There’s so much Bears news today that I won’t be saying much about the rest of the draft. But over the weekend as I catch up you can bet the James Carpenter, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder will be addressed. I also foudn the pick of Nick Fairley to be intereesting. He didn’t look happy.
- The Bears first round pick of offensive tackle Gabe Carimi seems to be a popular one. The reaction of Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times was typical:
“It was obvious the Bears offensive line was missing a quality left tackle last season. It also lacked the one intangible that can allow a unit to overcome such a handicap.”
“By landing Carimi with the 29th overall pick, he injected attitude into a toothless unit that not only allowed a league-high 56 sacks but failed to consistently open holes in the running game. “
Maybe. Carimi is commonly perceived as a right tackle or guard (see comments below). But I’ll say this: he’s got as good a chance of being a solid left tackle as J’Marcus Webb.
- Larry Mayer at chicagobears.com got GM Jerry Angelo for this interview after the pick:
Bears midwest scout Jeff Shiver talks about Carimi:
Here’s are the highights from the Bears press conference:
- Todd McShay‘s opinion at ESPN on Carimi is consistent with my own:
- I don’t know how much there is to this statement from Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune:
“It’s possible Carimi dropped a bit because he rubbed some NFL talent evaluators the wrong way in interviews. Some said he came across as overconfident. But a heavy dose of confidence may be welcome in the Bears’ offensive line room.”
If that’s true they’re fools. But since they aren’t fools (generally), I’m guessing it had more to do with the fact that not enough of them thought he was going to be a left tackle and that’s where you generally want your first round talent to play.
- Michael C. Wright at ESPNChicago.com notes that the Bears benefited from the fact that four quarterbacks were taken in the first round.
- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times notes that 60 percent of teams that drafted offensive linemen in the first round and had him start 10 games increased something called their “New York Life Protection Index”. Apparently we’re sponsoring statistics now.
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune notes that had Carimi not been there, the Bears would have taken Oregon defensive tackle Stephen Paea. He also thinks that Carimi will go to right tackle while J’Marcus Webb will get the first shot at playing on the left.
- Here’s hoping the Bears do a better job of settling Carimi into a position and keeping him there than they did with 2008 first rounder Chris Williams. Bears head coach Lovie Smith comments (via the Chicago Tribune):
“We wouldn’t move a guy [as a rookie]. We never try to move a guy from guard to tackle, unless we have to. When you look at our history a little bit, we’ve had to make some tough moves, asking a guy like Chris Williams to play tackle and guard, but that’s not the plan. Once we lock a player into a position we would like to keep him there and that’s what we will do.”
- Smith on whether Carimi will play left tackle:
“It is tough to find a left tackle, but he has of course started. So again, it is easy for me to say that we are going to put him at the left tackle position, but he has done more and when you have the type of ability that he has, he does give you more options. But looking at our offensive line, J’Marcus Webb can play a couple different positions, so I can’t wait to get that group together and they will tell us exactly where they need to play.”
- Jensen rarely sticks his neck out to express an opinion but when he does it is usually worth listening to. He thinks Carimi will be playing right tackle:
“One of the pre-Combine knocks on Carimi is that he may not be athletic enough to play left tackle in the NFL. But at the Combine, Carimi did a very solid 29 reps on the bench press, a 31 1/2 inch vertical leap, and his best 40-time was a 5.18. Only six offensive tackles had a faster time than him, including Nate Solder, who ran a Combine-best 4.96.
Still, this is clear: Carimi isn’t the athlete that Webb is.
- Jensen quotes Angelo on a botched trade with Baltimore that really seemed to throw the end of the draft a little bit of a loop:
“‘We dropped the ball, I dropped the ball,’ Angelo said. ‘What has been done can’t be undone.
“‘[Baltimore] did everything according to the rules.”
Biggs notes that in the end no harm was done and both teams took the players they wanted. But had the trade happened that also would have been the case so one wonders if Baltimore won’t ask the Bears to give the 127th pick they offered to move up anyway. Biggs also invokes the “checkbox” errors in 2002 and the error contacting James Starks only to not draft him in last year as examples of how the Bears have made a bit more of a habit of botching things on draft day than usual.
- Jeff Dickerson at ESPNChicago.com thnks the Bears will most likely be targeting defensive tackle and cornerback today in the second and third rounds.
- Smith sounds like he expects Olin Kreutz to be back in this statement:
“We are not looking for a rookie to come in and set the tempo in that room, Olin [Kreutz] sets the tempo in that room and our vets, and I think he can learn from them but we would like for tough guys to come in and add something to the room. We only ask rookies to come add to the room, they are not going to be in a leadership role right away.”
- The league intends to more or less return to regular business by Monday after a judge put an end to the lockout. Players are working out today and rules for free agency will be announced.
- Dickerson also notes that the Bears have scheduled a team meeting for Monday.
- The Bears will start their voluntary offseason workout program May 9. Rookie minicamp will May 6-8 and mandatory veteran minicamp will run June 3-5.
One Final Thought
The Bears did something that they rarely do in the first round last night – they fell in love with one player. To the point where they actually tried to trade up instead of trading down as they usually do. Here’s Angelo, again, via the Chicago Tribune:
“We got a good handful of offers, mostly with trades of people wanting to come up to our spot. We entertained those. We had a couple of linemen that we thought were going to be on the board to maybe give us the flexibility to do that. But once they started to come off as quickly as they did, we just felt like we were going to stay where we were put and hopefully get the player that we got. We did try to move up in the draft and get a deal done with a team in front of us. We weren’t able to get that done. So we sat and we got the player we wanted.”
Biggs also noted the unusual move:
“The Bears wanted Gabe Carimi so badly they set out to do something general manager Jerry Angelo hadn’t done in nine drafts with the club.
“They tried to trade up in the first round. Fearing the Chiefs were targeting Carimi at No. 27, the Bears worked to swing a deal with the Ravens to move up three spots to 26.”
One wonders what is behind the change in philosophy. It could be new player personnel boss Tim Ruskell. But my guess is that it was offensive line coach Mike Tice whose presence was being being felt.
It isn’t that the Bears picked Carimi that’s unusual. He was probably the guy they would have taken in any number of scenarios. Its the way they did it that might represent a major shift of influence within the organization that may have begun last season when Tice reportedly convinced offensive coordinator Mike Martz to run the ball more.
It’s something to keep an eye on.