I realize the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot is stacked, but good luck keeping Brian Urlacher out on his first try. Not with this background:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 28, 2018
- Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times explores Urlacher’s first-ballot candidacy with perspective from coach Lovie Smith, linebacker teammate Lance Briggs, and Bears Chairman George McCaskey. Ray Lewis’ status shouldn’t keep Urlacher from gaining entry to the Hall on his first try, just as Urlacher’s presence shouldn’t keep Lewis out. The two greatest of their generation, both of whom changed the position, should be announced on Saturday as members of the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Full stop.
- Sure, it would be nice to unearth a future Hall of Famer in this draft class, but I’m almost willing to settle on a productive contributor to the franchise’s next Super Bowl winner. Where can we get both? Dan Kadar of SB Nation has stories and breakdowns from Senior Bowl Week. In a week where first-round quarterback Josh Allen (Wyoming) and edge defender Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio) could have made big splashes, less-heralded players like wide receiver James Washington (Oklahoma State) and guard/tackle Isaiah Wynn (Georgia) were among those who helped themselves the most.
- Speaking of Davenport, here he is getting to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield for a sack:
The potential 1st round pick from UT-San Antonio gets to Baker Mayfield for the sack.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 27, 2018
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune offers up his 10 thoughts from the Senior Bowl, but has an though that drifts to another game. Biggs hinted at the possibility of the Bears being invited to play in the Hall of Fame if Urlacher gets the call to the Hall. The NFL generally rewards teams with that game, which also allows participating teams to start training camp earlier and play in an extra preseason game. With Matt Nagy entering his first head-coaching gig, a few extra practice snaps wouldn’t hurt.
- As for Biggs’ findings in Mobile, Ala., a scout provided two players (who happen to play positions the Bears could use some help at) who were most impressive in the week leading up to the game — Colorado State wide receiver Michael Gallup and Pittsburgh tackle Brian O’Neill. Gallup caught three passes for 60 yards for the North Team in Saturday’s game, while O’Neill is coming off a week where he probably helped himself out the most of any offensive line prospect.
- No receiver impressed like D.J. Chark, who hauled in five passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. The LSU standout didn’t get much action in Baton Rouge, in part because the quarterbacks throwing him the ball struggled to make plays. Chark popped up in a mock draft that looks like a best-case scenario from a Bears perspective.
- Chark and Davenport were among the seven draft prospects who helped themselves out the most with how they played in the Senior Bowl, according to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah. Linebacker Darius Leonard jumped off the screen with his performance on Saturday, too. The South Carolina State product came up with a game-high 14 tackles and was making plays all over the field. That Jeremiah favorably compared to Jaguars outside linebacker Telvin Smith is high praise.
- In his mailbag segment, Larry Mayer of the Chicago Bears’ official website explains why Tarik Cohen is the position player (non-quarterback division) who will benefit the most from the change in coaching staff. Mayer believes a new head coach and offensive coordinator have the creative juices to get more from Cohen than the staff that came before them. Cohen is going to make some natural progression going from Year 1 to Year 2, but using him in different formations and in different spots on the field could take his game to another level.
- The Athletic goes into an imaginative place to create the Chicago Tough, the new XFL team that offers up a little something after a tough wild-card loss for the Mitch Trubisky led Bears. (Seriously, sign me up for that scenario!) For the sake of fun, Kevin Fishbain, Dan Durkin, and Jon Greenberg put together an offense, defense, coaching staff, and more for Chicago’s imaginary team. I might be partial to this scenario because I’m enamored with the idea of professional(ish?) football being played at my high school alma mater’s stadium. But it’s cool to have fun and think wildly.
- For what it’s worth. I have a small interest in the XFL reboot, but it all depends on how it is marketed and framed publicly. There seems to be plenty of upside if it’s a second-chance league, a place for players to get additional development, or an alternative to college football. Vince McMahon has a few years to figure it out, which is smart thinking after the hastily planned original XFL that led to it quickly flaming out.