Moon: Draft guide's attack on Newton unfair?

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Moon: Draft guide's attack on Newton unfair?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted: 1:42 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The draft is still a little more than four weeks distant but the ebb and flow around players and teams is never dull.

Cases in point:

The standing of Cam Newton continues to be of interest and will be right up until the Carolina Panthers are on the clock (although no projections Ive seen have Ron Riveras first draft choice as a new head coach being for Newton). Teams are visiting with Newton this week, but Im intrigued by where Pro Football Weekly draft insider Nolan Nawrocki has Newton.

For one thing, Nolan in PFWs 2011 draft guide slots Newton No. 5 among quarterbacks, behind Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ricky Stanzi and Colin Kaepernick. Only Gabbert is generally projected to go before Newton, and Nolan has those two as his only straight first-rounders. Locker is round 1-2 and the other two are 2-3.

But while Nolan has Newton going within the first 15 picks, he criticizes him for marginal field vision despite a very respectable 21 score on the Wonderlic test. And Newton has a track record of being undependable and a fake rah-rah leader. He concludes, In five years dont be surprised if hes looking for another job.

Nasty stuff. And in the draft guide Nolan cites, has a huge ego and personality traits that have doomed similar prospects in recent years.

Ouch. Sounds like suggestions that you can rearrange the letters in Cam Newton and come out with Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell.

Bears taking Carimi?

NFL.com senior draft analyst Pat Kirwan projects the Bears coming out of the first round with Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi at No. 29 and that they will consider themselves fortunate if things fall that way.

Im not so sure.

Carimi provided a chuckle at last months Scouting Combine by unabashedly declaring himself the best tackle in this draft class. BCs Anthony Castonzo and USCs Tyron Smith may beg to differ but Carimi was the Outland Trophy winner last season as the nations best O-lineman.

Carimi is not the issue, however, and the Bears certainly would be well served if they can bring in an offensive lineman capable of starting as a rookie and projecting considerably higher than JMarcus Webb did last season as a newbie.

But the Bears primary need on the line is less on the edges than inside. Webb projects as the starting left tackle, and right now Chris Williams is ticketed for right tackle, where he played creditably in the final third of 2009. Williams was a sub-standard guard last season; Roberto Garza just turned 32 last Saturday; and Garza and Olin Kreutz are veterans of double-digit seasons, if the Bears indeed can and do re-sign Kreutz.

The Bears have made trips to check out Baylor strongman Danny Watkins and Floridas Mike Pouncey. Both can play guard and Pouncey prefers center. Both of them fill a more immediate need than Carimi, with the real question possibly coming down to who is available at No., 29 after a run on offensive linemen.

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.

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Miami QB Brad Kaaya

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Miami QB Brad Kaaya

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

6'4" | 214 lbs.

2016 stats:

3,532 YDS, 62.0 CMP%, 27 TD, 7 INT, 150.3 QBR

Projection:

Third/Fourth round

Scouting Report:

"Groomed to be a quarterback from an early age, Kaaya flashes the mechanics and intelligence of a player who has spent hours in quarterback camps. However, he can be too mechanical and thinks too much rather than just flowing and responding to what the field offers him. Kaaya could have used another year of college, but he has the tools and intangibles to become an NFL starter. While he can work around his average arm strength, he must improve his accuracy and anticipation if he is to make a mark in the NFL." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles