Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
*pant* *pant* So the Chicago *pant* The Chicago Bears *pant* hold on *pant* give me a second, just sprinted to *pant* the podium and back... *gulps water* Phew, sorry about that, had to catch my breath.
Analysis on the 2015 Bears
The Chicago Bears, having endured two years of regression under Marc Tretsman, went through some major organizational changes during the 2015 offseason. The team released Tretsman and hired veteran coach John Fox, recently let go from the Denver Elways Broncos, switching from an offensive-minded HC to a defensive-minded HC. Fox hired Vic Fangio, signaling the end of the "Mel Tucker 4-3" defensive scheme and a start of a shifting defensive scheme with a base 3-4 package and some sub 4-3 packages. The Bears opted to trade away Brandon Marshall, arguably their top receiving option, to the Jets (along with a 7th round pick) for an additional selection in the 5th Round. The team invested a good deal into the defensive side of the ball, signing Pernell McPhee to a major contract and Antrel Rolle to a decent-sized contract. They drafted WR Kevin White in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and signed Eddie Royal, but largely left their offense untouched going into the 2015 season personnel-wise.
So how did all of these changes pan out for the team? The answer is...not much better record-wise, elevating their 2014 record of 5-11 to a record of 6-10. However, their 2015 record is a tad bit deceiving, as there was marked improvement in their statistics going from the previous season to this past season.
The offense managed to stick right at 21st in the league, same as in 2014, but their statistical numbers around their ranking improved. Most notably, the team boosted their rushing attack by almost 400 yards thanks to a pair of talented backs in Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford. Jay Cutler had one of his better statistical years, posting up high the highest QB rating of his career. Despite moving Kyle Long out to a position to RT, the Bears let up less sacks and improved from their previous season. The team lost first round draft pick Kevin White for the entire year right before the start of the season and were without star WR Alshon Jeffery for seven games of the season, which makes their "average" performance more understandable.
The biggest statistical improvement, however, came on the defensive side of the ball. The team went from a near league-worst 30th ranking in 2014 to 14th in the league in 2015. Their pass defense was the major reason why, going from 4230 yards allowed in 2014 to 3593 in 2015, good for 4th in the league. With all of this said, their run defense regressed slightly from the previous year, and despite the incredible progress made in YPA, the defense amassed less sacks, interceptions, and forced fumbles than the previous year. The Bears defense became more sound at their core, but the areas that make good defenses great need improvement going into the 2016 season.
The Current 2016 Bears
The 2016 offseason was not nearly as dramatic in terms of coaching personnel changes, with the team remaining largely unchanged in schemes and coaching staff. However, the Bears had a very active free agency that resulted in a mixed bag of positive and negative changes.
The team lost some major offensive talent, letting players like Matt Forte walk in free agency and trading Martellus Bennett to the Patriots for more draft picks. Also, the team let former first round pick Shea McClellin walk, who while being a disappointing pick for them in previous years had a solid 2015 campaign
Even though significant pieces were lost, the Bears firmly believe that remaining players on the team will be able to fill in for those departures, and the team made some critical additions during the Free Agency period. The team insists that Jeremy Langford can be a quality starting running back in the NFL, so a replacement for Forte isn't necessarily urgent for them. The team signed Bobby Massie to play RT, which will push Kyle Long back into his original Guard spot, re-establishing his Pro Bowl-level of talent there. The team dropped their two starting ILB's and picked up two talented players in Jerrell Freeman and Dany Trevathan, turning what was once a weakness into a position of strength.
In short, the Bears made it a priority to shore up its defensive front seven this offseason while plugging in some small holes here and there to help remaining players return back to positions where they excelled at.
The Draft: The Chicago Bears Select...
Now, the moment everyone's actually here for: the draft pick. First, let's establish where the Bears' positions of needs are prior to announcing their pick at #11 this April.
The good news for the Bears is that after a productive free agency period, the team has very few holes when it comes to starting personnel. They have a set QB, an above average trio of WR's, a potentially good RB, some talent on the offensive line, a revamped front seven, and a secondary that largely remains the same as their impressive 2015 squad. So for the Bears, the 2016 Draft should be less about filling in an immediate need and more about drafting talent to either improve an aspect of the team or to eventually replace aging or injured talent on the team. With this said, there are positions that definitely need an infusion of talent. One general position and three specific positions on the Bears could use immediate upgrades.
