2013 draft could see five OTs taken in first round

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2013 draft could see five OTs taken in first round

The surprise move in the 2013 draft will be if the Bears do not select an offensive lineman in the first or second round, possibly both. The issues will be whether there are enough top talents to stock a first round or more, and picking the right one.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper said on Tuesday that the early analysis has three left tackles and two right tackles projected to go in the first round and at least one, maybe two, could go it the top five.

Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M conceivably could be the No. 1 pick overall, Kiper said. Hes that good. Hes the Outland Trophy winner for a reason. Hes done a great job at A&M.

And you think about Taylor Lewand from Michigan in the top 10 to 15, as is Eric Fisher from Central Michigan.

After those, there is a drop-off at left tackle, Kiper said.

But the suddenly shaky situation with Gabe Carimi has left the Bears unsettled at right tackle, whether Carimi goes back there once his game and confidence are restored, or whether replacement Jonathan Scott is worth retaining with a new contract.

And there are two right tackles likely to go in the first round, as Carimi did. Jake Matthews from Texas A&M and Alabamas D.J. Fluker project as first-rounders on the right side, Kiper said.

So thats what you have, Kiper said. You have five first-round tackles: three left tackles and two right tackles.

An unintended positive in the Bears slide of losing four of their last five games is that each defeat bumps the Bears up a slot or three and with it an earlier spot on the clock.

The immediate impact from a rookie offensive lineman is never a given. The Bears got nothing from Chris Williams (No. 14) in 2008 primarily because of injuries. Carimi won the starting job in training camp and was playing well before suffering a week-two knee injury that ended his season.

Iowas Riley Reiff was a sixth offensive lineman and H-back in short-yardage situations for the first 10 games after going No. 23 to the Detroit Lions and did not start until aging veteran left tackle Jeff Backus was injured.

Big Ten vs. Big East: Matchups announced for Gavitt Tipoff Games

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Big Ten vs. Big East: Matchups announced for Gavitt Tipoff Games

Last season saw the inaugural edition of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, a non-conference event pitting Big Ten teams against Big East teams.

Well, Year 2 of the event is coming up this fall, and the matchups were announced Tuesday, featuring a total of eight teams from last season's NCAA tournament field.

The highlight is without a doubt Purdue clashing with Villanova, the reigning national champion following its unforgettable win in last month's national title game.

But there are plenty of other noteworthy games, including a rematch of last season's tremendous Maryland-Georgetown bout, Wisconsin visiting Creighton, Iowa playing host to Seton Hall and Ohio State welcoming Providence to Columbus.

Here's the full schedule.

— Villanova at Purdue (Monday, Nov. 14)
— Maryland at Georgetown (Tuesday, Nov. 15)
— Wisconsin at Creighton (Tuesday Nov. 15)
— Northwestern at Butler (Wednesday, Nov. 16)
— Seton Hall at Iowa (Thursday, Nov. 17)
— Providence at Ohio State (Thursday, Nov. 17)
— Rutgers at DePaul (Thursday, Nov. 17)
— St. John's at Minnesota (Friday, Nov. 18)

Michigan transfer Spike Albrecht stays in Big Ten, picks Purdue

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Michigan transfer Spike Albrecht stays in Big Ten, picks Purdue

Spike Albrecht will stay in the Big Ten after all.

After much fuss was made over John Beilein's decree that Albrecht, for whom there was no room on the Michigan roster, wouldn't be allowed to transfer within the Big Ten, Beilein rescinded that restriction. And Albrecht has taken full advantage, opting to use his final year of NCAA eligibility at Purdue.

Albrecht played a pivotal role on numerous Michigan teams over the past few seasons. As a freshman, he scored 17 points in the 2013 national championship game loss to Louisville. He was a key reserve the following season as a sophomore and took on an emergency starting role as a junior, averaging 32 minutes a game with multiple Michigan stars sidelined with injuries.

Last season, Albrecht faced his own injury woes, playing sparingly in just nine games before shutting down his season to recover from a pair of hip surgeries.

A native of Crown Point, Ind., Albrecht understandably wanted to remain in the Midwest and both Purdue and Indiana were listed as options he was considering earlier this spring. As a student-athlete who has already earned his degree, Albrecht will be immediately eligible for the 2016-17 season.

There's one more hurdle to clear, as the Big Ten must OK Albrecht's in-conference transfer. But many assume it will be no problem, as fellow former Wolverine Max Bielfeldt went through the exact same situation last season, transferring from Michigan to Indiana, where he won Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year honors this past season.

Should all the formalities go through without a hitch, Purdue will add its third straight graduate transfer point guard after adding Jon Octeus and Johnny Hill in each of the past two seasons.

