Bears

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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(Too) Bold Predictions: Leonard Floyd scores the 1st Bears touchdown of the season

(Too) Bold Predictions: Leonard Floyd scores the 1st Bears touchdown of the season

(Too) Bold Predictions aims to take nuanced, well-researched information and use it to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 

J.J. Stankevitz: 
1. The Bears' first touchdown of 2019 will be scored by...Leonard Floyd.
The thought here: Denver's offense is not designed to get the ball out quick, and Joe Flacco is generally immobile in the pocket. As long as the Bears' downfield coverage is as good as it was last week (save for one play-action bomb Aaron Rodgers hit), Floyd and Khalil Mack will have plenty of chances to tee off on Flacco. So one of those chances will lead to a strip-sack deep in Broncos territory, with Floyd scooping it up and jogging into the end zone. 

2. Mitch Trubisky will have a passer rating of 95.4.
That was Trubisky's passer rating in 2018...which was 33.3 points higher than his rating in Week 1. Generally speaking, it's hard to imagine Trubisky being significantly worse in 2019 than he was in 2018, even in light of how bad things were against the Packers. So even against a Vic Fangio defense, Trubisky will put up numbers close to or matching his per-game averages in 2018: 66.6 completion percentage, one touchdown, one interception, 230 yards, two sacks. And that'll be good enough for the Bears to win. 

Cam Ellis
1. The Bears will double their season touchdown total in the 1st quarter
This is, admittedly, just a round-about way of saying the Bears will actually get into the end zone this week, which would typically not be very bold. And yet, here we are. After 10 days of having to hear about the run game issues in Week 1, the bet here is that Nagy goes to David Montgomery early and often. Even with Vic Fangio at the helm, the Broncos' defense doesn't yet look like the intimidating sides he's been synonymous with. Let's say Montgomery gets in first from 10-15 and then Trubisky hits Anthony Miller for the 2nd. 

2. Eddy Pineiro will hit his first NFL field goal from 50+ yards
This game has Pineiro's name all over it. Consider: 

a. The way the offense played in Week 1 
b. The thin air
c. How frequently Nagy's decision to not try Pineiro from distance in Week 1 was questioned. 

The Bears spent all summer talking about the 'leg talent' Pineiro had, and while that alone didn't win him the job, it certainly didn't hurt (*Elliot Fry nods sadly*). They also frequently talk about getting Pineiro in a rhythm, and what better place to let him rip some than Denver in September? Since (Too) Bold Predictions are really just thinly-veiled optimism, let's say he sneaks one in from 53.

Three keys and prediction: Bears at Broncos

Three keys and prediction: Bears at Broncos

1. Let David Montgomery eat. Before the season, one of the narratives surrounding the Bears' offense was turning over 75 percent of the running back personnel from 2018 to 2019 would allow Matt Nagy's run scheme to flourish, which in turn would help Mitch Trubisky be a better quarterback. Having Trubisky pass 45 times with only 12 rushing plays to a player in the backfield in Week 1, then, hardly fit that narrative. 

A better run-pass balance will only help Trubisky be more comfortable going through his reads in the pocket, which should lead to him being more efficient. It has to happen this week, too, given the looming specter of Broncos edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb 10 days after the Packers generated a ton of pressure and five sacks on the pass-happy Bears. It’ll be a lot easier for Miller and Chubb to get after Trubisky if they can reasonably know a pass play is coming. 

So this brings us to the main point here: The Bears need to get Montgomery going. They didn’t trade up within the third round, sacrificing a 2020 fourth-round pick, to draft a running back who only gets seven touches. Yes, Montgomery will share time with Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen (assuming Cohen doesn’t line up out wide or in the slot on nearly every snap he takes again), but committing to a better run-pass balance — with Montgomery leading it — will work wonders for the Bears’ offense. 

The Oakland Raiders did this in Week 1, with rookie Josh Jacobs rushing 23 times for 85 yards (3.7 yards/carry)…while Derek Carr completed 22 of 26 passes in a 24-16 win. 

2. Don’t let Joe Flacco push the ball downfield. Flacco completed seven of 11 passes that traveled at least 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage in Denver’s season opener, but only one of those traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The Broncos’ offense isn’t totally designed to get the ball out quick and scheme out edge rushers, but it might have to with big-ticket free agent right tackle Ja’Wuan James out (though the team trusts backup Elijah Wilkinson). The Bears’ defense should be good enough to make the necessary tackles and plays on those short throws to keep Denver out of the end zone. 

The goal, then, will be to not let Flacco hit a deep shot to Courtland Sutton or Emanuel Sanders, be it on play action or a straight drop-back. The good news is the Bears paired their coverage and pass rush well against Green Bay in Week 1, with cornerbacks and safeties generally not letting things develop downfield while Leonard Floyd/Khalil Mack/Roy Robertson-Harris/Akiem Hicks/etc. got after Aaron Rodgers. Do the same and Denver’s offense will have a tough time getting on the scoreboard. 

3. Win on first down. The best way for the Bears’ defense to deal with the attitude and heat facing them Sunday will be to not allow positive plays on first down. Denver’s offense wasn’t totally inefficient in Week 1, and reached Raiders territory on six of its eight possessions — yet didn’t score a touchdown until its last drive of the game. The Bears would do well to keep the Broncos from having the kind of extended drives they had on Monday (7.6 plays per drive) given the conditions Sunday.

The worry here is if Denver is able to extend drives, the Bears’ defense will get gassed quickly and might be more prone to allowing those drives to end in points than a Raiders defense high on inspiration but middling on talent was. So this means getting a good pass rush if Flacco drops back on first down, or having Akiem Hicks boss the interior while Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan get downhill to stop the run. Do that, and Denver’s offense likely won’t be good enough to overcome second- and third-and-long downs. 

Prediction: Bears 19, Broncos 16. The Broncos haven’t lost at home in Week 2 since 1979, and have a 12-game winning streak in Week 1 or Week 2 home games. Beneath those numbers are two things: First, the Broncos have been one of the NFL’s best franchises over the last 40 years; and second, it’s often difficult to play on the road at altitude early in the season, when players aren’t quite in peak football shape yet. 

The altitude will, of course, be present on Sunday. A good Broncos team will not. This game will nonetheless be close, but the team with the better roster will win. And that team is the Bears.