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Where is the Positional Value for the betway平台 in the 2020 Draft? (Part Two)

| April 21st, 2020

Yesterday I looked at top 50 prospects and found there is likely to be excellent value at WR, with solid value expected at DB, OT, and QB. Today, I want to look at the top 175 prospects to roughly fall in line with the Bears’ 3rd pick, which is 163.

The table below shows how many players were drafted in the top 175 picks at each main Bears position of need in the 2010-19 drafts. Because every draft is different, I provided a range from the least to most players at that position drafted in the top 175 picks within the last 10 drafts, as well as an average. The last column shows how many players from that position are ranked in the top 175 right now according to a composite big board.



 

Look at the ranges compared to how many players are currently ranked in the top 175 to get an idea of what positions are strong or weak in terms of depth for this year’s draft. For instance, 28 WRs are ranked in the top 175 prospects this year, while an average of 21.4 go in that range, and never more than 25 in the last 10 years. That suggests there is likely value to be found at WR in round 5 (though we never know exactly how a draft will unfold). A few other thoughts:

  • Offensive tackle likewise sees a higher number of prospects ranked than have been drafted in the last 10 years. This position was strong in the top 50 as well, suggesting quality options can be found throughout the draft.
  • Interior offensive line and tight end both presented poorly in the top 50 but are above average in the top 175, suggesting the depth is better than the top end talent and the Bears might do well looking to address these spots on day 3.
  • On the flip side, quarterback and defensive back are both below average in the top 175 but above average in the top 50. This suggests the Bears likely want to focus their attention on those spots with high picks if they’re going to be selected.

Let’s go through position-by-position at the likely value spots for the Bears’ 5th round pick and see what players are likely to be options.

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Where is the Positional Value for the betway平台 in the 2020 Draft? (Part One)

| April 20th, 2020

The 2020 NFL Draft is upon us.

The Bears have a long list of needs but short list of picks. They are currently slated for two picks in Round 2 (43 and 50) and then don’t pick again until the middle of round 5 (pick 163). But trades could always shake that up.

In order to maximize those limited draft resources, the Bears need to be smart about finding positional value with their picks. We never know exactly how a draft will unfold, but we can examine historical trends to see what positions are most likely to provide value this year.


The Setup

I looked at every draft from 2010-19 to see how many players at each position were drafted in the top 50 (their 2nd round picks) and top 175 (their 5th round pick). Since this is Bears-specific, I especially focused on their top 4 needs that I identified after free agency died down: wide receiver, offensive line, defensive back, and edge rusher. I also looked at tight end and quarterback since those are two future needs that have gotten a lot of attention from fans this off-season. A few notes:

  • My source for this data did not differentiate between CB and S, so I combined the 2 into DB.
  • They did differentiate between interior offensive line and offensive tackle, so I kept those separate.
  • They had LB and DE as separate, with some edge rushers on both lists. I included all DE as edge rushers (even though some were more 3-4 DEs, not true edge rushers) and manually went through the LB list, looked up scouting reports for every player, and included anybody who was talked about as an edge rusher.

I then found a composite big board that averages player rankings from 18 different draft analysts and used those rankings to compare to historical trends.


2nd Round

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 within the last 10 drafts, 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.

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Looking at RB Fits in the 2020 NFL Draft

| April 14th, 2020


Running back isn’t one of Chicago’s biggest needs heading into the draft, but they do need to add speed and diversify how they use their backs, so they might look for a player who can combine some of Tarik Cohen’s big-play ability with David Montgomery’s steady presence as a lead rusher.

With that in mind, let’s look at what running backs in the draft could be fits for this offense. Last year I identified four physical characteristics that running backs who thrive in this offense generally share:

  • Short. This is measured through height, which usually comes in at or below the average RB at the Combine (5’10”).
  • Well built. This is measured through weight, which usually comes in at or above the average RB at the Combine (214 pounds).
  • Good acceleration. This is measured through the first 10 yards of the 40 yard dash, which should come in above average (1.59 seconds or better).
  • Explosive. This is usually measured through the vertical and broad jumps, which typically measure out better than the overall RB average of 35″ and 118″, respectively.

