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Free-For-All Friday: Talking NFL and the Draft

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Can C.J. Beathard REALLY be a starting NFL QB? Why did Desmond King really fall? Out of Akrum Wadley and Josey Jewell would you bet has the best NFL career? We have the answers.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

JPinIC: Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. How are you feeling this week my man? We are finally post-draft. Are you loving life as a Bears fan? Has it set in yet that you are entering the Mitch Trubisky era? Talk me through your emotional roller coaster on draft weekend!

Hello Jerry: I’m past the Mitchell Trubisky (or Trubinsky as half of Chicago will call him for however long his career lasts here, including me) pick. Ryan Pace clearly thought some other team was threatening to move up into the 49ers slot and he wanted his guy. I can’t blame him for that. How many horror stories have you heard of from former GM’s that passed on guys like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or even Dak Prescott? Sure, the odds were probably in his favor of landing TBisk without giving up picks, but he obviously thought he had to do something to guarantee it… and he did.

At the end of the day, what is a couple of third and fourth round picks if in three years Mitchell is on a similar playing level as Derek Carr is in Oak-Vegas right now?

BUT, what I don’t understand is what he did with the rest of his picks. I tweeted this on draft night, so forgive me for running it back, but when your second rounder’s stock footage begins with Division II basketball highlights that are more grainy than most kids high school tape, you know you got a real NFL talent.

Yeesh.

Look, I’m not here to grade this thing and if a few of these guys develop into real talents, great. I’m not here to slam Pace because what good is that going to do anybody? All I hope is that he took a few notes from John Lynch for next year when the Bears will be picking in the Top-5 with a “franchise QB” on their roster.

JP, you don’t have a team anymore because the owner of the franchise you once loved sold out for that LA money, so I have to ask you, have you settled on a team yet? Did this draft sway your opinion on anyone? Are you still siding with the Fighting Jared Goff’s? Do you know how envious I am of your position? You don’t have to hurt anymore if you don’t want to. You also don’t even have to answer me anymore when I ask you condescendingly if the “Rams are Good”.

Or are you just going to remain a fantasy football nerd that only roots for players?

JPinIC: I’m a man in limbo Jerry. I don’t love it, but at times it can be good. I miss being emotionally invested in games and seasons the way I was with the Rams (though I will admit that them being utterly terrible for much of my adult life meant not having to really give a damn beyond Week 3) and will always be with the Hawkeyes. I still follow the Rams and am admittedly hoping they are terrible with zero fan support. But for the most part, I’m just rooting for my fantasy team and hoping teams with Hawkeyes do well.

I have really mixed emotions on how to approach filling the void left by the Rams long term. I’d like to attach myself to a new team and as much as you might think it’s an envious position to be in, it’s not. I feel like a bandwagon fan and I loathe bandwagon fans. My first inclination was to cling to the Packers. I think they have a really cool history and there’s a quaintness to them I admire (it’s the same feeling I begrudgingly have for the Cubs - I hate the Cubs but damn it if I don’t love Wrigley and those pinstripes).

Hello Jerry: I am really hating this so far…

JPinIC: They have some recent history of bringing in Iowa guys which gives me some attachment and I really like to watch Aaron Rodgers do his thing. Add in the fact that I still have a 3XL Reggie White jersey I received as a gift in like 4th grade that still fits, I kind of feel like that’s a slam dunk. No additional investment required.

But then my wife, the lovely APinIC who has somehow managed to watch no more than 5 minutes of football in our 6 (!!!) years of marriage, tells me I can’t root for them because those fans are too into it and take football too seriously to ever welcome some new bandwagon fan. Buzzkill.

Hello Jerry: I knew I always loved her more than you.

JPinIC: I’ve thought about rooting for the Bears. The vast majority of my buddies are Bears fans and it would sure make things more enjoyable if we were rooting for the same team. But then they go and do the things they did in this draft and I don’t think I can endure that kind of garbage in what would be my formative years as a new fan.

Hello Jerry: BUT THEY DRAFTED BABY GRONK! A FUTURE STAPLE OF THE JPinIC FANTASY SQUAD!

JPinIC: I like that the Vikings took Johnson this year and had Greenway for all those years, but I don’t look great in purple bruh.

As far as “local” teams, that kind of just leaves the Chiefs. I could live with them I suppose. They are certainly in a better spot right now than Chicago. I had a couple buddies who grew up in KC that were die hard and had tried recruiting me when all the STL to LA speculation really started. They were gracious enough to take me in for several home tailgates and mancave viewings of Chiefs games back when Jamaal Charles had juice left in the tank. If they hadn’t picked up and moved back to KC, I could make a case for the Chiefs but as it stands, it just doesn’t feel right.

So here we are. Another year removed from the departure of the Rams and another year of me wandering aimlessly looking for a new team.

(For those of you wondering how in the hell a guy ends up a Rams fan in the first place, they moved to STL when I was still in elementary school. My dad never had a strong rooting interest to steer me to one team and I grew up closer to St. Louis than any other major metro area with a football team. I come from a family of Cardinal fans so it was a natural fit for me to follow all St. Louis teams. Stan Kroenke can kiss my ass.)

Hello Jerry: I’m not going to try and convince you to join the Bears. Though I would assume ownership would welcome any and all new fans right now being as they can’t fill Soldier Field with how poor the product has been. It’s painful JP. Very, very painful. I don’t want that for your two boys. I don’t even want it for my fake future children (Even though I don’t think I can live with them following their mother and their family by becoming Eagles fans. Can you imagine taking them to see Santa? I can already envision the side eye they’d be giving him, wishing they had a snowball in their hands).

What I will say is that I don’t understand the Iowa Minnesota fans. How did they grow up hating the Goofers with every fiber of their being but attached themselves to the same city’s NFL team? It’s just bonkers to me. Unless they chose this lifestyle of equal pain because they loved Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper that much. I can understand that. Hell, those two were so damn fun (and lethal on Madden) that I once told my dad I was going to become a Vikings fan, to which he told me to get out of his house and to not come back until I realized how poor my decisions were.

I immediately put my Jim Miller jersey back on and cried in a corner by myself.

Not much has changed.

JPinIC: The options are truly limited Jer. It’s frustrating. All that being said, not really having a team made for a pretty enjoyable draft experience. Granted, I spent much of it laying on my couch with a newborn on me, but I didn’t have the heartache of disappointment (other than watching King’s name stay on the board longer than I expected) and I got to enjoy watching the various Hawkeyes have their names called.

I know you said you aren’t going to rant about Pace for the way things turned out just yet, but talk me through your draft experience man. Did you feel that way when the trade was announced? I seem to recall a few text messages that don’t paint that picture. Put me in the room with you on day one of the draft!

Hello Jerry: So I was actually in Philadelphia for draft weekend, so my experience was actually pretty fun. First and foremost, shouts to Philly who did one hell of a job holding that event. I went to the draft in Chicago the first year they held it and it can’t sit at the same table with Philadelphia. Philly is not the city beautiful by any means, but between the perfect weather and the locations in which they held the stage, the green room and whatever you call that call center with team officials you’ve never seen before, I would be absolutely down with giving the draft to them for the rest of time.

Honestly, even if they got unlucky with the weather, I think they still would’ve pulled close to the 100,000 people they had in attendance. The city truly embraced the NFL and all of their fans… and they didn’t even threaten to beat up the Cowboy fans.

Funny story to prove that last point: On night two, I was at a bar being an obnoxious Chicago fan. I had my See Red Bulls shirt and my Chicago Bears dad hat on. I was the only lunatic not in Eagles gear. You could tell that people wanted to pounce on me. They wanted to be mean. They wanted to live up to their inner “Philly-ness”. But they didn’t. They just nodded at me. Maybe they just felt bad… after all, Mitchell Trubisky was still the laughing pick of the draft and I was proudly supporting the team that took him. Regardless, I was a little disappointed. I wanted at least some banter, so I tested the waters a little bit. Right as the Eagles were about to be “On the Clock” I asked our waitress if she wouldn’t mind putting the Bulls playoff game on “ a few of the TV’s”.

What she did next was even better than I could have ever imagined.

She turned the Bulls game on every single TV in the bar besides one… the smallest one they had.

