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Thank You, From DBB.

| May 7th, 2022


I took a shot.

And our loyal readers and Twitter followers delivered. The five-day pledge drive delivered in ways it was impossible to predict. And now it’s on me to keep delivering content worthy of that support.

Thank you.

We will have the drawing for the jersey in the coming weeks and our sticker will be drawn and produced before the season begins.

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The DBB Pledge Drive! May 2-6, 2022!

| May 6th, 2022


DBB has never had content behind a paywall. It’s just not something I believe in, even as the digital sports marketplace changes dramatically. But this site has remained my signature literary passion for the last 17 years and there ARE costs associated with keeping it going.

So, this week, we’re asking for support from our readers and followers. You can click the link below and donate $5, $10 or $25 to DBB. (You can donate any amount you want but those are the easy, clickable buttons.) That money helps keep the site operating and keeps the content free to everyone for YEARS to come. There will not be another pledge drive like this for a long time.

Why now? Because at 40 years old, I’m going back to NYU for my Masters in Cinema Studies this fall – hopefully on the way to a PhD soon enough. It will not limit my ability to create content for the site, but it will limit the time I have for site-related money-making activities.

As a benefit, anyone who donates $10 or more will be entered into our drawing to win the Bears jersey of their choice. DBB will customize it for you and have it to your home by the start of the 2022 regular season. We’ll also be doing a special DBB sticker this season and anyone who donates at that level will receive that sticker as well.

(Hey, it’s $10. It’s two beers. You’re saving calories.)

Thank you so much for supporting this site/Twitter feed. I hope you think of it as an important part of your Chicago Bears experience. We will keep doing what we’ve been doing, providing content free of charge, and providing a platform for anyone with an opinion on this franchise. If you can throw a few bucks in, it’s much appreciated. If not, no worries.




This drive will take place today through Friday. We will return with brand new content on Monday, May 9th!

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Secondary Rebuilt, Weapons Lacking: Assessing the 2022 NFL Draft in the Context of 2023

| May 1st, 2022

The texts buzzed my nightstand unprompted, piercing through the endless, awkward chuckling of Robert Mays and Nate Tice, as I tried to force myself to sleep on Friday evening. (I decided to take a brief, week-long booze sabbatical and it makes slumber a tricky enterprise.) The scout who I have relied upon this week to fill me in on all things draft was giving his assessment of Ryan Poles’ work over rounds two and three.



This is not someone who has any reason to inflate the work of the GM of the Chicago Bears. He has zero stake in the game. This was a professional talent evaluator evaluating the talent selected; examining the players acquired in a draft he has routinely described to me as “the weakest in the last 15 years.”

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The Complaints.

Listen, the complaints are understandable. A logical case could have been made for the Bears to spend every single pick Friday night on the offensive side of the ball. One could argue that taking shots on the potential of George Pickens or Alec Pierce or Skyy Moore is more exciting (undoubtedly) and more in-tune with the modern game. But if that’s the case, why were the Baltimore Ravens universally celebrated for their work in the first round, securing a box safety and center while trading away their best outside receiver?

Pickens will be asked to do very little in Pittsburgh (and will do little with those quarterbacks). Pierce and Moore will be no more than third options on their rosters in Indianapolis and Kansas City. The Bears would have been asking all three to start on day one and seriously contribute as rookies. Does anyone actually believe these three players are capable of that? If they were, would several receiver-needy clubs have gleefully passed on them at the backend of the first round?

But most complaints coming from fans are actually based on a fallacy. Bears fans seem to believe the organization needs to pile talent around Justin Fields to accurately assess his ability as a quarterback and make determinations on his future. That is definitively not the case. Ryan Poles and Justin Fields have been side-by-side through this process, even to the point of watching tape together on receiver prospects in the draft.



The team will not hold Fields accountable for the lack of playmaking ability around him. Poles got this job because he looked George McCaskey in the eyes and told him the roster was dreck. No one has a more sober view of the depth chart and the communication between the new leadership and the young quarterback has been impeccable.

Also, this belief that a quarterback requires a stacked roster around him in year two to improve is utter nonsense. Josh Allen’s second-year receivers were John Brown and Cole Beasley. Deshaun Watson’s second receiver in his second year totaled 32 catches. Russell Wilson’s top pass catcher in his sophomore season had 64 catches. Fields is going into this season with a new coaching staff building an offense specifically for him, a talented run game and a 1,000-yard receiver he loves. If he can’t improve in that context, fair questions should be asked.

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The Approach.

If Poles’ board had potential starters at wideout and along the offensive line at the top of the second round, those would have been his selections. But it didn’t. And with secondary being the second-worst position group on the roster, why wouldn’t he hesitate to fortify that unit? As Poles himself stated, “There were two good starting-level defensive players, and I would have made a huge mistake for this organization to say, ‘Let’s leave them there’.”

