“What leads you to not draft a specific position — and you have to look at all the positions — is what players are on the board who can get us there the quickest? I will say (wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round), was a shining light up there. He was the highest-rated player on our board and the highest player available to make plays that determine winning games. When you do that, some positions are going to go by the wayside, whether it’s O-line, whatever. You take the best player who’s going to make the most plays for you, who gives you the best chance of winning.”—Bears GM Phil Emery on why the Bears didn’t draft an offensive lineman or defensive tackle.
Positives — Decent size for a nickle cornerback at the next level… Plays better in off coverage, which allows him to read and react… When he sees the play develop, he has a better ability to read routes and make plays… Takes good angles to the football when reading the football… Is quick in short areas, and is able to make plays on the ball… Looks better on the inside of the formation, he has the ability to play man coverage in close quarters… His real value lies in his kick return abilities, ranked sixth in the nation with a 30.6 average per return in 2011, including two touchdowns; was named the Mountain West Conference’s special teams player of the year and selected to the All-American team as a return specialist by CBS and Yahoo!… Recorded a second quarter interception in the Poinsettia Bowl and was named defensive player of the game as TCU came back to beat Louisiana Tech.
Negatives — His size will come into question, especially when it comes to bigger wide receivers… In coverage, has a hard time flipping his hips and getting vertical with the man he is covering… Has good speed, but doesn’t have that extra gear to get on top of receivers… Against faster competition, he will have to improve his technique or he will be beaten over the top with ease… Allows receivers get inside and has trouble keeping up with them after the snap of the ball… Has a hard time setting the edge in run support, and can be moved off his spot at will… His tackling is below average due to lack of strength… Was solid as the collegiate level, but bigger and faster players might prove too much in the NFL… Has to prove that he can contribute in the secondary because he won’t last long at the next level as just a return specialist.
Positives — Has good length and size for the position, a taller corner… Has good straight line speed and moves well for his size, can turn and run and despite his height can do it with a relatively low pad level… Can get out of his back pedal and into chase mode quickly… His ability to find the football in the air is a plus, does well in both zone and man coverage… Uses his length well when closing on the football, generally only offers a small window, doesn’t give up the big play when the ball is in the air… His is aggressive and will go for the big play, but also plays smart, picks his spots wisely… Had a breakout senior season, his 21 passes defended tied for first in the nation; also recorded five picks, earned honorable mention All-American honors from Sports Illustrated… Durable, hasn’t missed a game in four seasons.
Negatives — Needs to show he can be physical when needed, he doesn’t bring that part of his game on a consistent basis… Lateral movement gives him trouble in coverage and is exposed easily… Opens the gate too often, lets the receiver get to the second level with ease… Press coverage ability needs to improve, plays the technique too flat-footed which gets him in bad position… Plays very little with his hands in press coverage, makes it too easy for the offensive player… His poor footwork allows him to be knocked off balance in coverage and has trouble regaining his initial speed when this happens… When he gets too high he loses his natural bend and plays stiff, loses his burst to make the quick plays… NFL quarterbacks will make him pay for all the space he gives wide receivers to work with, was a box score player in the WAC due to poor quarterback play.
Rodriguez is an interesting prospect in that teams will have to find abnormal ways to get him the ball in space at the next level. He has the physical traits to play in the NFL. Rodriguez has true tweener size and isn’t an obvious tight end or fullback. He is a serviceable player at the next level in the short passing game.
Rodriguez is a very reliable pass catcher who is a crafty route runner. He was a go-to look for Temple to pick up first downs and maneuver through defenders for extra yardage. He is quick off the ball and understands how to leverage his body. He is a smooth runner who looks natural in the open field.
Rodriguez is almost nonexistent in the pass game, and his athletic ability is suspect when attempting to get to the second level and block linebackers. He may have a tough time winning with strength or speed at the next level, two traits that players in his role often rely on.
