Chicago Bears

View from the Moon: Day 2 draft blogging

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View from the Moon: Day 2 draft blogging

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 5:34 p.m. Updated: 6:21 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
North drafting

The drafts second day brought some skill players into the NFC North as Minnesota took the drafts first Notre Dame player, tight end Kyle Rudolph. Coach Leslie Frazier and personnel head Rick Spielman are not wasting a lot of time getting beyond Brett Favre.

The Detroit Lions took a bit of a gamble in Boise State wide receiver Titus Young, a lightweight (174 pounds) burner who caught 150 passes in his combined junior-senior seasons after being suspended as a sophomore.

Interestingly perhaps, the Lions supplemented two of their absolute strengths with their first two picks. Young will be opposite Megatron (Calvin Johnson). On the defensive line, Nick Fairley was drafted to play inside on a line that already has Ndamumkong Suh.

The Lions won their last four games of 2010 to finish 6-10. They will not be 6-10 in 2011.
Never mind
The 8th Court of Appeals granted the owners their block of the players block of the owners block of the players going back to work.

And from a press room wag with a sense of Hollywood Squares history: All they need now is Wally Cox to block. Or maybe Paul Lynd or Ruth Buzzi.

Tice take

Coach Lovie Smith kept a veil over plans for Gabe Carimi but offensive line coach Mike Tice pulled it back a little on Friday, stating that he sees the Wisconsin rookie tackle as an outside player, meaning tackle, not guard.

Tice said he and the Bears were surprised that Carimi was available when their turn approached at No. 29. Carimi was rated fourth among their line prospects, which confirmed what Jerry Angelo said after Thursdays first round, that the number of quarterbacks taken in the first round (four) helped push Carimi down.

And yes, size does matter. Its nice to have a guy in the building as big as I am, said Tice, himself 6-8.

Thinking DT

Back at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, draft guru Wes Bunting of National Football Post told me that LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis was a player to watch when the Bears turn came in the draft, particularly the second round.

Wes was among the first to point out that Nevis fits the scenario that Jerry Angelo, Tim Ruskell and others have cited working in the Bears favor. The proliferation of 3-4 defensive schemes have sent teams scurrying for jumbo defensive linemen and more linebackers.

The Bears and Lovie SmithRod Marinelli dont mind bulk but they treasure speed. So where a 3-4 scheme may pass over a D-lineman smaller than 310 pounds, the Bears did quite nicely with a healthy Tommie Harris at 290 pounds and Julius Peppers at 283.

So when Nevis weighed in at 294 at the Combine, he may have dropped off some draft boards but gone up on the one in Chicago.

I'm comfortable at any weight that I'm asked to play at, Nevis said. But that's what I got down to for the Combine

And just as the level of competition in the 2010 Big Ten was a plus for Gabe Carimi, Nevis career against offenses of the SEC prepared him well by the competition and the athletes you go against, Nevis said. They are big, strong, fast as well as smart.

And there was something at stake every Saturday. Every Saturday was like playing for a national championship game.

Something else to like about Nevis: Like Carimi, he was a four-year man at LSU, although not a starter until his senior season. He had just 10 sacks for his career, 4 as a junior and 6 as a senior. He is not a run-stuffer but more an undersized disruptor who is a shade under 6 feet but had nearly 30 tackles for loss in his final three LSU seasons.

Someone to watch as Saturday evening plays out

Happy kid
Fans will be following the NFL career of Gabe Carimi soon enough. In the meantime they can follow the rest of him on Twitter, @GabeCarimi, where this afternoon the rook tweeted, on the toad to chi town! so stoked to be a bear!

Carimis coach at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema, dropped by the NFL Networks draft desk and explained why the Badgers have a nice tradition of players with good size: Were in Wisconsin. You go to the grocery store, youre going to see big people.

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.

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright saw two years ago what the transition for a quarterback, picked second overall and coming from a college spread offense, can look like. Marcus Mariota made that move smoothly and now looks poised to join the ranks of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year with the Tennessee Titans. 

