Szwaja's Sports Blog

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Okay, so I haven't posted here since October. What the hell, right? No excuses, not even the 60 hour work weeks during my strive for office accreditation ... I digress.

This is one of my favorite weekends of the year, Christmas in April I like to call it: the NFL Draft. I've had much success forecasting Chicago Bear drafts under Jerry Angelo, starting with my correct proclamation of the Mark Columbo pick years ago. I got Tank Johnson in the second round in '04 right, and the only reason I didn't get Tommie Harris was that I was sure he wasn't going to be there at #12. I also suggested that Bernard Berrian would be a great pick in the mid-rounds that year. That said, I'm way off my game. I don't have time to scour NFL scouting Web sites like a used to, but I thought, "Hey, give it a shot this year. What's the worst that can happen? You fall flat on your face in a blog that like five people read?" I'll start off with some overall predictions:

1. Angelo won't draft a quarterback. In every seven round mock draft I've read, the Bears pick at least one quarterback this weekend. Wrong. Angelo doesn't waste draft picks, and that's exactly what drafting a quarterback would be, a waste. The Bears have three quarterbacks who've had success in the NFL. It's just not a need, not even on a flyer.

2. Angelo will make at least one trade to get more picks in the draft. It's his draft day calling card. Last year he traded down and got Danieal Manning and Dusty Dvoracek out of it. Not bad.

3. Here's the fearless prediction: Somehow, some way the Bears will end up with LB/S Quincy Black out of New Mexico. He played the same hybrid position Urlacher played when he was at New Mexico. (He even wore #11). He's lightening fast for his size: 6'2'' 230 lbs. And he's a turnover machine. Sounds like a Lovie Smith player, doesn't he? The question is will he be a linebacker or a safety and the next level. Too small to be a linebacker right now. Too big to be a safety. He WILL be one hell of a special teams player, though. We shall see, but come the 3rd/4th round, I'm thinking Quincy Black will be a Bear.

Onto more pick predictions:

The Bears currently hold picks #31 and #37 today. I fully expect the Bears to try and trade down, as they did last year, out of #31 for more picks later. Like I said, it's just the Jerry Angelo way. Unless Greg Olsen is there at #31. I don't think he'll be there, but I've read a lot over the last couple days from people in the know that the explosive tight end from Miami (Tight End) U is falling down draft boards everywhere. If he's there, he has to be the pick. Nothing will help Rex Grossman more than a dominant tight end, and Olsen can be that guy. You can get your O-line or D-line help six picks later at #37. The other intriguing name who seems to be slipping is the outside linebacker from Florida State, Lawerence Timmons. He's got mid-first round talent, but some people are souring on his questionable attitude, which seems to be an issue with the new commissioner. The experts are saying he could take Lance Briggs' spot. I think so too, especially after I read this quote from an anonymous scout about Timmons: "Not efficient, and takes improper angles to the action." Yep, sounds just like Briggs.

If both Olsen and Timmons aren't there (I'm guessing neither will be there) and Angelo decides to stay put at #31, the decision is likely to come out of this group of players: Miami linebacker Jon Beason, Central Michigan OT Joe Staley (what a Bear name that would be), OG Benn Grubbs of Auburn and Justin Blalock of Texas (a good friend of Cedric Benson's) and USC WR Dwayne Jarrett. Jarrett is the interesting pick, because Angelo hasn't been quiet about his belief that there are great receivers to be had in the middle rounds. But they'd have to consider it, especially because one or all of the O-linemen I mentioned will be there at 37. Out of that group, though, I'm going with Blalock. Angelo loves players from winning programs, and the Bears showed their weak depth a the guard position in the Super Bowl. Plus, the friendship with Benson helps the chemistry between running back and line.

A sleeper pick for the first round who isn't in the group I just mentioned? Justin Harrell, the DT from Tenn. might be the sleeper, but I'm going with Anthony Spencer, the DE/LB from Purdue. Again, he fits the Lovie Smith profile: fast, sack generator, athletic, versatile. Again, none of these guys are must-gets for Angelo, which ultimately leads to a trade in my mind, but you have to have a taker for the pick, and you have to get good value. So, for those who are extremely confused, here's how I think Angelo's wish list looks, in order:

1. Greg Olsen
2. Justin Blalock
3. Anthony Spencer
4. Dwayne Jarrett
5. Lawrence Timmons
6. Jon Beason
7. Ben Grubbs
8. Joe Staley

Notice there are eight players on that list, if the Bears remain at #31 and #37, I'd be confident in saying the two picks will be two of the guys listed above. Unless...

Here are my round two possibilities/sleepers just in case all eight guys above are gone, which is a possibility.

-Sydney Rice, good combination of speed and size for the WR out of South Carolina, but again, will Angelo bite and a receiver this early?

-Ikaika Alama-Francis, the DE from Hawaii, is a physical specimen who slipped in the draft because he couldn't work out as a result of his torn pectoral muscle. Again, Lovie and Angelo love big, fast, D-ends.

-Brian Leonard, RB/FB Rutgers, an amazing athlete who could help open up big holes for Benson and spell him in the running game here and there. Ron Turner loves to pass the ball to his FB, and there aren't many FBs in the NFL right now who are better receivers than Leonard. He would fit in perfectly, but does Angelo think he can get more at 37 than Leonard? Maybe.

-Tony Ugoh, OT Arkansas, from what I've read, NFL scouts think the guy can be a blindside tackle in the NFL. Apparently, though, Ugoh doesn't like football. He was an outstanding shot-putter in high school and college who was coaxed into playing football. Maybe if he realizes that he could buy a small country will a left tackle salary in the NFL, he'll devote himself to football and become a star.

I'm going with either Grubbs or Staley at #37, provided the Bears get Olsen with pick number one. If they go with Blalock at 31, Ugoh could enter the mix. But I don't think they'll go O-Line with both first picks, so if Olsen isn't there at 31 and the Bears go with an O-lineman like Blalock, it's going to be a trade down at #37 because I'm not sure there's a guy the Bears want at #37. Me? I would go with Leonard. Turner and the Bears have a run first, dominate with the run offense, and I think the value of Brian Leonard at #37 is hard to pass up. Angelo keeps telling us he'll take the best player available when his picks come up. If Leonard is there at #37 and Angelo passes on him, I'll have to question that thought process.

Now the fun begins, the later rounds (remember this is all assuming no trades are made, but Angelo will make trades, so this is more just for fun)...

3rd Round, Pick #95

I think this will be the Quincy Black pick, after reading where he's projected to go. A month ago, it was fourth round. He's risen to the third, but I think this is where he becomes a Bear. That said, he's risen so fast and so high, he might not be there. Back up plan? Antwan Barnes, the LB from Florida International. He's the prototype of the Angelo/Lovie sleeper. Undersized speedster who makes big plays. Don't be surprised if the Bears go O-Line here again. There are offensive linemen all over the third round, too many to list. I'm going with Black as my pick, though.

4th Round, Pick #130

Martez Milner, the monster TE out of Georgia, is intriguing. He's huge, athletic, but his hands are what made him fall in the draft. That's scary, but those are the kind of risks you take in the fourth round. Marcus Thomas, DT out of Florida, could be the steal of the draft in the fourth round. He's got first round talent, but Urban Meyer dismissed him from the team for testing positive for marijuana mid-season. Last time Angelo took a flyer on a Florida defensive lineman in the fourth round with attitude problems, he took Alex Brown. Look how that worked. It has the potential to be a great pick, but with Roger Goddell's iron fist approach, will Angelo want to take the chance? Maybe. Actually, he's my pick. Marcus Thomas.

5th Round, Pick #168

This is where Angelo goes receiver. There is some talent in the fifth round receiver-wise. Two names come to mind, both Midwest guys. The first is Matt Trannon from Michigan State. He's huge, 6'6'' and 220 lbs. That's borderline TE size, and Rex needs more big targets. The second is Illinois State receiver Laurent Robinson. He's got a great combination of size and speed: 6'2", 200 lbs, 4.38 4o time. He was bothered his whole senior season and during workouts by a bum ankle, which is why some say he slipped in the draft, and he played against questionable competition. Rhema McKnight played in a pro style offense at Notre Dame, so he knows what a pro route looks like. He's not overly fast, but I'm from the school of thought that route running is more important than speed. Yamon Figurs. Check out this 40 time: 4.29. That's quick, and everything I've read on the guy says he's an outstanding route runner. I like. Angelo loves guys from winning programs, which is why Dallas Baker fits into this discussion. He's got good size and decent speed. He's not outstanding in any one thing, but sometimes those are the guys who turn out as gems. My pick: Yamon Figurs.

No 6th round picks for Bears thanks to the Adam Archuleta trade, a trade Bears fans will gladly take.

7th round picks, #s 221 and 242

These are so tough. Angelo likes to take FBs in the 7th round, keep that in mind, especially because the Bears were thin there last year and JD Runnells was terrible in limited action. Won't spend much time analyzing here. Possible picks: Simi Toeaina, DT from Orgeon; Selvin Young, RB from Texas; Le'Rob McClain FB from Alabama; Chris Dennman OT Fresno State; Jon Abbate LB Wake Forest; Jeff Samardzija WR Notre Dame. Samardzija is the interesting one. Playing both baseball and football would be easier in the same city, but this will only happen if Angelo picks up an additional seventh round pick. I'm going with Selving Young and Chris Dennman. Okay, it's two minutes to 11 as a finish this. Let the fun begin...


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