Positives — Great size and build, will have no problem with bigger tight ends and receivers in the NFL… Elite speed, ran a 4.38-40 at his pro day… Good at reading the quarterback’s eyes and diagnosing plays… Great in the box safety with impressive tackling skills; an absolutely punishing tackler, just YouTube his name and you will see some incredible hits… Great against the run and excels in blitzing… A beast on special teams, if for whatever reason Hardin does not pan out on defense he can be a consistent and impact player on special teams coverage… A great physical specimen with exceptional upside if he can stay healthy and make the transition to safety successfully… Has the potential to be part of a new breed of tall, speedy defensive backs… Despite missing the entire season, was invited to the East-West Shrine Game.
Negatives — Played at Oregon State as a cornerback but will need to make his money at the next level playing safety… Has good speed but not enough to play tight man coverage against top end receivers… Needs more work on his fundamentals in coverage… Suffered a season ending shoulder injury, which teams will need to examine and keep their eyes on going forward… Sitting out the year will decrease his draft stock with the lack of recent game film… Is really a projection at safety, which will lower his stock come draft day… Was a combine snub which is concerning because the combine is great for teams to evaluate injuries and see players with less game film.
South Carolina wideout Alshon Jeffery is quite the interesting 2012 NFL Draft prospect. He has the potential to be one of the game’s truly dominant targets in the NFL, but he comes with a scary amount of downside.
He racked up 88 catches for 1,517 yards and nine scores in 2010 and followed it up with a 49-762-8 line in 2011. Plenty of factors come into play to help explain Jeffery’s major letdown last year, but some of the onus has to be on this physical freak of nature, too.
Very strong hands
Powerful build (6-foot-4, 229 pounds)
Great red zone threat with tremendous leaping ability
Long strider with deceptive speed in short area
Tracks the ball well over both shoulders
Excellent body control - makes a lot of acrobatic catches
Extremely productive in 2010 (88 receptions, 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns)
Willing blocker and uses his size to his advantage
Hard to tackle in the open field - strong stiff arm and respectable elusiveness
Insane potential as a pro
Major drop-off in production from 2010 to ‘11 (largely due to the team’s quarterback and running back woes)
May struggle to gain separation at the next level
Lacks quick feet off the line and top-end speed
Major bust factor
Drops too many passes - needs to catch more with his hands and not his body so much; could be concentration lapses
Ejected versus Nebraska for throwing a punch
Ran simplistic routes in college and is very raw in this area
Unrefined as a blocker - needs to learn better technique
“To all the doubters, I am going to have to go out there and prove myself,” he said. “I’m used to that. I came from Boise State. We had to prove ourselves every week. That’s what I will have to do every day. Definitely, it puts a chip on my shoulder. I am used to it.”—
“It just says that player was at that spot at that time and he was the highest-rated player we had among the seven (they targeted in the first-round)," he said. "As I told [defensive coordinator] Rod [Marinelli] as he came out of the room after he talked to him, ‘Rod, you’ve got a Monster of of the Midway. Let’s get to work.’”—Bears GM Phil Emery on the surprising selection of DE Shea McClellin.
Positives — Former high school running back, very athletic pass rusher with an explosive first step both with his hand in the dirt and standing up; versatile, has played all over the Boise defense, looks like a potential starter at the next level regardless of scheme… Does a nice job anticipating the snap count; has the speed to threaten the edge, good flexibility to dip his shoulder around the corner… Can rush the quarterback in a variety of ways, does a nice job shooting through gaps, good combination of quickness and strength to knife into the backfield, good inside/outside repertoire of speed and power pass rushing moves with above average closing speed… Can be used on stunts and twists, where his initial quickness is too much for interior linemen to handle… Violent with his hands, extends his arms to engage the blocker and deliver a jolt, can quickly disengage and make his way into the backfield… Does a good job against the run for his size, disciplined in backside pursuit, holds the edge reasonably well and maintains outside containment; has the ability to stack and shed to make the tackle and can also make plays off his frame… Plays with a high motor, a blue collar type of player that brings it on every snap, intimidating presence on the field, smart and instinctive player who has a nose for the football… Spends an equal amount of time playing defensive end and linebacker in Boise’s hybrid defense; good balance with fluid hips and changes direction well, can drop into coverage and plays well in man coverage… Productive, had 9.5 sacks as a junior while playing in about half his team’s snaps, makes a lot of big plays for Boise State’s defense, including a few returns for touchdowns… High character player and his ability to play on special teams adds to his value… Not quite the athlete as current San Francisco rush linebacker Aldon Smith but has some similarities to the former Missouri Tiger, will be a good value pick in the middle rounds of the 2012 Draft… I pegged him as a gamer and felt athleticism tests might not do his on-field play justice but his 4.63-40 was second best among the defensive linemen grouping at the combine.
Negatives — Lacks prototypical size and doesn’t have the frame to carry any additional weight without impacting his speed… Overly reliant on athleticism, too often looks to avoid blocks by running around them… Inconsistent run stopper, has some good games and others where he is a non-factor, can be engulfed by larger blockers at the point of attack, runs the arc a little wide at times but has enough athletic ability to recover and generally holds his ground well… 19 reps of 225 lbs. were the fewest of all defensive linemen at the combine… Lack of competition playing in the WAC and Mountain West… Suffered three concussions in college.
The right tackle is still on track to be ready for training camp, but seven months after dislocating his right knee and four months after his last surgery on the knee, he is still not fully recovered, a source close to Carimi told CBSChicago.com.
“I wouldn’t say it’s fully healed, but it’s getting closer,” the source said. “I think he’s feeling pretty good though. He’s working out a lot and on a really good diet.
“I would say he’s on the right track,” the source said about Carimi’s recovery. “Nothing great, but nothing really bad.”
Final few hours for NFL Draft Contest submissions!!
Our 3rd Annual Bears Fans Online NFL Draft Contest has come down to the final few hours for submissions! If you want your chance to win $50 to the official Bears online store, go to THIS LINK, read the rules, and register.
All submissions of the first round of the draft are due by midnight (central time) tonight. If you think you can accurately predict the first round of the NFL Draft, then register (free) and prove it!!
Jason Clark joined me once again for another stellar breakdown of the 2012 NFL Draft, primarily focusing on the Chicago Bears, but also touching on where guys like Ryan Tannehill will go, as well as potential trades.
“If we just have four guys who want to hunt the quarterback or ball carrier every time, we’re going to have a breakout (year)," Paea said. "It doesn’t matter if it’s me, Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton, we all have confidence in each other. If you have confidence in each other, it will play out right.”—
“Our area scouts, Lovie and myself. Our area scouts know those players’ backgrounds, all the character information, their play history, their injury history better than anybody. Although we’ve gone through those several times, if I have any last-second questions, I want them right there. Our coaches are heavily involved. They’ve been a big part of the process. If we need to ask them a further a question, we will bring them into the room.”—Bears GM Phil Emery on who’s gonna be in the war room on draft day.
A few weeks ago, news began to circulate that Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was involved in some type of romantic relationship with former Playboy Playmate of the Year Jenny McCarthy.
Now, a source told the Chicago Sun-Times McCarthy is “giddy” over her new relationship with Urlacher. The source said McCarthy loves how Urlacher “quietly takes care of her when they’re together.
“That may sound old-fashioned, especially since Jenny is very much her own person and a very contemporary, independent woman in many ways. But she loves the attention and the way he treats her. It’s very comforting.”
A lot of people are asking me about what the deal is with Matt Forte and the Bears franchise tag. Can they trade him, etc. Here’s the situation:
Forte is not allowed to negotiate with any other team. The Bears have exclusivity over him, unless…
…the team withdraws their franchise tag. If the Bears withdraw the tag, Forte immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign wherever he wants.
