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soulman

Re-Grading Pace's 2016 Draft

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I though it might be fun to revisit this draft and discuss the picks especially since some are coming up for new contracts.

Re-grading the Bears' 2016 NFL draft class

https://bearswire.usatoday.com/2019/02/10/re-grading-chicago-bears-2016-nfl-draft-leonard-floyd-jordan-howard-cody-whitehair/9/

The general rule in evaluating draft classes is that it takes three seasons before a general manager should be graded for his performance. Now that the 2018 season is in the books, it’s time to look at how the Chicago Bears’ 2016 draft class has played out.

To be clear, players can still get better after Year 3. The more likely scenario, however, is that 2016’s class of Bears has already defined what their career trajectory, and their importance to Chicago, will be.

Let’s get to grading. (These are the grades the author gives each)

Round 1: Leonard Floyd/B

Round 2: Cody Whitehair/B+

Round 3: Jonathan Bullard/D+

Round 4: Nick Kwiatkoski/B

Round 4: Deon Bush/C

Round 4: Deondre Hall/F

Round 5: Jordan Howard/A+

Round 6: Deandre Houston-Carson/B

Round 7: Daniel Braverman/F

 

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As drafts go IMHO I'd label this one as a success and one of Pace's best overall.  With his own scouting staff in place long before the draft and with more confidence and lessons learned from the 2015 draft he set out to gain maximum mileage from his nine picks and I believe he got that in spades.

Leonard Floyd: "B" is probably a fair grade if maybe just a little light.  Based on how well he finished 2018 and now 100% healthy for the first time in awhile I think Floyd showed some real growth at OLB.  Apparently Pace agrees since he's already said he will pick up Floyd's 5th year option. 

Maybe the only difference between a higher grade and how the author graded him as what Floyd actually is vs what he was drafted to be.  He is not and likely never will be that consistent double digit sack machine that Kahlil Mack is.  But he is a versatile OLB who can do several things well including cover.

In reality Floyd finally seem to be settling into a role similar to the one he had at Georgia where he was more of an "Ultra-LB" and used in several ways not just as an edge rusher.  Now that he's added weight and strength he sets the edge well against the run and has become a good but not great pass rusher.

My guess is that long before he plays on his 5th year option Pace will sign him to another longer term deal.

 

Cody Whitehair:  Talk about yet another 2nd round score (Goldman being the other) Whitehair as been all we could have hoped for and more.  This was a pick I really liked although I imagined him at LG instead of OC.  But in this case John Fox may actually have been correct.  Whitehair is a very good OC.

What remains to be seen is whether he'll remain at OC now that we've drafted Daniels and concerns have developed around Kyle Long's longevity. While I don't see Long anywhere but here in 2019 beyond that who can say or whether Whitehair and Daniels will swap positions in 2019.  It's possible.

A B+ or an A- is probably a fair grade for a guy who'll likely play at a Pro Bowl level.  He's getting $1 mil and change for 2019 but he's a core OL in his prime years who'll become a team leader once Long is gone and Pace will want to reward him with a new deal locking him up for another 4 years.

 

Jonathan Bullard:  The author labels Bullard as a disappointment which is probably fair.  He isn't horrible but he simply hasn't been the "steal" he was once labeled as.  IMHO Bullard's biggest problem is the wrong team drafted him and he's been playing out of position ever since.

He came in too light (275-280lbs) to be effective as a 3-4 DE and he got manhandled far too often.  He'd been beefed up to 296lbs now and can better hold his own against the run but I think it's robbed him of his first step quickness and burst.  IMHO he'd make a better 280-285lb 3 Tech DT.

Both Bilal Nichols and RRH have passed him on the depth chart,and provided he can keep RRH whose a RFA, I don't see Bullard playing much in place of those two.  He's still cheap at $820k but for us no more than depth and a guy who'll be challenged to keep his spot this year.

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Bullard is a good run player and rotational piece. He is going to sign somewhere else and probably play more.

To me that is more than a D, it is a solid C+ for the 3rd round. 

Whitehair is a stud, that one is an A for me.

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5 hours ago, WindyCity said:

Bullard is a good run player and rotational piece. He is going to sign somewhere else and probably play more.

To me that is more than a D, it is a solid C+ for the 3rd round. 

Whitehair is a stud, that one is an A for me.

Yep.  I wouldn't downgrade Bullard that badly either.  I didn't slip in my own grade for him but a C or C+ is fair.  Once he gained some weight and strength he's never been as over matched as he was as a rookie. He's been a decent rotational piece but my guess is this is his last year in Chicago.

That aside RRH is a guy whose really grown on me.  He's just a better overall DE who I see some real upside in and a guy I believe Pace needs to keep

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Nick Kwiatkoski:  This is another pick I really liked.  Kwiatkoski is one of those "lunch pail" blue collar types who always shows up prepared to do what's asked of him.  The only thing he seems to lack that would make him more valuable is his speed and range which can be exposed in coverage.  But as an "in the box" ILB/MLB run stuffer he's very good and also a core ST guy.

By virtue of the bonus for playing time both he and Jordan Howard received his cap cost increased to $2 mil and change which puts him right about where he'd be tendered if he was a RFA.  I don't see that as being over the top for a guy who can help in as many ways as he can and I'm hoping Pace sees it the same way.  He and Iggy are both worth while backups and ST guys.

 

Deon Bush:  Here's a pick I never really cared for.  Bush had a terrific junior year in college then fell back as a senior which is probably the reason he dropped into round 4.  He has speed and range and can hit but he also appeared to be very undisciplined as far as carrying out assignments.  As much as Eddie Jackson is a guy who tends to be in the right place at the right time Bush has a rep of being just the opposite.  He freelances too much.

Although he seems to have improved somewhat I can't help but thinking Foles would not have gotten away with a couple of passes he just pitched downfield had Jackson been playing.  He'd have been picked.  So I don't like Bush at FS in coverage at all.  He doesn't attack the ball and he's still somewhat undisciplined looking more to make the big hit than defend the pass.  If he gets a C it's based more on his ST play IMHO.

He may be just OK as a SS replacement for Amos but I also believe we could and should do better and either look at other FA SS or prioritize drafting one this spring.  All of the things I like about Amos as far as his dependability goes I seem to find lacking in Bush.  Pagano is an excellent secondary coach so maybe he can change some of that in Bush and if so we may have another good SS but I will still have my doubts 'til I see it.

 

Deiondre Hall:  I though this kid showed some promise in the preseason of his rookie year but it would seem he never matured much beyond that both on the field and off.  He missed a good chunk of the 2017 season on IR and also failed an attempt to convert him to Safety.  Getting a conditional 7th round pick for him was about the best we could hope because he was unlikely to even make the final roster cut with us.  So one failed pick here.

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I think coming away with Whitehair & Howard make this draft pretty great alone...

Floyd still has a ton of upside and could make the next step this coming year with a bit more of an exotic scheme...

Nick K is a solid spot starter...Bullard was the one real disappointment for me as I figured he would carve out a real role for himself...

Bush is the really interesting guy for me and I would love to know how they view him...real speed and hitting ability at that position...but has he learned how to read the game more? Free agency will tell us alot...if we go big or resign Amos then they still see him as a special teamer...if they bring in someone cheap they he could be allowed to compete for that starting role.

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Jordan Howard:  Not much more to say other than he's got to be one of the best 5th round picks the Bears ever made.  Kudos to Pace and his staff for recognizing how effective Howard could be running behind a zone blocking scheme.  He was a perfect RB for a John Fox led ground and pound offense but unfortunately not so perfect for a Matt Nagy variant of a WCO that utilizes far more passing and RPO calls.

I don't believe so much that Howard has lost much if anything as much as I believe he simply hasn't been used in a way that features his strengths.  He's a guy who needs 20 carries or more per game to wear defenses down and he's not getting that every game nor will he ever in this offense it would appear. As much as I would hate to see him go this may be the best time for Pace to maximize his trade value.

With a $2 mil and change 2019 salary he's a bargain for any team running a pure zone scheme willing to extend his deal now which I'm sure Jordan would appreciate.  I just don't see Pace doing it as long as we truly have an interest in Kareem Hunt or a rookie replacement.  I can't really quarrel with his grading and I think we'd actually be doing Howard a favor by trading him somewhere he could again become that workhorse RB.

 

DeAndre Houston-Carson:  Any time a 6th round pick sticks period IMHO he is a good pick and Houston-Carson has lasted 3 years becoming one of our top ST coverage guys in 2018.  He's and Exclusive Rights FA so it should be very easy to keep him around another year for a minimal salary.

 

Daniel Braverman:  When we drafted him I really though he had a shot at becoming another Wes Welker, and so did many others.  Instead he's become just another Dane Sanzenbacher.  We released him, KC signed and released him, and finally AZ signed him to their PS then released him soon after.

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On February 10, 2019 at 6:13 AM, soulman said:

 

Let’s get to grading. (These are the grades the author gives each)

Round 1: Leonard Floyd/B

Round 2: Cody Whitehair/B+

Round 3: Jonathan Bullard/D+

Round 4: Nick Kwiatkoski/B

Round 4: Deon Bush/C

Round 4: Deondre Hall/F

Round 5: Jordan Howard/A+

Round 6: Deandre Houston-Carson/B

Round 7: Daniel Braverman/F

 

Floyd - C+  Looked real good late in 2018 season and this grade goes up if that continues, but for career been oft injured and unproductive realtive to where he was picked and fact that they traded up for him.

Whitehair - B+  Developing into one of best interior linemen in the league and position versatilty ups his value.

Bullard - D Has underachieved for his talent.

Bush C+ Was a D-, but took a big step up last year.  Could move up if continues to improve. Probably Bears best secondary tackler. 

Hall - F

Howard - B+ Carried entire Bears offense on his back for two years. Regressed under Nagy's O and lacked explosive plays. Below average in passing game. 

DHC - B just because he was 6th round pick and I dont even expect those guys to make the team. Good special teamer.

Braverman - F 

I was much more impressed with 2017 and 2018 Pace than 2015 and 2016 Pace in terms of draft. 

 

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Forgot Nick -C  Solid back up, but lacks foot speed to be any kind of difference maker for an NFL defense. 

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6 hours ago, dll2000 said:

Floyd - C+  Looked real good late in 2018 season and this grade goes up if that continues, but for career been oft injured and unproductive realtive to where he was picked and fact that they traded up for him.

Whitehair - B+  Developing into one of best interior linemen in the league and position versatilty ups his value.

Bullard - D Has underachieved for his talent.

Bush C+ Was a D-, but took a big step up last year.  Could move up if continues to improve. Probably Bears best secondary tackler. 

Hall - F

Howard - B+ Carried entire Bears offense on his back for two years. Regressed under Nagy's O and lacked explosive plays. Below average in passing game. 

DHC - B just because he was 6th round pick and I dont even expect those guys to make the team. Good special teamer.

Braverman - F 

I was much more impressed with 2017 and 2018 Pace than 2015 and 2016 Pace in terms of draft. 

 

The other guys picked around Floyd weren't much better. Hargreaves stinks and missed a ton of time, too. Tunsil would have been a good pick at the time but Leno/Massie have been good.

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4 hours ago, beardown3231 said:

The other guys picked around Floyd weren't much better. Hargreaves stinks and missed a ton of time, too. Tunsil would have been a good pick at the time but Leno/Massie have been good.

A lot of busts happened in that first round. 

Edited by dll2000
Typo

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