The Bears believe the best way to “develop” Fields is to take pressure off of him, not artificially inflate the wide receiver room with day two maybes. Selecting Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker (the latter described to me by the aforementioned scout as a “top 35 talent” in this draft) is about establishing a structure for the difficult season to come. The Bears want to run the ball effectively and play solid defense. If they do those two things, they will not have to ask their quarterback – now in his third offensive system in three years – to drop back and fling it 40 times a week.

If the Bears didn’t address their secondary, especially after trading Khalil Mack, the team was looking at fielding an unprofessional group at the backend of their defense. If they did that, they would be chasing every game. Is there a worse possible scenario for a young QB?

The selection of Velus Jones Jr. in the third round also plays to this approach. “Deebo light” might seem like a grandiose designation, with Samuel coming off a brilliant 2021 campaign, but it’s easy to forget that the Niners receiver was more of a prolific gadget player in his first two seasons. Jones’ speed will give the Bears a dynamic they have sorely lacked in the Pace years, a player capable of taking a quick slant or bubble screen to the house at any moment. And it’s also difficult understand how Bears fans – OF ALL FANS – don’t understand the potential viability of drafting college football’s most electric return man.

Jones is a chess piece for an organization whose offensive game strategy hasn’t ascended beyond Connect Four in the modern era.


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NFL Draft, Rounds Two & Three, Open Thread

| April 29th, 2022

Pick # 39

Washington, CB, Kyler Gordon

From NFL.com: “Cornerback who comes with an elite, high-performance engine but a GPS still in the process of loading. Gordon’s dynamic athletic qualities will show up in testing, but more importantly, they are all over his tape. His blend of play strength and explosive burst affects the passing game from press, off-man and zone coverages. He plays with an alpha demeanor and hitting is definitely part of his overall package. Gordon lacks polish and needs to play with better route recognition and anticipation, but if those elements click, his ball production could be near the top of the league as one of the top playmakers in the game.”


Pick #48

Penn State, S, Jaquan Brisker

From NFL.com: “Athletic safety prospect whose versatility and toughness will endear him to coaches during the evaluation process. Brisker continued to pick up elements of the defensive scheme and his play has steadily transformed from hesitant in 2019 to downright instinctive in 2021. He has the versatility to become a moving chess piece in a variety of coverages and has the size and talent to match up with both “Y” and “F” tight ends. He played with a banged-up shoulder in 2021 so his 2020 tape is a clearer indicator of his run support acumen. Brisker is an ascending talent with the NFL traits to become a long-time starter as a Day 2 draft pick.”


Pick #71

Tennessee, WR, Velus Jones Jr. 

From NFL.com: “Special-teams specialist with good size. Despite spending six seasons in college between his time at USC and Tennessee, Jones has very modest production as a wideout, but flashed potential in that area in 2021. He’s fearless with the ball in his hands after the catch and as a kick returner. He’s not a very fundamentally sound route-runner but might not need to be if teams view him as a catch-and-run specialist in the quick game underneath. Jones has a chance to ride his special teams versatility into a specialist spot on a roster.”

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Notes on “Draftable” Players Still Available from Folks Around the League

| April 29th, 2022


Historically, I don’t start thinking about the NFL Draft until the Monday of draft week. Despite the Draft Industrial Complex’s ridiculous year-to-year growth, it’s all you need. 75% of the players drafted this week will be completely irrelevant at the professional level. 10% (max) will be serious contributors. The draft requiring months-upon-months of analysis is a completely modern phenomenon. There used to be 1-2 draft gurus. The draft used to be held in the anonymity of weekend afternoons. And you know what? Teams were probably better at drafting then.

Here are a few notes I got from folks around the league regarding names available for the Bears tonight and the rest of the weekend. I don’t particularly care how the Bears approach Friday night; they need a lot of players. But I would like to see one of those picks be used on wide receiver.

  • On Andrew’s guy George Pickens: “He’s a turd. Absolute head case.”
    • A second scout on Pickens: “Watch him block. He’s going to be a very good pro.”
  • On Wood’s guy Calvin Austin: “Love him. If we didn’t have [REDACTED], we’d be all over him.”
  • On my guy Slade Bolden: “Free agent. Can’t run.”
  • On Christian Watson: “Somebody is going to take him way too high but in the second round, grab him.”
  • On Alec Pierce: “Somebody is going to take Garrett Wilson at 10 and somebody is going to take Alec Pierce at 50 and while Wilson may have a better career it won’t be a huge difference.”
  • On the quarterbacks: “Willis is not good on the whiteboard. Corral has off-field concerns.  I think Howell will be a little better than them all.”
  • On Nick Petit-Frere: “Not a lot of bad snaps, except against Michigan. Solid pro if he can get stronger.”
  • On Luke Goedeke: “Tough/nasty. More of a guard but could get you out of a game at tackle.”

