Coming off a season in which they ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense and 28th in total offense, the Chicago Bears have plenty of incentive to spend their first-round draft pick on a player who can help them score. However, Chicago also has two starting linebackers to replace, and they may have a shot at a potential draft steal to help do it.
As noted by ESPN, the Bears are part of a cluster of teams likely to consider drafting Notre Dame star Manti Te’o. Even with Chicago’s needs on offense, if Te’o falls to the Bears, they’ll need an awfully good alternative to make it worth passing him up.
Te’o’s stock has dropped severely in the last three months. He was hit hard by a combination of the much-discussed hoax surrounding his nonexistent girlfriend, a disastrous end to Notre Dame’s season in a BCS title game blowout and his own disappointing combine performance.
The Washington Redskins have re-signed free-agent tight end Fred Davis. The move keeps a valuable weapon of quarterback Robert Griffin III's passing attack in place.
ProFootballTalk.com reported that Davis will sign a one-year deal. It's a smart, short-term deal from the Redskins, given some of Davis's injury and disciplinary concerns.
However, when he's on the field, Davis is one of the best young players at his position in the NFL. He is a true playmaker head coach Mike Shanahan's passing schemes need.
The New Orleans Saints have agreed a deal to sign free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler. The signing adds a player who could be key to the success of the Saints new 3-4 defense.
Butler has spent his first four pro seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, as the chief backup to DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. He is a natural edge-rusher in a 3-4 front.
At 6'2" and 245 pounds, Butler has the right frame and quickness to collapse the pass pocket from the outside. The 25-year-old has showcased some good pass-rush potential in Dallas.
The Atlanta Falcons have signed free-agent pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora. The move boosts the Falcons pass rush and gives them a credible replacement for John Abraham. Fox Sport's Jay Glazer reported Umenyiora has received a two-year deal.
Improving their pass rush is certainly a priority for the Falcons. They managed only 29 sacks in 2012, with Abraham predictably leading the way with 10.
That feeble rush contributed to a defensive ranking that saw the Falcons finish 24th in yards allowed. The lack of pass rush also put pressure on Atlanta's high-powered offense to consistently win shootouts.
Opposing quarterbacks simply had too much time in the pocket and were able to dissect the Falcons' coverage schemes. The problem was particularly costly in the playoffs.
The Falcons built commanding leads against both the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. However, in both cases, they allowed the opposition to mount a comeback.
Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was afforded all the time he needed to manufacture big plays on the ground and through the air.
Food for Thought: Should Green Bay Have Followed Atlanta's Lead in Learning Info About the Zone Read?
16 carries for 181 yards, with two touchdown runs of 20 and 56 yards. And these stats weren't made by All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, either.
Green Bay coaches should remember these numbers too well. After all, they were made by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is an artist when it comes to running the zone read, having run it to perfection under former Nevada head coach Chris Ault during his time as Wolfpack quarterback. Both the Packers and the Falcons got a taste of what Kaepernick and the zone read are capable of, and how it has added life to both the passing game and the running game. The Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks also ran the zone read under their rookie quarterbacks in Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, respectively. And they, like Kaepernick, are artists in reading the defensive ends and deciding whether to keep it themselves or hand it off to their running backs, and it was a big reason the 49ers, Seahawks and Redskins were among the best when it came to running the football.