Mailbag time for the Under Center Podcast. You all asked great questions and now we have the answers for you.
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Gustavo, @iamvega: Any particular player you want the Bears to sign as a free agent or player you’d like the Bears to bring in?
We’ve talked a lot about the draft in recent episodes, so we dug into some free agents.
Kenneth: Jadeveon Clowney. You just have an athletic guy to handle the run and you know that if he gets his chance, he can get to the quarterback. It meets many needs.
Josh: I’ll go with Justin Houston. Kind of in the same vein. Get a vet, get a 34 year old guy who can still play, still damn good. That will give them a good voice in that D-line room.
Alex: Rock Ya-Sin is one that comes to mind. I think the Bears could add more to this secondary. He is familiar with Matt Eberfluss and the defense from their time with the Colts. So he already fits into that culture, knows what the expectations are, and has had some success in that defense as well.
Josh, @joshua726_gs: Is Braxton Jones the biggest weakness on the offensive line in 2023?
Kenneth: No, I’m not Mr. Braxton Jones. I like his character and because of his character, I think he will improve out of training camp. All that said, I just like the mental makeup of the young man.
Josh: Correct take, there’s no one there. It can’t be a bigger weak link than anyone, barren.
Alex: I’ll double down and say the same for the center. Who is the Chicago Bears center?
Josh: Cody Whitehair.
Kenneth: That’s the problem, we’ve seen Cody Whitehair do it before, but I feel like we keep forgetting that Cody has that bad exchange. How it does the exchange can sometimes be a problem.
Alex: Several years have passed. It’s not like he was doing this yesterday. It’s been a few years since Whitehair was a center.
Eric, @eric_s_shane: What are the odds of trading Simmons from the Titans? I’m sure people are sick of the Titans players, but Simmons would be an elite 3 tech. The Titans already asked Byard to take a pay cut and he said no, so can they extend Simmons with no response from the QB?
Kenneth: Why would Mike Vrabel get rid of one of his best defensive players?
Alex: Great question Kenneth.
Josh: Even if the Titans are going to rebuild, this is a player you rebuild around. Byard, who is a really good safety, he’s 31. It’s understandable if they move him. They won’t move Jeffrey Simmons.
Mr. Anderson, @novstar: What do you think of Bijan Robinson’s preparation? Cincinnati drafted Ja’marr Chase over the O-line and went from worst to Super Bowl.
Kenneth: No. I mean, listen, him and Justin FieldsーI wouldn’t want to be a cornerback in that situation. But it’s a running back. He might be the best running back in the league this year, but you have so many needs in the trenches.
Alex: I’ll play a little devil’s advocate. I agree, I’m not drafting Bijan Robinson, but he’s a very exciting player and it’s to your strengths. The Bears were the best rushing football team in the league last year. A lot of that was due to Justin Fields, of course, but you add a player like Bijan Robinson and suddenly your No. 1 rushing attack is even better. This really puts defenses in a bind.
However, the difference for me between Bijan Robinson on the Bears and Ja’marr Chase on the Bengals is that Ja’marr Chase is a wide receiver, and wide receiver is a much more superior position than running back. A truly elite No. 1 wide receiver takes the offense to the next level. Especially in a zone (rush) schemeー I hate to say it, I’m not trying to discount running backsー but part of that philosophy is that a lot of these guys can be plug and play. You know, you got Kahlil Herbert and he just hit the hole. Take your one shot and take what the offensive line gave you. right The idea is that the scheme can allow many people to succeed.
Kenneth: Plus, Ja’mar Chase and Joe Burrow were teammates in college. So he already knew they were in a relationship.
Josh: No. From my perspective, Bijan Robinson is great, but the Bears shouldn’t pick him. I’m interested if they’re nine or trade down to 11 or, you know, wherever, and you really need a blue player. He may be the only blue player left on the board. We know all about value buckets. If they are 16 and there is only one blue player left? If he’s one of seven guys that the Bears looked at and said, ‘This guy deserves to be the No. 1 pick,’ and they’re 16 or 15 after trading down and he’s still there, it’s possible. But I’d say I would say no.
Jeffrey, @calvertjeffrey: If the Bears trade up to the upper half of the second round, say between picks 32-48, who do you think is available and who would you like them to target?
Alex: I think that’s probably where you’re going to get a cornerback. Because the Bears really need a cornerback. We’ve debated whether Christian Gonzalez or Devon Weatherspoon are worth it (in the first round), and I think it’s good that we’re having those debates, even though, yes, they really should go to defensive line or offensive line. So maybe (the second round) is where you get a corner, maybe that’s where you get Julius Brents out of K-State. He’s already comfortable in zone schemes and had five interceptions over the past two years.
Josh: Four picks in the top-64, I think at least three of them should be on the line. A guy like Keanu Benton, a linebacker from Wisconsin, he’s a breakout three-technique. Number 32 is too high for him, but somewhere in that range.
Kenneth: I think maybe (Notre Dame defensive end) Isaiah Foskey. He’s got Matt Eberflus written all over him as far as height and everything.
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