castonzo still on the draft board when their turn comes at No. 29 (and that is highly unlikely), the 6-7, 305-pound tackle could become the fourth offensive linemen from Boston College taken in the last 15 Bears drafts.

That would suit the Hawthorn Woods native just fine, having declared that he will be a Bears fan "til I die."

The Bears already have interviewed Castonzo and shown interest, although "all the teams are just playing it easy right now," Castonzo said. "No teams are really saying, 'You're our guy' They've showed interest but not more than anyone else right now."

A couple did-ja-know's on Castonzo:

His left foot is an inch-and-a-half bigger than his right one. Growing up he wore two different size shoes "but now I just wear 18's."

The Bears have drafted Marc Colombo (2002), Josh Beekman (2007) and Evan Pilgrim (1995) out of Boston College. Castonzo didn't overlap with Beekman "but I do know him and was training for the Combine when I came into B.C.

"I think the mantra at B.C. is 'when you go into the NFL, be a tough guy, just work and be that blue-collar kind of guy. I want to take the reins that they've laid out for me and just be that next guy;'"

Castonzo went to Fork Union Military after attending Lake Zurich High School because "I had zero scholarship offers coming out of high school. I was a 6-7, 220-pound drink of water and every school I talked to said, 'We don't think you're going to get big enough.' So I went to Fork Union Military Academy and got big enough."

But there's this Badger, see.. colleague Tom Curran reports that Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi is
pretty direct: Carimi is the best tackle in the draft, according to Carimi.

"That's his opinion," Castonzo volunteered.

From a cred perspective, Carimi has some history on his side. Cleveland's Joe Thomas already is playing at a Pro Bowl level and if the Bears could get from Carimi what they got from Dennis Lick (the eighth-overall pick of the '76 draft) before his injuries, when he helped Walter Payton at a time when the Bears had nothing else on their offense, they'd be pleased.

Q'ing up

New Denver Broncos coach John Fox apparently needs to get out more. Or at least watch a little more TV. Doesnt he know how hes coaching a legend (at least a marketing one) in Tim Tebow?

He must not, because on Thursday he showed he has a little Lovie Smith in him, not declaring that Rex is our quarterback as much as Kyle is our quarterback. The No. 1 quarterback job in Denver again appears to be ex-Bear Kyle Ortons to lose.

Tebow made a bit of a hyper-hyped splash as a 2010 rookie but right now, I think Kyle Orton's our starter, Fox said. We've got a very young guy, a high draft pick in Tim Tebow who got his feet wet last year toward the end of the season. He did an outstanding job. He's got some of the intangibles you're looking for.

And then, shoot, Brady Quinn I'm looking forward to seeing play. I've watched him play a little bit in Cleveland. He's a young guy that's got about 13 starts under his belt. So we'll see. But all three I think, I'm excited about.''

Orton has been talked about as possible trade material (and on member of the Bears hierarchy was adamant that Orton would be your ideal No. 2). But I think it'd be pretty hard to be both starter and on the market, Fox said. But as far as I'm concerned, he's under contract, and he's our starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.''

Draft changes

A loose business plan for the NFL is to address needs first in free agency (see: Chicago Bears 2010 Peppers, Julius) or trade (see: Bears 2009 Cutler, Jay) with an eye toward making additional fills in the draft. That business model is gone this year, with free agency a huge unknown hostage of CBA negotiations and no trades permissible under the lockout scenario.

So teams have deep issues to confront.

You dont even know what the free-agent situations going to be this year, NFL Network draft maven Mike Mayock said on a pre-Combine conference call. Is there going to be free agency? Is there gonna be a four-year guy? A six-year guy? How are they going to deal with that whole thing?

And if you dont have those answers, I think what you have to do is go into your draft room and draft like you always do every year. You have to look at the big picture, and not just, Uh oh! If we dont have training camp, do we need a guy thats ready to play today? I think if you start trying to answer questions with draft picks on the short term, youre going to get beat on the long term. So I think the best thing you can do is take a step back and say, Were going to do what we always do. Were going to draft the best football players that fit our scheme, because we cant worry about things we cant control right now.

Encouraginga little

The impasse in negotiations between NFL owners and players has not been bridged yet. But the two sides ended their stretch of talks with mediator George S. Cohen Thursday with the intention of resuming next Tues. Mar. 1. Cohens statement, the first real comments to come out of the sessions, made it clear that the sides are being civil but significant issues do remain.