Can Mitch Trubisky make a similarly successful transition? Wright, so far, has liked what he’s seen.

“His overall progression from OTAs to training camp to now, his overall everything he’s done in every area has gotten better,” Wright said. “The work he puts in, it helps him.” 

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course, given the offense Mariota so effectively operated at Oregon didn't resemble the look and feel of the one Trubisky ran at North Carolina. Mariota started far more games than Trubisky, too. They’re two different quarterbacks with different skillsets. And Mariota was given the opportunity to be a Week 1 starter from the moment he was drafted, while Trubisky — for now — remains behind Mike Glennon. 

“Marcus was in a different position where he came in and he was the quarterback,” Wright said. “I think it’s different. Once Mitch starts playing, whenever he starts playing, he’ll start progressing a lot more because he’ll actually be out there in game-like situations.”

But consider why the Titans were so confident Mariota could start immediately and make a successful transition to the NFL from that flashy Oregon offense:

“I don’t think the system he had in Oregon, I don’t think that held him back when he came into the league,” Wright said. “I think he was good at making his progressions, decisive. He’s like one of those players, it doesn’t matter what system he’s in, you put him out there and he’s a guy that’s a difference-maker.”

After espousing Trubisky’s accuracy back in April, Bears general manager Ryan Pace quickly pointed out this trait: “His ability to process and see the whole field jumps out right away. 

“… All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defenses, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket – things are collapsing – those guys all have those traits. And Mitch has those traits, Drew (Brees) has those traits and those are things we value.”

The point being: No matter the system, both Mariota and Trubisky have good football intelligence, and are more than what Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians once bemoaned about college spread quarterbacks. 

“They hold up a card on the sideline and he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said in 2015. “That ain’t playing quarterback.”

Trubisky, of course, still has to improve with his pre-snaps reads, calling out protections, identifying coverages, learning the playbook, etc. But he seems to have the football intelligence to make those strides and marry them with his impressive physical skillset. 

And as was the case with Mariota, Wright doesn’t see a reason why Trubisky can’t succeed in the NFL. 

“(Trubisky) can do it all too,” Wright said. “He’s still learning, he’s still getting better, he’s never complacent. He has the ability to get better and he’s willing to get better. He’s a young guy that listens. He’s just a baller. You put him out there and he makes plays.” 

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

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USA Today Sports Images

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

Sunday will mark Kendall Wright’s first trip back to Nashville since he not-so-amicably split with the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 season. 

Wright has said he doesn’t want to talk about his time in Tennessee, where injuries and clashes with coaches led to a steady decline in targets and production after a standout 2013 season (139 targets, 94 receptions, 1,079 yards). But it’s easy to compare how he feels practicing with the Bears to how he felt toward the end of his days with the Titans. 

“A fresh start is good,” Wright said. “Football is fun again. 

“If you don’t have fun playing the game, what the use of you playing? And I didn’t really have too much fun the past few years. But when you’re out here playing and doing what you love to do, it’s fun. So you just gotta keep the game fun.”

Wright was a little more forceful earlier this year. 

“What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing, like, 10 plays a game,” Wright said during OTAs in June. 

But while this weekend’s game against the Titans could seem to be an opportunity for revenge, Wright is more approaching it for what it is — another preseason game to continue to improve with the rest of the first team offense. 

Wright caught a touchdown from  Glennon Saturday night in Arizona (he also was the target on Glennon’s interception, though that looked to be more on the quarterback than the receiver). And he seems to be clearly ahead of Victor Cruz to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver — Cruz wasn’t targeted against Arizona, while Wright received three targets. 

If the Glennon-led first-team offense is going to have success in the regular season, it needs improvements from every unit — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line — based on what we’ve seen during the preseason. Perhaps a motivated, fun-having Wright, playing for the same offensive coordinator under which he had his best season, can be a part of that. 

“The game of football is supposed to be fun,” Wright said. “Don’t take the fun out of it. You just gotta go out there and have fun and make plays. When you’re making plays, it’s even more fun.”