Bears

In draft, 'expect the unexpected'

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In draft, 'expect the unexpected'

Gossip, buzz and other things percolating in the hours before the end of mock drafts and the start of the real one
DT or DE for Bears?

the Bears are expected to select a defensive lineman with their first pick, whether at No. 19 or thereabouts. But an end or a tackle? And which one?

One NFL personnel vet told CSNChicago.com that he thinks the Bears opt for Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, with this reasoning:

First, the Bears do at least have three starter-grade D-tackles (Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, Matt Toeaina) but only two proven D-ends (Israel Idonije, Julius Peppers). If theres a need, its on the outside. Besides, Idonije can contribute as a nickel rushman inside.

Second, Idonije, Peppers and Corey Wootton all are 6-6 or taller. Jones is the only one of the top handful of ends even as tall as 6-4. Jones didnt have the production of Melvin Ingram (6-1), Whitney Mercilus (6-3) or some others but the Bears like long bodies in quarterbacks fields of vision.

Chances are very, very good that the Bears opt for a little more explosion and pure speed in Mercilus if they have a choice.

Well see

Perspective, please

CSNChicago.com has stressed the need for perspective amid the breathless acclaim some have accorded GM Phil Emery for the Bears being so active in free agency, because the real measure of Emery is the draft and effecting a turnaround in that difficult area. Indeed, the Bears have been about the same degree of active this year as last.

The Bears this offseason have signed nine free agents from other teams.

On offense: running back Michael Bush, quarterback Jason Campbell, receivers Devin Thomas and Eric Weems and guard Chilo Rachal. On defense, cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite and linebackers Blake Costanzo.

In the drastically truncated offseason after the lockout last year, the Bears signed nine free agents from other teams.

On offense: running back Marion Barber, guard Chris Spencer, receivers Roy Williams and Sam Hurd, and tight end Matt Spaeth. On defense: tackle Amobi Okoye and end Vernon Gholston, plus punter Adam Podlesh.

The trade for receiver Brandon Marshall makes the 2012 addition total 10 and represents the only sure position-player starter. Spencer (at center), Podlesh and Williams were presumed starters after their 2011 signings.

Repeating: It's all about the draft.

The draft "starts" at No. 3 overall

...the No.3 pick continues to roil as Minnesota Vikings do the eeny-meeny-miny-mo dance with USC tackle Matt Kalil and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. The surprise will be if Kalil indeed goes No. 3. The Vikes need a left tackle but cornerback is arguably a higher need.

More importantly, teams are drooling for Claiborne and Alabama running back Trent Richardson, considered the next two best players in this draft after the quarterbacks. Who trades up to No. 3 for Claiborne or Richardson, to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the former or the Cleveland Browns to the latter? The Vikings are taking bids that will add picks and let them take Kalil a few picks later if they dont stay right where they are and take Claiborne.

Expect an unexpected

something will happen ahead of the Bears. It always does somewhere in the first round, whether a trade that scrambles the order of selection because a team wanted someone or because a supposed popular choice went unselected (Brady Quinn-like) and left options there for a team in the No. 19 range.

GM Phil Emery isnt concerned as much about a team turning the day upside down so much as a player possibly creating an opportunity or a need to move out of 19.

Not necessarily a team, Emery said. Its the players on the board. Whos still available? When it comes time to our pick, whos still available? Thats why we have seven players in the mix, so that we have a solution to whatever scenario happens in front of us or around us.

For instance:

Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox could go top 10. He could slide into the teens. Same with massive D-tackles Dontari Poe from Memphis or LSU giant Michael Brockers. Same with enigmatic North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples.

Alabama safety Mark Barron has gone higher with each days mock drafts. The Dallas Cowboys hoped hed be there at No. 14. Not likely now.

Stanford guard David DeCastro has been projected as high as No. 7 and as late as 25. Same with Notre Dame wideout Michael Floyd.

Do the math: Someone will drop and it could give the Bears a nice problem decision at No. 19, or later via trade-down.

How much better did the Bears' NFC North opponents get in the first round of the NFL Draft?

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USA Today

How much better did the Bears' NFC North opponents get in the first round of the NFL Draft?

The Bears collectively kicked their feet up Thursday night, watching the NFL Draft unfold with a few Khalil Mack highlight clips thrown in there to remind them why they didn’t have anything to do. 

