Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Chicago Bears 2012 Draft: My Evaluation

After a decade of dismal drafts I was like most Bear's fans and was glad to see General Manager Jerry Angelo go earlier this year. After other teams seemed to snap up most of the top tier General Manager candidates I have to admit I thought they settled when they chose Phil Emery as the new General Manager. I was also suspicious of the fact that as a condition of his hiring Emery was prevented from firing head coach Lovie Smith. Not that I feel Lovie should be fired, but management structure in American business, including the NFL, has a defined hierarchy, which the Bear's organization set aside in this case, causing some to feel they made themselves look foolish and disorganized.


 But Emery was bold right out of the, trading two third round picks (one each in 2012 and 2103) for Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall. In my opinion it was a great trade, especially since the Bears already had an extra 3rd rounder from the Panthers for Tight End Greg Olsen. Emery went on in free agency to add several unspectacular but essential pieces to fill in needs at several positions, leading one to believe the draft would be used to fill out the roster with immediate impact players. When the draft started I was like almost everyone else in believing the Bears would draft a pass rusher that could put Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers on their backsides. Then this happened...




                                                      1) Shea McClellin DE/LB Boise State
Like probably every other Bears' fan in the Universe, I was too dumbfounded to even groan when I heard this pick announced. After I collected myself I went through all the stages of loss, and before the second round even began had reached acceptance. The Bears were going to take a player to line up on the end across from Julius Peppers and go after quarterbacks, but was this the guy? Six defensive linemen went immediately preceding the Bears' pick, including Melvin Ingram at #18 by the Chargers, probably the player the Bears were looking at, but I don't know anyone who saw this pick coming. He's small, not very strong, and doesn't have a true position in the NFL. Worst of all, there were still several pass rushers still on the board and many teams were showing interest in moving up to get the Bears' pick. They could have moved down, got a pass rusher every bit as good as McClellin, and added a pick later. McClellin could very well turn out to be a great NFL player, but when the General Manager makes a point to mention special teams when referring to the first round draft pick, I get nervous. I didn't like this pick. What I did like was...




2) Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina
When the Bears traded up in round two I was excited because I thought this was it, they were finally going to draft a Tackle. Jay Cutler has spent more time on his ass the past three years than a government employee, and since the Bears did nothing in free agency to address the problem here it was, the pick we were all waiting for, a road grating tackle. Right? Wrong. The Bears selected Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver from South Carolina. And I wasn't disappointed one bit, because another thing Jerry Angelo was notorious for was not drafting wide receivers. Bears fans have suffered through decades of having nothing to get excited about at the wide receiver position. Roy Williams? Are you kidding me? Now the Bears have two beasts at wide receiver. I like this because now that Jay Cutler won't have to drop back seven steps and watch his wide receivers robotically fleeing down the field to get to the positions insane former "genius" of offense Mike Martz blindly insisted upon no matter what the reality of the defense (or the decade) was, Cutler can take a normal drop, look up, and see two huge targets to choose from. True, he might drop back and the first thing he sees is three defensive linemen in his face, but on the plays when the tackles do actually block someone he'll have targets, and I think Cutler can find them. I like this pick. Third round...



3) Brandon Hardin Free Safety Oregon State
Okay. Deja vu here. Last year I was watching the draft and excitedly awaiting the Bears' third round pick and when Chris Conte's name was announced I had that familar WTF Jerry Angelo reaction for multiple reasons, most of then being he was a player no one had rated that highly. A player he could easily gotten later. A player not even at the top of the list of available players at the position. Ditto 2012. Who is this player? He didn't even play last year. This was the spot for Bobbie Massie, the highest rated Tackle still on the board, not another damaged goods, white defensive back who probably would have fallen two or three rounds. Meet the new boss... Having traded the fifth rounder away to get Jeffery, the fourth round pick became even more crucial in filling immediate needs (offensive line, offensive line). So I woke up today assured the Bears would finally acknowledge that if you have Pro Bowl talent at QB, WR, and running back, it might be a good idea to put offensive linemen in front of them who aren't doing an imitation of the turnstiles at Grand Central Station. Here it comes, here it comes...



4) Evan Rodriguez TE Temple
Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!! Round four was Tight End round, with five teams opting to go for this new upgraded position. But here's my problem with this pick: even among the new paradigm for the "move" Tight End in the NFL, Rodriguez doesn't seem to fit. He's 6'1. Runt of the litter. Martz crippled the Tight End position in Chicago, so we don't even know what a real Tight End looks like, but I think they're taller than this. The Bears don't pick in round five, and I feel assured they'll draft a token offensive lineman in either rounds six or seven, but the odds of getting anyone who can play is slim, so I'll summarize my reaction to the Bears 2012 draft now.


I can't believe this new General Manager, who was hired expressly because he was considered a keen evaluator of collegeb talent and a shrewd draft expert, drafted players who have no defined position, lack the size, strength, or natural skill sets required for those positions, or in the case of Hardin haven't even played in over a year. The first four rounds are NOT the time to take chances on players you think might blossom into great NFL players, but have questions. Those are players you wait for while drafting mean-ass looking, day one ass-kicking players like 

Courtney Upshaw, who the Ravens drafted with their first pick at the top of the second round. No issues here. He's not injured. He's not undersized. He knows what position he plays. This guy looks like he's about to rip the head off a bull and drink its blood. The Bears' first round pick looks like he's about to feed the chickens. Even the pick that made me happiest, Alshon Jeffery, is a player who has weight and off field issues. There's no reason to take on this much baggage and have this many questions about the first four players you take in any draft. Especially since you didn't acquire impact players in free agency. My grade of the Bears' 2012 draft up to this point...





C-









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12 comments:

  1. Why do you have a hard-on for offensive linemen? The bears o-line will be fine this season, because of the change in offense. However, I do question the picks and their value at their selected spots (Except Jeffery).

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  2. For one reason, because the Bears season has ended two years in a row when Jay Cutler was injured. No Cutler, no Super Bowl. Twenty-four of the 32 teams have drafted O linemen this year. I think Carimi is permanently injured and I don't think Webb is an NFL tackle. With the offense the Bears have assembled I think it shows a real lack of thinking not to even attempt to improve the O line.

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    1. You do realize that the poor line play had 80% to do with martz right?
      think if you are a defensive coach game planing vs the bears last year you know 3 things.
      1) you don't have to worry about a single WR. The "number 1" couldn't even get on the field in Dallas.
      2) There will be no audibles, what you see is what you get. the name of the game in the nfl right now is to keep the opposing team guessing right until the snap. The defense knew so much about the offense before the coin toss even happened. every one knew the TE isn't going out for a pass, and they weren't going to run the ball. Real tough to stop a pass only team with no WRs
      3) Cutler is taking 7 step drop, or throwing a screen every play!!!


      You also conveniently seem to forget that the bears were averaging over 32 ppg (top 3 in the league) in the five weeks before cutler got injured. after week three the bears gave up only 1.57143 sacks per game, never more than 3 (one game), and two games in which there were ZERO sacks. one of those two games was the game in which cutler was injured!!!!
      THE CUTLER INJURY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE EXCELLENT BLOCKING THE BEARS HAD, AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH JOHHNY KNOX FALLING DOWN!!!

      Get off your high horse. You are really complaining that the Bears are bringing back the core of an offense that averaged 32.2 ppg and 1 sack per game in the month + BCWD. further more, you don't know a damn thing about these guys, all you have to go off of for writing this is, "herp derp they didn't pick the o-line I wanted so now I'm going to blast this gm and all of the picks." let them play a snap first. How has drafting Urlacher without knowing his position worked out?

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    2. You saw that I acknowledged your three points about the Martz offense, right? Now, I'll ask you if you saw the same offensive line I did, even when the Bears were scoring the 32.2 points a game. You seem to conveniently remember one five game stretch and ignore the totality of what has happened to Jay Cutler since he's been in Chicago. I think if you're going to use that five game stretch to explain why no further need for improvement on the O line is necessary I think you're going to be proven very wrong very quickly.

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    3. Are you really going to ignore what this offense has proven capable of doing? Are you really going to ignore the aging defense? Are you going to ignore the vast improvements the bears have already made to the offense?

      No I'm not going to use just that five game stretch, I'm also going to base it off all of the other things I already mentioned in that post and the other offensive additions.

