Footprints lead away from Bears drafting OL at No. 19

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Footprints lead away from Bears drafting OL at No. 19

Sifting through miscellany looking for Bears draft indicators.

One recent mock draft had the Bears selecting Stanford guard David DeCastro when their turn comes at No. 19 on Apr. 26. Thats certainly a possibility; anything is a possibility.

But in the 75 or so drafts since they selected Hall of Fame-to-be tackle Joe Stydahar in 1936, the Bears have drafted a guard in exactly one first round. One. Roger Davis in 1960, No. 7 overall during a stretch when they had the No. 7 pick in four of five years.

More to the Emery point, in the 14 drafts in which he has been a player (Bears 1998-2004, Falcons 2005-2009, Chiefs 2010-2011), his team has selected an offensive lineman in only two first rounds: Marc Colombo by the Bears in 2002, Sam Baker by Atlanta in 2008. Both choices were tackles.

More to the Bears point in general, the issue isnt what any consensus says the Bears need; its what they believe they need. Emery and Lovie Smith have made positive comments about the offensive line and the fact that it gets two scholarship players back from injury in 2012 (former No. 1s Gabe Carimi, Chris Williams).

The Bears rushed for 2,015 yards last season despite losing their quarterback in week 10 and their franchise running back in week 12 (after which both Marion Barber and Kalil Bell still each had 100-yard games).

After Smith and Mike Tice tilted the offensive game planning back toward balanced following week three, the Bears had one game in the next seven (Cutler games) in which they allowed more than 2 sacks.

In the six games with quarterbacks other than Cutler, the Bears were assaulted for 4 sacks three times and 7 sacks twice.

Put another way: Maybe JMarcus Webb wasnt quite the core problem hes depicted as. And Chris Williams is entering a contract year, so motivation wont be a problem there.

The Bears likely will address the offensive line with some help by round four or five, possibly earlier. Possibly. Not likely, however.

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

MIAMI – This isn’t a Tommy La Stella situation. The Cubs purposely told Kyle Schwarber to take a few days off to decompress before reporting to Triple-A Iowa. The reboot will begin Monday in Des Moines.

“We’re doing it to hopefully reset him, get him back up with a fresh start,” manager Joe Maddon said. “As you would expect, he was very professional about it, understood it entirely.

“There’s no actual timetable. I don’t anticipate it to be long. But we’ll see how it plays out, give him a little bit of room to get things right and then move it forward from there.”

The Cubs broke the news to Schwarber after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, where the entire lineup went 1-for-27 outside of rookie Ian Happ’s two-run homer. It left Schwarber hitting .171 with a .673 OPS, not enough to justify his 12 home runs and suspect outfield defense. The Iowa Cubs are in the middle of a four-game series this weekend in Round Rock, Texas.

The Cubs hope Schwarber can regain his confidence and almost become a trade-deadline addition, reenergizing the team the way he did in 2015, when he blasted 16 homers in 69 games and five more in the playoffs.

Under entirely different circumstances in 2012, future All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo used 70 games with Iowa to rework his swing and make adjustments after bombing his audition with the Padres.

“He’s going to go down and be able to exhale a little bit,” Rizzo said. “Hopefully, he can smooth things out. We’re all confident he will. Just do the best down there to get back up here and to be the Kyle Schwarber that we all know and love.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”