Every running back Andy Reid brought in to Kansas City for this offense hit at least 4 of those 5 thresholds (explosiveness has 2). David Montgomery, Chicago’s 3rd round pick last year, hit 3 of 5. So this is clearly a physical profile that the coaches are looking for.

As always, these test results are not a way to say how good or bad a running back will be, but simply if they match the physical characteristics of previous players who have excelled in this offense.


4-5 Thresholds Hit

As was the case with WR (but not TE), this is a physically gifted draft class for running backs. 16 of the 28 who did at least 4 of the 5 tests hit 4 or more of the physical thresholds. They can be seen below, with missed thresholds in red.

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Looking at WR Fits in the 2020 NFL Draft

| April 7th, 2020

Last week I identified wide receiver as Chicago’s biggest roster need heading into the draft, so today I want to look at wide receivers in the draft and see which ones might be a fit for this offense. I’ve done previous work looking at wide receivers Andy Reid brought in to Kansas City, where he trained Matt Nagy. When examining their Combine performance, all typically excelled at three drills:

  • 40 yard dash: 4.51 seconds or better
  • Vertical jump: 35.5 inches or higher
  • Broad jump: 10 feet or longer

Receivers who were targeted for that offense usually hit at least 2 of those 3 thresholds, with many of them hitting all 3. And this seems to hold true in Chicago, at least in terms of the wide receivers in which the Bears have invested most. Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel all hit at least 2 of 3 thresholds. 2019 4th round pick Riley Ridley only hit 1/3, and 2018 7th round pick Javon Wims 0/3. (A day 3 pick is less of an investment.). Given that the Bears are likely considering WR in round 2 again this year, I think it’s worth looking at what players who might be good physical fits for this offense.

As always, these test results are not a way to say how good or bad a wide receiver will be, but simply if they match the physical characteristics of previous players who have excelled in this offense.


2+ Thresholds Hit

Unlike at tight end, this is a very athletic wide receiver class; 31 of the 45 WRs who did at least 2 of these 3 tests at the Combine hit at least 2 of the three thresholds. Their results are shown in the table below (missed thresholds are shown in red).

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Where Does the Bears Roster Stand Today?

| April 1st, 2020

The free agency dust has mostly settled, so let’s take a minute before attention shifts to the draft to evaluate where the Bears’ roster currently stands. Taking stock of who they have will help identify the largest remaining needs for the draft (and small free agent moves that can still be made).


The Roster

The table below is my best guess at Chicago’s depth chart right now.

A few quick notes:

  • Don’t worry too much about who’s listed as starter/2nd string (especially Foles/Trubisky and Burton/Graham). That’s just my best guess at who I think is better if everybody is healthy.
  • I included players who have not officially been announced, and there’s always a slim chance something could fall through with one of them. This includes Isaiah Irving, and Robert Quinn (and honestly maybe more that I didn’t realize).

The Financial Situation

We don’t actually know Chicago’s exact cap situation right now because of Nick Foles. Adam Schefter reported the Bears and Foles agreed to a restructured contract, but nobody has seen details yet (update: details are starting to come out, and it looks like Foles has an $8M cap hit for 2020, which would give the Bears about $8-9M in cap space before the Ifedi signing). We also don’t know exactly what the cap hit for Germain Ifedi will be.

Spotrac and Over The Cap, the two main NFL cap sites, are both operating under the assumption that Foles’ Jacksonville contract transferred over, and they both list the Bears with under $2 million in cap space right now. Restructuring Foles could clear up to $10 million, and there are other moves the Bears could do to push cap money to the future, but Ryan Pace has already aggressively moved money to the future this off-season. So the Bears still have a little bit of wiggle room, but probably aren’t handing out any big free agency contracts at this point.

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Light, Fast & Explosive: Looking at TE Fits in the 2020 Draft

| March 25th, 2020

It’s no secret that the Bears are looking to upgrade the tight end group this offseason, after the position gave them historically bad production in 2019. If past positional overhauls are any indication (RB in 2018 offseason, WR in 2017 offseason), Ryan Pace will likely look to add players both in free agency and the draft.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bears have added Jimmy Graham to this group in free agency on what is essentially a one-year deal.]

