Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 11:47 a.m.
By John Mullin
With the two sides idling in the matter of the NFL vs. group-formerly-known-as-the-NFLPA, the draft is still percolating and is now a little more than a month away.
What that means is the mock drafts are starting in earnest. Dont dismiss them entirely, because NFL teams are doing exactly the same thing, many times over. So its worth looking at a handful, and Ill do this from time to time as the draft approaches.
The Pouncey Pounce
Wes Bunting at National Football Post lays out a scenario that the Bears would dearly hope plays out.
Wes, who discussed some intriguing possibilities to watch for the Bears in some later rounds, particularly at wide receiver, projects Florida center-guard Mike Pouncey becoming a Bear at No. 29, with Baylor guard Danny Watkins being selected by New England at No. 28.
The qualifier, if you want to call it that, is that Mike is not as good as his brother Markice was as a rookie starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Wes thought here is that while the Bears would probably like to go tackle first, Pouncey is too good to pass up. A very possible scenario is for the Bears to move JMarcus Webb from right to left tackle and Chris Williams, who was barely adequate at left tackle, from left guard to right tackle, where he was better in 09.
The Bears are prepared to move forward without Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza could move back from right guard to his original NFL position. But Garza has years on him and Edwin Williams could not hold the starting job at right guard when he had his 010 chance. If Pouncey is there, hes a Bear.
The Sherrod Scenario
Sports Illustrateds Don Banks on SI.com has Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod. Don also has two quarterbacks going in the first three picks, with Blaine Gabbert to Ron Rivera and Cam Newton headed to Buffalo at No. 3 (wonder how Cams father feels about that).
Part of Dons thinking is that Sherrod would be the best tackle remaining, which the Bears would not mind in the least. In DonsWorld, Mike Pouncey goes one pick ahead of the Bears at No. 28 to New England. The problem I see with that is that if the Florida center-guard lasts that long, the Bears would have vaulted a team or three and gone up to grab the guy that line coach Mike Tice loves and would project as the franchise center in the post-Olin era.
Same with Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, another Bears favorite. Don has the Eagles taking Carimi, the self-proclaimed best OT in the draft, and if Carimi were lasting that long, which could well happen, would the Bears wait and hope, or trade up? Because trading up is a far greater possibility with personnel man Tim Ruskell alongside GM Jerry Angelo. Colorado tackle Nate Solder was gone at No. 22 (Indianapolis) and Anthony Castonzo from Boston College went at No. 19 to the New York Giants.
Behold the Run
What I do like particularly about Dons assessment is the run on tackles, which I see as absolutely the scenario. Tackles are at a premium anyway, and Angelo believes they go anywhere from one to two rounds above their grade simply because offensive linemen are difficult to find in sufficient quantities.
Mel Kiper said a week ago that teams like the Bears will be unlikely to find a premium OL product late in the second round. They and other teams know this, so when the first one or two go, the rush will be on to take one from a small but high-quality assortment.
The Cane Mutiny
The Bears definitely will go offensive line, according to the scenario of Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki, and they will come out of day one with Miami tackle Orlando Franklin, Nolan projects.
This is one of the first times Franklins name has come up at this level of the first round and Nolan has Franklin going to the Bears even with Sherrod on the board. But as much as Angelo likes Florida players, he is every bit as sold on Miami products, given the success of Devin Hester and Greg Olsen on the current roster.
Nolans projections include Carimi No. 13 to the Lions; Tyron Smith No. 20 to Tampa Bay; Pouncey No. 21 to Kansas City; Castonzo at No. 22 to the Colts; Solder No. 24 to the Saints. Theres that run thing again.
Just worth noting.
Some things to remember through all of this and the draft-info blizzard coming over the next month:
One is that there isnt much real NFL news happening right now. A break could come before the anticipated Apr. 6 court date regarding decertification and the lockout matters. But the draft, always an interesting, absorbing diversion in the lull before NBA and NHL playoffs and semi-meaningful baseball, is the best game in town right now.
The other is that this is seriously difficult forecasting. Not just the Bears pick at No. 29, which is in the cluster range where your best bet is a pool of 3-5 players who should be on the board then. Its also a dicey year at the top:
Wes sees Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley going No. 1 overall to Carolina. Dons call is Blaine Gabbert. And Nolan has the Panthers selecting Alabama defensive tackle Marcel Dareus.
There. Glad we cleared all that up.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.