Bears

NFL Mock Draft 2016: Moon makes his final picks

NFL Mock Draft 2016: Moon makes his final picks

After staying the combined course of best-available and need for the Bears, resulting in mock drafts positing the Bears selecting Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, “View from the Moon” has made a change.

Subject to picks ahead of theirs at No. 11 and their own grades, expect the Bears to make a move for an edge pass rusher in the person of Clemson hybrid end/linebacker Shaq Lawson.

Why the change of draft heart?

John Fox has anchored his successful teams in Carolina and Denver with early selections players (Julius Peppers, Von Miller) who were elite pass rushers and both taken No. 2 overall in their drafts. The real fangs of Vic Fangio’s San Francisco defense came in with Aldon Smith, a pass-rushing outside linebacker selected No. 7 in the 2011 draft.

The expectation here is that they will honor the template that has worked for Fox and Fangio — build a pass rush that can dominate a pass-first NFL. Robinson has a thin pass-rush resume and that is the foundation of defense now.

“We’re a 3-4 base [defense] but we’re in ‘sub’ 60 percent of the time now,” said GM Ryan Pace. “So when that’s happening, three receivers are on the field, a lot of times it’s a four-man front.”

That was largely how Willie Young put up his 6.5 sacks last year and the Bears want even more off the edges.

Exactly how the Bears have draft-board grades on Robinson and other top talents in the class remains to play out along with the selections right above their slot. Pace is a proponent of selecting best-available over reaching for need, with need serving as a tipping point in cases where more than one available player is their top-rated when their turns come.

“Need” would point to a stout down-lineman to put with Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks as the foundation of the 3-4. But Fox is on record that a defense cannot have too many pass rushers.

The Bears waited until the second round of the 2015 draft before addressing defensive tackle and landed Florida State’s Goldman, who settled in as what the franchise hopes will be the nose tackle anchoring the defense for years to come. The depth of the defensive tackle position in the 2016 draft is rated such that a day one starter-grade defensive end/5-technique should be available on day two of the draft.

The Bears draft No. 10 in the second round. Consensus evaluations have concluded that there will not be elite pass rushers on the board at that point, but there will be some top defensive-line talent to be had.

In the final best-guess mock draft, several wild cards hang over the lineup with the potential for provoking runs, upsetting team draft boards and affecting futures of both GM’s and coaches. In particular:

The quarterbacks — not so much Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, the presumptive 1-2, but Payton Lynch, Connor Cook and others at a position that defines franchises. Could a third go in the top 10? And who does that push down?

Ezekiel Elliott — could be picked by any team after No. 2, or slip into freefall.

The tackles — as many as four could fall in the top 20, three in the top 10. Or slip as teams pursue defense and QB’s.

Moon's Final NFL Mock Draft

1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California

Comment: Teams make deals like Rams’ trade-up only for a QB. Exactly which one Rams will grab — Goff or Wentz — is TBD but Goff is considered more pro-ready. California connection won’t hurt Rams’ PR efforts.

2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State      

Comment: Someone was going to deal up for “the other QB” and it was Philly, who appear to have knowledge of what the Rams intend at No. 1. Eagles wanted developmental time behind Sam Bradford, who’s demanding a trade. So maybe behind Chase Daniel instead? Should anybody have to wait behind Chase Daniel?

3.  San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

Comment: Strong possibility this pick gets traded just like the first two. If not, ‘Bolts signed Casey Heyward away from Green Bay but Ramsey is elite and could start at any of four DB spots. True best-available and could be trade-up target for Baltimore in particular.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Comment: Tony Romo is 36 but ‘Boys crave pass rush desperately (Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory issues). Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan radio: "Ultimately we want to find a dominant type of pass rusher.” Bosa plays with an edge that fits Jerry Jones' pattern and Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 concepts.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

Comment: Look for OSU RB Ezekiel Elliott dropping. Jags had Jack in for pre-draft visit, followed by coach and GM flying to LA for meeting last Saturday. Concerns over knee status seem to be allayed but risks there and major needs could push Jags toward OT or CB.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, T, Mississippi  

Comment: Titans will likely take OT back at No. 15 but Tunsil is a quality addition to protect Joe Flacco better and after Ravens lost Kelechi Osemele in free agency. Ravens are targeting DB and are in discussions over Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves III.

7. San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, Oregon

Comment: Chip Kelly probably can’t get his franchise QB here and Trent Baalke doesn’t want to mortgage future trading up. Kelly recruited Buckner to Oregon. Connor Cook or Payton Lynch could be surprise pick here if 49ers have high enough grades and are definitely wanting Kaepernick’s replacement.

8. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Comment: Browns are one of this draft’s true wild cards, between their bad draft history and now promoting their general counsel to be in charge of the roster, plus a baseball analytics guy to be something called a chief strategy officer. Many options here for a bad Browns team that can’t help but draft for “need” somewhere. OT to succeed Joe Thomas a better call here but Browns are not going to help RGIII if Isaiah Crowell (706 rush yards) is their top back. But after the Trent Richardson fiasco at No. 3 in 2013, would Browns go RB this high again? In-state star Elliott would be popular, plus productive (1,800-plus yards each of last two seasons and 6.7 yards per carry for career). But Browns have abysmal record drafting skill high (Richardson, Manziel, Weeden) last 10 years.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Comment: Brent Grimes settles one CB spot but Hargreaves best-available if Bucs don’t grab ‘Bama’s DT Robinson or go OL with Jack Conklin or Ronnie Stanley. Bucs have gone heavy on offense past two drafts and could scramble matters for Bears by filling a major need for pass rush.

10. New York Giants: Leonard Floyd, DE/LB, Georgia

Comment: Bears would love Floyd falling to them but Giants have tradition of keeping pass rush at top levels, signing Olivier Vernon this offseason while losing Robert Ayers. Floyd gets call over OT. Giants could grab Ezekiel Elliott if still on the board.

11. BEARS: Shaq Lawson, DE/LB, Clemson

Comment: If Leonard Floyd slips past New York, this spot gets seriously interesting. A stud 5-technique is a clear need but Bears very pleased with Ego Ferguson’s knee rehab for front-three. Bears’ best-available grades are state secrets, so Floyd vs. Lawson is unknown if both are available. John Fox loves pass rushers, though, didn’t get one in 2015 draft, and this draft is thin on top edge rushers.

 12. New Orleans Saints: A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

Comment: Saints would prefer a pass rusher but a young disruptor fits any scheme and Robinson is very physical and plays with real attitude.

13. Miami Dolphins: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

Comment: Dolphins want DB help and could target MacKensie Alexander out of Clemson or Vernon Hargreaves if he falls, but dominating D-linemen are prized. The wild card is new coach Adam Gase; will he want more at RB for a balanced offense?

14. Oakland Raiders: MacKensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

Comment: Best-available DB likely heads to Oakland and Raiduhs have history of draft surprises.

15. Tennessee Titans: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Comment: Stanley or Jack Conklin a bargain here, and Titans want help blocking for Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray. Made deal with Rams knowing OT help available outside top-10. 

16. Detroit Lions: Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State

Comment: Glaring need for edge protection for oft-sacked Matthew Stafford. Conklin may be a surprise top-10’er, though.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

Comment: Darron Lee from OSU offers more speed but Falcons were weak in middle vs. run.

18. Indianapolis Colts: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi

Comment: Character gamble but this was a bad defensive team and needs to control LOS. Good 2015 Stanford picks Henry Anderson and David Parry give young foundation.

19. Buffalo Bills: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

Comment: One of NFL’s worst pass rush needs something outside Jerry Hughes.

20. New York Jets: Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State

Comment: D’Brickashaw Ferguson's retirement created a huge hole at LT and the Jets want to get something for their investment in Matt Forte.

21. Washington Redskins: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor

Comment: 28th-ranked defense could not stop enough running games to force passing situations. Playoff team with needs everywhere.

22. Houston Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Comment: Brock Osweiler needs a playmate who can run really, really fast. Coleman could go much higher after netting 20 TD's in 2015 and 11 in 2014 with 138 catches over two seasons.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi

Comment: Would prefer Coleman’s speed but has to upgrade deep passing somehow after Mike Wallace mistake.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

Comment: Bengals have A.J. Green and Marvin Jones but sorely need an anchor in front of Andy Dalton. Big need at LB could call for Darron Lee or other help as well.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Comment: Best-available for an organization that values defense but was among NFL’s worst vs. pass in 2015.

26. Seatlle Seahawks: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

Comment: ‘Hawks would prefer OL help and TCU’s Germain Ifedi would upgrade OT, but interior defense has slipped from Super Bowl levels.

27. Green Bay Packers: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

Comment: Smaller than ideal but speed and impact playmaker blends nicely with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

Comment: The demand for defense continues, Chiefs taking a flyer on a one-year (12 sacks) starter with size and power.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky

Comment: Possibly top single pass rusher in 2016 draft but major character questions make risk

30. Carolina Panthers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

Comment: Panthers pulled franchise tag off Josh Norman, who signed with Washington, making No. 1 cornerback a top priority.

31. Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

Comment: Difficult to see Lynch or Connor Cook dropping to this point and Broncos could trade up for major position need.

(Note: New England forfeited first-round pick)

Puppy Pick 'Em Puppy Walter makes his Week 7 picks for Bears-Saints

Puppy Pick 'Em Puppy Walter makes his Week 7 picks for Bears-Saints

When the Bears announced their 2019 schedule, we decided to have some puppies reveal the opponents. Now, we have taken it a step further. We have a puppy that will make weekly picks for the Bears games.

