So the whole world got to see Roger Goodell not so secretly chow down on a jar of peanut M&M’s last week at the NFL Draft. It was cool to see the NFL could pull off a draft from a technology standpoint, and realize, maybe they don’t need to keep 15-20 team personnel held hostage for three months leading up to it. It seemed like the Head Coach’s and GM’s we’re doing just fine on their own. So, instead of seeing 11 guys stuffed in a room with 9 phones, 14 computers, and more laminated wall art than JoAnn fabrics, we got to see everyone’s house. Apparently if you are an NFL coach young or old, you have to have at least three kids available at all times.
Given the virtual aspect of the draft, there were less trades than normal. Part of this is because due the Cornoavirus shut down’s, workouts and more importantly interviews and medical testing ground to a halt, so a lot of teams probably didn’t want to play the risk game, and take guys they know the most about. The uncertain off season also played a part as well, with teams hoping players can acclimate with virtual playbooks, etc.
Fans either love or hate their draft, and if they hate it, they talk themselves into it eventually. All of “those in the know” like to give out draft grades, and lot of these are completely asinine because these guys haven’t played a down yet. More than you think has to do with what team they go and the subsequent coaching staff. Remember, these guys are being pulled from a safe environment where they were the star or probably captain of some sort to the bottom of the ladder, and everyone mentally adapts differently.
Now of course, you can absolutely detect reaches and steals for certain teams on the day of if you have half a brain to you, but you can’t grade a draft until at least three years out, period. The same concept is true to recruiting classes. Some 5 star guys go right through and hit the NFL, some guys disappear. Guys in the NFL are still developing. Some guys take a year to acclimate, with some positions more than others. Receiver is harder to jump into with nuances and coaches actually caring about detailed routes (ahem, Kevin White), while running backs seem to be more plug and play guys. Lots of guys who are first round talents might get shoved down the draft board due to guys that “test higher” athletically getting grabbed in the first as some sort of pseudo lottery ticket.
You’ll hear it a ton on draft night, and even in the NBA, where a player needs to improve, and the assumption is when he is surrounded by 1500 of the best in the world where the competition is 5 times as tough, that all of the sudden, that skill will develop. “If he can improve his accuracy, or fumble less, or create more pass rushes moves.” If you don’t have that skill down now, it’s not getting better in the props. See: Trubisky, Mitch for “QB accuracy” and Floyd, Leonard for “Pass Rush Moves”.
It’s lack of skill development and too much emphasis on physical testing that plagues NFL front offices every year. Obviously, NFL players are the most different mutants possible, and the fundamentally sound middle linebacker that runs a 4.9 40 ain’t gonna be in the league, no matter how much of a college superstar they were. On the other side of the coin, some of those “freak” guys never stick in the league because literally, “they don’t know how to play” a.k.a. never honed their skills with drill work, or tool in enough film study, or possibly just weren’t a grinder. Those guys have the athletic profile, but flame out for other reasons, maybe lack of work ethic, or they can’t mentally process their position. NFL and its mental acuity it requires its athletes is remarkable. It’s not a sport for dummies. Google it.
As for the Bears, with a draft bereft of many picks, you want to come away with a productive player, and not say, Adam Shaheen. I was on the idea Pace would trade down to grab a 3rd round pick and build some depth, but he decided to use some late fringe picks in the 6th and 7th, which aren’t worth much, hence the multiple uses, to move up to the fifth round. they sat on their picks at 43 and 50 right in the middle of the second round and acquired two quality players.
I’m sure you have all read about Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson by now. Folks have raved about Johnson, who fell into the second because of his shoulder, but he looks to be an absolute press coverage stud that can be plug and play. Kyle Fuller is pretty good and a borderline Pro Bowler, and if Johnson ends up matching that or at the least a legit Prince Amukamara impression, that Bears Defense could be more than Top 5.
Meanwhile, yes, the Bears will cut most of their roster fodder Tight End room, and likely play more two TE sets with Nick Foles this year. A TE that can block and catch is the ultimate Queen of the chess board. If I see Jimmy Graham attached to the O line, I know this dude’s gonna block someone about as hard as Mr. Burns slap fights. If I see a big lumbering putz like J.P. Holtz, I’m probably thinking Power is coming this way. The personnel and their formation tip off everything.
A Good as hell in line Y tight end however, as a defense you don’t know a damn thing and drastically affects your defensive call. Why do you think no one can guard the 49ers? Besides the fact that Kyle Shanhan is an absolute savant, it’s not cause Jimmy G hands off seemingly 75% of the time, it’s cause Kittle is the best at both. If Cole Kmet turns out to be a slightly faster Kyle Rudolph, who has cracked a couple Pro Bowl’s, I’m totally fine with that. They all can’t be Gronk.