Forte has until July 15th to sign the franchise tender (which is basically a 1/yr contract for $8.15 million) or a multi-year contract with the Bears. If he doesn’t sign by that time, he can renegotiate a 1-year deal with the Bears which can’t be extended until the end of 2012.
The Bears can’t trade Forte unless he signs the franchise tender. If they work out a sign-and-trade, the Bears are still stuck with the $8.15 million cap hit for this season.
Hayes was one of several veteran linebackers the Bears brought to Halas Hall for an official visit earlier in the week.
Hayes spent the past four seasons as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he started a total of 42 games. Originally a sixth-round draft choice by the Bucs out of Florida State, Hayes recorded a career-high 98 tackles in 2009.
“That certainly was the case for us. We didn’t make it to the playoffs, but we didn’t see it as a crisis situation, or one that signaled an overhaul.”—Former Bears exec Tim Ruskell talking a bit about being let go and the situation with Jerry’s firing.
The Bears have professed contentment with their offensive line this offseason, but that didn’t stop them from signing a veteran guard on Wednesday.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the Bears have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent guard Chilo Rachal. Rachal was drafted in the second round of the 2008 Draft by the 49ers and he’s spent his entire career with San Francisco until now. Financial terms of the deal aren’t known.
Rachal started 38 of the 55 games he played for the Niners, but lost his starting job at right guard early last season. He had a stronger 2010 season, particularly as a run blocker, and makes for a decent rebound bet by a Bears team that has nothing to lose by bringing him into the mix. Chris Spencer’s hold on the right guard spot should be challenged and Rachal should be able to push him over the summer.
With Rachal on board, the Bears could still look for other options inside during the draft or they may focus on finding a better left tackle than J’Marcus Webb.
“I love starting the season at home in front of our fans. I don’t think there is a better place to kick off the season than playing at Soldier Field on the lakefront. Playing five of our first 10 games in prime time also stands out. Each week brings its own challenge and we are excited to begin our pursuit of a world championship.”—Bears head coach Lovie Smith on his optimism about the schedule.
Here’s an excerpt from Moon Mullin’s CSN article regarding the Bears needs going into the draft:
The key: 1 = priority need; likely pick during first four rounds. 2 = moderate need; help wanted but not desperate enough for a need-based reach. 3 = low or no need; could take one but only a value surprise.
With Jay Cutler in place, Jason Campbell in addition, Josh McCown in reserve and Nathan Enderle in question, the Bears have gone into few drafts with less pressing need for help at quarterback.
Running back: 3
Matt Forte isn’t expected to be reporting anytime soon in protest over his franchise tag, although a holdout extending into the season is unlikely. Michael Bush would be competing for a starting job with multiple teams and well could be in Chicago before his four-year deal is done. Khalil Bell is a restricted free agent playing for his opp next offseason.
Wide receiver: 1
The problem is still simple numbers. Marshall and Bennett take care of two of the top three spots, and Devin Hester has enough returner help to let him focus on receiving. Devin Thomas and Eric Weems are depth and special teamers who’ll put Dane Sanzenbacher in a roster vise. Johnny Knox’s return is still a significant question.
Tight end: 3
Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth are not big producers but coaches believe in both, and have prospects (Kyle Adams, Andre Smith) down the depth chart.
Offensive line: 2
The Bears had three backs with 100-yard games and 2,015 rushing yards for the season. Pass protection was a problem but Mike Tice isn’t Mike Martz and Cutler isn’t Caleb Hanie. The Bears believe they have potentially three serviceable tackles (Gabe Carimi, J’Marcus Webb, Chris Williams), three guards (Lance Louis, Chris Spencer, Edwin Williams) and three centers (Roberto Garza, Spencer, E. Williams). Free agents have been interviewed but coaches don’t see the dire situation outsiders do.