Last year, I looked at the Combine performance of every tight end drafted for a Reid offense in Philadelphia (1999-2012, 2016-present with Doug Pederson) or Kansas City (2013-present) to see if any patterns emerged.  Three traits stood out:

  • Light: every tight end was 258 pounds or less, with an average of less than 250 pounds for the group as a whole. That is appreciably lighter than the NFL average of 255 pounds.
  • Fast: the average NFL tight end runs a 40 in around 4.70 seconds. 8 of 10 in this sample size were faster than that.
  • Explosive: explosiveness is usually measured through jumps, and the average vertical jump for tight ends is just under 33″. 8 of the 10 in this sample beat that, with an average of 34.3″.

This then gives us a rough profile of a tight end who would be targeted as a pass catcher in this offense. They should be under 260 pounds, run a sub 4.70 40, and have a 33″ or better vertical jump. These all make sense. The main purpose of a TE in this offense (at least for the U TE) is to be able to catch passes. They need to be athletic and able to challenge defenses down the field.

I’ll note these test results are not a way to say how good or bad a tight end will be, but simply if they match the physical characteristics of previous players who have excelled in this offense. Think of it as a way to identify what players are a priority for evaluation.

Now let’s look at which tight ends in the draft this year fit the profile. The table below shows all of the tight ends from the Combine, sorted by how many thresholds they hit. Misses are highlighted in red, while measurements that player did not provide are in purple.

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What are the Bears Getting in Nick Foles?

| March 19th, 2020

The Bears traded a 4th round pick for Nick Foles, and the Bears officially have their new quarterback.

On the surface it might seem puzzling to trade for a 31 year-old quarterback who hasn’t thrown 200 passes in a season since 2015, but one of the big draws for Foles was his familiarity in Matt Nagy’s offense. He played for Nagy in Kansas City in 2016 and in the same scheme in Philadelphia under Doug Pederson in 2017-18. This could be especially important in this offseason, when team activities might not happen before training camp due to Covid-19.

Let’s take a look at some advanced statistics to see how Foles has performed in this offense. In my view, advanced statistics tell us as much about a quarterback’s approach as they do his efficiency. From them, you can see if he favors holding the ball to make a play or getting it out quickly to avoid taking a sack, pushing it deep or throwing it underneath, and making safe passes or taking chances into coverage.

The table below shows a battery of advanced statistics for Foles from 2016-18. For comparison, I included Mitchell Trubisky’s stats from his time under Nagy, and also Alex Smith’s from his time in this offense in Kansas City (the Next Gen Stats database only goes back to 2016, so I couldn’t make his sample any larger). I’ll note that Foles’ stats include playoff games to make the sample a bit bigger; even with that, it’s barely over 500 passes, and about 1/3 of that comes from the playoffs. I color-coordinated columns into general categories: basic efficienty stats (gray), throwing distance (blue), throwing time (tan), and taking chances (green). All data comes from Next Gen Stats except deep passes, which are from Pro Football Reference.

A few thoughts:

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2020 Free Agency Primer

| March 13th, 2020

Free agency starts this week, so let’s take stock of where exactly the Bears’ roster is at. We’ll start by looking at who they currently have under contract, then move to the cap situation to get an idea of how much money they have to spend.

Offense

The table below shows a rough depth chart for the Bears based only on players who are currently under contract with the team. (disclaimer: these are accurate as of 9:00 am on Friday, March 13).

