Bears

NFL Draft Profile: Virginia OLB Eli Harold

eliharold.png

NFL Draft Profile: Virginia OLB Eli Harold

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.

Eli Harold (OLB), Virginia

6’3” | 247 lbs.

2014 stats:

54 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 7 sacks, INT

Selection:

3rd round, No. 79 overall (San Francisco 49ers)

What scouts are saying:

"Explosive, leggy outside linebacker who has surprising strength at the point of attack, and the hands and length to become an outstanding edge-setter. Harold's burst upfield to threaten the edge is pro caliber and his ability to bend the corner at a 45-degree angle creates potential for him to become a quality pass rusher from either outside linebacker spot in a 3-4." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

"Quick starter out of his stance with burst and long-striding acceleration. Launches himself like a track athlete from his three point stance, keeping his pad level low with proper leverage. Agile feet to sidestep blockers in space and terrific speed in pursuit to chase down ballcarriers. The motor never quits, always going full-speed to the ball until the whistle. Does a nice job re-setting his eyes after his initial rush doesn't work, showing natural dip to turn the corner around the tackle without slowing down. He is at his best when using his length to extend, lock out and drive blockers backwards." — Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles

Video analysis provided by NBC Sports and Rotoworld NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

For the Payton family, Kobe Bryant’s death hits especially close to home

For the Payton family, Kobe Bryant’s death hits especially close to home

Jarrett Payton was 19 years old when his father died. A rare type of liver cancer called Cholangiocarcinoma took Walter Payton’s life at the far-too-young age of 45, and Jarrett was sitting bedside on that November morning in 1999 when it happened. 

“I remember that day in November of ‘99, and it was just an odd day, man,” he told NBC Sports Chicago. “Being at home, and then being there by my dad’s side when he passed, and knowing there was so much commotion outside of parents’ room about what’s next, and helicopters flying over our house, and all this stuff. We were just trying to grieve. It’s hard when you’ve got like, what’s next, how do we get this out to the media, there’s a lot of stuff that was going on. I’m just sitting there as a 19-year-old kid just trying to figure out, I just lost dad, what’s next? How do I process all this? My sister’s not even home, she’s at school. She’s got to come home, she’s got to process this. We’re still kids – we’re going to miss dad.”

Tragic parallels connect Payton’s passing with the death of Kobe Bryant, who was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed. The unspeakably sad situation, unfortunately, reverberated all too well with the Paytons. Jarret, who had a hard time sleeping after hearing the news about Bryant, is a father now, and that's dramatically changed the lens through which he ⁠— like many others ⁠— views not only the accident, but life itself. 

“To be a dad now? It takes it to a whole other level,” he said. “And it makes me, like this morning, get up, call my kids, facetime with them before they go to school. Dad loves you. Call my wife, tell her I love you. It’s the little things. And you can’t go back ⁠— and that’s the hardest part. I was sitting there with my dad when he passed. There were so many things that I was going to say to him that I didn’t get a chance to say. I’ve lived a different way now of like, if you have something to say, say it. Especially to your loved ones and people surrounding you. Make sure your team knows you love them, because we all have an expiration date. We all do. We just don’t know when it’s going to be. I know everyone says, it sounds cliche, you’ve got to take advantage of every single second. 

“No, you *have* to take advantage of every second that you have. If you don’t, you’re doing yourself disjustice because if you don’t, then you’re holding on to stuff and you’re not able to give it out to those people. For me, it’s huge to let people know your feelings. Especially men, we want to hold on to everything ⁠— nah, man. Tell them that you love them. Let people know how you’re feeling. I’ve seen that that has kind of unlocked me and unleashed me to become a better person and a better man and a better husband and a better father.” 

Since the accident, there’s been an outpouring of support for the families affected, the city of Los Angeles, and Lakers fans in general. It’s not dissimilar from how Chicago came together to celebrate the life of the man they called Sweetness – the man they adored with every fiber of their being. The unconditional love shown to the Payton family in the aftermath of their darkest day has never been lost on Jarret. 

“To be honest with you, it was the fans,” he added. “The people that were calling, the people leaving flowers in front of our house. We went outside and hugged some of those people and were telling stories. As much as it hurt, talking about him makes it easier for me. It always does. You’ll see it in my social media. I’ll never shy away from posting about my dad. I’ll never shy about posting a video, because when it comes down to it, he’s not here right now. He can’t talk for himself, he can’t post anything, but the fans still want something. So my sister and I have really put it on our backs to say, 'listen we’re always going to shine light on what dad did, and show the world that we’re proud of him.'”

Chargers reportedly set to move on from Phillip Rivers after 16 seasons

Chargers reportedly set to move on from Phillip Rivers after 16 seasons

The Bears are deep in "offseason mode," likely poring over research from the 2020 Senior Bowl and, of course, going over their options to improve the roster amid what should be a very intriguing free agency period in less than two months. Among Bears fans, the anti-Trubisky crowd definitely is in support of the Bears adding a quality quarterback (or two for that matter) to challenge for the starting job and even the staunchest of Mitchell Trubisky supporters would admit it that it would be wise to add another quality backup quarterback to the Chicago roster.

As of Monday, it appears that another high-profile name is hitting the market.

The Los Angeles Chargers are reportedly "moving on" from quarterback Phillip Rivers — though NFL.com Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Chargers would consider franchise-tagging him.

Rivers is the Chargers' franchise leader in passing yards (59,271), touchdowns (397), fourth quarter comebacks (27) and game-winning drives (32). Rivers' passing yards, passing touchdowns, and passer rating (95.1) all rank within the top-10 all-time. But while Rivers obviously has had a great career, last season was anything but "great" for the 38-year-old signal-caller. 

In the 2019 NFL regular season Rivers threw for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions as the Chargers went 5-11, finishing dead-last in the AFC West. Rivers' numbers were disappointing last season, though his passing yards were an improvement over 2018. When you stack up 2019 Trubisky vs. Rivers, you notice that Rivers has Trubisky bested in every major passing category besides interceptions, where Rivers' 20 picks double up Trubisky's total from last season. 

RELATED: Bears dubbed most logical fit for Marcus Mariota

The only (and we repeat, only) way the Bears would be interested in bringing in Rivers was if they are truly convinced he can help put the 2020 Bears over the top. The Bears do have a strong support system for a quarterback right now, with a stellar defense that was in the top-10 in DVOA and a big-play receiver in Allen Robinson. The main issue in a hypothetical Rivers-in-Chicago scenario is: would he even have enough time in the pocket to make big plays?

The Bears ranked 25th in Pro Football Focus' offensive line rankings. That figure is obviously not great but actually ranked four spots ahead of the Chargers at 29th. So ultimately, along with a starting job, it would likely take a guarantee to make improvements along the O-line to bring Rivers onto the Bears. But the "Rivers-to-Chicago" door could be closed soon as it appears he does have legit interest around the league, particularly from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

With the Senior Bowl in the rearview mirror and free agency fast approaching, all of Bears faithful will be locked in on what the organization decides to do in terms of adding depth at quarterback. Is Rivers actually an option Ryan Pace and Co. would consider? And if they did go after and acquire Rivers, would he even be an upgrade over Trubisky?

Those questions will be answered soon but for now, Bears fans can simply enjoy the wait for the official start of NFL free agency (March 18) as more and more interesting quarterbacks hit the market.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.