This morning on my radio show, The Wake-up Call, on sportstownchicago.com I was joined by Russell Baxter, NFL writer/researcher with contributions to Athlon sports, NFL Magazine, FootballPros.com, NationalFootballAuthority.com NFL.com, and ThePostGame.com in addition to his work on his website at www.profootballguru.com.
I had Russell on to put his brain to work which is a veritable encyclopedia of all things NFL.
Rusell and I chatted about the Bears, the NFC North race, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the evolution of the running back position, and you can’t talk about the NFL without mentioning Tim Tebow.
A sampling of the Bears related questions I asked Russell included:
What should Bears fans expect to see from Cutler and Marshall this season?
It’s been awhile since Mike Tice has run an offense, so what type of scheme should we see this fall and how do you envision him and Jeremy Bates co-existing?
There was no player in the NFL that was a greater percent of his team’s offense besides Matt Forte last year, so what are they do to if he holds for any amount of time?
Is Michael Bush capable of being an every down back in the event of a Forte holdout?
How much will Bears first round pick, Shea McClellin help a Bears pass rush that was tied for 30th in the NFL in adjusted sack rate at 5.2%
To hear Russell’s answers to these questions and more, click here for the podcast.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports fan and an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here.
This morning I was joined by DJ Moore a rising fourth year cornerback for the Chicago Bears on my show, the Wake Up Call on www.sportstownchicago.comfor an extended interview on a wide range of topics.
I tried to pick the brain of the former All- American from Vanderbilt about the mindset he takes with him in the offseason as he trains his mind and body in anticipation of a grueling 16 game regular season, four game preseason schedule, as well as training camp and organized team activities, which start this week.
I asked DJ what it’s like to be in the same huddle with stars such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, and Charles Tillman. He said he didn’t allow himself to get star struck and said it was confirmation that he belongs in the league after questioning whether he belonged in the league after being a fourth round pick despite being a two-time All-Sec performer and All-American in 2008.
We talked about the toughest receiver he has had to cover in his career, the addition of Brandon Marshall, his advice to young football players, his unique pre-game ritual, and much more.
DJ is a laid back cat from South Carolina and the interview matched his demeanor until I asked him his thoughts on the Saints alleged bounty program.
To listen to the intriguing comments DJ made regarding the Saints bounty program and the entire interview with DJ from The Wake up Call with Patrick Schmidt, click here
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports fan and an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here.
This morning I had the pleasure of welcoming seven-year NFL veteran and former fullback for the Saints and Rams Mike Karney on my radio program, The Wake up Call, on www.sportstownchicago.com from 8-10 a.m. (CST).
Mike joined me last Wednesday for an exclusive interview where he discussed the Saints bounty program, Sean Payton’s suspension, the passing of Junior Seau, and the concussion epidemic facing the NFL.
This Wednesday Mike and I had a light hearted chat about playing in the same huddle as Drew Brees, whom Mike referred to as an all-time great. Calling Brees one of the game’s best leaders and fully capable of “running the show,” and hopes that Tom Benson and Drew and his agent can come to an agreement on a contract extension.
Referring to Benson as an old school owner, I quickly asked if that were code for cheap, to which Mike replied, “Yes.” He is willing to bet the two sides will come to a middle ground and the two sides will come to a compromise but understands that Brees is looking for a Peyton Manning-like contract.
The conversation shifted from one of his former quarterbacks I asked him if he is monitoring the development of Rams signal caller, Sam Bradford, whom Mike played with during the former Heisman winner’s rookie season.
Mike said the big thing with his development is the trust in his coaching staff and the confidence they put in him, and he thinks Jeff Fisher will bring the best out in Bradford. Provided his “diamond in the rough” targets such as second round pick out of Appalachian State WR Brian Quick pan out in a similar fashion the Saints experienced with Marques Colston.
Bradford does have the luxury of sharing the backfield with running back Steven Jackson, whom Mike referred to one of the two best players he had the privilege of playing with along with Brees.
In fact, Jackson took care of his escort through the line with some handsome rewards and gifts that magically appeared in his locker leaving the bruising fullback perplexed how that got there. Ever gracious Mike said he never expected any such gift, and was only doing the only job he ever wanted.
Mike told me he wanted to be a professional football player since he was eight or nine years old and after first playing left guard on the offensive line made the transition to fullback while pulling double duty on defense at linebacker.
