Mock Drafts: February 12, 2011

Yeah, I couldn’t think of a better title than that.  Sue me.

With the NFL Combine and the draft approaching, I thought it might be interesting to see who the experts around the country see the Bears taking with the 31st pick.  I’ll update this list a few times as the offseason progresses along with a comment at the end.

Mel Kiper, ESPN:  Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

“Chicago needs help at corner and Williams is a safe pick. A solid character guy with exceptional ball skills, he has good speed, awareness and above-average size for the position, at a hair under 6-1 and 192 pounds. A guy who excels at the takeaway, he’ll be able to deliver INTs for a coach who craves turnovers. He is also a very good special teams player.”

Todd McShay, ESPN:  Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

“If Liuget falls to this spot, the Bears will get a steal. He’s a top-20 pick in our rankings thanks to his strength, quickness, balance and motor. Chicago has bigger needs at offensive tackle and wide receiver, but Liuget is a better value than any player available at those positions.”

Don Banks,  Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

“The Bears have decent options when their turn comes around. They can get help for the offensive line that caused them so many headaches, particularly early in the season, or address their needs at either defensive tackle, receiver or cornerback. Sherrod is the highest-rated remaining tackle, but Texas cornerback Aaron Williams and LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis would also make sense.”

Wes Bunting, The National Football Post:  Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly:  Liuget

Rob Rang and Chad Reuter,  Carimi

Peter Schrager,  Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

“The Bears’ offensive line was disastrous in the 2010 preseason and worse than ever in a Week 4 loss to the Giants at New York, where Jay Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half. But slowly but surely, the unit came along. The running game excelled, Cutler had more time in the pocket and the offense clicked. That said, there’s still room for both depth and improvement across the line. At 6-9, 320 pounds, Solder is a mountain of a man. He is a terrific pass protector and could line up opposite Chris Williams as the other tackle but could also contribute right away at guard if needed. He had a strong showing in Mobile and solidified himself as a first-round pick. The Bears would be delighted to see him — pegged by some as a top-10 possibility — slip to them at 30.”

I, along with many Bear fans, I’m sure, am happy to see so many of these drafts have the Bears taking an offensive lineman.  But knowing how these things typically work and knowing that general manager Jerry Angelo likes to take the best player available, I’m thinking McShay, Kiper and Nawrocki may have the right of it.

I will add one more thing.  If the Bears are smart, they won’t automatically take the fifth or sixth best offensive tackle available if the best guard on the board is still there.  The position is typically under valued and I think a guy like Danny Watkins out of Baylor might make more of an impact.  With the team probably thinking about the future there, guard Mike Pouncey, who is also projected as a center, might make some sense as well.

Ron Rivera Welcomed as a Bear, Will Always be a Bear and Other Points of View


  • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears won’t use the franchise tag.  Not a big surprise, first because Angelo is known not to like ot use it and second because none of the Bears free agents warrants it.
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune ends his positional analysis with special teams.  He points out that.  the unit’s top six tacklers all will be unrestricted free agentsCorey GrahamGarrett WolfeBrian IwuhRashied DavisRod Wilson, and Josh Bullocks.
  • Biggs’ bottom line:  “The faces change but the helmet doesn’t and the Bears remain among the best in the NFL on special teams.” When is someone going to wake up and offer special teams coach Dave Toub a head coaching position?
  • Dan Pompei, also at the Tribune, answers your questions.  He continues the wide receiver talk:

“Do you think we will make a play for free agents Sidney Rice or Vincent Jackson? Also, will the newly signed CFL WR Andy Fantuz make the team and make an impact? — Mike Ockhurtz, Frederick, Md.

“I don’t believe the Bears will go for a free-agent wide receiver with a big price tag. They have other positions that are more pressing. I am very intrigued by Fantuz, but it’s difficult to say how much of an impact he will have until we see him padded up and competing with NFL players. He looked great in Canada, but that’s a different game, and he was playing against inferior competition.

“What’s with Devin Aromashodu? Why didn’t the coaching staff let him play almost all year? Is he going to come back? — Mario, Eagle Pass, Texas

“I think Aromashodu is done with the Bears. He and offensive coordinator Mike Martz clearly were not on the same page. Aromashodu is a gifted player who never has been able to consistently realize his abilities, going back to his college days. His substandard blocking attempts did not endear him to the coaching staff.”

Yes, I had a feeling that this was the case.  It wasn’t just the blocking.  I don’t think Aromashodu liked contact much and Martz obviously felt he would be a liability when asked to go over the middle, something he was bound to be required to do.

“Any rumors how the Bears will respond to Caleb Hanie‘s RFA status? I imagine his agent’s phone has started ringing already. I don’t envision him being a career backup. — Mike, Forney, Texas

“I would expect the Bears to protect themselves with Hanie, assuming they can’t sign him to a contract prior to the start of free agency. But I don’t think they need to be concerned about another team offering him starter’s money. While Hanie has obvious potential, I don’t think he’s had enough opportunity to create that kind of market for himself.”

I expect that Pompei is completely right here but Hanie is never going to be a Martz favorite.  Its obvious that he prefers a quarterback who will stand in the pocket, make a quick read and throw.  That’s apparently not Hanie’s forte (though in fairness he hasn’t really had a chance to show that).

“Loads of history. Great players. Great coaches. Fantastic fans. But they have no Super Bowl victories since 1985. That hurts. Even so, this is a storied franchise that will always seem to be near the top of these rankings. Their pre-Super history is loaded with successes.”


There are smart people still not convinced that Brett Favre, 41, will remain retired and that he could surface next season not with the Vikings but perhaps the Carolina Panthers. Favre’s ego might force him back after his ill-fated finish last season.”

“We’ll just stay true to our mantra on offense and defense and special teams, and that’s less volume, more creativity.”

  • Mel Kiper at ESPN talks draft.  ESPN seems to have picked up on Cam Newton their “story” for the draft, thus setting some team up for major disappointment.  Accuracy is still the name of the game and I just don’t see it.  The Jake Locker comments are interesting, though.

“To me, there are two issues with this kid. Issue number one is he came out of a shotgun [formation], and if you watch the tape it’s basically a very simple offense. One read and either the ball was out or he was out. Can he adapt to, can he process and assimilate a very structured and complex pro offense against a complex pro defense? And secondly, and most importantly, when you get to a certain skill level in the NFL, which this kid certainly has, at the quarterback position what kind of kid is he? Is he going to be the first guy in the building? Is he a gym rat? Is he football smart? Is he a leader of men? All of those things to me are way more important than any workout in shorts.”

One Final Thought

Tom Sorenson at the Charlotte Observer relates this story about how Walter Payton greeted former Bear and current Carolina head coach Ron Rivera:

“‘I’m Walter Payton. Welcome to the Bears,’ he said.

“Payton, 5-10, offered his hand and Rivera took it. Payton began to squeeze. Rivera, who towers above Payton in the picture, squeezed back.

“‘He wants to see your knees buckle,’ says Rivera. ‘I knew that.’

“They stood there, squeezing. Rivera’s knee didn’t buckle.

“They continued to squeeze. Rivera’s knee continued not to buckle.

“Payton was relentless but Rivera was a linebacker. You think a linebacker’s knee is going to give first?

“Well, yes. The pressure was such that Rivera’s knee buckled.

“This meant he officially was a Bear. Like Payton, he would play for no other NFL team.”