People debate whether or not momentum is a real thing when it comes to sports. Personally, it depends. You could start off really well and one little mistake can change the entire outlook of the game. Same goes for the offseason, you can have a strong offseason and follow it up with an underwhelming draft or vice versa. Despite having strong starts to their respective offseasons, both the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions had pretty underwhelming draft classes.
I commend Detroit and Chicago for making the necessary offseason moves to improve the quality of their team. Whether that was Chicago trading for wide receiver D.J. Moore or Detroit essentially revamped their entire secondary with the additions of safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and cornerback Cam Sutton. However, both teams had underwhelming drafts and that could come back to haunt them.
If I had to give Chicago a grade for their offseason, it would be a B- or a C. Chicago started off on the right track by trading away their first round pick to the Carolina Panthers. The Bears did receive wide receiver D.J. Moore in the deal as well as a plethora of picks. Acquiring D.J. Moore was a huge boost for a wide receiver room that was lacking in talent outside of Darnell Mooney.
The defensive side of the ball is where there is a problem. Once Chicago traded away all-pro linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens, the defense fell off a tremendous cliff. The numbers prove that, as this team was dead last in both Defensive DVOA and Defensive EPA/per play last season. I liked the signing of linebacker T.J. Edwards from the Philadelphia Eagles, but I didn’t like the other signing for which they signed Tremaine Edmunds from Buffalo to a huge contract.
The Bears decided to trade Roquan Smith because they believed he cost too much money so instead of paying him they decided to trade him and they received a second round pick and a fifth round pick in return. The message that the Bears front office was sending is they don’t value the linebacker position that much when they traded Smith to Baltimore.
It was the right message, as inside linebackers aren’t as valuable but then Chicago decided to give Tremaine Edmunds a four year, $72 million dollar contract. Edmunds is not bad but paying him that amount of money instead of Smith makes the Bears come off as hypocrites. How are you gonna say you don’t value linebackers but then you overpay for someone who is not nearly as good as the guy you traded away?
If you look at what the other linebackers received, linebacker David Long Jr received $11 million from the Miami Dolphins for two years. Bobby Wagner and Azeez Al-Shaair received one year deals from Seattle and Tennessee respectively and the Edmunds deal looks like an outlier. Edmunds is good but he wasn’t the best linebacker for Buffalo last season, his run defense is less than ideal and his coverage skills aren’t great despite PFF giving him a 90 grade for pass coverage.
Chicago also neglected their defensive line for the majority of the free agency period and didn’t take a gamble on any of the edge rushers that were available or interior defensive line. Safety Jaquan Brisker led the team in sacks last season and he wasn’t even a lineman. I commend Chicago for being aggressive in free agency but I thought their free agency as a whole was a bit overrated.
Fast forward to the NFL Draft that happened last Thursday and here is where Chicago lost me. At pick #9, Chicago had options for who they could select. Leading up to the draft, many believed that Chicago was going to take Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter if he slipped to pick nine.
Mike Greenberg tells the @ESPN1000 crew that the buzz at the draft is Jalen Carter is going to the Bears at 9 👀 👀 #DaBears #Bears #ChicagoBears pic.twitter.com/abRSewXTHK
— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) April 27, 2023
Carter slipped to nine and Chicago traded down with the Philadelphia Eagles, which allowed Philadelphia to snag Jalen Carter and Chicago ended up taking Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright at #10. Twitter reacted accordingly.
The Bears handed Jalen Carter off to the Eagles. And so … This is a move that will be debated citywide for a long time to come.
(Personally, I get it,)
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) April 28, 2023
I’ve been saying this all week — if the #Bears didn’t want Jalen Carter, I can’t dispute them. We weren’t in the interview room, we just don’t know.
Culture has been a big talking point in Chicago — it’s clear Poles just didn’t want Carter. We’ll see whether they’re right!
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) April 28, 2023
I don’t have a problem with Chicago passing on Carter as the off the field issues and not showing up to his pro day in shape would have teams passing on him for the right reasons. General manager Ryan Poles emphasized building a culture and Chicago isn’t the best fit for Carter culture wise. However, Chicago choosing Darnell Wright who is a project at right tackle is something I don’t understand.
Chicago is right for investing in their offensive line, they need to protect Justin Fields but I felt they could have found a better tackle. As for the rest of their draft, choosing running back was an underrated pickup Roschon Johnson as well as picking wide receiver Tyler Scott but the rest of their picks were fine. If I had to give Chicago a grade for their offseason as a whole, it would be a B- and I felt all the momentum they had earlier they lost it with their subpar draft.
If there is one team that had a bunch of hype going into this offseason, it was Detroit. Considering how the team finished last season, many believed how Detroit was going to attack their offseason. First step was to revamp their secondary, and they did that. Signing safety C.J. Gardner Johnson from Philadelphia on essentially a prove it deal was a steal. The Lions signed cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley were underrated pickups.
Detroit’s biggest problem last season was their defense, despite their defense playing better in the second half of the season they were bad for the first half. With the additions of their secondary, many believe Detroit was a serious contender to win the NFC North this upcoming season. Detroit’s offense was a top 10 efficiency wise, all the team had to do was address their defense and they did in some areas.
Last week the draft occurred around and many believed Detroit was going to cap off a good free agency with a spectacular draft. They follow it up with a disappointing draft. If I had to give Detroit a grade for their draft it would be between a C- or D+. Let’s start with their first pick that they made.
Detroit traded down with the Arizona Cardinals after the Seattle Seahawks chose Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon. Many mock drafts had Detroit taking Witherspoon at six but they opted to trade down. Detroit decided to take Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with their 12th pick. Gibbs is a good player, but choosing a running back at 12 is not good from a positional value standpoint.
Running backs are not as valuable as before and for Detroit to take one that high didn’t make much sense. Gibbs will likely be RB2 after Detroit traded away D’Andre Swift on day three of the draft but the pick was bad, not the player. It was just a bad use of resources for Detroit.
I know the RB conversation is exhausting at this point, but the Lions this offseason have:
* Given David Montgomery a 3-year, $18M deal
* Used the 12th overall pick on Jahmyr Gibbs
That is a horrendous use of resources.
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) April 28, 2023
It didn’t stop there. Detroit had a chance to redeem themselves with their second first round pick and they decided to choose Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell. I’ll let you read the reactions.
Jack Campbell is the newest Detroit Lion! pic.twitter.com/6bbj0Gdbcl
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) April 28, 2023
Good players, but bad picks for the positions that they play. Maybe Detroit proves me wrong but I stand by my statement. Outside of the Brian Branch pick, Detroit’s draft was disappointing. I didn’t understand the choice to select quarterback Hendon Hooker in the third round considering his age and his lack of experience running an NFL-style offense. Hooker was in an offense that didn’t require the quarterback to make full field reads and go through his progressions, and his receivers were split out so far it made his job easier.
I never bought into the Detroit hype and after their underwhelming draft, I’m even more low on them. The team will be competitive for sure but I don’t see them winning the division, maybe they make the playoffs but who knows. Off the field, Detroit is losing wide receiver Jameson Williams to a six game suspension due to gambling inside the team’s facility. Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore was banned for the entire season and eventually released for doing the same thing. The underwhelming draft and losing players for putting parlays for no apparent reason, those two events set Detroit back a bit.
Both Detroit and Chicago had strong starts to their free agency periods and followed it up with disappointing drafts and it appears that they are slightly trending down. I am not saying that the teams are going to be bad but these specific events should slow down the hype train that these teams have. Both teams could prove me wrong but as of now they aren’t doing a good job. Be weary of these teams.