Bears Insider Hub Arkush answers subscribers Bears/NFL/Life questions weekly:
Prior to his injury, can you evaluate Roquan Smith's year?
This is tough because of the unknown with Roquan’s “personal issues.” Players are absolutely entitled to have and deal with personal issues as much as anybody else, and I’m not going to even begin to speculate what Roquan’s were, but there’s no question something impacted his first half of the season.
He was outstanding in the opener against the Packers, then fell against Denver and Washington before missing the Vikings game, and then was pretty pedestrian vs. the Raiders, Saints and Chargers for the rest of October.
However, he did start to play like a difference maker again vs. the Eagles to open November and was playing at a very high level over the next four games culminating in possibly his best day as a pro — Thanksgiving day vs. the Lions, with 16 tackles and two sacks – before tearing the pectoral muscle against the Cowboys.
The fact that he had one of the best games of his career and an outstanding performance by any measure just prior to his season-ending injury bodes extremely well for the future and tells me he is still likely to become a perennial Pro Bowler. He has that kind of talent and has demonstrated he can translate it to NFL playing fields.
The only concern going forward is the uncertainly of his personal issues makes it unclear from the outside looking in if it has to be a concern going forward.
Smith’s rookie campaign was an "A-minus." I guess I’d have to call 2019 a "B-minus," but one that didn’t really create any concerns he still can’t be one of the best at his position on the field.
Anthony Gordon to the Bears a good fit? Submitted by Ryne Benassi
Ryne, he’s not a bad fit, but he’s not exactly hand-in-glove, either. No Mike Leach quarterback had really succeeded at the NFL level until Gardner Minshew, and it’s awfully early to call Minshew a success, and we’re talking about a lot of big-time college passers.
Gordon has nice size for the position at 6-3, 210 and he isn’t a bad athlete, but he isn’t the athlete you’d like in terms of doing damage with his legs.
That said, he can definitely throw the football. But off one year as a starter under Leach, he brings the same questions of inexperience that Mitch Trubisky did and when you add in the uncertainties that come with these “Air Raid” offense guys, he’s a stretch.
You will see him ranked somewhere between five and eight or nine on a lot of “Draftniks” quarterback prospect lists, in large part because of his huge 2019 season, but he is a Day 3 prospect at best to me right now and possibly even a priority free agent, although that could change with the Combine and Pro Days.
I do like his arm a lot but until NFL teams get their eyes on him up close, and even more important their ears around him to try and evaluate what he’s got upstairs, it’s hard to ignore the awful NFL track record of Leach’s guys at the position.
Why did Harry and Meghan leave their total duties? Submitted by Arthur Lee
Again, Art, I guess I asked for this, but I have absolutely no clue. What do you think, and more importantly, why would you care?
Why did MJ retire the first time? Submitted by Nate
Again, Nate, I know I asked for this but I suspect you know while I have all the same clues you do, I don’t have an answer. Next time Mike calls me, though, I’ll ask him.
What’s the story with the Jordan Howard Draft compensation/ the compensatory pick from free agency? We may have more draft ammo than I thought. Submitted by Joe Calandriello
Joe, unfortunately only the Bears and Eagles know that for sure at the moment, but I’m hoping we find out soon.
Conditional draft picks are based on the performance(s) of the players traded. I’m quite sure that had Howard continued at the pace he was setting prior to his injury against the Bears, the pick would have become a fifth-rounder.
But based on the injury and his missing seven games, it could very likely remain a sixth-rounder. It was originally a conditional fifth-round pick, meaning that a floor for his production was set, and he needed to outperform it for the pick to become a five. Whether he could have done enough in nine games to accomplish that is suspect.
Regardless, it will be remembered as one of the worst trades the Bears have made under Ryan Pace. It didn’t make sense when they did it, and makes less sense now, with one caveat.
Howard is an unrestricted free agent now. If the Bears were worried about losing him after this season with no compensation, we get it. But he was definitely worth more than a sixth-round pick to them, and his absence this past season cost the Bears dearly.
Who are some options the Bears could target this offseason (FA/Draft) at safety that better complement EJ? Submitted by Luke Stanczyk
Luke, we’re just not deep enough into our draft work for this year yet for me to give you any solid draft projections, but I can tell you it’s not an exciting group of free agents.
The best fit might be the Raiders' Karl Joseph, the former first-rounder, who's an in-the-box safety who could complement Eddie Jackson nicely. And since he’s an unrestricted free agent, not originally a Gruden or Mayock guy, they may let him get to the open market.
Other names worth watching: Minnesota’s Anthony Harris, not a true in-the-box guy but not a pure center fielder, either; the Colts' Clayton Geathers, who could be a very nice fit; Kansas City's Jordan Lucas is someone Matt Nagy certainly knows; the Chargers' Adrian Phillips; and Seattle’s Akeem King, to name a few.
Joseph and Geathers are my first choices, and King would be a real reach.
One other name worth keeping an ear out for is Stephen Denmark, the Bears' seventh-round pick last year out of Valdosta State.
They drafted Denmark as a cornerback — where he finished his college career after converting from wide receiver — but at 6-3, 216, he clearly has great size for safety and playing in the box.
What we don’t know is how physical he is and can be, and where the Bears see him — if he fits there plans at all. But a move to safety seems logical.
While I don’t see the Bears re-signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, unfortunate because he did play well this year and was an upgrade at safety but not a great complement to Eddie Jackson, Deon Bush is also an unrestricted free agent. He's also not a true in-the-box safety, but Bush is somewhat more physical than Jackson and Clinton-Dix, and I don’t know what the Bears are thinking about his future.
We can assume with Jackson’s new contract that the Bears won’t spend big on another safety in free agency, so they probably will look to address the position in the draft, quite possibly with one of those two second-round picks.
Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons and LSU’s Grant Delpit would look incredible in Navy and Orange, but even this early both are near-certain top-20 picks, maybe even top-10, and whether Simmons is a safety or linebacker at the next level is uncertain.
After them the drop-off is precipitous, and players that could fit at 43 or 50 right now may not include any safeties.
I’ll get back to you on the Day 3 guys once we’re further along in our scouting.