In high school he realized he lacked the sideline to sideline speed to be a linebacker at the next level. He knew with a dedicated running and lifting program which included pushing cars and running hills, tips he got from Mike Alstott and Walter Payton, he could get a scholarship to college.
The hard work and dedication paid off in the form of a scholarship to Arizona State that led to becoming a fifth round draft pick of the Saints where he would pave the way for Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, and Pierre Thomas.
His career highlight of scoring three touchdowns in a primetime game against the Dallas Cowboys still brings the bruising fullback joy despite the difficult transition away from the game he played for over 20 years. Saying a piece of him died when his career ended a few years shorter than he would have liked and it was difficult watching games at times last year.
When he does watch games, he sees the game in a different light and has a newfound perspective to the game he once sacrificed a great deal for and played with passion for seven years leaving his blood, sweat, and tears on the gridiron.
However, he knows he was blessed to have played seven years in the league and appreciates the opportunity to break down games for family and friends. While also being gracious with his time to come on my radio program to share his insight and perspective with me and my audience about his career and the happenings on the NFL.
I asked Mike what he would tell a young football player aspiring to accomplish the things that Mike did in his career. The first word that came out of Mike’s mouth was sacrifice. To be great you have to sacrifice some things, whether it is giving up a party Friday night to train, or putting in the extra effort behind the scenes when no one’s looking.
During the interview Mike and I discussed how more talented players wash out of the league in a year or two while the players who work hard always seem to stick around.
Mike Karney stuck around for seven years in the NFL doing the dirty work with a smile on his face.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks from birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here. To read more of Patrick’s blogs click here.
Wednesday morning I had the pleasure to welcome former New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams fullback Mike Karney on my radio show The Wake up Call on www.sportstownchicago.com and we discussed a wide range of topics related to the current state of the National Football League.
As a former member of the Saints and having been coached by Sean Payton I had to ask him what he thought about the yearlong suspension of the coach in charge during the alleged bounty scandal where defensive players were paid for injuring opposing players.
Mike understood the way Roger Goodell has tackled the issue of player safety during his tenure as commissioner, so although he said he didn’t agree or disagree, he said it was something Goodell was going to make an example out of Payton and “the punishment fit the crime.”
Once the issue of player safety and head injuries was raised during the player safety discussion I asked him his thoughts on the passing of Junior Seau, and if he had experienced any debilitating concussions similar to what Junior had experienced during his 20-year NFL career.
Playing the fullback position Karney said his position has the most undocumented cases of concussions, yet he is well and feeling healthy, despite experiencing one major concussion. However, he did reveal to me that he had a number of “starry moments,” or sub-concussions.
Having experienced a league wide growth in concussions with players having to miss extended action on the gridiron and careers shortened as a result of the concussions that happen during every NFL game I asked Mike if the NFL can do anything to change this disturbing trend.
What he said will no doubt give alarm to some, and in the same vein give NFL fans a sigh of relief that enjoy the violent sport and fear it is becoming soft or too closely resembles a backyard flag football game.
Mike said the first thing the NFL needs to do is get the best technology to provide the advanced helmets from Riddell to give added protection to the brain and temple region. He said the NFL needs to mandate the perfect helmet and hope for the best. Outside trying to eliminate the kickoff, he doesn’t know if there is anything else to do because they are “modern day gladiators.”
As the conversation went deeper into the issue of concussions I had to ask if he would want his son to grow up to become a “modern day gladiator” and would want his son to play football.
Mike wrestled with the question and after contemplating the question he said he would first like to coach the finer points of the game and instruct him on how to hit and tackle properly because the game offers a great deal of lessons and principles that can be applied to one’s life. Upon further reflection he did say he may hold his son(s) out til 15 or 16 years of age.
He was not as concerned about his child suffering a concussion at a young age, but rather worries about them suffering an injury as a result of poor technique because the speed of the game isn’t to the point where a violent collision will likely result in a concussion.
Moving to the lighter side of the game and away from player safety and concussions I asked Mike about his favorite memory on the gridiron.
The first moment that came to his mind was his three touchdown game in Dallas against America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys, a rare feat indeed for an NFL fullback. Off the gridiron, Mike said the memories in the locker room and his time with his teammates are what stood out from his seven-year NFL career.
Piggybacking on his favorite NFL moments, I asked him about his draft day experience as he was a fifth round draft pick out of Arizona State. He felt fortunate to be drafted by an “old school” coach in Jim Haslett and being drafted by a team that ran a West Coast offense because of the dwindling role the fullback plays in the NFL.
He would reiterate the affirmation he experienced as a draftee and emphasized he had to keep working and “continue to be the best he could possibly be.”
He was the best he possibly could be for two teams over seven years, but he said the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has dictated that veterans are being forced into early retirement, and it’s a “new game” with a heavy emphasis on passing with only a few teams employing a fullback.
I couldn’t let Mike go without asking him about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2006 as a member of the Saints. He felt as if he was in a movie, describing the drive out of town and witnessing the big road out west and houses being boarded up, and felt as if he was watching “The Day after Tomorrow” as he witnessed the devastation and how things get worse and worse.
Playing a road game every week took its toll on the team even though he had a successful season personally. The constant moving of practice fields and locker rooms proved to be very challenging but the team made the most of a trying year.
I wrapped up the 30-minute interview asking him his thoughts on the bounty program and if every team in the NFL employs or if The Saints were the only teams to use such a rogue strategy.
He said, “I think it goes on in every locker room, but not to the level and intensity in New Orleans where everybody knew and participated under the control of ousted defensive coordinator Greg Williams.”
Furthermore, he added there is no room for that in the game where intent to injure, in any era of the game, and the children and fans watching the game shouldn’t be subjected to that side of the game and didn’t want the youth to be tainted by these revelations.
A 10-minute segment with the former fullback turned into a 30-minute interview because Mike was incredibly candid, thoughtful, and concise with his answers that the question and answer session kept moving the chains as we churned out first down after first down.
To hear the entire interview with Mike on “The Wake up Call” with Patrick Schmidt on www.sportstownchicago.com you can click here. For more from Mike you can tune in next Wednesday where he will join the show again to drop more knowledge and insight from a man who has seen the best and the worst that the NFL has to offer.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks from birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here
The NFL released the schedules for the upcoming season and upon first glance it’s easy to give a gut reaction to the games listen on the schedule. Prior to the draft and the addition of free agent rookies to the roster the predictions can appear to be a little askew.
With the draft in the rear view mirror and the picks having sufficiently been digested I will take a week by week look at the Bears schedule for the 2012 championship season.
Andrew Luck and the Colts invade Soldier Field and the Bears should have no trouble putting away the rebuilding Colts who finished with the team that tied for the worst record in the league last year. Bears win.
A Thursday night affair on NFL Network in Lambeau Field will be a tough test for the Bears. I give the edge to the Packers because they hold home field advantage in what figures to be a close game. Bears lose.
Home against the Rams, the second worst team in the league last year, in fact the Bears play 4 games against the three worst teams last season when you factor in the two games against division foe Minnesota. Another slam dunk even though the Rams should be improved with Jeff Fisher running the show and assuming Sam Bradford stays healthy. Bears win.
A Monday night tilt at Dallas will provide a test for the Bears and this is a pivotal game as I make my predictions. A win and this could be a very nice season while a loss could mean the Bears are fighting for a playoff spot. Playing a hunch, I think the Bears will win a game in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter and improve to 3-1
The Bears get a break after the short week and get the Jacksonville Jaguars who may challenge for the top pick in the 2013 draft. Although the game is on the road, the Jaguars should not present a stiff challenge to knock off the Bears. Bears win.
Bye- the one week I am guaranteed of not being wrong.
Playing their third primetime game in their first six games, the Bears welcome Calvin Johnson and the Lions to the Lakefront and this matchup has the makings of a high scoring clash of two division rivals. At home I give the Bears a slight advantage and win on a Robbie Gould field goal in OT.
Sticking at home for the second week in a row, the Cam Newton Express rolls into town and the Carolina Panthers may be one of the more improved teams in the NFL this season. I don’t think they have enough on defense to slow the Bears offense down. Cam Newton gets his yards, but not the touchdowns in this game. Bears win.
The Music City hosts the Bears as the Bears travel down South to take on the Tennessee Titans. The big question is who starts for the Titans. Will it be veteran incumbent Matt Hasselbeck or last year’s top pick Jake Locker? Whoever is taking snaps under center will have his hands full with a Bears defense, however this has the “trap game” feel to it, and the Bears coaching staff will have to anticipate this and get the players ready to take on a talented if not under performing team. Bears win a nail biter.
Hosting another primetime game, the Bears welcome Arian Foster and the Houston Texans into town and last year’s top defense led by youngsters JJ Watt and Brooks Reed prove too much for the Bears offensive line and force Jay Cutler in one too many mistakes. Bears lose.
On the road vs. last year’s team of destiny the San Francisco 49ers, the Bears are unable to fix the offensive line issues that cost them a win against Houston and SF does more of the same and sacks Cutler and forces too many bad throws as Jim Harbaugh gets the win over his former team. Bears lose.
Bears get healthy against the Vikings and take two weeks of frustration out on QB Christian Ponder and the Minnesota secondary gets torched by Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and rookie Alshon Jeffery who has biggest game of his early career with 6 catches for 105 yards and two scores. Bears win.
Seeking revenge against the team who ended wide receiver Johnny Knox’s season last year, the Seattle Seahawks run into a ferocious Bears defense and the Seahawks QB conundrum plagues them on a chilly November in Chicago. Bears win.
Heading into the fourth quarter of the season as Bears Head Coach refers to the breakdown of the schedule at 9-3; the Bears are poised to clinch a playoff berth and are in play with Green Bay for the division title. Facing the Vikings for the second time in three weeks is not enough time for the Vikings to solve the Bears offense or defensive front seven and the Bears leave the Metrodome, for perhaps the last time if Minnesota is successful in their bid for funding for a new stadium. Bears win.
The last home game of the reguoar season brings the team up north to the Windy City. The Packers and their fans decked out in their finest hunting garb and cheese blocks on their head have a long drive up I-90 as the Bears get payback for their defeat suffered at the hands of the Pack in week two. Bears win.
Heading out west to Arizona with a playoff berth already locked up, the Bears face another potential trap game. Will Kevin Kolb be under center or will it be last year’s revelation John Skelton? The bigger question is does it even matter? The Cardinals have a sneaky good defense and some talent outside in the form of Larry Fitzgerald and rookie Michael Floyd. But the Bears defense forces four Cardinal turnovers and Devin Hester runs back a punt for a score. Bears cruise to a win.
Finishing up the season in the Motor City and tied atop the NFC North with Green Bay the Lions face a must win to keep their playoff hopes alive in the NFC. The Lions come out and find Calvin “Megatron” Johnson for a big touchdown on the opening possession and sprint to a 21-7 lead at halftime. The bears mount a second half comeback and tie the game at 21 apiece as the fourth quarter begins, but the Bears run out of gas to a desperate Lions team and await the score to the Packers game to determine the division title. Bears lose.
Final regular season record: 12-4
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks since birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here.
After selecting rush end Shea McClellin in the first and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round the bears filled their two biggest needs.
Holding the 79th pick in the third round the Bears selected Oregon State cornerback Brandon Hardin (6-3, 217) to play safety for the Bears. Marking the eighth consecutive year the bears have selected a safety, and the third in a row drafting one in the third round.
That many selections suggest that the position is clearly in a state of flux and are looking for an answer in the defensive backfield. After taking Major Wright and Chris Conte in the third round each of the past two seasons, many Bears fans may be wondering where Hardin fits in.
Hardin impressed scouts at the East West shrine game after missing the past season with a fractured left shoulder. On the heels of a strong showing at the East West shrine game, Hardin dazzled at his pro day, after not being invited to the combine, running a scintillating forty yard dash at 4.36 seconds.
With a background in track and field as a sprinter and jumper, Hardin figured to break in on each of the specialty teams while easing into the rotation at the safety position where holdovers Wright, Conte, and Craig Steltz all return.
Versatility is one of the strengths to Hardin’s game and Bears head coach loves that trait in his safeties. “There are a lot of physical gifts to work with” said Bears Gm Phil Emery after the pick. The biggest knock on Hardin is his ability to stay healthy as he has struggle with injuries during his career at Corvallis, Oregon.
However, his former college teammate and Bears second round pick in 2011, Stephen Paea said on Twitter after the selection is, “he’s a beast.”
The Bears are hoping Paea is right in his assessment, otherwise the Bears will likely be drafting a safety for the ninth year in a row in 2013.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Holding the 50th pick in the 2nd round of the NFL draft the Bears traded up five spots, giving up their fifth round selection, with the St. Louis Rams to draft wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (6’3”, 216), wide receiver from South Carolina.
The big bodied receiver declared for the draft after his junior season that ended with his ejection in arguably his best game as a Gamecock. Facing Nebraska in the Capitol One bowl and covered by top pro prospect in cornerback, Alfonzo Dennard. Jeffery had four receptions for 148 yards and a score before his ejection for fighting.
