WR and OL should concern the Bears, not CBA

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WR and OL should concern the Bears, not CBA

Thursday, March 3, 2011Posted: 10:40 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The sound you hear is the tick-tick-tick of the NFL clock moving inexorably toward the deadline Thursday at which the agreement between the NFL and its players officially becomes un-agreed, although the exact implications of that remain to play out over the coming weeks and possibly even months.

The situation is unsettled as to whether there in fact will be a prolonged lockout just because the issue of NFLPA decertification was unresolved as to whether that will ultimately enjoin the owners from stopping players at the gate. Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal at ProFootballTalk.com are among those riding herd on all of this.

The intricacies of the issues and negotiations arent really the point of interest with respect to the Bears. The business of business will work out at some point; the pie is too big, the two sides are too smart, and the question is more of where they find the agreement, not if.

A lot of attention has been paid to teams with new head coaches (CarolinaRon Rivera, San Francisco Jim Harbaugh, OaklandHue Jackson, etc.) and how hard a prolonged lockout would be on those teams' programs with new systems. But the Bears are quite likely to have a wholesale shifting around on the offensive line, a significant weak spot much of 2010.

The Bears may be a vet team with a coach (Lovie Smith) set in place and mutually comfortable with his players. But if the Bears' OL spends another half-season in development, they could find themselves looking at Green Bay disappearing out ahead of them - and Jay Cutler could have taken another pounding like he did in 2010 that got him a concussion and knee injury.

A pressing issues for them are the OL and can they win without a significant upgrade to that group, especially if they do not bring Olin Kreutz back at center. Kreutz is a co-captain and the glue of a still-forming group. If they get a top guy in the draft, great, but immediate impact is tough from that area under any circumstances, and trying to bring that unit together without the benefit of an offseason is problematic.

Same for wide receiver. The Bears want to add one, a good one. A veteran one would be nice but if that certain someone (Plaxico Burress, Braylon Edwards, Roy Williams, you pick one) doesnt begin working with the Mike Martz system and Cutler until just before the season, the value added is potentially lessened.

The next time Martz says something publicly wasnt good about last seasons player performances may be the first. But when you finish 30th in yardage per game and 32nd in sacks per pass play, Im not sure there are a whole lot of praise-worthy positives in the bigger picture. The offense was part of an 11-5 season and NFC Championship appearance, but so was a defense No. 4 in points allowed.

The news out of the negotiations continues to be sparse. I still take that as a good thing, for various reasons. If tempers were flaring, someone would vent. No one has. If there were nothing whatsoever to hope for, someone would say so.

None of that has happened. Yet. That, however minor at this point, is a good thing for the 2011 Bears.

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.

Ryan Pace focusing on 'best player available,' at No. 3: Could that be Deshaun Watson?

Ryan Pace focusing on 'best player available,' at No. 3: Could that be Deshaun Watson?

Last month, Ryan Pace described his day-before-the-draft press conference as being one of the “hardest” he does all year.

With only a little over 24 hours until the Bears go on the clock with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, the third-year Bears general manager wasn’t tipping his hand while answering the media’s questions on Wednesday.

One of Pace’s overarching points, though, was that the Bears have to focus on taking the best player available at No. 3 Thursday night. Pace said the Bears have three players targeted for that spot, and what the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers do ahead of them won’t impact their decision.

What also won’t impact the Bears’ decision is the need to draft a quarterback.

“I think you get yourself into trouble if you’re not sticking with our philosophy of best player available,” Pace said. “When you start trying to manufacture things or create things, that’s when teams get into dangerous water. I think if we just stay with guys we have a consensus on and best player available we’ll be in good shape.”

Plenty of draft observers — ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Rotoworld’s Josh Norris, NFL Network’s Mike Manock, CBS Sports’ Rob Rang — don’t have a quarterback in the top three of their respective “big boards,” which are headlined by the likes of Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and/or Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, among a few others.

But what if the Bears’ consensus is that a quarterback is a top-three player?

Over the last few months, Pace has consistently touted intangibles as being of prominent importance when evaluating a quarterback. At the combine in Indianapolis, he pointed to Drew Brees taking Purdue — a perennial Big Ten bottom-feeder — to a Rose Bowl. Pace, of course, knows Brees’ NFL success well having watched him in New Orleans before becoming the Bears’ general manager. 

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There’s one quarterback in this year’s draft class that could have those intangibles to be considered at No. 3: Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. 

Before Watson took over as a full-time starter in 2015, Clemson established itself as a perennial Orange Bowl contender that’d win 10 or 11 games a year. But Watson took Clemson to a different level, going 28-2 and reaching the College Football Playoff title game in 2015 (a loss to Alabama) and 2016 (a win over Alabama). 

“It's big with every position, the intangibles,” Pace said. ‘That's what I continue to stress to our guys right now, because you can get enamored with these physical qualities or these traits. There's enough good players where we don't need to change our standards.

“I really like our locker room right now. I really like the vibe right now in that locker room with the guys that we have here, it feels good, and I want to continue to add to that vibe and add to that excitement. It's up to me to impress that to our scouts and to our coaches that, hey, we've got to make sure we're adding the right kinds of guys, the right kinds of intangibles to our room.”

If Watson isn’t among the team’s consensus top three, he could fit into one of the “clouds” Pace talked about if the Bears trade down into the middle or later part of the first round. But trading down (or back into the first round) carries risk if the Bears believe Watson could be a franchise-changing quarterback. The No. 3 pick is the highest the Bears have had since the early 1970s, and it’s a position the team hardly wants to be in again.

Pace, of course, wasn’t going to reveal much the day before he and the Bears make a critically-important selection. The Bears know who they want, and Thursday night, so will everyone else.

“There’s been so much that’s come into this since August, so you’ve just trust what your eyes see and don’t over-think it,” Pace said. “Trust your conviction and trust your instincts and trust your gut.

“You can get into trouble right now if you’re up there watching additional tape and doing all that; I think you can over-scout players. By now we’ve got enough opinions. We’ve met with enough players. We’ve been through the Combine and been through the Pro Days and seen players play live. At this point we feel good. I don’t think we’re in a situation where we’re overthinking anything.”

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

6'3" | 216 lbs.

2016 stats:

2,946 YDS, 63.0 CMP%, 27 TD, 12 INT, 150.6 QBR | 150 CAR, 831 YDS, 12 TD

Projection:

Fourth-to-fifth round

Scouting Report:

"Dobbs is hardly incompetent as a passer, but he hasn't shown as much growth with his ball placement and accuracy as scouts had hoped to see from this former four-star prospect. Dobbs has decent size and is an outstanding runner outside the pocket which could appeal to a team looking for a developmental quarterback with play-making ability." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles