Note:Greg Braggs is in Indianapolis this week with the CHGO Bears team and will be filing dispatches each day about his experiences at his first-ever NFL Combine. Here’s his article from Day 1.
INDIANAPOLIS — Well, I’m definitely comfortable today. Literally and figuratively. Didn’t dress like I was going to church and wasn’t afraid to mix it up in the press conferences. So, we’re making progress!
I’m going to attempt to put my reporter hat on today and make this article less about me (I know, hard to believe!) because we got some very interesting stuff from the defensive linemen and some front office guys that have interest in doing what the Bears are trying to do.
First off, the elephant in the room. Jalen Carter was scheduled to be at the podium at 10:30 a.m. but suddenly a reporter next to me started whispering to his producer that an arrest warrant has been issued for Carter. I asked, he clued me in and, sure enough, five minutes later the NFL world knew. Carolina Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said they had spoken with Carter yesterday and he hadn’t been given any inclination about it and was as shocked as we all were to hear the news. Obviously, this affects the Bears trade back scenarios because before this news you would have thought trading back to No. 4 in the draft would be a good spot, as you would potentially have the pick between Carter or the DE from Alabama, Will Anderson. That doesn’t seem like a scenario anymore at this point. We’ll have to wait and see how the investigation unfolds for Carter but for today, it took a hit to his draft stock.
Second, I had the opportunity to ask some questions to both the GM of the Colts, Chris Ballard, and Fitterer, who sit at #4 and #9 respectively, in the draft. Chris Ballard was very adamant that the Colts didn’t necessarily have to trade up to No. 1 to get their guy.
“Everybody has just stamped that you automatically have to move up to No. 1 to get it right and I don’t necessarily agree with that,” Ballard said. “Who’s to say we don’t get that at No. 4?”
Ballard even went as far to say that none of these potential QB prospects are no question franchise guys, that they all have development they need to work on.
“Is there a guy that has a separating factor that there’s no doubt you have to move up for? I’m not ready to say that yet. I’m not ready to say there’s one that stood out.” Ballard said.
Maybe some gamesmanship, maybe not. But there were some rumblings that the Colts aren’t sold on any of these quarterbacks and then Ballard came on as strong as he did echoing those sentiments. Maybe he’s just trying to reverse the hand Jim Irsay showed last week when talking about trading up for a quarterback. We’ll see.
Now Scott Fitterer? Different story. He was very open about the Panthers’ need to find a quarterback for their franchise. A lot of the questions directed at him were about Derek Carr, who met with the Panthers recently. But one thing that stuck out to me was how Scott mentioned their cap situation and having to fix that so I’m not sure if adding a big money free agent quarterback is going to help that when you have other needs to fill, as well. It makes too much sense for the Panthers to trade up to get their young franchise QB who would be on a rookie deal.
Fitterer literally said, “In an ideal world you want to draft your quarterback for the next five to 10 years, it helps with the continuity of the roster, for salary cap reasons, there are so many benefits to drafting and developing and that is the right route to go, so we’ll see if we can get in a position to draft one of the guys we like.”
Fitterer also didn’t rule out the possibility of trading up before free agency to have a clearer vision of how he wants to attack free agency. Night and day when you compare the quotes from Fitterer to Ballard.
So, I asked both Fitterer and Panthers coach Frank Reich what makes Bryce Young such an intriguing person and they both immediately referenced his poise and, that the game wasn’t too big for him. Fitterer told a story about watching Bryce Young during the Heisman Trophy presentation a few years back and how impressed he was by how he carried himself.
“It’s not an act with him; he’s a special guy,” Fitterer said of Young.
And Frank Reich was just as glowing when he said, “Bryce is highly intelligent, a very fast processor, very poised, accurate passer, playmaker, he checks a lot of boxes.”
I think the Panthers are a prime target for the Bears to make a deal. Maybe even in the next couple of weeks.
I talked to a number of defensive linemen as well this morning, including Will Anderson, but you can roll over to Nicholas Moreano’s and Will DeWitt’s articles for that. They did a great job getting the full scope.
Overall, the second day of my NFL Combine experience was much more productive even if Mark Carman keeps reminding me that he woke up before me and got out the door first. That’s fine. I like a little healthy competition. That’s the great thing about the CHGO Bears team. We all bring a little something different to the table.
Excited to see what Day 3 brings. I haven’t had a late night out with Jim Irsay yet so I still have work to do!
Brick by brick.