Good morning, frents!
Don't look now but Chicago teams are on a combined six-game losing streak. Hopefully the Sox or Cubs can break it up before the Bears get any ideas about joining in on the fun tonight.
Braves 10, Cubs 0
Knicks 113, Bulls 94
Tigers at Sox, PPD
Cubs at Braves (6:20, Marquee)
Tigers at Sox (4:10 & 7:10, NBCSCH)
Panthers at Hawks (7, NBCSCH+)
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The Plan B quarterbacks
The first round of the NFL Draft kicks off tonight and those expecting the Bears to make a dramatic trade into the top 10 for a QB might go to sleep disappointed.
That's because Ryan Pace and Co. have put extensive legwork into finding a quarterback in the second or third round, according to multiple reports.
If those reports holds true, it means the front office has likely moved its sights from picking one from the trio of Trey Lance/Justin Fields/Mac Jones and toward hoping to strike it rich with a pick in Friday's second or third round.
That's not necessarily bad news, since draft experts believe that quarterbacks run deep in 2021. The Bears might lack the extra resources and self-confidence to move up comfortably within the first round, but they might not have to in order to get a strong prospect later on.
The biggest question is: Will they pick the right prospect?
(They don't always, you know!)
With that in mind, let's take a look at the next three QBs in the draft portal who probably will be there for the Bears when they pick at No. 52 overall in the second round or maybe even at No. 84 overall in the third.
Kyle Trask — Florida
Hey, have any other University of Florida quarterbacks ever played QB for the Bears? Trask figures to be better than Rex Grossman 2.0, but don't forget to account for what happened at the Cotton Bowl. After his top receiving targets all opted out of the game to save themselves from COVID-19 (and to concentrate on the draft process), Trask had a nightmare of a final college performance, throwing three picks in Florida's first three possessions as Florida got smashed by Oklahoma 55-20. He also injured his ankle, which prevented him from playing in the Senior Bowl. Other than that, it was a great way to go out.
Trask seemed set up to fail, though. And before that, he was great, throwing for 43 touchdowns and over 4,200 yards.
Gators Wire says Trask is expected to go somewhere in the first 3 1/2 rounds of the draft, probably not before the second round. He hast an accurate arm, but not the strongest, and he’s had problems with "pocket presence and progressing through his reads" sometimes. Hey, we already mentioned Rex Grossman, now they're saying Trask is like Mitchell Trubisky. He's the kind of guy who probably won't be ready to see the field in 2021, but instead fits with a team who has a capable starter already. Capable starter? Did someone shout "Andy Dalton"? No? Just checking.
Please enjoy a video of Trask at his pro day. If you ever wanted to see a future NFL player do shuttle runs without his shirt on, boy did you come to the right place.
Davis Mills — Stanford
Mills appears to be the guy the Bears really want.
Funny story: At the literal moment the Bears were introducing Dalton as the starter at a press conference, QB coach John DeFilippo was working out Mills personally at his own pro day.
Of that performance, Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago said:
"At one point during the throwing session, DeFilippo even requested a specific throw — a seam route under pressure against single-high safety coverage — and Mills delivered."
Well, if that's the case! PFF pegs Mills as No. 81 on the Big Board, and ESPN's Mel Kiper says he's more like a third-round pick in terms of quality. If the Bears sit back and wait for Mills at 84 overall, he could well be gone. But, good news if you like the Bears and like Mills: Kiper projects him to be the lone QB taken in the second round, when the Bears pick him at 52. Good ol' Mel.
Not to put it all on Mel, but Jason La Canfora says the Bears are almost certain to pick Davis Mills. So get ready to blame Jason no matter what happens.
A five-star recruit in high school, Mills stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 225 pounds and, reportedly, is smarter than anyone has a right to be. Sounds perfect. Strong-ish arm, but not too mobile after suffering two significant knee injuries, the most recent one in 2018. Scouts worry that immobility will hurt his ability to escape and make plays. Injuries are why he played in just 11 games and threw 438 passes total in college. He closed well, however, in Stanford's five games of 2020, and at least one scout says he'd be a top-10 pick if he stayed at Stanford for a fifth year. Mills is not totally raw, but hardly seasoned. Like a lot of pieces of meat at the draft.