Pass Rush: The Bears amassed just 35 sacks last year and continuously struggled to get to the quarterback the entire year. No one posted double digit sacks, and four of those 35 sacks were from the departed Jarvis Jenkins. The Bears need some additional pass rushing help from either a pass rush-oriented 3-4 DE starter or a quality 3-4 OLB pass rusher who can come in on passing downs. I'll review some 3-4 DE targets below, but for the OLB spot, this pick could be used on a talents like Myles Jack, Darron Lee, Shaq Lawson, or even Jaylon Smith if teams view that his injury won't impact his NFL career.
Left Tackle: Charles Leno is currently slated to be the team's starting LT, but he's been about average in his protection and was previously just a seventh round OT investment. The team could use the 11th pick in the draft to make their improved offensive line even greater. If available, Ronnie Stanley would be an awesome pick here, who projects to be one of the draft's better LT prospects. Jack Conklin could also be in play here, but Conklin projects more as an RT prospect (where FA Bobby Massie plays) and might be limited in his potential if the team sticks with Massie for the entirety of his contract.
3-4 Defensive End: Arguably the one true positional hole on the team, and while the team signed Akiem Ayers to fill one of these open spots, the Bears could use a real talent in the remaining DE spot. While their secondary and pass defense was improved from previous years, their run defense remained the same (and if not, then slightly worse). They need a player who can not only plug in holes along the line and direct traffic in the run game, but also apply some pass pressure from within the trenches. DeForrest Buckner or Joey Bosa would be an absolute dream in terms of helping out the line if they fall, but if they're not there, players like Sheldon Rankins or A'Shawn Robinson make a ton of sense here.
Cornerback: This is a sneaky weakness for the Bears, as while their secondary was impressive last year, the players in the secondary tend to be on the more fragile side. Tracy Porter did a slid job for the team as their second corner, but has only played one full season in his career. Kyle Fuller is young, but has been somewhat streaky with his success. There is depth behind these two, but it's not the most talented depth, and if someone on the first string goes down, this defense will falter. Vernon Hargreaves III would be a nice pick-up for them here if he's available, but if he's not, expect this position to be tacked with their second or third round picks, where they can nab an immediate starter at Nickel and quality depth on the outside.
GM's game plan for months about the NFL Draft. They have a board of prospects, projections on where players will be going, scheme fits, and a slew of coaches and scouts at their disposal on draft day. There's always one or two players you put at the top of your list as "potential trade target" or guarantee locks if they fall to your pick. For the Bears, I think one of those players just fell to them at #11. That player is Joey Bosa.
Joey Bosa: The Prospect
Ever since the beginning of the 2016 Mock Draft season, people have been placing Joey Bosa in the Top 5 draft pick pool. It's for good reason, too: Joey Bosa was one of the major reasons why Ohio State's defense was so prolific over the past few years, being known as a fearsome pass rusher for the Buckeyes and setting the edge for their solid 4-3 Base defense. Looking at Bosa as a prospect, the first thing that pops out is his size. Standing at a towering 6'5" tall, weight at just shy under 270 pounds, Bosa has the prototypical size for setting the line of scrimmage and overpowering Tackles with his blend of size and speed. One of the biggest things Bosa is credited for is his awareness and football IQ: he's an extremely sound player when it comes to technique, almost so that drafting Bosa would be like drafting a good veteran defensive player right out of the draft. What about his strength and motor? Well, he has plenty of those too.
Watch how Joey Bosa single-handedly battles a double team back into the quarterback, which (in combination with a push with just one of his hands) throws the QB on to the ground. To go with his strength and size, he has good athletic measurements, particularly in his lower body.
His pass rushing skills?
Outstanding. Joey Bosa pulls apart tackles like putty, pulling lineman away from the center and using various moves to cut in and attack the quarterback.
