Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.”
It is with that in mind that I note Dan Pompei‘s review of the outside linebackers in this year’s NFL draft for the Chicago Tribune. Here’s what he says about the Bears need there:
“Only one outside linebacker, Lance Briggs, is under contract for next season. It is likely the Bears will bring back others with expiring contracts, but for now they can’t be certain. As a result, it seems certain the Bears will look to add depth at the position in the draft.”
I’ve got a suspicion the Bears might be looking to add more than just special teams depth here. Briggs will be on the wrong side of 30 in November and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher will be 34 in May.
A few days ago, Pompei wrote a nice column about how good teams don’t draft to fill immediate needs. They draft for the future:
“Too many NFL general managers look at their draft needs through reading glasses, studying just what’s in front of their noses. What they really need are binoculars so they can see what’s coming in the distance.
“It’s a trap to examine the Bears’ roster and determine they must select an offensive tackle and a defensive tackle with their first two picks in the NFL draft because that’s where their most glaring holes are.
“A better plan, depending on how the draft falls, might be to ignore those positions for the time being.”
Pompei goes on to suggest that holes are better filled in free agency. I could not agree more with this sentiment.
The linebackers are a strength of this team but age is going to eventually catch up to them if the Bears aren’t careful. They left those linebackers with expiring contracts go to free agency because they recognize that. They’ve tendered Nick Roach under 2010 rules as insurance but by leaving Pisa Tinoisamoa off the roster, they’ve left themselves open to draft another young starter if he falls to them. That could be Akeem Ayers, who the Pompei has rated as the second best after Von Miller (who will almost certainly go in the top five picks).
Yes, the Bears have needs at the line of scrimmage. No doubt about it. And yes, fans are going to be upset if they don’t draft some players to fill those gaps. But free agency awaits and drafting for the future is still what its all about.
If GM Jerry Angelo does it right, he’ll take the best players left on the board in this draft. And the best guy to take could easily be a linebacker in the early rounds. That’s because, as Franklin said so well, seeing the future is the key to avoiding present changes for the worse.