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Chicago Bears April Scouting Report
2022 Bears Draft Preview
The 2022 NFL Draft starts on April 28th, but the Bears likely will not be picking until the next day. They go into this draft with two second-rounders (#39 and #48 overall), a third-rounder (#71 overall), two fifth-rounders (#148 and #150), and a sixth-rounder (#186). With so many needs, I think thereâ€™s a good chance that new GM Ryan Poles will trade down with at least one of his second-rounders.
Quarterback (need: very low)
With QB Justin Fields starting and QB Trevor Siemian backing him up, the only way the Bears add a quarterback would be as a late-round flyer or an undrafted free agent.
Runningback (need: low)
With starter RB David Montgomery and RB Khalil Herbert in place, there appears to be little need here. But new HC Matt Eberflus talked late last month about the need for "different pace runners" and said that the team might "add some other pieces in there, potentially." Neither Montgomery nor Herbert are burners, and with RB Tarik Cohen gone, the team might want a faster/quicker tailback to add to the mix. Maybe the Bears already did that when they signed RB Darrynton Evans off waivers, or maybe the team might take a flyer on a speedster in the middle-late rounds.
Wide receiver (need: high as Snoop Dogg)
Since this is the Bearsâ€™ biggest (and most fantasy-relevant) need, this is where the main focus of my report will be. To put it mildly, Fields needs more dynamic playmakers if heâ€™s going to take a big step forward in year two. It would be lovely to reunite Fields with one of his Ohio State buddies like WR Chris Olave or WR Garrett Wilson, but both of them are virtually guaranteed first-rounders. If Ryan Pace was still the GM, the chances of a trade up would be higher, but I highly doubt that Poles would trade up with so few picks. I will mainly focus on the receivers that will likely be available when the Bearsâ€™ Day 2 picks are on the clock, as well as guys who may unexpectedly fall into Day 2. By the way, last week, the team signed veteran WR David Moore to a one-year contract. He had 13 TDs in three seasons with the Seahawks, which isnâ€™t half-bad. Also, WR Byron Pringle was arrested last Saturday for reckless driving after being found doing donuts. I think he should stick to Krispy Kremes instead.
Letâ€™s start with Arkansas WR Treylon Burks. Burks was thought to be a surefire first-rounder going into the Combine, but he had some disappointing testing numbers there. A 4.55 40 isnâ€™t bad for someone his size (6-2 225), but his 33-inch vertical was somewhat disappointing, and his 7.28 three-cone time was very disappointing. Heâ€™s drawn comparisons to A.J. Brown and Anquan Boldin, and Boldin was one of the few receivers to put up similar testing numbers and still have a successful NFL career. The numbers are off-putting, but look at the tape and you see a big, physical receiver with great hands who can play outside or inside and can even be a factor out of the backfield (which is why heâ€™s also drawn comparisons to Deebo Samuel). He needs some work on his route running, but if he falls to the Bears at #39, he could be the big "X" receiver that this team needs.
Another wideout many Bears fans want the team to select is North Dakota State WR Christian Watson. Watson put up a blazing 4.36 40 at the Combine at 6-4 208, giving him a height/weight/speed combo that would look amazing opposite WR Darnell Mooney (but could also result in him being selected late in the first round). The level of competition he played against in college is an obvious question mark, and heâ€™s had some problems with drops. But Watson is highly competitive and can run by anyone once he gets up to speed, making him an immediate deep threat and a potential future star with some refinement.
Now letâ€™s have a look at another favorite of Bears fans, Georgia WR George Pickens. At 6-3 195, heâ€™s another big and fast target (4.47 40) who could be a nice "X" receiver for the Bears. Pickens has great (though small) hands and ball skills, and he plays with an edge. Some say that he struggled in contested catch situations, but I saw many plays where he was able to leap and snare passes with his great catch radius. He tore his ACL in March of 2021 but managed to return in time for Georgiaâ€™s final few games and made a huge catch in the CFP National Championship Game. There may be some red flags though. In an article by Bruce Feldman from The Athletic yesterday, multiple NFL scouts and receiver coaches said that Pickens has great upside but needs to grow up.
Cincy WR Alec Pierce is another intriguing height/weight/speed prospect who ran a 4.41 40 at the Combine at 6-3 211. His 40.5-inch vertical helps him high-point balls and box out defenders in contested catch situations, making him a nice target over the middle and in the red zone. However, he isnâ€™t particularly quick and doesnâ€™t have great run-after-catch ability. Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore has average size and athleticism at 5-10 195 with a 4.41 40. Heâ€™s got great instincts and was very productive in college but projects as a slot receiver. Alabama WR John Metchie (5-11 187) has nice YAC ability and is a more polished route runner than most receivers projected to go on Day 2, but he is coming off a torn ACL in the SEC Championship Game, he lacks physicality in contested catch situations, and he can be more of a body catcher than a hands catcher at times. He also projects as a slot receiver.
South Alabama WR Jalen Tolbert (6-1 194, 4.49 40) has good size and speed and like Metchie has better route-running ability than most Day 2 prospects. He does have drop issues at times and can improve in contested catch situations. Kentucky WR Wanâ€™Dale Robinson (5-8 178, 4.44 40) is an undersized but fun slot prospect who has tailback skills after the catch and can be a gadget guy. Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton ran a ridiculous 4.28 40 at 6-2 181. He lacks physicality and is mainly a vertical threat, but what a vertical threat he is. Purdue WR David Bell (6-1 212, 4.65 40) was very productive in college but lacks speed and dynamism and projects as a possession receiver.