Help from Dave Wannstedt

For Ron Rivera, this is the best of times and it is the worst of times.

The new head coach of the Carolina Panthers was a teammate of Dave Duerson, who shot himself to death last week in Miami.

This was the 25th anniversary of the Super Bowl XX team and with Richard Dent getting into the Hall of Fame, and then this, Rivera said Thursday. Were celebrating the life of another one. Its a very sad situation, for his teammates, his friends, family.

Dave Wannstedt was the one who cut Rivera in 1993, the end of Chicos playing career. Wannstedt also was the one who gave Rivera his coaching break, as a defensive quality coach in 1997-98. Wannstedt and good friend Jimmy Johnson saw the head coaching in Rivera back then and had some sage advice.

Johnson told Rivera, Dave told me youre going to be a head coach someday. Dont ever forget who you are and dont forget what you do best. Be around that side of the ball.

So I will be around the defensive side, Rivera said, then smiled. But every now and then pop in to keep the offensive guys honest.

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Chico knocked at more than a half-dozen NFL head coaching doors in the past and was turned away every time. But if there was any bitterness at the snubs of the past, some in favor of since-failed coaches, it was not evident Thursday.

It may be overdue but the biggest thing to understand is the opportunity and fit are right, Rivera said. The opportunity came with us not being in the playoffs and the fit being that they were looking for a defensive coach.

Reid let Rivera write game plans and mentored Rivera. The biggest thing was responsibility, Rivera said. Andy assigns every coach specific duties within the team. Youre responsible for certain things.

And heres something for your reading list. Reid gave Rivera a number of book selections but the one Chico cited: The Winning Edge by Bill Walsh.

Thats somebody who should know.

The envelope, please...

The Carolina Panthers hold the No. 1-overall pick in this years draft. Ron Rivera was asked Thursday by ESPNs Chris Mortensen: So, who ya gonna draft?

Rivera was an NFL linebacker. But that doesnt mean he didnt pick up some deft moves and feints. Thats what were here to find out, he said, laughing.

Harbaugh look-alike?

Nice to connect with Jim Harbaugh, the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and the Bears quarterback when I came on the beat once upon a Mike Ditka time.

READ: Complete NFL Combine coverage from CSN's Insiders

It was the first chance I had to tell him that my wife Kathleen, who joined me for the Commissioners Party at the San Diego Super Bowl in 2002 and met Harbs, thought he looked like Dennis Quaid.

Ill take that, Jim said, laughing. Ive been called worse.

What would Harbaugh have done?

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck arguably would have been the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft or close to it. But he opted to return to Stanford for a final season.

Harbaugh, however, left for the 49ers and a deal worth 5 million per season. And he supports the decision of his former quarterback.

Andrew made the best decision for his family and himself, Harbaugh said. Wed talked about it and I knew thats what he was going to do, so I wasnt surprised. Its just a personal decision each of these young men make.

Harbaugh himself was a first-round pick in 1987. Would he have made the same decision in his day?

Hypotheticals are never real good, Harbaugh said, laughing. I was never as talented as Andrew is. But its going to work out great. Hed have been a top pick this year and he will be next year.

Combine more than just numbers

The NFL Scouting Combine begins in earnest Thursday with its inevitable blizzard of numbers, appraisals, information and more. A veteran NFL personnel expert gave a key prism with which to view some of the numerical results that will come out of various tests.

Dont pay too much attention with the fast times or power numbers. But immediately put a big red flag on the bad ones.

Is that fair? Absolutely.

First, the Combine and its 40-yard-dash times, cone drills, vertical jumps and bench presses are less revealing than many of the face-to-face interviews anyway. And those take place out of sight from the general media public; each team has its own.

Also, results in shorts and T-shirts do not translate directly to NFL on-field success. Common knowledge there.

More to the point, however, is that agents and others have invested thousands of dollars to train specifically for the Combine. So those fast times and reps benching 225 pounds should be outstanding.

But, as this NFL vet explained, when a guy cant nail it under pressure after all that preparation, not only should the guy demand his money back from the speed coaches and the rest. Red flags also should go up because it means that all that extra attention, coaching, etc. produced nothing.

So Ill be more intrigued by the prospect who runs a 40 time well below his norm than by one who was billed as having 4.4 speed and runs a 4.28. Besides, if he runs a lot of 40-yard dashes in an NFL uniform, hell be the next Devin Hester.

Well be checking in throughout every day with updates both from head coaches as well as players. Check back as the sessions go along.

Hope floating?

What is believed to be an unprecedented meeting of its kind will bring together a GM, head coach and one other representative from each NFL team for a briefing on various offseason issues involved in the looming lockout, as reported by ESPNs Adam Schefter. What can and cant be done, whats allowed and not allowed with respect to players those kinds of topics will be detailed, with good reason, since this is a potential first for the league.

Figure it also to give some measure of information on the state of the mediated talks between the owners and players that have been going on daily for going on a week. The information embargo has held for the most part and I agree with ProFootballTalk.coms Mike Florio that even without public utterances or substantive revelations, the fact that neither side is leaving voluntary sessions, which they are indeed free to do, has to be considered a positive at this point.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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.

Pro Football Focus: Bears should sign Jameis Winston

Pro Football Focus: Bears should sign Jameis Winston

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston had one of the most polarizing seasons in recent NFL history when he threw for 5,109 yards, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in 2019. He was the first quarterback to throw for more than 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season.

His hard-to-figure-out year makes his pending free agency even more confusing. Does Tampa Bay have enough confidence in the former No. 1 overall pick to lock him up on a long-term deal? Are they better off using the franchise tag and buying another year of evaluation? Or should they just turn the page and move on?

Those decisions are far from being made at this point, but if Winston is allowed to test the open market, Pro Football Focus believes the Bears should go all-in on signing the big-armed yet mistake-prone passer.

Trubisky has struggled to generate any positive plays and is in Winston’s realm as far as negatively graded play rate. Winston’s decision making absolutely needs some work, but at his best, he is “ballin.'” Chicago isn’t in the position to grab a high quarterback prospect in the draft. They could get themselves Jalen Hurts in the second round, but that’s the best they’ll do. A one-year trial is the best option for the Bears, so buckle up and get ready for the ride Chicago — what’s the worst that could happen?

Winston's strength -- pushing the ball down the field -- would be a welcome site in Chicago, especially after Trubisky's brutal 6.1 yards per attempt last season. Winston, in theory, would take advantage of what wide receiver Allen Robinson does well, too, with an aggressive mentality that's led to high-end production for pass-catcher Mike Evans.

But are the Bears really going to invest more than $25 million on a one-year deal for a player as turnover-prone as Winston? Chicago doesn't have much salary-cap space as it is, and cheaper options like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton (albeit via trade) seem more realistic.

If Chicago is truly going to apply the Titans' model from 2019 to their offseason plan this year, Winston wouldn't make sense. But as we've learned with the way this front office has handled the quarterback situation over the last few years, not much seems to make sense anyway. 

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Bears gather intel on Temple center Matt Hennessy at 2020 Senior Bowl

Bears gather intel on Temple center Matt Hennessy at 2020 Senior Bowl

The Bears have an obvious need along the interior of the offensive line after the retirement of guard Kyle Long and the average-at-best play of his replacement, Rashaad Coward, in 2019.

The 2020 Senior Bowl kicked off its second day of practices Wednesday with the North team (coached by the Lions) beginning the afternoon with an aggressive session. It offered a great opportunity for Bears scouts to get a long look at some of this year's top senior offensive line prospects. 

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of 2020 NFL offseason

One player who stood out in one-on-one drills was Temple center/guard Matt Hennessy. He was arguably the best offensive lineman on the field and consistently stonewalled opposing defensive lineman regardless of their rush move (power, speed or a combination of both). Chicago took notice.

Hennessy was the target of several teams who used their post-practice on-field time to gather more intel; the Bears were one of them.

Hennessy has had some injury issues during his tenure as an Owl, but he's been a quality starter (center) for Temple over the last three seasons. Here's what The Draft Network's scouting report of Hennessy lists as his positive traits:

Possesses good size and length at the position. Football intelligence jumps off the tape each game. One of the most consistent pass blockers in the country. Excellent coordination with his hands, eyes, and feet. Consistently plays with good balance. Projects well to a zone-blocking scheme. Effective at walling off second-level defenders and reaching three techniques.

The Bears had issues at center last season when former second-round pick James Daniels went through some midseason struggles. It eventually led to a position switch with Cody Whitehair, who stabilized the interior (at least a little). 

But Hennessy, who started the week as a likely Day-3 pick, would be an ideal selection for a Chicago team that needs to just add talent to the position group. 

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