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Bears Banter

Bears Banter Off-Season Edition Vol. 4


10 Questions for Columnist Eric Cook on Bears Banter Volume 4:

1. Lance Briggs resigns at a “fair and reasonable” price (less than what Berrian signed for), Berrian goes to division rival Minnesota, Ayanbadejo is off to Baltimore (had a good chance to obtain him), you agree with these three decisions? I think Chicago’s front office handled this as good as you can and are we winners or losers in the off-season at this moment?

I certainly agree with the way we handled these three (Ayanbadejo, Berrian and Briggs). Are we winners or losers at this point?
We did some good things…we locked up players that we had on the team, although I would have liked to see a new face at QB in Grossman’s case, the move makes sense for the team and helps continuity/chemistry. I like the signing of Marty Booker, he is “sure handed”, and was a pro bowler and was the most productive receiver on the Dolphins squad last season. He’ll offer us sure hands over the middle and a great possession guy, plus his help in mentoring the young guys.

2. Was re-signing Briggs a shocker to you? And who’s next to get a contract extension in order among these four key players: Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Brian Urlacher, and Robbie Gould.

Yes, the signing of Lance Briggs was a shocker, the way he talked last season in combination with having Drew Rosenhaus as an agent, I assumed he was going to be an Ex-Bear.

1. Tommie Harris
2. Devin Hester
3. Brian Urlacher
4. Robbie Gould

3. Marty Booker is a solid possession receiver and is tough over the middle along with being a good blocker but how productive will he be and was he the best choice on the market? (Consider he chose us over N.E.) If he wasn’t, then who would you’ve rather picked up in FA.

The bottom line is we were not going to get a true #1 in Free Agency, so I think we ended up with a good acquisition for what was out there. Maybe Bryant Johnson or D.J. Hackett have more upside but Booker has proven he can be productive in this league, and he will be a veteran presence to “coach” up the young guys. I think his stats are reflective of what he can do, along with being on a really bad Dolphins team.

4. Do you still see the Bears selecting a WR within the first two picks or in the 3rd round (2 picks), or on Day 2 in the Draft?

I hope they do, many Mock Drafts have receivers falling into the 2nd and 3rd rounds. I would like to see us get a premiere left tackle in the first round and a QB in the second then address WR with one of our 3rd round picks.

5. It looks like Chicago has four legitimate options they have a close eye on with the 14th overall choice – Ryan Clady (OT – Boise St.), Chris Williams (OT – Vanderbilt), Rashard Mendenhall (RB – Illinois), and Jonathan Stewart (RB – Oregon) are all being considered – Rank ’em in order of who you want and give a small comment on what you think of ’em.

1. Ryan Clady – I just think he is a stud and had great workouts to increase his stock. (Word is Carolina is interested with the 13th pick).
2. Chris Williams– He is massive and versatile, he played both offensive guard and tackle on the left side. A quote from an NFL website here: “After allowing a quarterback sack vs. Michigan in the season opener, no other opposing defender would get past the left tackle to sack a Vanderbilt quarterback the rest of the campaign. He posted an 84.1% grade for blocking consistency, along with 79 knockdowns and nine touchdown-resulting blocks.”
3. Jonathon StewartHe is bigger and faster than Mendenhall and has a little more experience and I think his stats more accurately reflect where he is as a back.
4. Rashard MendenhallHe is extremely talented, but he played in a spread offense which gives the Big 10 fits at times, so I am not sure his stats reflect where he is as a back.

6. What’s the difference between Mendenhall and Stewart? Is one clearly better than the other? Which one fits in better and could either back be a starter early in the season?

I think the first thing you notice is the difference in size some sites have Stewart as much as 10 pounds heavier at 235 and at 5’11” being one inch taller than Mendenhall who is at 5’10” 224, being as low as 215. The second thing you notice is Stewart outperformed Mendenhall in all of the drills at the combine, there 40’s were close but Mendenhall’s best was a 4:42 and Stewart’s was clocked at 4:38. Stewart is faster in the 40 and in the 20 yard dash as well.
I think the clincher is that Stewart played a tougher schedule and went toe-to-toe against defenses that were used to playing against a spread offense and had similar stats to Mendenhall. In my opinion I would take Stewart over Mendenhall because he is more NFL-ready and is more of a pro-style RB .

7. The focus obviously has to be on the OL because Turner signed with Atlanta and we have two holes to make up for at offensive LG/LT – Do you think GM Jerry Angelo thinks enough about his unit now and is Josh Beekman (4th round steal in terms of value out of BC) ready to start over the likes of a veteran FA or Metcalf? Ideally, how many OL do you want to draft?

I would like to see us take two OL in the draft. We are thin at that position and we know we need to get better upfront in the trenches. I don’t see any scenario where Angelo feels like we are fine the way we are currently.

8. Limas Sweed’s name is getting mentioned and thrown around as our 2nd round pick in many mock drafts – Do you believe in getting him if we pick a RB first, or do we have to pick an OL to get him in the 2nd? What do you think about this physical specimen (6’4” 220, 4.4) who underachieved once Vince Young left and was often injured. Any comparisons, how highly do you think of Sweed?

I haven’t watched a lot of Limas Sweed on film, but as you know I think we need to go O-Line in first round. I am not all that high on him simply for the reasons you mentioned. If we went for a receiver I think we could get someone with all the characteristics of Sweed in Mario Manningham.

9. I’ve been hearing Rashard Mendenhall as the clear-cut consensus pick – Everyone seems to be in love with him and the more and more I think about his style I cannot put my finger on a comparison, does he remind you of anyone and does the fact he only had 1 stellar season in College in the spread offense – a big enough factor in turning Chicago away from him?

I honestly do not have a comparison, though I have heard comparisons to Marshall Faulk and Terrell Davis. As you can see if I have to take RB, I would definitely take Jonathon Stewart out of Oregon. But OL and QB are big priorities that should be taken care of first.

10. You would love to be the Bears GM just as much as I do and since you know a lot about our Windy City Soldiers/Monsters of the Midway – How much do you play Devin Hester on offense and is the “Windy City Flyer” going to start or play more slot because he is the most dangerous threat to go the distance when he has the ball in his hands on Special Teams – can that translate this year over to the offensive end and will he be effective as a #2 or #3 WR and a Kick/Punt Returner? Also answer this: The way we use #23 on offense is the #1 key to how well our offense performs?

I am not sure how exactly he fits into the offense this year, I like the idea of him playing more slot and Booker, Hass or Davis going over the middle to take the double team off Hester. Hester definitely has the ability to break it and if we can give our QB time he can connect.

I think he can be effective as a returner as well. Obviously if he is the #1 his productivity could suffer. But, if we get a running game it could take a little pressure off of him.

I agree that we need to line him up in the slot so we can keep teams from stacking the box against us (8-man fronts), if we can give our QB time to throw the football and consistently hit the deep ball when it is there, he could be one of the most dangerous receivers for the Bears in recent history. We have a talented TE Tandem in Clark and Olsen, as well as Adrian Peterson as a receiving threat out of the backfield, and in Bradley we have a “Wes Welker” type player (I only Hope he is as tough). At any rate, Hester has to be a huge part of our offense this year, especially with us losing Berrian.

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