Albrecht would certainly help boost a Boilermaker team that is shaping up to look drastically different than the one that reached the Big Ten Tournament title game this past season. Seniors A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis will be gone, as will guard Kendall Stephens, who is transferring. Meanwhile, both Caleb Swanigan and Vince Edwards are testing out the NBA Draft process and could head to the pros.

Regardless of what the roster looks like, it sure seems Purdue is happy to have Spike.

Several Bears 2016 opponents had some, well, 'interesting' drafts

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Several Bears 2016 opponents had some, well, 'interesting' drafts

Just about every NFL team had something interesting go down on draft weekend, whether round one, whether someone passed over, whatever. But a handful of teams on the Bears’ 2016 schedule, beginning with the Philadelphia Eagles (Week 2) trading up for quarterback Carson Wentz at No. 2, had drafts with a few quirks, and the Bears will be seeing seven of the top 11 draft picks this year besides their own Leonard Floyd at No. 9:

Packin’ on the pounds

Pal Bob McGinn up at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel noted that where the Green Bay Packers’ 2015 draft had just one selection that weighed as much as 250 pounds, this year the Packers shopped by bulk.

Of Green Bay’s seven picks, “If [Northwestern defensive end] Dean Lowry were to eat a big steak dinner,” Bob writes, “then four would weigh at least 300 and two more are in the 240’s.” The seventh pick – Cal wide receiver Trevor Davis – was the only skill-position player selected.

Titanic Titans?

The Bears face the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 27 in Soldier Field, unless the field tilts and slides into Lake Michigan when the Titans run out of that visitors tunnel on the stadium’s east side. One Tennessee’s concern this year might be whether their team buses are in violation of tonnage limits on bridges. The Bears wanted to get faster; the Titans wanted to get bigger.

While Bears fans lamented the suspiciously small size of No. 1 pick Leonard Floyd, the Titans were trading up to No. 8, one pick above where the Bears landed Floyd with a trade-up of their own, to take a guy to block Floyd: Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin. 322 pounds.

The Bears’ pass rusher (Floyd) weighs 240 pounds. The Titans got theirs in round 2: Kevin Dodd. 277 pounds.

The Bears strengthened their interior defensive line with Jonathan Bullard in the third round. 285 pounds. The Titans? Third-round’er Penn State’s Austin Johnson. 314 pounds.

The Bears beefed up their running game with Jordan Howard in the fourth round. 230 pounds. The Titans new running back: Derrick Henry. 247 pounds.

The Bears muscled up their offensive line with Cody Whitehair in the second round. 301 pounds. Titans' Sebastian Tretola. 322 pounds. And kind of a self-professed goon: “I’m trying to make me not want to play me anymore.”

Big is not necessarily better but the Park District may want to reinforce the concrete under the Soldier Field visitors locker room. Just sayin’.

Vikings cover-up’s

The Minnesota Vikings under Rick Spielman have built themselves into a contender with impact draft picks, with a heavy dose of hits on No. 1’s and 2’s (Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater, Sharrif Floyd, Eric Kendricks, Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith).

But last year’s No. 1 (cornerback Trae Waynes) started just one game, as a nickel corner, and did not have an interception, playing more on special teams. This year the Vikings took cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who didn’t have a pick in two seasons at Clemson. Deion Sanders never had stratospheric INT totals because teams threw away from him, so that number, like sacks, don’t always tell complete stories, and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is a devout “deny the ball” guy, which Alexander may be. He’d better be.

Jacksonville Cheetahs?

Like the Bears with Kevin White, the Jaguars approach 2016 with de facto two No. 1 draft picks: defensive back Jalen Ramsey (No. 5 overall), in the discussion over the best single player in this year’s draft, and pass rusher Dante Fowler, the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft but who missed the entire season with a torn ACL suffered the first day of the Jags’ rookie minicamp. And they used their pick in the second round to roll the dice on UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and his knees.

A lot of injury unknowns there, but the Jags’ is a defense that, like the Bears, added young speedballs at all three levels: Fowler, 4.6 40-yd. at 261 pounds; Jack, a rocket before the knee injury; and Ramsey, running 4.41, stunning for a DB 6-1, 205 pounds.

Detroit did what?

The Detroit Lions liked their 2016 draft how much?

After the Matt Millen Era, nothing that the Lions should come as a total surprise. But this?

Bob Quinn, hired as GM in January, fired two scouts. Not unusual. But this was AFTER last weekend’s draft, not after Quinn took over. Contracts expire this time of year, so changes aren’t unusual.