Mullin: Don't dismiss NFL mock drafts

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Mullin: Don't dismiss NFL mock drafts

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 11:47 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

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.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.