Mullin: A change in draft philosophy?

452103.jpg

Mullin: A change in draft philosophy?

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted: 10:01 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Offensive line is one of the four positions being targeted by the Bears in the 2011 draft, and their current offensive line is anything but settled.

But a clear sense of direction is apparent. It has been taking shape over the past couple of seasons. And it will be the driving factor behind the name the Bears choose, presumably in the first or second round, next weekend.

We want to go bigger for that because weve got bigger people in our division that were playing against, Pro Bowl type players, said general manager Jerry Angelo. In fact theres three, referring without naming them to defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh in Detroit, Kevin Williams in Minnesota and B.J. Raji, a Pro Bowl alternate for Green Bay.

So that is something were mindful of. So were not really looking at that guardcenter type of player. Its not that we would pass up a player that we felt was a really good player. Were not going to miss the forest for the trees. Were still going to evaluate the quality of the player. But if everything is even, bigger is the way we would go.

What that means is that there will be no Josh Beekman drafted this years by the Bears. Nor an Olin Kreutz for that matter, were he in the draft pool.

Angelo said as many as seven tackles could come off the board in the first round. But if one comes to Chicago, it may not necessarily be a tackle.

The last couple of years with, obviously a lot of talking with our coaches, weve kind of shifted in that we want bigger people, Angelo said. So were looking for tackles that can play guards rather than guards who can play center.

So theres a little bit of a shift in our thinking that way philosophically. I know coach Mike Tice, coach Mike Martz want bigger people. Staffs weve had before, they werent as committed to that thinking. But theres a little bit more of a shift. So when we look at offensive linemen, wed like to think that the tackleguards can be interchangeable.

That has implications for a number of draft possibles.

Consensus opinions have Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo and Gabe Carimi gone before the Bears pick at No. 29. Mike Pouncey was that centerguard player at Florida, is listed in the 305-310-pound range and is not considered a tackle in most evaluations.

Angelo was complimentary of Mississippi States Derek Sherrod, a character player at 6-5, 321, and who has played guard and tackle. Colorado tackle Nate Solder is not expected to be available at No. 29 but is rated a tackle talent who projects as a starter for the Bears and would send Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale inside competing for a guard job.
Thinking wide

One offseason objective for the Bears was to add to a receiver corps that the organization considers solid and has proved to be such but could use someone taller than 6 feet now that Devin Aromashodu is out. That addition could still be made in the form of Braylon Edwards or Roy Williams once a free-agency signing period arrives but it is not a priority in the draft.

Yeah, were looking at the position. Wed like to get the big receiver like everybody, Angelo said. So much has been made about the No. 1 receiver. But its hard to find a No. 1 receiver.

Weve looked at the position hard this year. I dont anticipate that we, collectively as a group, see anybody thats going to fit that definition. But we do like the drafts receiver group given how they complement what we have. We looked at it in depth. Its not a great group, but there are some players there that we like that we feel can come in and help us...

I just dont want to overrate the position. We certainly like our receiver corps. We certainly want to build on it. But thats not the end-all.

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.

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

So Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie season, despite just a dozen carries in the first three games. The fifth-round pick joined the man who beat him out for the rushing title, Ezekiel Elliott, as one of just five rookies in history to average five or more yards per carry on over 250 carries. And he set the Bears' rookie rushing record with his 1,313 yards while becoming just the fourth in franchise history to rush for that many yards in a season.

Sounds pretty hard to top, like we might be set up for the dreaded sophomore slump.

But...

"Things are a lot different this year because I know what to expect," Howard said during the team's minicamp two weeks ago. "I know all the plays and things like that. I’m not out there thinking, so I can just play free and fast.

"I definitely feel like a veteran 'cause I know what to expect and can help the young guys on the plays that they're not understanding. I’m just more comfortable and want to be a leader."

One of the other things we learned about Howard last year is he's low-key, a man of few words. So the Indiana product by way of UAB will make his points verbally when needed, but his actions will speak louder.

"He was a rookie a year ago and didn't even go in trying to be a leader, telling a five-year guy what was up," said head coach John Fox. "I think with time, and obviously with production like he had, I think it's a role he can fall in to. We're in a performance-based business and even in that locker room, what they do on Sundays gives them some credibility."

One of the concerns about Howard coming out of college was durability, but he answered the bell once he became the starter in week four against Detroit. And he probably wasn't used nearly as much as he should have. The good news about that is he was subject to less wear and tear, averaging just 18 carries per game from that Lions game on.

But besides taking more of a leadership role, Howard wanted to work on his speed without sacrificing the strong base that, paired with keen vision and work by the offensive line, allowed him to hit holes quickly and charge toward the second level of opposing defenses.

"Just improving on the little things – my conditioning, my weight, catching passes. And looking for ways to finish runs better," says Howard. "I feel like I’m in much better shape than I was at this time last year, a little more toned-up."

"It's just training," said Fox. "When you get to that it's more like track speed than football speed and I think he proved pretty worthy of that a year ago as a rookie. Y'know we all can improve on things, and that's the expectation. He's trained hard.

"This time of year last year he wasn’t even practicing," Fox remembered. "I like where we are, we’ve brought in more competition, and he’s better for it. He’s kind of gotten used to an NFL season, he’s come back ready to roll, but he still has work to do before we get to training camp."  

Oh, and the 22-year-old has a couple of other goals he didn't mind sharing, besides being a leader and getting a little faster.

"First off, make the playoffs. Be the leading rusher, and just help the team in any way I can and stay consistent."

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.