Improved Bears, Tired Broadcast: Reflections on the 2023 NFL Draft

| May 1st, 2023

It wasn’t a particularly interesting draft for the Bears, content-wise. They had lots of picks, and lots of needs. They used those picks to address those needs. Simple as that.

But we’ll start with our club.

  • The Bears clearly have two elements required to be a successful franchise: an identity and a plan. They want to be fast and athletic (who doesn’t?) but they also want to be tough. They drafted a whole bunch of tough guys this weekend. Ryan Poles is not going to be swayed by popular perception. He stands pat, he trusts his evaluations, he makes his picks. It’s refreshing to see.
  • As of now, the offensive line looks to be Braxton Jones – Teven Jenkins – Cody Whitehair – Nate Davis – Darnell Wright. Thoughts on this:
    • While many, including myself, wanted to see the Bears select a center, it is quite understandable that they didn’t see the position as a priority. Offensive lines need SOME veteran leadership and outside of Whitehair, the average age on the rest of this line is 24.
    • The offensive line was poor last year, outside of Jones and Jenkins. Ryan Poles has replaced the other three positions.
    • Lucas Patrick and Larry Borom can now fill their appropriate roles, with the former as swing depth inside and the latter as swing depth outside.
  • The Bears were manhandled in the middle of their defensive line throughout the 2022 season. Look at the size they have added inside:
    • Andrew Billings is 6’1, 311
    • Rasheem Green is 6’4, 279
    • Demarcus Walker is 6’4, 280
    • Gervon Dexter is 6’6, 312
    • Zacch Pickens is 6’4, 300
  • There is no reason to get overexcited about day three selections, but running backs tend to be the exception. And the Bears are wild about Roschon Johnson. Don’t be surprised if they give this kid an opportunity to be their starting running back.
  • Tyler Scott is a speed addition, protection for Velus Jones’ struggles in 2022. Does this mean Velus’ roster spot is tenuous? It might. If Scott shows he can steal those jet sweeps and go routes, while also contributing on specials, Velus could find himself looking for a home this summer.
  • The Bears are improved on both lines, hypothetically. If the hypothesis becomes fact, they’ll be playing meaningful football in December.

As for the rest of the league…

  • Who knows if the players selected by Detroit will work out for them? But one thing I do know is the selections don’t scare me as an opposing fan in the division. Detroit is a few players away from being serious contenders in the NFC. Taking a running back and off-ball linebacker in the first round doesn’t get them any closer to the Super Bowl.
  • Houston pulling a Draft Day was odd, but also oddly understandable. That organization’s lunatic leadership has relegated their fan base to the land of the apathetic. Then, in the span of about twenty minutes, they spiked the punch bowl and started the party. The Texans have a direction. Finally.

A few players wound up in absolutely perfect environments…

  • Calijah Kancey with Todd Bowles is frightening, although I wish Bowles would his head coaching charade and just go back to being one of the best defensive coordinators in the league.
  • Quentin Johnston reminded me a bit of Mike Williams. Not surprised Justin Herbert would want QJ in Los Angeles. (It remains absurd that the Chargers are not in San Diego.)
  • Josh Allen’s biggest issue in the passing game last season was the lack of a reliable target underneath. It became such an issue that they went and pulled Cole Beasley off the scrap heap. Dalton Kincaid is the perfect Allen outlet.
  • Was there a more Mike Vrabel player in this drafter than Peter Skoronski?

A few teams made suspect decisions…

  • Why are the Jets letting Pittsburgh leap them for Broderick Jones? You just went all-in on the veteran quarterback. You are in the definition of “win now” mode. Jones would start immediately and give that veteran quarterback the protection he requires to be effective. Instead, you end up with a rotational project on the DL. Will McDonald may turn into a terrific player. But will Rodgers still be in NJ when he does?
  • Washington were one of the top five pass defenses in the league a year ago. So, of course they used their first two picks in the secondary. With new ownership coming to town, it’s difficult to see Ron Rivera as their head coach in 2024.
  • I have no problem with teams having conviction and making draft day trades to get their guy. But do the Saints have to do that every single year? Has it worked to this point?

And some thoughts on the production that is the NFL Draft…

  • They have to find a way to speed up the proceedings and one way would be to eliminate the “green room”. Why? Because the “green room” sucks, and it only exists to give the commissioner a photo op hug with the incoming class. I don’t need to see the prospects dressed like they’re going to the Oscars. I don’t need the mindless cliches uttered to Melissa Stark. Seeing these kids, with their families and friends, in their homes, is quite wonderful. More of that!
  • I don’t get burying the “Run, Rich, Run” segment in the final hours of the draft. It’s about 10 minutes total. Why not put this on Thursday night and do some actual good with your television show.
  • Here’s an idea for the first round: have the teams announce the pick from their war rooms. And have them say a sentence or two about the pick. “With the 10th pick, the Chicago Bears select the guy we think is the best offensive lineman in this draft, and a great kid, Darnell Wright.” Wouldn’t fans love to see and hear their GM’s enthusiasm about the player he’s selecting? Wouldn’t this be far better than the cutaway to the ridiculous war room hug fest?
  • Why do ESPN and NFL Network air the exact same television program? Why not let ESPN have the draft coverage and do something unique on NFL Network? Idea: get 32 fan/blog streams going and cut to the one that is on the clock. Get IN THE MOMENT reactions from the fans, which would be especially funny as the draft drags on into rounds five, six, seven. The production costs on something like this would be next to nothing. Give $10K to each of the streams, and another $10K to the charity of each stream’s choice. You just created 13+ hours of television programming for $640,000. That is less than they are currently paying the union guys to assemble the set for Rich, Jeremiah and the boys

Only four months til I can start ignoring ANOTHER college football season!

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