Good morning, frents …
Big news, if you’re into this sort of thing: I just launched a Midway Minute Instagram account. Follow it for Chicago sports news, cool stuff I find on newspapers and the occasional Tony Amonte hair post.
Well, this should be interesting
Ah yes, it’s draft week.
As Bears fans, we’ve had any real hopes and dreams for this event systematically scrubbed from our hearts with decades of busts and bad decisions. The team’s thin crop of draft capital this year certainly doesn’t help matters any.
But both duty and the NFL hype machine mandates that we break out the chicken wings and chest paint this time of year as the next round of Halas Hall residents are selected by Ryan Pace and Co. in this year’s strange version of the draft
With that in mind, I’ve put together a short Q&A about the event.
Will the NFL actually be able to pull this virtual draft off?
That’s the million dollar question. The league staged a run-through on Monday and it was reportedly marred by a “technical glitch” during the Bengals’ first overall pick and 32 GMs failing to acknowledge the existence of the mute button. (One was reportedly overheard yelling at his kids to get off their bandwidth-hogging iPads.)
So, yeah, the league’s insistence on one of their jewel events still being held in the middle of a global pandemic should make for some interesting situations and I think we’d all be lying if we said we didn’t want to see at least one thing go majorly wrong. Thoughts and prayers to anyone at ESPN who’s involved with making this a watchable TV show.
When do the Bears pick?
You’ve probably already mourned the fact that the Bears don’t have a first-round pick, which is the price we’re paying for watching Khalil Mack trying to behead NFC North quarterback these past two seasons. (Yes, still worth it.) So our Thursday night is going to be spent just enjoying whatever chaos results from the new virtual setup.
That changes on Friday night when the Bears will have picks No. 43 (acquired from the Raiders) and No. 50 in the second round. Once those are over, you can relax since Las Vegas also has the Bears’ third-round pick because of the Mack trade.
You’ll also have to wait a bit on Saturday for any Bears action barring a trade up. The team spent its fourth rounder moving up to get David Montgomery last season. It will get busy at the end though. The team picks once in the fifth (163), twice in the sixth (196 and 200) and twice in the seventh (226 and 233).
Will the Bears actually be able to find anything down there?
With such thin capital up top, it seems like the Bears don’t have a choice but to hope for winners in the sport’s equivalent of a grocery store scratchoff. But while Pace has had better success drafting in later rounds, the Tribune’s review of all 32 Pace picks shows that Jordan Howard at selection No. 150 in 2016 qualifies as his latest hit.
So, yeah, you can say that Pace and his staff will have to dig even deeper to make this draft a success. In actuality, it just underscores how much pressure they’re under to nail both of those second-round picks. Come away with a bust like Adam Shaheen at either spot and this year is toast.
How does Pace plan to handle the virtual draft?
The Bears website says Pace will be working from his dining room table because he gets better Wi-Fi there than his basement. At Pace’s arsenal: Two computers with downloaded video of prospects, a Microsoft Surface tablet with his scouting reports and an extra iPad (likely for finishing the third season of Ozark during the first and third rounds when he has nothing to do).
How will he be communicating with team staff?
According to Dan Pompei of The Athletic, each team will have roughly 50 people connected to each other via Zoom, Google Hangout, HouseParty, Blue Jeans or Slack. (Most teams aren’t divulging their exact method because they’re extremely paranoid someone will hack them.) About 10 people from each team will be connected to the league, which to me sounds like 10 opportunities for the wrong pick to be sent in. This is going to be so great.
Are there any mock drafts I can spend my time with these next few days?
No, nothing like that exists on the Internet.
I’m kidding, of course. Mock drafts are everywhere and all of them are somehow worth more than a barrel of oil right now. The Bears’ absence of a first-rounder meant that local outlets had to put in more work: NBC Sports Chicago went picks 1-50 in service of Bears fans, as did Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. I also recommend this two-round mock from Pete Fiutak of College Football News because, man, does that guy watch a lot of college football.
Is Roger Goodell’s family going to boo him?
How do we know they don’t already? But Bud Light just announced you can record your own boos, upload them to Twitter with the hashtag #BooTheCommish and then they’ll “deliver” them to Goodell along with a donation to charity.
No word on how Goodell will replace all of his traditional bro hugs, but I’ve got time and can probably get a hazmat suit if he’s interested.
Will any draft pick take a picture like this one?
Not if they’re following proper social distancing practices.
What are Midway Minute’s plans for the draft?
With the Bears holding the two second-round picks on Friday, you can expect a Minute in your inbox on Saturday morning with a late-round picks review tacked onto Monday’s newsletter. With the Bears dormant on Thursday, I’ll likely skip the Thursday morning edition of the newsletter barring any big news.
Send this newsletter to someone who’s looking forward to the draft!
Buy: Midway Minute partner BreakingT has some great new Last Dance shirts. (That Traveling Circus shirt has me 😂👃🎪)
Have a link to share on Midway Minute? Email me!
• The Last Dance ratings are in: An average of 6.1 million viewers watched the two hours, making it the most-watched original content on the network since 2004 by far. (In comparison, the previous record-holder “You Don’t Know Bo,” drew 3.6 million viewers.) (ESPN PR)
• Jeff Passan reports the Cubs and White Sox are among 18 clubs who have pledged to pay their baseball operation employees through at least May 31. (ESPN)
• Surreal video: Wrigley Field serving as a community food pantry. (WTTW)
• Could the Blackhawks get a theoretical compliance buyout and NOT use it to get out from under Brent Seabrook’s albatross contract? (The Athletic)
• Allie Quigley is starting a sitdown HORSE shot contest using #QuarantineQuigleyChallenge. Winner gets a signed jersey and picture. (Twitter)
• Dave Kaplan’s sports trivia contest with two fans on their webcams is a fun idea. (NBC Sports Chicago)
• If you’ve been trying to work with young kids at home, you’ll totally relate to this great column by my old pal Dan Devine. (The Ringer)
And that’s it for today. Stay safe and, as always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.