May 3, 2021

The Bears draft grades are in

The Bears draft grades are in

Good morning, frents!

Midway Minute grew more in April than any other month over the previous 12 and I really want to keep the momentum going in May.

So tell a friend! Or, if you haven't joined our free list already, it's a great time to sign up.

Sunday's results
Reds 13, Cubs 12 (10 inn)
Indians 5, Sox 0

Today's schedule
Hawks at Hurricanes (6, NBCSCH)
Dodgers at Cubs (6:40, Marquee)
76ers at Bulls (8, NBCSCH+)
Sox off

A strange new world

So, yeah .... Justin Fields!

The Bears' selection of the Ohio State quarterback on Thursday kicked off a wave of positive national sentiment that we haven't seen since Walter Payton was hurdling into end zones in the mid-80s.

And it feels good. Particularly because Ryan Pace wasn't finished. He traded up on Friday night to take Oklahoma State OL Teven Jenkins with the 39th overall pick — a move that felt like a steal after some mock drafts had the Bears picking Jenkins at their original No. 20 spot.

Pace closed the 2021 draft with five selections on Saturday and one pick that really stood out: Oregon CB Thomas Graham Jr., who sat out the 2020 season, was taken with the 228th selection despite being ranked 76th by Pro Football Focus.

The value that Pace seemingly wrung from the draft made them the analytical champions of the weekend and brought universal praise from the draft grades crew.

How many of you had report cards that looked like this?

Pro Football Focus: A+

The Ringer (Danny Kelly): A+

USA Today (Nate Davis): A (Chad Reuter): A

Yahoo Sports (Eric Edholm): A
"Maybe it wasn’t a grand slam, but this class felt like a three-run shot into the upper deck."

Draftwire (Luke Easterling): A

Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer): A

SI (Conor Orr): A-
"Some of the league’s best GMs have made horrific drafting mistakes and went on to have successful careers."

ESPN (Mel Kiper): B+
"What a move by the Bears, trading up for Fields, I love the kid."

It's a little strange to see Pace and the Bears receiving such praise, particularly since so many of us thought he should be dead meat entering last December (or even earlier).

But NFL history is full of successful second acts and maybe Pace has identified the right group of players over the last two drafts to write him a successful next chapter.

There's still a lot that will have to go right for Pace to get there. These players will have to produce on the next level. Matt Nagy will need to become the offensive wizard we were promised but still haven't seen. Pace has to maneuver out of the cap hell that he placed the team in after going for broke last offseason.

A breakdown in any of those three areas and all the good vibes from this weekend could turn into the cruelest cut-block of our persistent faith.

For now, though, enjoy this report card.

It's not often we get a Victory Monday in the spring time.

News and results

Final: Indians 5, Sox 0

The outcome of this one was rendered inconsequential the moment Luis Robert hurt himself crossing first and had to be helped off the field. The 2021 Sox may still achieve the things expected of them, but good lord none of this is coming easy.

  • The diagnosis: Robert is headed to the 10-day IL with a right hip flexor strain and will be evaluated further today. He's hitting .316 in his sophomore season and it goes without saying his absence throws the Sox's already-thin outfield into further tumult.
  • A smaller point of concern: Lucas Giolito wasn't terrible — two runs and eight over 5 1/3 innings — but it's been awhile since he's been ace dominant. He's surrendered 12 runs over his last three starts.
  • Sox went 6-3 on the homestand and still sit 1.5 games behind Kansas City with a 15-12 record.

Next: Sox get an off day before heading to Cincinnati for a two-game series. Dylan Cease will start Tuesday's opener in order to get Carlos Rodon an extra rest day.

(USA Today Sports)

Final: Reds 13, Cubs 12

The Cubs hit five homers and staged a four-run, two-out rally in the eighth to tie the game at an even dozen, but the extra-inning rule still gave this one an unsatisfactory ending. Craig Kimbrel gave up an RBI single to old friend Nick Castellanos — the first batter he faced — as the Reds took the game and the series.

  • Castellanos went 5-for-6 with a homer and four runs scored. He's hit nine homers and owns a 1.026 OPS and you have my permission to never get over the fact that the Cubs didn't re-sign him two offseasons ago. (What the hell, Sox fans can also go ahead and picture what their outfield would look like with Castellanos.)
  • Kris Bryant hit his eighth and ninth homers of the season to up his average to .323 and OPS to 1.123. Ian Happ tied the game with a three-run shot in the eighth, then was carted off the field in the bottom of the inning after a collision with Nico Hoerner. An update on his condition is expected today.
  • The Cubs are 12-16, have lost seven of their last 10 and trail the first-place Brewers by five games.

Next: The Cubs come home to play the Dodgers, who posted a 16-spot in Milwaukee on Sunday. Oh, and they'll be running right into Walker Bueheler, Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer. Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 7.54) gets Buehler (1-0, 3.16 ERA) in the opener.

  1. Justin Fields' odds to win rookie of the year are only second to Trevor Lawrence. BearsWire
  2. Thomas Graham's family was pretty jazzed the Bears picked him. Twitter
  3. Ben Pope says the ending to Kevin Lankinen's rookie season doesn't ruin the beginning. Sun-Times
  4. The Fire have picked up just one point out of a possible nine to start the season. Hot Time In Old Town
  5. An oral history of the Knicks' attempt to sign Michael Jordan. ESPN
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

Join the conversation

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Midway Minute.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.