A few thoughts:

  • Everybody wants to talk about QB and TE on the offense, and with good reason, but right guard is the more pressing issue. Alex Bars was undrafted a year ago and played a total of 12 snaps last year on offense. Rashaad Coward, who started 10 games at right guard in 2019, is a restricted free agent, meaning it will be easy for the Bears to bring him back. Given his poor level of play, however, merely doing that wouldn’t solve the problem.
  • Their depth on the offensive line is also a concern. Sam Mustipher was undrafted last year and spent the whole season on the practice squad. I had honestly never heard of Dino Boyd before putting this together – he’s never appeared in an NFL game – but he’s currently the only backup tackle on the roster.
  • So overall the Bears need 3 solid players on the offensive line: a starting right guard, a swing tackle, and a reserve interior offensive lineman (potentially Rashaad Coward).
  • WR is another under the radar issue. Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller are fine as the top 2 receivers, but Javon Wims was bad last year, and Riley Ridley wasn’t good enough to take snaps away from him. None of these guys but Cordarrelle Patterson are fast, and Patterson has proven clearly on 4 teams over 7 years that he’s nothing more than a part-time player on offense. The Bears don’t have money to spend here, but a cheaper veteran for better depth might be a good option.

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Combine Focus: A Deeper Dive into the Bears Need for Speed

| February 27th, 2020

The NFL gathers this week in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine (or Underwear Olympics, as Jeff prefers to call them), when fans throw out years of game film and focus instead on numbers from a few tests done without pads on watch eagerly to see how well their favorite players perform in a number of drills testing athleticism.

No drill is more popular than the 40 yard dash, the purest measure of straight line speed that we have. While results of these few seconds often get over-weighted, speed is lethal in the NFL, and one of the (many) problems with Chicago’s offense is that they don’t have enough of it among their skill position players – RBs, TEs, and WRs. To better illustrate that, let’s dig into the numbers.


What Counts as Fast?

To start with, let’s figure out what average speed looks like in the NFL.

Defining this is more difficult than you might imagine, because getting an average first requires defining a sample.

I was able to find two different studies that did this, with different samples and thus different results.

  • The first is MockDraftable, which provides the average for all Combine times at every position since 1999. However, not all players at the Combine end up playing in the NFL, and some not at the Combine do.
  • The 2nd study by Topher Doll looked at all players who appeared in at least 5 NFL games since 2000 and found, unsurprisingly, faster averages nearly across the board than just plain Combine averages.

The table below shows the average 40 time for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends for each study.

As we can see, those are quite a bit different. Since the Doll study is based on players who actually made it to the NFL, I think that’s probably a better reference value to use as average speed for a position.


Chicago’s Speed

Now let’s look at the 40 times for every player who recorded a carry or target for Chicago in 2019.

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Self-Scouting Matt Nagy’s 2019 Play Calling

| February 21st, 2020

The Bears’ offense was one of the worst in the NFL in 2019 for a variety of reasons. I have already highlighted issues with personnel at right guard, quarterback, and tight end, as well as problems with how coaches chose to use the personnel available to them.

Today I want to look at down and distance tendencies to see what we can learn about Matt Nagy’s situational play calling. With that in mind, I looked at how effective Chicago’s offense was in various situations compared to the NFL as a whole in 2019. All statistics are from the NFL Game Statistics and Information System and Pro Football Reference’s Game Play Finder.


First Down

The table below compares their performance on first down to the NFL as a whole. Success rate data is from Sharp Football.

A few thoughts:

  • The Bears were generally around average in terms of success rate, which is a measure of staying with/ahead of the chains (a successful 1st down play gains at least 40% of the yardage needed for a 1st down).
  • They lagged behind in yards/play both running and passing, which indicates a lack of explosive plays. This makes sense given they were the least explosive offense in the NFL in 2019. Indeed, they had 15 explosive pass plays (2nd fewest) and 6 explosive runs (2nd fewest) on 1st down.
  • The slightly lower run % is partially due to needing to throw it in the 4th quarter while chasing a deficit. If you only look at the 1st-3rd quarter, when that shouldn’t be much of an issue, the Bears ran it on 1st down 49% of the time. This is still lower than the NFL average, which indicates the Bears were generally more pass-happy than the average NFL team. That’s not really a surprise.

Second Down

When it comes to 2nd down, context is needed.

A 3-yard gain is great on 2nd and 2, pretty good on 2nd and 5, and awful on 2nd and 10. With that in mind, I split the data into 4 groups based on the distance required to get a 1st down. The table below shows the results. Numbers in parentheses indicate the NFL average for that group.

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