Protecting your QB vs. getting to opponent's QB

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Protecting your QB vs. getting to opponent's QB

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 10:29 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A couple of Bears draft folk will have some things to say later this week but there is still no shortage of information flowing with the draft barely a week away.

Peter King at Sports Illustrated is among the growing chorus of voices that say Cam Newton will go No. 1 overall to Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers. After a bit of a run on offensive linemen, and with defensive tackles like Marvin Austin out of North Carolina off the board by No. 29, Peter runs a little against the grain with a return to the offensive line in the form of Mississippi States Derek Sherrod.

Makes sense, from the standpoint of protecting Jay Cutler, and the underlying question through all of this, for the Bears, is whether its more important to protect your quarterback or to get to the other guys. Both matter, obviously, but look at it this way:

On a mythical scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the Steel Curtain for a defensive line and maybe the Super Bowl XX Bears O-line, is the Bears 2011 offensive or defensive line closer to the elite level youd ideally want?

Reaching out

ESPNs Mel Kiper voiced a sentiment that GM Jerry Angelo has expressed, that you have to draft offensive linemen sometimes higher perhaps than their pure grade on your draft board.

Theres a reason to move guys up because you have to, Mel said, with an expectation that all of the commonly acknowledged top talents will be gone in the 20s, which isnt promising for the Bears sitting at No. 29.

I think youre going to get offensive linemen drafted higher because of the position.

Finding tackles is usually the assumed goal when the draft subject is offensive line but it could well be argued that the Bears have more needs inside than outside on the line. With JMarcus Webb and (the Bears hope) Chris Williams, the Bears may have enough at tackle.

But the years on right guard Roberto Garza and center Olin Kreutz (assuming he re-signs as a free agent) and the clear void at left guard make the interior a bigger need area, at least in the opinion of View from the Moon. And guards aren't as pricey (6-7 million a year) as tackles anymore.

Mels take on the 2011 class, which has seen far more attention played to tackle, is that there are 10 potential centers for the NFL in this draft, he said, and not all of them are centers now. Given the age of Kreutz (34) the Bears need to find one of them sooner rather than later.

Cutting corners

CBSSportsline.coms Clark Judge has the Bears skipping either line and going with Aaron Williams, a 6-foot cornerback out of Texas and a clear fit for the Bears. Mel in fact cited the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 23), the Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31) as three teams with DB needs that would be well served by grabbing Williams, who also has the potential to be a safety.

I think initially hell be a corner and hell be drafted as a corner, Mel said. If you can get him at No. 29... that would be a good spot for an Aaron Williams."

Catching on

The Bears had intended to add to their receiver group this offseason before the labor impasse shut off free agency. But the draft will have talent below the first round, which is off-limits for taking a wideout anyway for Jerry Angelo.

Mel likes Kentuckys Randall Cobb as a wild-card, and Cobb was IDd by Wes Bunting of National Football Post as a potentially very good pick with little downside. The other notables will be Miamis Leonard Hankerson, a favorite of Matt Bowen over at National Football Post as well, and Titus Young out of Boise State. Both Hankerson run sub 4.5 in the 40, although Young is a bit undersized at 174 pounds.

A few heads might shake on draft day but a late-round nugget may be Edmund Gates, another speed guy who is 25 but someone on Kiper radar. The chuckle here is that Gates is from Abilene Christian, which sent the Bears Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning.

Heres where the switch from Greg Gabriel as college scouting director to Tim Ruskell as director of all player personnel. Gabriel clearly liked the small-college Texas kids (more than just Texas ones, actually) and it remains to be seen how Ruskell leans on the projects from smaller programs.

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.

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.

Bears’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

Bears’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

No doubt, there are doubts about the makeup of this 2017 Bears wide receiver corps. But as the departed Alshon Jeffery created doubts, health-wise, the past two years about whether he could stay on the field to prove himself worthy of a big payday (which he didn’t even get from the Eagles), Ryan Pace brought in a handful of replacements who’ve flashed in this league before. But recent history’s shown each of them has something to prove as well.

From Rueben Randle to fellow former Giant Victor Cruz. From former first rounders Kendall Wright to Kevin White, taking a third swing at making it though an entire NFL season.

Then there’s Markus Wheaton, the only free agent signee at the position this season to receive a two-year deal ($11 million total, with $6 million guaranteed). Like the rest of the group, though, he’s at a career crossroads. Following seasons with 53 and 44 catches in Pittsburgh in 2014 and 2015 (with a 17-yard average in the latter), the quick-twitch former Steeler was limited to three games a year ago before eventually undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in January.

“Everyone’s new, so we don’t know what it’s gonna be,” he said of the group at the team’s recent minicamp in Lake Forest. “In Pittsburgh you kind of have a clue `cause they’ve done it for so long. Everybody’s new, everybody’s trying to find their niche, so we’ll see how it goes. Anything’s possible. We’ve got a lot of guys who are looking for opportunity. A lot of guys that are hungry and have something to prove. Anything’s possible. Anyone can come out on top. The ultimate goal is to win games and I’m sure the coaches will put us in position to do that.”

The former third-round pick out of Oregon State (where he’s the Beavers’ all-time career leader in receptions, one ahead of Brandin Cooks) played all three receiver positions in Pittsburgh at various times, and while he seems most natural in the slot, is working to make himself as versatile as possible here. But that comes with some risk as a quarterback room that’s also gone through its share of turnover tries to get on the same page with all the targets. But Wheaton is more than confident the results will come from within this group.

“I think we definitely are underrated," Wheaton said. "We’ve come in and worked to get to where we wanna be. We will get there, and it’ll show up on the field.”

The incumbents in the room include Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman, Cam Meredith, and, of course, White. Wheaton can see the potential in the ex-seventh overall draft pick.

“I couldn’t imagine all the stuff he’s been through, all the pressure that’s been put on him," Wheaton said. "But he’s a down-to-earth guy who works extremely hard, so I think he’s gonna get his. He’s a big-time playmaker, so I’m excited to see him play.

“They welcomed me with open arms. Everybody’s down to earth, been easy to talk to so when I have questions, I’ve been getting answers, so it’s been real easy for me.”

That surgically-repaired shoulder was cleared for full participation just in time for minicamp two weeks ago. And Wheaton won’t allow himself to become hesitant physically as he aims to conquer what hesitation he could have within the offense, working with quarterbacks not named Ben Roethlisberger.

“I really don’t think there’s time for that. When you’re ready to go, you just go,” Wheaton told us. “You come in, you work, you rehab. And for me personally I had to rehab a lot to get back to where I wanted to be. There’s a level I want to be at. I’ve been just working to get there, so there’s no time for that.”

That last statement comes even if some observers hesitate to call Wheaton and these wideouts “underrated.” They’ll start attempting to prove that when the Bears report to Bourbonnais exactly one month from Monday.