      I'll recap
      1)the bears went form having a terrible receiving core to one with a 3 time pro bowler, including last year with the LOL dolphins, with several NFL records in his prime and earl bennet. Earl bennet is a favorite target of cutler; you can correlate the bears offensive explosion with the return of bennet from injury. that means they can no longer single cover everyone and blitz. that means the blocking should improve.
      2)Audibles. No matter what Cutler was not allowed to audible under martz. if the defense knew the play and had the perfect call, too bad. They didn't even practice them. Being able to adjust to the defense will make the o-line better.
      3)TEs will be used in the passing game. This means in addition to real WR threats to cover the opposing defense will have to commit a defender to the TE. that takes another constant pass rusher out of the equation.
      That is two more on field threats that the defense didn't have to account for and could send extra men after the passer because of.

      even if I were to base it off of the five game stretch, which if you read my post I'm clearly not, Is it anymore logical to ignore the most recent half season (week 4-11 the 8 weeks at 1.5 sacks per game) of work at full health, or near enough, and cling to an outdated opinion that while acknowledges the improvements, refuses to account for them when evaluating where the team is today? It is clear to see that the line was playing well, that the entire off-season has brought nothing but great improvements to the situation for the o-line, and that the Bears are desperate for the positions they drafted, so you shouldn't be worried about a concentrated effort to improve in areas that are either dismal already or rapidly aging.

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  3. I couldn't have said it better except to add that you don't win championships with cornerbacks. We have 8 on our roster, and only 3 DT's.......WTF. This guy is making me miss Jerry Angelo already. Bears haven't had a GM since Finks, and the 'family' made sure they ran him out of town.

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  4. Let's give the guy a season, I guess. Maybe he's a genius in finding talent no one else wanted. Somebody in that organization is convinced they have the talent at O line to protect Cutler. Maybe it's Tice falling in love with players and not seeing it the way people on the outside do. All we can do now is support the team.

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  5. So, did he help 'close the talent gap' with the Lions and Packers? Time will tell, but reaching for guys doesn't seem like the way to do it. He's either a genius or an idiot, I guess we'll find out which soon enough.

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    1. No, I don't think they did close the talent gap. I think, from what I can see, they drafted for speed at the detriment of size and talent at a particular position. Which might make the special teams great, but not help the defense or offense much.

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  6. I actually like our 3rd and 4th picks. Hardin has the size, speed and cover ability to potentially be the guy at SS that pairs up on the freakish TEs we're seeing nowdays. He has a lot of upside, and the injuries he's dealt with aren't anything that will linger.

    And Rodriguez is the same size as NE's Hernandez, with a similar skillset. He's expected to be used similarly. I like what Emery had to say about him.

    As to Oline, another guy would have been nice, but unless that guy is a left tackle, I don't see the huge need. Left tackle wasn't exactly a strength in this draft class. As has been mentioned, I don't think our Oline will look nearly so bad now that we aren't running the Martz offense. I still don't expect Webb to look good, but I don't think the rest of our line will look nearly as bad.

    Emery was asked about Oline after the draft was over. He said it was simply a matter of best player available as per their board not being at the Oline position when they picked. Which is the proper philosophy to use when trying to build a successful draft.

    The only pick I question is our 1st rounder, but I'm taking a wait and see approach with him. I can see the potential, but there are doubts. The last two picks, the two CB, I know nothing about, and so have no opinion on the matter.

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    1. The definition of crazy, Anon, is expecting change with the same talent.

      Offensive line is a GLARING need. De Castro and Reiff were still there at 19. Talented at their positions. Instead? A small tweener playing a soft schedule who may be generously described as a "reach". The immediate reaction during the coverage was Mayock questioning Lovie's logic. And make no mistake, Lovie's "small fast end" fingerprints are ALL over this pick. Will he be Thierry or Hillemeyer?

      Meanwhile, Upshaw AND Hightower waited... if you were going defense. How many corners?

      Jay ran for his life last year and he will again. 2 first round draft choices for a guy the Bears have never protected.

      Fucking joke.

      Did you see Pittsburgh's draft?

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  7. i also find it odd people keep repeating the same falsehood...the Bears grabbed 2 Offensive Linemen in FreeAgency...both of which have been starters? Is it because they came the week before the draft the reason everyone has missed this?

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