It is Week 7!

Walter's choices in Week 7 are a chance to go to Mardi Gras or a celebration of St. Patrick's day in Chicago. Bears fans should be excited about his decision in Week 7... and now we're all looking forward to St. Patrick's Day again!

The 12-week old dachshund was hand-selected by the scouts at NBC Sports Chicago and hails from One Tail at a Time rescue. He came from a shelter in Alabama and was transported to Chicago.  At just 7 weeks old and without his mom, he beat a deadly virus and spent some time in the doggie ER, where he healed and became strong again. 

Now, Walter is ready to rumble between the well-manicured lines of Sweetness Field. He is NOW adoptable via onetail.org and has two adorable sisters named Martha and Millie, who are already adopted. 

Walter will pick the games throughout the NFL season, including the playoffs and we hope that his nose follows the scent to the Bears every week, all the way to that magical game in Miami in February. Narrated by Jason Benetti, play-by-play announcer for the White Sox.  

It is time for Puppy Pick ‘Em presented by Nissan.

To learn more: www.onetail.org

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Saints

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Saints

1. Get production from receivers not named Allen Robinson. 

Robinson can expect to be followed all game by Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who’s limited opposing receivers to nine catches on 20 targets in his last three games (a sampling of those receivers: Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, D.J. Chark). So if Robinson isn’t open, it likely will have less to do with his own play and more the play of one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. 

With that in mind, Sunday will be a significant test for the Bears’ other pass catchers. This team’s offensive identity was supposed to be steeped in an ability to spread the ball around to guys like Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson and Trey Burton, but so far this season, the only thing the Bears have proven to do well is get the ball to Robinson. That absolutely has to change on Sunday. 

Miller feels primed for a breakout game after ditching his shoulder harness, while Gabriel is back from a concussion suffered on the final catch of his explosive three touchdown game in Week 3 against Washington. Those two guys need to show up, and the Bears need to better scheme plays for Cohen, who’s averaging 4.5 yards per touch — lower than his average in 2017 with Dowell Loggains calling the plays. 

Robinson still could have a productive day — he’s that good — but the Bears shouldn’t count on it.

2. Hold your own against the Saints’ front. 

The Saints are outstanding at affecting quarterbacks without blitzing, with their 76 pressures ranking second in the NFL — this for a team that’s only blitzing on 22 percent of its defensive snaps. And of those 76 pressures, 63 have come from defensive linemen. 

Marcus Davenport and Cam Jordan have been monsters this year, combining for eight sacks while consistently generating that pressure off the edge. Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie will need need to have their best games of 2019 to keep them away from Mitch Trubisky, but the interior of the Bears’ line will have its hands full, too. David Onyemata, Malcom Brown and Sheldon Rankins all have at least one sack, putting an onus on Cody Whitehair, James Daniels and Rashaad Coward and/or Ted Larsen to keep those guys out of Trubisky’s face.

If not, Trubisky will have a difficult time getting comfortable and going through his progressions, which could lead to some forced/panicked throws...which could be jumped by Lattimore or another one of the Saints' defensive backs.   

3. Get game-wrecking plays on defense.

The thought here is Sunday’s game will be a tight defensive battle, with the game swinging on which team gets a turnover deep in its opponent territory. For the Bears, that means coming up with the kind of game-wrecking play (or plays) we’ve come to expect from this defense. 

Teddy Bridgewater has been sacked on only 16.7 percent of his drop-backs (24th, per PFF), though, with tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead among the best pass blockers at their position in the NFL. It’ll be a fascinating matchup for Khalil Mack, who will need to be at his best to beat the Saints’ best and “sack the football,” as he’s so good at doing. Or maybe Sunday is time for Eddie Jackson to get his first interception of the season (though he’s only been thrown at about two times per game, down from his average of nearly three times per game in 2018). 

However the Bears’ defense does it, they need to do it in a game in which their offense very well could struggle to move the ball. 

Prediction: Saints 13, Bears 9. 

While the Saints will be without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, star do-it-all running back Alvin Kamara and reliable tight end Jared Cook, this is a team should have the advantage at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense (the Bears, of course, will be without Akiem Hicks and might start a greenhorn at right guard in Coward). That advantage matters greatly in close games, in which grinding out a few yards here and there will become critical, especially in the fourth quarter.

And too, Sean Payton has built a strong coach of the year case for how he’s guided the Saints to an undefeated record without Brees. The Saints are playing a strong brand of complementary football, with a ball security-based offense and a defense that’s progressively got better this year (punter Thomas Morstead, for what it’s worth, is outstanding and shouldn’t be completely overlooked). 

So the Saints will arrive at Soldier Field undermanned, but with an advantage at the line of scrimmage and on the sideline. And those will be enough for New Orleans to emerge with a win, sending the Bears to 3-3 in the process. 

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