Jeffery burst onto the scene as a sophomore where he had 88 receptions for 1517 yards and nine touchdowns, but saw his numbers drop considerably after quarterback, Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the squad.
Jeffery’s junior numbers of 49 receptions for 762 yards and eight touchdowns reflect a change at quarterback and offensive shift to a more run oriented approach behind bruising tailback Marcus Lattimore.
Facing questions surrounding his weight which has been over 230 pounds during his final season kept Jeffery out of the first round, and didn’t endear himself to NFL scouts and GM’s after declining to participate in positional drills at February’s combine.
However, Jeffery found a semblance of redemption at South Carolina’s Pro Day when the receiver weighed in at 213 pounds while running a forty at 4.56 seconds.
Concerns over Jeffery’s weight and work ethic will surround him until he steps on the field as a rookie, but the quickest way to dispel those notions is to produce on the field.
With Brandon Marshall commanding double teams on one side and Earl Bennett working underneath routes, Jeffery will get his opportunities to contribute early and often in his rookie season.
After Jeffery was announced with the 45th pick in the Draft, chances are the second happiest person about the selection after the wideout himself, was the Bears quarterback who has a new toy to play with.
Jeffery should see plenty of red zone looks and jump ball opportunities where his imposing size will be a tremendous asset to the Bears aerial attack under Jay Cutler, who had been clamoring for a tall receiver since his arrival to Chicago three years ago.
The rookie wideout will look to prove 32 teams wrong for passing him in the first round and prove the skeptics wrong once he steps onto the field when training camp opens in July.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks since birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call”, a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10.
With the 19th pick in the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears drafted Shea McClellin, DE Boise State.
A fast rising defensive end out of Boise State was not projected to the Bears in any of the mock drafts prior to the draft, and many didn’t consider the player to be on the radar of Bears GM Phil Emery. Although it was revealed after the pick that the Bears sent their defensive line coach Mike Phair out to McClellin to put the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker through a workout.
Apparently the workout was a successful one as the Bears bypassed selecting higher profile ends, such as Whitney Mercilus, Chandler Jones, and Nick Perry. Also on the board when the Bears made McClellin their guy were offensive lineman Riley Reiff and David Decastro as well as Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright whom some had projected the Bears selecting.
Just shy of 6’4” and tipping the scales at 260 pounds, the Bears say McClellin will line up at left end along the Bears defensive line. A high motor, high sharacter, productive player dripping with intangibles will be counted on to rush the passer.
McClellin racked up 26 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks over the last two seasons of his career on the blue turf at Boise State. Playing in a division where the Bears face Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers four times a season, McClellin figures to get plenty of opportunities to aid a Bears pass rush that badly needed a compliment to Julius Peppers.
Late on Thursday night the Bears announced McClellin will wear #99, which was famously worn by Hall of Fame defensive lineman Dan Hampton.
If McClellin is half the player that ‘Hamp was, then Bears fans will be doing cartwheels on Sundays.
The Bears war room will have a new General when the NFL Draft gets underway tonight with new General Manager Phil Emery calling the shots. The rookie GM steps in for former Bears GM, Jerry Angelo, who had his share of first round hits and misses during his tenure as Bears GM.
Bears fans had been calling for Angelo’s head for the past few years after the team’s failure to find a #1 receiver, his propensity to draft players with injury history, and his philosophy of players with high floors vs. high ceilings.
In comes Emery with a background in scouting and while he has never been a GM or conducted a draft, his experience as a college scout will be on full display over the next three days and seven rounds of NFL Draft action.
Emery’s previous job was as director of college scouting with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons overseeing the drafting of players such as Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Eric Berry. Bears fans will be ecstatic to find a player comparable to any of these three players. Ryan and White have already been to the Pro Bowl and Berry likely would have if not for a torn ACL ended his sophomore season, after a superb rookie season, in the season opener vs. Buffalo last season.
During free agency Emery did what Angelo could not do during his run as GM, and traded for Brandon Marshall. Bears fans rejoiced and were ready to give Emery the key to the city and anoint him as Executive of the Year filling a black hole on the offense for the last decade.
Adding depth at the running back position by signing Michael Bush, backup quarterback Jason Campbell, special team aces Devin Thomas and Eric Weems, and 49ers cast-off Chilo Rachal to battle for a starting position at guard has stabilized and fortified the offense.
So where does that leave a Bears defense that features a number of marquee players on the wrong side of 30?