While he does lack long arm length, the rest of Joey Bosa's profile is very good for a Defensive Lineman prospect, particularly his short distance runs and broad jump. His 40 time was not super impressive for a 4-3 end, but as I'll explain later, the Bears drafting Bosa will mean a shift in position due to John Fox's complicated 3-4 Base, 4-3 Shift scheme. In any case, Joey Bosa's measurables offer him great versatility that could place him in many spots along the defense. He spent most of his career in the 4-3 DE spot and performed extremely well. However, some scouts also believe that Bosa has the potential to play 3-4 OLB or 3-4 DE, with a bit of work changing his frame for the DT position, making him a valuable addition to ANY defensive front.
So why the slide down to #11 for such a high prospect. For one, some scouts believe that (as a 4-3 DE), Joey Bosa has hit his "max" frame and may not have much room for growth outside of what people have seen at Ohio State the past three years. Joey Bosa also has had some past off the field issues revolving around partying (particularly with his teammate Ezekiel Elliot) which caused him to lose game time. However, after separating himself from the partying scene his Junior year, most of these criticisms have actively been neutered by Bosa himself in an effort to improve his life. Finally, some view Bosa as a strict 4-3 DE, so scheme fit may have played a role.
Joey Bosa: The Chicago Bear
First of all, no one is more excited about this pick that HC John Fox. One of the major reasons why the Denver Broncos, his previous team, performed so well was because the team had major playmakers on the defensive side of the ball (namely, Von Miller). Fox loves versatile players who can generate a pass rush from any angle, and Joey Bosa brings some (if not most) of those traits with him to any team that drafts him
However, no doubt there is a distinct issue here that the Chicago Bears run a 3-4 Base defense, so a position change would need to be in order to make Bosa an effective player. The question is: should Bosa be placed in the 3-4 OLB position, or should he be placed in the 3-4 DE spot? I think that's a decision that will be assessed by the Bears carefully and will be ultimately up to what the team thinks it needs more, a 3-4 OLB pass rusher (which would limit Bosa's snaps due to the position being filled by quality players) or a 3-4 DE (which would require him to bulk up). Personally, I think by allowing Bosa to bulk up and try his hand at 3-4 DE, you increase the upside of a player who many consider to be already limited in ceiling while still getting interior pass rush pressure, similar to J. J. Watt or Fletcher Cox. This would also solidify their defensive unit as a whole with 3-down players, while a 3-4 pass rush OLB would force split times between Bosa and other players.
Certainly, there is an argument over whether or not Joey Bosa is a Top 5 draft pick. However, all the way at 11, the Bears get a steal of a player in potentially two positions of need for their defensive-minded coach who has been working to fix his front seven all pre-season. This is a match made in heaven.
2016 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Titans (ablesser88) - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss - [Explanation]
2) Browns ( Genius) - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State - [Explanation]
3) Chargers (StoneColeKiller58) - Jared Goff, QB, Cal - [Explanation]
4) Cowboys (kamjam) - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State - [Explanation]
5) Jaguars (drc242) - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State - [Explanation]
6) Ravens (rohan915) - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon - [Explanation]
7) 49ers (LAOJoe) - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA - [Explanation]
8) Eagles (slickpablovick) - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame - [Explanation]
9) Buccaneers (OneBucFan47) - Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky - [Explanation]
10) Giants (Paulie97) - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida - [Explanation]
11) Bears (Kiko's Delivery Service) - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State - [Explanation]
12) Saints (kylebruneault) -
13) Dolphins (wildcatlh) -
14) Raiders (Luxury_Used_Vehicles_By_Braman) -
15) Rams (NowWhat?) -
16) Lions (bri g) -
17) Falcons (thealien2696) -
18) Colts (ei78) -
19) Bills (naderg43) -
20) Jets (Quacking_Eagle) -
21) Washington (TheCoxishere) -
22) Texans (jeppsforst) -
23) Vikings (WScott151) -
24) Bengals (burkhart_b) -
25) Steelers (theaction) -
26) Seahawks (tfrank9811) -
27) Packers (3Trace) -
28) Chiefs (jawmo) -
N/A) Patriots - Cheaters
29) Cardinals (big DUB) -
30) Panthers (zatch2k) -
31) Broncos (JALupowitz) -