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NFL Draft Profile: Maryland WR Stefon Diggs

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NFL Draft Profile: Maryland WR Stefon Diggs

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of 200 prospects, including what the scouts around the league are saying and video interviews with each player.

Stefon Diggs (WR), Maryland

6’0” | 195 lbs.

2014 stats:

62 receptions, 792 yards, five touchdowns, 79.2 yards per game

Projection:

5th round

What scouts are saying:

"Balanced athlete with easy acceleration and strong strides to be a home-run threat whenever he touches the ball. Sharp breaks and explodes out of his cuts, mixing his gears well in his movements. Doing his best work on crossers to use his speed, hitting the crease. Creative ballcarrier and looks downfield quickly to make something happen with the ball. Loose athlete with strong cuts to be dangerous in the open field. Keeps his feet well through contact, fighting for every blade of grass. Athletic adjustment ability and ball skills to attack with his hands and not break stride. Improved field awareness, showing better spatial understanding of know where the sticks are. Special-teams impact as a return man with a 25.8 kick return average in college (57/1,472/2). Consistent production the past three seasons." — Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com

"Lacks an ideal body type with a skinny trunk and limbs and limited muscle definition. Tends to round off routes and needs to show a more diverse stem release. Not overly fluid with inconsistent vision and feel when setting up his moves as a ballcarrier. Indecisive at times and gets himself in trouble when he hesitates, searching for daylight. Undeveloped understanding of how to manipulate defenders in coverage. Adequate hands, but only average-sized catching radius. Often disinterested as a blocker, lacking polish and technique in this area. Immature tendencies with bad on-field body language at times, allowing himself to be easily frustrated and suspended one game (Nov. 2014) after making contact with an official during a pre-game skirmish. Durability concerns after battling several injuries the past two seasons, including a broken right leg (Oct. 2013) that sidelined him for the final six games of 2013 and a lacerated kidney (Nov. 2014) that ended his junior regular season." — Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com

"Doesn't possess the strength or long speed to make a living as an outside receiver, but he can be an extremely effective weapon from the slot as a pro, turning short third-down throws into first downs. Diggs can make things happen when he has the ball in his hands and could become a consistent, productive weapon for the right offensive coordinator." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Fit for the Bears:

Wide receiver figures to be an area of focus for the Bears in the draft after trading Brandon Marshall away to the Jets earlier this offseason. Jay Cutler still has targets to throw to, such as Pro Bowlers Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett, as well as the newly acquired Eddie Royal. But many think the Bears will target more receiving in the draft, perhaps even with the No. 7 overall pick. Diggs certainly wouldn't be an option in the first round, but if the Bears instead go the route of defense with their top pick, choosing to focus on wide receiver in the later rounds, perhaps Diggs could be an option. Most view him as a slot receiver, the same spot where Royal is expected to line up, but there's no doubting he was one of the best receivers in the Big Ten last season.

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Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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USA TODAY

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

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Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

On Thursday, Brian Baldinger released another video clip on Twitter for his #BaldysBreakdowns series, this one praising the recent play from Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.

Baldinger states that Trubisky is "making some kind of jump", referring to how impressed he was with Trubisky's play when compared to his rookie season. 

In the video Baldinger explains in the video how you expect franchise QBs to make a big leap from year one to year two, and a big part of that leap for Trubisky is being unafraid to make aggressive throws downfield.

Baldinger highlighted a play where Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel 47-yards down the field, choosing to trust his wideout after he hit him with perfect ball placement despite tight coverage. He continued this theme later on in the video, showing Trubisky's TD strike to Allen Robinson, which was whipped right past a Dolphins defender. 

But Baldinger's video wasn't exclusively compliments for Trubisky. He discussed Tarik Cohen's effectiveness as a pass-catcher, saying that you "can't cover him" and comparing him to a Ferrari with his ability to go from first to fifth gear "about as fast as anybody."

He ended his video by showing Trubisky punishing the Dolphins for a blown coverage, hitting rookie Anthony Miller in stride for a 29-yard TD. Baldinger's point in including this clip was to show Trubisky's improved recognition, as he may not have spotted the blown coverage last year. Noticing when and how to take advantage of defensive sloppiness is one of the many things that seperate a "franchise QB" from a stopgap, and Trubisky is trending in the right direction. 

If Baldinger's breakdown is any indication, we should expect Trubisky to keep his incredible momentum rolling when the Bears take on the New England Patriots on Sunday. New England is 3rd worst in the league in passing TDs allowed, giving up 15 scores through the air in six games.