The place went nuts as I sat back dying in laughter. It was in that moment when I realized that everything in life is still ok… and that I need to get on Ryan Pace’s runaway bandwagon. Afterall, he’s always been touted for his ability to evaluate talent and the sheer fact that he made a move (that in the grand scheme of things means nothing) to go and get HIS guy in TBisk was something I need to get behind. For my entire life, I’ve pined for a Bears GM to go and get a young QB. It’s kind of refreshing to have one that did.

That’s something I can get behind.

What was hard for me to get behind though was my main man Des King falling to the fifth round. What exactly happened here? Did you ever in a million years think CJB was going to go before him? Would you have bet your house on the fact that Jaleel Johnson would’ve gone before him? Would you have bet your life on George Kittle going before him?

JPinIC: Jerry, if you would’ve asked me to put money on the order of those guys being drafted I would’ve lost damn near every penny. Which, I suppose, isn’t saying much. I’m a terrible gambler and no longer bet on Iowa in any way shape or form because my emotions derail my brain far too easily. Going in, I had King as a second rounder with Johnson late second or early third. I would’ve guessed Kittle and Beathard both in the 4th to 5th and I really thought Kittle would go ahead of CJ given his great combine performance. He was widely considered the best blocker in the class (at TE) and the numbers he put up placed him firmly in the midst of those guys thought to be great athletes who can’t block. Add in what we’ve seen on film of him making spectacular catches and I just thought he was a guy who could climb.

On King, I’m stupified (I guess my wife would probably tell you that’s my natural state). I get that he isn’t the tallest corner in the world and he isn’t the fastest corner in the world. But I watched him shut down NFL guys for two years. I watched him display better ball skills than a number of the DBs that went in front of him and he is a much better tackler than about 90% of the guys taken in front of him. I get that he didn’t have the same INT or PBU numbers as in 2015, but that’s going to happen when teams decide to literally not throw to your entire side of the field. Nothing changed from last year to this and all indications were he would’ve been a round 2 guy a year ago at worst. It’s baffling and I think there are going to be some teams pretty upset with themselves for passing on him.

What about you, do you have an answer to talk me off the ledge? And which of these guys ends up having the best NFL career?

Hello Jerry: Would it shock you if I said that I kind of freaking love CJB going to the 49ers? Would you call me crazy for agreeing with the comparisons he’s received this last week to the guy the 49ers reportedly want to sign next year in Kirk Cousins? I’m not saying it’s going to work out that way, BUT it definitely could. He’s got a shot, right? When you look at sheer opportunity, add in the fact that he plays the most premier position in all of sports (of which the 49ers desperately need) and throw in his work ethic/toughness/football brain together and it all kind of makes sense.

Look, I’m a big Kyle Shanahan guy. I wanted him desperately to take over the reins from John Fox (Oh what could have been, you know, with the Bears identifying their franchise quarterback and all). I think that he has the ability to communicate with young quarterbacks and develop them into the type of player that can make all of the throws necessary to make it in the NFL.

I know I’m basing all of this off the work he did with Matt Ryan, but if Beathard can stay upright, he has the tools, man. He has the tools.

As you know, I flew into Iowa City this year for the Iowa State romp (thanks again for making me chug those Natty Daddy’s before walking into Kinnick, bee-tee-dub). Outside of taking a giant deuce on the Cyclones, the one thing I took away from that game was that CJB was making NFL throws all over that Iowa State defense. He looked like he took the leap. Like he was going to build upon the excitement of 2015’s 12-0 run.

Just look at him:

Beathard was placing balls where only his receivers can get their hands on the ball. That’s not some chump, JP. That’s a dude that has the moxy and the tools to make some things happen in the NFL.

I still believe C.J.

As far as my bet for the best career? I’m sticking with our boy Des King (and his cowboy hat). I don’t have much analysis to add to yours, so instead I’m going to ask you a question about his free fall. After all, you’re the football guy in these here parts. I’m just the degenerate that gambles on too many games every weekend and ends up hating himself for taking a third team in my teaser for the better payout. So I want to ask you, did King get burned by the tape BECAUSE nobody threw at him? Could it be as simple as that? Because that’s the only reason I can think of as to why he slipped.

Maybe some NFL GM’s didn’t think he was tested enough for them to trust him with a high pick?

Or was it just as simple as his height + speed + deep secondary draft?