And a general note on the entire draft.

DBB: Why is this draft so unpredictable?

Answer: Because there is no top tier talent. There is no Chase Young, Myles Garrett, Trevor Lawrence….when there are dominant players at QB, LT, pass rusher…we know how the top ten will shake out. There is good and some really good talent in this draft. But very few, if any, surefire blue chippers.  

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Using Historical Trends to Guide Chicago’s Draft Approach

| April 28th, 2022


Let’s look at historical trends to see where the Bears can expect to find positional value at various points in the draft. This builds very closely off work I’ve done each of the last two years, and here’s a quick recap of the approach:

  • I looked at the last 15 drafts (2007-21) to see how many players at each position were drafted in the top 50 (their 2nd round picks are #39 and 48), top 70 (their 3rd round pick is #71), and top 150 (their next picks are #148 and #150). I didn’t look at the 1st round because the Bears don’t have a 1st round pick this year.
    • My source for this data did not differentiate between CB and S, so I combined those into DB.
    • They did differentiate between interior offensive line and offensive tackle, so I kept those separate.
  • I then used The Athletic’s composite big board, which averages rankings from a number of different draft sources, to compare to historical trends. I focused especially on positions which I believe are the primary needs for the Bears. The idea here is that positions with more players than usual ranked in a given range are more likely to have somebody highly rated slip through the cracks, while positions with fewer players than usual ranked in a given range are more likely to have somebody reach for them to fill a need.

This is my third year applying this approach to the draft, and I was a bit hesitant about it at first, because it seems risky to rely on draft rankings from people who don’t work in the NFL. It’s quite possible that people in the NFL view these players entirely differently. However, I think the track record has been pretty solid over the last two years. For instance:

  • In 2020, I found the Bears should look to grab a defensive back early, because the depth on day three was not very good, and they landed Jaylon Johnson in round two. I also found the value at WR should be good throughout the draft, so the Bears could add there at any point, and they found Darnell Mooney in round five.
  • In 2021, I found the QB class was loaded at the top but not deep, so the Bears should look to take a QB early. At the same time, I found the OT class was historically deep, so they should look to draft one early and another late. They ended up with Justin Fields, Teven Jenkins, and Larry Borom all contributing as rookies.
  • Of course, it hasn’t all been great. In 2020 I said the Bears would not find value at TE in round 2, and they landed Cole Kmet, who has at least been a capable player (even if I don’t think he’s particularly great).

This is definitely an inexact science, and we don’t want to put too much stock in it, but I think it’s a useful exercise to see what positions might have more good players than usual, and thus possibly value for the Bears.


Round 2 (Top 50)

Here is the data for players drafted in the top 50.

  • Because every draft is different, I provided a range from the least to most players at that position drafted in the top 50 picks since 2007, as well as an average.
  • The last column shows how many players from that position are ranked in the top 50 right now according to the composite big board linked above.
  • Positions that are particularly good or bad are highlighted in colors (red for historically low, orange for near the low end of the range, light green for near the top end of the range, and green for historically good).

A few thoughts:

  • It’s a good year for the Bears to need a WR, especially at the top of their draft. There are nine WRs ranked in the top 50 on the composite big board, there have been eight or fewer WRs taken in the top 50 13 times in the last 15 drafts. If history holds here, the Bears should have some solid value options at WR with either of their second round picks.
  • There also seems to be pretty solid value at defensive back, where 12 players are ranked in the top 50 and 13 of the last 15 drafts have seen 11 or fewer DBs selected in that range. The Bears could use starters at outside CB, nickel CB, and safety, so they may look to fill one of those spots in the second round.
  • The rest of the Bears’ biggest need positions are right around their historical averages, meaning there may or may not be value present for the Bears, depending on how the draft falls.

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The Dannehy Draft Guy: Georgia WR George Pickens

| April 27th, 2022


With as many needs as the Chicago Bears have, it would be hard for them to go wrong, regardless of which positions they pick Friday night. But the one player who could drastically change how the team looks going forward is Georgia wide receiver George Pickens.

Pickens is the complete package: size, speed and even blocking ability (something that will likely be important to the Bears). He would provide the Bears and Justin Fields with a big target (six-foot-three) on the outside who can get deep and make plays after the catch. When is the last time the Bears had a receiver like that?

Pickens led Georgia in receiving as a freshman and a sophomore and scored 14 touchdowns in his first 20 college games. He averaged 15 yards per catch for his career, despite some questionable quarterback play.



There seems to be little question that Pickens is one of the 20 most talented players in this draft. The only reason the Bears have a realistic shot at him is because of injuries. He missed most of his junior season after tearing his ACL in March. He came back at the end of the year but wasn’t quite up to speed. He also missed two games as a sophomore.

There have been some reports of character questions with Pickens, though those remarks could also have come from teams hoping he falls — believe very little of what you hear this week.

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