Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Quarterback

Mullin's 2011 draft capsules: Quarterback

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 10:39 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Third in a series

The marquee position in the NFL will be exactly that when the 2011 draft opens. But the Bears do not project as players on the first or even the second day.

The Bears

The Bears used their last two No. 1 picks on quarterbacks, both of them named Jay Cutler. With a contract extension in place, the Bears believe they are as set at this franchise position as the Packers (Aaron Rodgers) and Lions (Matthew Stafford) think they are.

The depth chart consists of Caleb Hanie, a restricted free agent and someone who has not had anything approaching unqualified endorsement from coordinator Mike Martz. The Bears used a late-round pick last year on Dan LeFevour, who wasnt able to play well enough in preseason to win a roster spot outright, and the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed him and pre-empted signing him to the practice squad.

Need: Not a priority in the early rounds but Todd Collins wasnt an answer and the Bears need someone in the pipeline.

The 2011 draft

More than any position in any draft, quarterback is influenced by qualitative as well as any quantitative components of prospects. Leadership is more important at the position than time in the 40-yard dash. Its why one team chooses Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf or perhaps Tim Couch over Donovan McNabb.

That is where the 2011 draft becomes the equal of many for intrigue. Draft analysts project as few as two quarterbacks being selected in the first round or as many as four. Two could go in the top 10.

Its all in what you like in a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers at No.1 overall, the Buffalo Bills at No. 3, any team less than satisfied with its situation at quarterback, all need a quarterback. If you believe theres a franchise QB at No. 3, that need trumps everything else, ESPN analyst Todd McShay said of the Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick is OK but you need a franchise quarterback.

But when they all look at the available talent, will they see Manning? Or Leaf?

Alex Smith, Jamarcus Russell and David Carr were No. 1-overalls in the past 10 years, and quarterbacks went No. 1 overall in 10 of the last 13 drafts. A miss at the top at this spot can be catastrophic.

The Best Bets:

1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri He may be the best of class, and at nearly 6-5, 234 pounds, he possesses arm strength and physical stature. A consensus top-10 pick but a franchise-grade leader?

2. Cam Newton, Auburn As many questions as answers perhaps, with doubts ranging from character to fit in an NFL offense. A one-year star with as much upside as anyone in the draft. Carolina has done major background work.

3. Jake Locker, Washington A fall-off from the first two, according to most observers. Projected to go late in the first round, Locker is another very mobile quarterback who needs the right system and mentor.

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.

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”