Subtle Change in Draft Philosophy With Second and Third Day Picks and Other Points of View


  • Though the Bears have claimed many times that thier draft philosophy hasn’t changed, I think it did.  Here’s a quote from GM Jerry Angelo via the Chicago Tribune which is typical of what I’m talking about:

“There were moments there when we talked about a certain position but we said let’s stay the course, we might not be able to get it done the way we would like to, but we do have free agency so let’s take the value at these positions. The value of the position was a real focus for us today. I think Chris Conte is going to be an excellent football player for us. The position he plays with the athletic traits he has, it’s very, very difficult to find. So we talked long and hard about that and we tried to be pragmatic in our approach and I thought we stayed the course.”

The Bears aren’t looking just to fill needs and they aren’t just looking for the best player available. They’re starting to look at the best player available at “Value” positions. Namely quarterback and free safety this year.  They’ve probably always considered this to some extent but I can’t remember Angelo emphasizing it this much.  I think its a subtle but significant change.

  • gives us a look into the Bears draft room:

  • Angelo sits down for a one-on-one interview with Larry Mayer at after the draft

  • This grim Chicago Sun-Times column makes some good points. There’s no name on the Internet version of the article but it sounds like Mike Mulligan:

“The names have changed, but the positions remain the same.

“That’s the real indictment of the Bears’ 2011 draft class — not the players who were selected, but the feeling of deja vu as the positions were called.

“Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi might have been the steal of the draft when the Bears selected him with their first first-round pick since 2008, the year they took offensive tackle Chris Williams. Second-round pick Stephen Paea is a defensive tackle with a video on YouTube. Sounds like 2009 third-round pick Jarron Gilbert, the Bears’ first selection that year.”

There is something to be said for this. The Bears used this draft in good part to make up for past failures like Gilbert.

  • Via Dan Pompei and Chris Hines at the Chicago Tribune Carimi answers a question about his comments claiming to be the best offensive tackle in the draft. He has a point:

“What was I going to say, I don’t think I’m the best tackle? I’m going to be the fifth-best tackle?”

  • Mayer interviews Paea:

“The wild card might turn out to be third-round pick Chris Conte, the Cal cornerback-turned-safety who emerged after three years of obscurity to be an All-Pac-10 performer. While Angelo is convinced he has the skills necessary to succeed in the NFL as a free safety, most other draft experts projected him to be a late-round pick.”

Mayer interviews Conte here:

“Our last pick, J.T. Thomas out of West Virginia, again played his full tenure at West Virginia. He fits us perfectly, can play all three positions. He played multi-roles there at West Virginia. Again, we spent a lot of time on him, saw him at an all-star game, he got hurt during that practice week, but we feel very, very good about his fit and picking up a linebacker was a goal today and he was the right one.”

Despite Angelo’s comment, from what I’ve read, Thomas isn’t really going to play in the middle or on the strong side (which was a need). He’ll be a back up, especially on the weak side, but I’m guessing he was really drafted to play special teams, something he seems well suited to do and something which he seems to know quite a bit about.

Here’s what he had to say:

“I played on every special teams [unit] at West Virginia University. When I was younger, I played a lot of different special teams. As I got older, I was a little more valuable to the team, so I didn’t play as many, but I was always on the punt coverage team and punt block team. “

“Precision and technique and you really need to refine those two things. You can’t make mistakes, you have to have very efficient technique as far as your throwing mechanics and your read progressions and you have to hone those two to a very precise point and those are two things I have to work on.”

From what I can tell, Enderle has a pretty long release which is going to have to be shortened before he plays effectively in the NFL:

  • Here’s what Jerry Angelo had to say about Enderle:

“The offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback loom are areas of need. A nickel pass rusher wouldn’t hurt.”

I would say a veteran offensive lineman is likely.  They’re going to have to be signing or resigning a lot of guys at linebacker as well.

“It [the selection of Enderle] has nothing to do with Caleb [Hanie]. We went into this in all likelihood – anything is subject to be change when you get into training camp, players still have to earn their position on the football team. There is no entitlement here, irrelevant of where we draft players. We are assuming we are going to keep three quarterbacks this year on our roster and we are assuming that we are not going out into the free agent market place. That in essence is why we drafted the player where we did. He certainly has the pole position and I just want to express how good we feel about him in terms of our scouts and our coaches and we did spend a lot of time on this player.”

“The only position I would think we would [look into free agency for] is the quarterback position. Other than that, we are going to look, no more than that.”

Given that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has never expressed much enthusiasm for Hanie, there was some question in my mind about whther they’d bring a veteran in to compete with him. I guess this is unlikely at this point.

EDIT:  I forgot about Matt Gutierrez who could be seen as competition for Hanie.  Though most people apparently don’t.

One Final Thought

One of the many things I’ve I disliked about this offseason (read “a lot of litigation and lockout and not much free agency”) is the fact that the Bears Expo was on draft weekend. I wanted to go but like most fairly hard core football fans, I wanted to see the draft.

I don’t know what was behind the decision to schedule it this way but I hope the Bears don’t do it again.

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