Defensive end: 1
Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije are in place along with injury prone reserve Corey Wootton. The Bears didn’t land Jeremy Mincey or Mario Williams and will have trouble landing in the playoffs without more pressure off the edge.
Defensive tackle: 1
Losing Amobi Okoye to Tampa Bay was a setback but Henry Melton and Matt Toeaina are returning starters and Stephen Paea is a returning No. 2 pick. Idonije is a potential swingman with E-T experience but the Bears have drafted at least one defensive linemen within the first four rounds of all but one draft since 2000.
Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are set for another year and Nick Roach has missed just three games over the last four seasons. Depth is always a concern but not enough to force a need reach.
The Bears have four corners with starter experience (Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman, Jonathan Wilhite) plus nickel back D.J. Moore. They have size and depth but if a quality cover man falls within reach, they’ll build for the future.
Chris Conte is considered a future star at free safety and Major Wright is expected to perform better with a clear assignment at strong. Craig Steltz is insurance at strong but Conte finished the season on IR. Whether the Bears will invest another fourth-round-or-higher pick for the fourth time in five drafts isn’t a given.
Unga, 6-foot, 237 pounds, rushed nine times for 27 yards in preseason action last year before departing. Forte, newly signed Michael Bush and Kahlil Bell are firmly entrenched ahead of Unga. Some have wondered if he could fit as a fullback but that is unlikely and the Bears found a solid option at that position last year with Tyler Clutts.
“I see myself as being able to do much more," Conte said. "I was a young kid who got thrown in there without an offseason due to the lockout. I think just having another year and being able to mature … I don’t think I ever play tentative, but you’re thinking a lot more than you should be when you’re young. I try to fly around the field as much as I can and just play.”—
Former #Bears WR David Terrell charged with battery
Via the Trib:
Former Chicago Bears wide receiver David Terrell was ordered held on $10,000 bond Saturday after he allegedly grabbed his ex-girlfriend during an argument inside his high-rise apartment on the Near South Side and threatened to throw her off a balcony, according to court documents.
Terrell, 33, is charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. He looked to the floor and shook his head in Cook County bond court as a prosecutor summarized the allegations against him.
Terrell was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 2001 NFL draft, arriving from the University of Michigan. He played four seasons with the Bears and one game with the Denver Broncos in 2005, finishing his career with 128 receptions and 9 touchdowns.
Bears promote Hanks, Slater to head trainer positions
General manager Phil Emery promoted Chris Hanks to the position of head athletic trainer and Bobby Slater was elevated to become assistant head athletic trainer/director of rehabilitation. The two of them have spent a combined 25 seasons with the organization, so the coaching staff, players and support staff are familiar with them.
Prior to his time in Chicago, Hanks spent 11 years at the University of Richmond, including his final three and a half years (January 1997 – June 2000) as head athletic trainer. Hanks received a Bachelor of Sciences degree from Ohio University and a Master of Sports Management degree from Richmond.
Slater will be entering his 14th season with the Bears after arriving in Chicago in 1999 as an assistant athletic trainer. He was promoted to director of rehabilitation in 2002. Slater first worked with the Bears as a training camp intern in 1994, then served in the same capacity with the Miami Dolphins in 1995 and again with Chicago in 1998.
Brian Urlacher and former Playboy Playmate of the Year Jenny McCarthy met up for a dinner date at Mastro’s steak house on Tuesday night. Paparazzi caught up to the pair when they tried to sneak out the back into a waiting SUV.
I doubt Jim Carrey is too happy about this. But who is?
#Bears Forte not signing franchise sheet, will only sign long-term deal
Via NBC Sports:
That sounds like a recipe for a protracted standoff as does a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN on SportsCenter Wednesday. Schefter reports that Forte “is not signing anything until he has a long-term deal” and that he won’t be in Chicago until he signs that deal. Things could change once the deadline for signing franchise tags gets closer, but that isn’t until July 15th which means that Forte would miss the team’s full offseason workout schedule as well as their mandatory minicamp in June.
The Bears seem pretty well resigned to that pace of things. Both Jay Cutler and Lovie Smith addressed Forte’s status on Tuesday and neither one sounds like they expect to see Forte anytime soon.
“The word is that he’s not going to be [there], but that’s just rumors,” Cutler said on WMVP Radio, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I know it’s going to be hard for Matt to not be there. I think he’s pretty disappointed at how things have gone. But it’s a business for both sides. The Bears have to do what’s best for them in the long run. Matt has to do what’s best for him in the long run.”
“It’s up to him to feed his family, and it’s his life and his career. He knows what his value is and I think all of us know what his value is. So he knows what he’s doing. I will continue to support and hope that he gets the deal that he knows he deserves and we all do.”—Bears LB Lance Briggs addressing Matt Forte’s contract situation.
Briggs, who signed a $36 million, six-year contract as an unrestricted free agent in 2008, has $10.5 million and two years remaining on that deal. The new structure, for practical purposes, guarantees him as much as $8.25 million. While only $1.5 million in new money comes to Briggs in the first two years of the contract he has more guarantees now in the event the durable performer would become injured. The deal is structured such that he doesn’t have a big number in 2014 that might lead the team to release an aging player. If Briggs remains productive, he should earn most or all of the money in this new pact.
“Matt takes care of himself, knows the offense, is a smart guy, he’s always in shape. He’ll be at training camp when he needs to be. Either way – whether he’s under contract or he’s franchised – he’ll be there. I’m glad we’ve got him back.”—
Bears MLB Brian Urlacher discussing running back Matt Forte’s situation.
I’m sure they’ll spread the wealth early in the year but barring injury, they’re going to give Weems every chance to be The Guy on kickoffs. He’s had an illustrious kick return career and should be the #1 contender for the job going into camp.
Hester’s still going to be the primary punt returner, but I imagine they’ll continue to utilize him as a weapon on offense more while maintaining a balance with his special team talents.
Also regarding Kahlil Bell, I wanted to amend an earlier post - Bell, along with Forte, won’t be permitted to participate in the voluntary team workouts because they are not presently under contract with the Bears. Forte hasn’t signed his franchise tender, nor has Bell inked his RFA contract tender.
The addition of Eric Weems and Devin Thomas, two players with experience as kickoff returners, has the left the Chicago Bears with an interesting question: Should Devin Hester be relieved of all kickoff-return duties in 2012?
"We have that versatility now," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We added another good player into the (kick-return) mix in Devin Thomas."
#Urlacher to receive Ed Block Courage Award on Tues.
Brian Urlacher will be presented with the Ed Block Courage Award on Tuesday during a ceremony at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Ill., the team announced on Monday.
The Ed Block Courage Award is given out each year to one member of every NFL team and is awarded to the players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. The recipients of the award are selected solely by the vote of their teammates.
Urlacher is also a two-time winner of the Brian Piccolo Award.
#Bears RB Forte not expected for start of workouts
Via Brad Biggs of the Trib:
…barring a breakthrough, Forte will be a high-profile absence as the Bears get going. That’s not necessarily a reason to fret. For starters, the key word for players in the offseason program is “voluntary.” The only mandatory period for them is one full-squad minicamp. The Bears have not announced it, but their minicamp will be held in early June, about two months from now. Forte cannot attend that either if he’s not signed, so it’s only “mandatory” for players under contract.
Long after his football career ended, McMahon quietly spent six years as a board member for Broadway Bank, owned by the family of Alexi Giannoulias, the former Illinois state treasurer who made an unsuccessful run for President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat two years ago.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shut down the failed bank in April 2010. And now McMahon is among seven former Broadway Bank board members and two former bank executives who have been personally targeted in a lawsuit the FDIC filed to recover $104 million lost from 17 bad loans the bank made before regulators shut it down.