The Bears own the 19th pick in this year’s draft with their biggest needs at defensive end, defensive tackle, cornerback, offensive tackle, and wide receiver.
Many mock drafts have the Bears drafting a defensive end. The names differ, but the position remains the same.
Players rumored to be on the Bears wish list include: UNC’s Quentin Coples, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, Syracuse’s Chandler Jones, USC’s Nick Perry, and the nation’s leader in sacks last year in University of Illinois rush end Whitney Mercilus.
At 19 it is difficult targeting a specific player at that point, because when the fireworks start and players start coming off the board and players rise and fall, the Bears may find themselves in a position where a wide receiver they have ranked higher on their board than any other defensive end is available.
I have long been a proponent of drafting the best player available over taking a player at a perceived need.
If Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, Iowa tackle Riley Reiff, or Stanford guard David DeCastro is staring them in the face at 19, then The Bears should run to the podium to draft him.
Michael Brockers from LSU would be a fantastic choice if he were there at 19, if they didn’t like the available ends, and would be an anchor in the interior of the defensive line and complement rising star Henry Melton well at the defensive tackle position.
The moves made by Emery in free agency has put the Bears in a position of flexibility the team hasn’t been afforded in recent years after having to draft for need after missing or trading away first round picks under the previous regime.
Reading the tea leaves suggests the Bears will ultimately take a defensive end that can come in right away and have a huge impact on third downs.
The reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants have won two Lombardi trophies in recent years with a philosophy on rushing the passer and getting off the field on third downs. A stat the Bears have struggled with in past seasons, even despite having one of the premier sack artists in Julius Peppers.
The final word on the Bears first round is that whether it is to take a player on offense or defense, this rookie needs to have an instant impact to help the Bears back to the playoffs.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
The NFL’s version of Christmas
Luck, Griffin III headline 2012 draft class
By Patrick Schmidt
On the eve of the biggest event the NFL has to offer which doesn’t take place on the gridiron is lacking suspense at the top much like when you peek into mom and dad’s rooms and peek at what “Santa” got you for Christmas that year.
That doesn’t mean it’s still not exciting and brings your levels of anxiousness and intrigue to all new highs.
The NFL draft is set to get underway with the first round on Thursday at 6pm (EST) and many General Managers and Coaches around the league are ready to find out what’s underneath the tree and rip off the wrapping paper and see what new toy they have to play with.
The top two picks are anti-climactic and if you’re hosting a draft party that would be the perfect time to make sure your snacks are out and prepared and that there is plenty of ice for the beverages that will no doubt consumed in high volume.
This week the Indianapolis Colts confirmed what many had known for months and said Andrew Luck will be their pick. Many have said Luck is the best prospect at his position since the man he is replacing, the legendary Peyton Manning, who was released this offseason following a series of neck surgeries.
The second worst kept secret after who the Colts would take atop the draft is who would go immediately after him. Once the Redskins traded with the Rams to move up four spots up to two, the cat was out of the bag and the ‘Skins were going to draft the Heisman trophy winner, Robert Griffin III and bring his unique skill set to the Nation’s capitol.
The real intrigue begins with the Minnesota Vikings who are essentially on the clock with the third overall pick. For weeks the prevailing thought was that USC left tackle, Matt Kalil would be the pick and give last year’s first rounder Christian Ponder protection for the quarterback’s blindside.
However, as the war room debates have heated up in Minneapolis, the thought is that LSU cornerback, Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State wide receiver, Justin Blackmon could be in play. Could this be more pre draft subterfuge?
Probably, but don’t discount the Vikings from trying to trade down to a team trying to trade up for Texas A&M QB, Ryan Tannehill or Trent Richardson.
The Draft is here and it’s time to celebrate the union of college football and the National Football League spread out over three days. I holiday of sorts for football fans across the nation.
The NFL Draft is full of big, fast, strong, and intriguing prospects that tantalize fans, GM’s, and coaches with potential and upside. Meanwhile striking fear into their hearts when words and phrases such as, one year wonder, tweener, low motor, off the field concerns and questionable character are muttered when referring to a prospect.
The one guarantee there is to the NFL draft is that a few teams will wind up with their version of a Red Ryder BB gun under their tree, and many more will end up stuck with a sweater knitted from grandma and the dread of waiting another year in hopes of finding that illustrious new toy.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt
Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from the greatest city in the world, Chicago, Illinois. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks since birth and is an avid college football fan. Patrick is the host of a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10.