How did one of the best pure outside defenders I’ve ever seen in an Iowa uniform plummet? I need answers, J.

JPinIC: Well, I’m probably not the most appropriate person at The Pants to answer your NFL talent questions, but @RobDFB and @TheJPScott aren’t sitting in on this so I’ll do my best. I think it was a combination of the concerns regarding his size and mostly his speed. We saw him be plenty fast watching every second of every Iowa game, but his 40 times weren’t great. Add in that it was a historically deep DB draft and you have the possibility of falling. I mean, someone had to, right? Then you throw in the fact he didn’t have the sheer numbers he did in 2015 (as we discussed, because nobody was throwing at him and why would you when you could just throw at Greg Mabin instead?) some apparently not great performances in 1-on-1 drills at the Senior Bowl and I think we have an answer on his drop. Do I think he fell too far? Yes. But I also can see why the fall started, I guess.

I like the call on CJ Beathard. I’m with you that he has the tools and with the QB situation for the 49ers, there should be some opportunity. My biggest thing is we’ve seen the track record of QBs under Kirk Ferentz and I worry it just won’t happen.

So my bet for best NFL career is actually going to be on Jaleel Johnson. The guy is just a house and he screams Mike Daniels to me. I apologize for a speaking a name which surely strikes fear into the hearts of you Bears fans, but that dude has had himself a career and I think Johnson is a guy who could really follow that same path.

Hello Jerry: No fear here. It’s inevitable conclusion that some Packers player is going to crush a Bears QB. Thankfully, I’m able to work through it easier when it’s a former Iowa player. THIS IS MY LIFE JP!

JPinIC: Is there anybody else currently on the Iowa Hawkeye roster who has a shot at a nice, long NFL career? I believe the streak is currently sitting at 40 years (and I think I saw a graphic somewhere showing that as like the 6th longest in college football, way longer than even the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide) so there’s surely SOMEONE who’s going to hear his name called next year. Is it Wadley? Is it a lineman from either side of the ball? Who ya got?

Hello Jerry: Wadley is the easy choice here. But I’m not all about easy choices. That’s why I left you with the Jaleel Johnson pick earlier. Sure, Johnson has the same amount of potential as C.J. but it’s obvious.

I’m just glad I get to incept you still all the way from Florida.

Anyways, once again (are you all noticing a trend here), I’m betting the house on Josey Jewell. If Desmond King was one of the best pure defenders on the outside, Jewell is his counterpart in the middle of the field. I remember reading pieces in the middle of the season that was touting the inside linebacker selections for this years NFL Draft as “special” because they were assuming Jewell would be making the leap.

We know how that panned out, but I don’t see Iowa’s leading tackler and Butkus Award finalist doing anything to hurt his draft stock this upcoming season.

We all know the story about Jewell by now. He might not be the one that steals the headlines this upcoming year with Wadley hopefully doing everything he can to get some Heisman hype in Iowa City for the first time since Shonn Greene, he’s definitely got the highest NFL ceiling in my mind. He’s got the IQ that coaches rave about. He’s got the work ethic that gives Chris Doyle all sorts of feels. He’s a work out monster. The kid that you always hear about showing up in the weight room before everyone else, out works them all, and then stays late to get some extra reps in while watching game tape.

Sure there is a question or two about how and where he can translate in the NFL game. Can he cover in the NFL? Maybe not athletically, but are you going to bet against him not figuring out smart ways to get that job done? I’m sure as hell not.

There are just dudes that become coach's favorite players because of “intangibles”. That’s all Jewell. Honestly, I’m already giddy with the thought of Jewell becoming the first piece in the resurrection project of the Monsters of the Midway under Jim Harbaugh next season (yeah, you heard that here first).

What do you guys think? Can your former QB make a legit run at becoming an actual NFL quarterback? What about Desmond King? Despite our selfish desires, should King have come out last year? Is Jaleel Johnson the next Mike Daniels? Who’s NFL prospect do you like better, Wadley or Jewell?

*** Do you have a topic you want to see discussed on FFF ? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @JPinIC_BHGP and @JerryScherwin. After all, it’s your Friday afternoon we’re trying to help you pass by... might as well give the people what they want. ***