My thoughts on this group overall? Because of the rising cost of receivers, they may go higher than expected in some cases. Burks isnâ€™t likely to fall to the Bears, but Iâ€™d take him if he did. Penn State WR Jahan Dotson (5-11 178, 4.43 40) is a very smooth route runner with great ball skills but lacks physicality and likely will be a first-rounder. Watson might be a bit of a project, but hey, the Bears arenâ€™t winning the Super Bowl this year anyway, so heâ€™d have time to develop. He might have the highest upside of the group. Honestly, strictly based on skill and the ability to contribute immediately, I like Pickens the most, but his character concerns scare me. Pierceâ€™s size/speed/leaping ability combo reminds me a bit of former Bears WR Marcus Robinson, so Iâ€™d be pretty happy if he was selected. Metchie just seems really smooth, I like him a lot. If the Bears canâ€™t get any of them, I think they at least need to come away with someone like Tolbert or Thornton in the third round.
Tight end (need: medium)
TE Cole Kmet is the main guy here, and the hope is that he has another level he can ascend to. He hasnâ€™t been as effective in the red zone as expected, and he hasnâ€™t been much of a downfield threat either (though that could be down to the dysfunctional offense he was in). A quicker move tight end would be nice, but lower on the priority list considering the Bearsâ€™ many needs. On April 18th, the team signed veteran TE James Oâ€™Shaughnessy to a one-year deal. On April 8th, the team signed veteran Ryan Griffin to a one-year contract.
Offensive line (need: high)
The big question here is whether the new Bearsâ€™ regime thinks that T Teven Jenkins and T Larry Borom are starting-caliber or not, and at which positions? During last weekâ€™s minicamp, Borom started at left tackle, with Jenkins on the right side (which is where most people thought he would play after he was drafted last year). Remember that Poles was an offensive lineman himself and has emphasized the importance of the O-line. If he feels that Jenkins and/or Borom arenâ€™t good enough, thereâ€™s a good chance heâ€™ll use at least one of the Bearsâ€™ Day 2 picks on a tackle. Tulsa T Tyler Smith and Central Michigan T Bernhard Raimann could be possibilities here. To provide more insurance, the Bears signed veteran T Julien Davenport to a one-year deal yesterday. Thereâ€™s also a big hole at guard with James Daniels gone, so thereâ€™s a high possibility that the team selects someone like Texas A&M G Kenyon Green or Chattanooga G Cole Strange if theyâ€™re available.
Defensive line (need: medium)
On the edges, even with Khalil Mack gone, the Bears are fine with DE Robert Quinn and DE Trevis Gipson. On the interior, it definitely hurt when Larry Ogunjobiâ€™s signing fell through because of a failed physical, but hopefully free agent signing DT Justin Jones will be fine as the three-technique tackle. Who will start next to him is a question mark. Vets like DT Angelo Blackson and DT Mario Edwards Jr. and second-year DT Khyiris Tonga could be in play, or the Bears could look to select someone like Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey if heâ€™s available to add a prospect for the future. With a last name like Winfrey, maybe he becomes another Chicago legend? Houston DT Logan Hall would be another possibility.
Linebacker (need: medium)
On April 9th, the Bears signed LB Matt Adams to a one-year deal. He was mainly a special teamer for the Colts, where he played under new Bears HC Matt Eberflus. Who will join LB Roquan Smith and LB Nicholas Morrow as a starter when the team isnâ€™t in nickel? It might be Adams, or it might be a Day 2-3 prospect like Oklahoma LB Brian Asamoah. Or if Georgia LB Nakobe Dean falls out of the first round... I know itâ€™s not likely, but hey, imagine him and Roquan together...
Secondary (need: very high)
Remember just how bad this secondary was outside of CB Jaylon Johnson last season? The Bears need to come out of this draft with a guy who can start opposite Johnson. Washington CB Kyler Gordon, Auburn CB Roger McCreary, and Florida CB Kaiir Elam could be prime candidates if theyâ€™re available. On April 11th, the team signed CB Tavon Young to a one-year deal. He looks likely to start in the slot. On March 31st, the Bears signed free agent S Dane Cruikshank to a one-year contract. He looks like the favorite to start next to S Eddie Jackson, but the team could use a developmental prospect for depth here as well.
Special teams (need: medium)
With Pat Oâ€™Donnell gone, the Bears need a new punter. Itâ€™s unlikely that theyâ€™ll use a draft pick on one, but they did use one on Oâ€™Donnell eight years ago.
Overall, if the Bears keep their first three picks, I see them going corner/receiver/guard or tackle (probably in that order, unless Burks or Watson are there at #39). Defensive tackle is another possibility. They may double up at receiver if they trade down or if thereâ€™s good enough value at #71. More to come next month!
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2023 Madness NFL Rookie Draft Reference Guide
Monday, April 24th, 2023
Premium Pro Bowl and Super Bowl Package Subscribers take note. The time has come. The 2023 Madness NFL Rookie Draft Reference Guide has been released for your viewing pleasure. This
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