Kellen Mond — Texas A&M
The experts say that Mond has a “splash” of what makes all of the top prospects so coveted, and has produced enough over 44 starts in college that he deserves to be taken early in the second round as “the sixth quarterback off the board.” Other scouts like him even more than that, and gush about Mond’s “upside” potential. Said to be ready to start in 2021 if necessary, he’s been called a “game manager” with some “wow” moments. Sounds like the scouting report of a True Bear. At least the “game manager” part. The Patriots, who have been looking at Justin Fields, might pick Mond as a backup. The Vikings, too, are said to have their eyes on him.
Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 211 pounds, Mond is not the fastest guy in the backfield but he is effective on the ground, gaining 1,609 rushing yards and scoring 22 touchdowns for the Aggies the past four seasons. Coach Jimbo Fisher said Mond was a leader who helped change a ragged culture. Mond says he studies Tom Brady and Drew Brees for tips on how to improve himself.
Those are the quarterbacks most linked to the Bears in the 2021 NFL Draft. What do you think GM Ryan Pace will do? What should he do? Can Bears ownership sell the team before the draft so someone else can make the picks? It’s probably too late for that, but we’ll see what Commissioner Goodell says at draft time.
News and results
The Cubs were shut out for the second straight game, Kyle Hendricks was torched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings and the Braves lineup put five balls over the fence ... but at least everyone had a good laugh as Anthony Rizzo struck out reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman on a 61 MPH pitch?
- Rizzo actually did what Hendricks and Alec Mills couldn't. Freeman was 4-for-4 with a homer, a double and three RBI before his showdown with Rizzo.
- Said Rizzo: "Freddie was hot — 4-for-4. But, at the end of the day, he's 4-for-5 with a punchout. It helped lighten the mood here."
While the Rizzo highlight was a nice reward for anyone who stuck with the game, the mood around the Cubs should still be a heavy one. Five straight losses to fall to 10-14 and Hendricks has already given up as many home runs in five starts as he did in 12 last season. The Cubs are currently in sole possession of last place.
Next: Adbert Alzolay (0-2, 5.40) faces the Braves' woodchipper of a lineup while Bryse Wilson (1-1, 5.00) is entrusted with extending the Cubs' scoreless streak to 21 innings.
Playing with a shortened eight-man rotation, the Bulls stayed with the Knicks for three quarters, trailing by just a point as the fourth opened. But the Knicks went on a 10-0 run in the first 80 seconds of the final quarter to pull away.
- Julius Randle scored 34 points for the Knicks while Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls with 26 points and 18 rebounds.
- The new and improved Knicks have won 10 of 11 games and currently own the fourth-best record in the East.
- The Bulls, meanwhile, fell to two games behind the Wizards for the 10th spot as Washington beat the LeBron-less Lakers on Wednesday night.
- Next: The Bulls host the Bucks on Friday night for their first matchup since New Year's Day — and only the second all season.
Luis Robert could be activated from the COVID list as early as before today's doubleheader as all tests came back negative.
• Game 1: Casey Mize (1-2, 5.23) vs. Carlos Rodon (3-0, 0.47)
• Game 2: Matthew Boyd (2-2, 1.82) vs. Dylan Cease (0-0, 4.15)
Which Bull has started the most games this season?
- Mark Giangreco can't say anything about the specifics of his departure from ABC, but he had a lot of good career stories to share with Jon Greenberg. The Athletic
- Jim Margalus gives some great perspective and context on Tony La Russa's unimpressive start with the 2021 Sox. Sox Machine
- Rick Morissey says Bears fans who want Ryan Pace gone need to say no to a first-round QB. Sun-Times
- Do I wish I'd had the idea of just embedding a bunch of videos of Chris Chelios fighting other NHL stars and sending it out as a newsletter? Yes. Defector
- Any time I link a story about Chicago accents, it clicks like crazy. So here's one about how Chicago's "Blaccent" came to be. Chicago Mag
Trivia answer: Rookie Patrick Williams leads the Bulls with 61 starts. Zach LaVine, who has missed the last eight games, is second with 53.