The Bears’ competition in the NFC North, though, made four picks Thursday night, infusing significant talent into the division. A look at who Bears players on offense and defense will have to deal with twice a year starting in 2019:

Detroit Lions: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa (No. 8 overall pick)

Where he’s ranked: 6th (Dane Brugler/The Athletic), 12th (Danny Kelly/The Ringer), 13th (Josh Norris/Rotoworld), 21st (Pro Football Focus)

Why it makes sense: Hockenson is one of the best tight end prospects to be drafted in recent history. He’s a true combo in-line tight end, someone who can create mismatches against any defense with his ability to both block and catch. He’s regarded as a high-character player, too, someone who the Lions may believe can help change a deteriorating culture inside their locker room

Why it doesn’t: Hockenson is only the third tight end in the last 20 years to be dated with a top-10 pick, and the last one was…Eric Ebron, who flopped with the Lions after being the 10th overall pick in 2014. The big question for how this pick is viewed may not be how good Hockenson is, but how the guy drafted one pick after him — defensive tackle Ed Oliver — winds up being. 

Green Bay Packers: EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan (No. 12), S Darnell Savage, Maryland (No. 21)

Where Gary ranks: No. 13 (Brugler), No. 13 (Kelly), No. 15 (Norris), No. 48 (PFF)

Where Savage ranks: No. 28 (PFF), No. 33 (Norris), No. 39 (Kelly), No. 58 (Brugler)

Why it makes sense: Gary and Savage inject loads of talent into a Green Bay defense that underwent a massive overhaul during free agency. Gary will join a pass rush featuring Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels and Kyler Fackrell, giving defensive coordinator Mike Pettine excellent depth to pressure opposing quarterbacks. The super-athletic Gary has tremendous upside, even if his college production never matched former ranking as the nation’s No. 1 recruit. If the Packers can harness that raw talent, he could be a menace in the division for years to come. 

Savage, meanwhile, looks like a solid partner to pair with Adrian Amos in the back end of the Packers’ defense. He picked off four passes in 2018 and possesses the kind of traits — physicality, speed, ball skills — that teams desire in safeties. Perhaps the Packers see him as a version of Eddie Jackson, who paired well with Amos in 2017 and 2018 with the Bears. 

Why it doesn’t: A couple of instant reactions to the Gary pick didn’t paint it in a positive light:

Gary finished his three-year college career with only 9 1/2 sacks, two fewer than Bears 2018 sixth-round pick Kylie Fitts had in his three years at Utah. He also had a labrum injury pop up that could be of some concern. Further back: Gary, perhaps, could remind you of Alonzo Spellman — the Bears’ 22nd overall pick in 1992 who had nine sacks in three years at Ohio State and took a few years to get off the ground in Chicago (he had 32 sacks in six seasons with the Bears). 

There’s less to not like with Savage — he was a late riser and is a little undersized, but pairing him with Amos seems to make all the sense in the world on paper. 

Minnesota Vikings: C Garrett Bradbury, N.C. State (No. 18)

Where he ranks: No. 17 (Brugler), No. 18 (Norris), No. 23 (Kelly), No. 41 (PFF)

Why it makes sense: The Vikings desperately need offensive line help, and likely felt fortunate that there wasn’t a run on offensive linemen prior to their pick. Bradbury can immediately step in and improve the interior of Minnesota’s offensive line, keeping pressure out of Kirk Cousins’ face and opening holes for Dalvin Cook. His bi-annual battles against Eddie Goldman should be fun to watch. 

Why it doesn’t: A few analysts noted Bradbury being undersized and not having ideal length, though his athleticism and technique should overcome whatever those deficiencies may be. This feels like a smart pick by the Vikings. 

Briefly

— The Oakland Raiders were the only team to pick a running back in the first round, and used the pick the Bears sent them — No. 24 overall — to grab Alabama’s Josh Jacobs. 

— If you’re looking for a position that could see some talented players fall to the Bears’ No. 87 pick: Wide receiver and cornerback. Only Hollywood Brown (No. 23, Baltimore Ravens) and N'Keal Harry (No. 32, New England Patriots) went among receivers; the first cornerback didn't go off the board until the New York Giants traded back into the first round and picked Georgia's Deandre Baker 30th overall. If the Bears have a few players with high grades at either of those positions, there's a chance of those guys slipping deep into the third round and giving Ryan Pace an opportunity to take a clear-cut best player available.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Kris Versteeg on signing with IceHogs and possibility of one more spin with Blackhawks

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Kris Versteeg on signing with IceHogs and possibility of one more spin with Blackhawks

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle catches up with two-time Stanley Cup winner and the newest member of the Rockford IceHogs Kris Versteeg.

Versteeg explains his recent medical issues and his experience playing last season in the KHL and Swedish Elite League. He also talks about why he decided to sign a one-year deal with Rockford and defines his role with the IceHogs.

Versteeg weighs in on getting a third chance to play for the Blackhawks organization and what would be the perfect ending to the Kris Versteeg hockey movie?

1:00 - Why sign with Rockford?
2:00 - KHL experience
3:00 - Back on track in Sweden
4:30 - Health update
6:00 - Deal with Rockford
7:30 - Contact with Kane and Toews?
9:00 - Family coming to Rockford?
10:00 - Mentor or last fling with Hawks?
12:00 - Kris Versteeg Movie Ending

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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