What to do in the NFL draft. There are as many opinions as there are people and sports writers are no exception. For instance, Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune indicates that he thinks the Bears should seriously consider trading down in the 2012 NFL draft:
“The way I see it, this draft isn’t about acquiring one player who can push the Bears over the top. It’s about acquiring a number of players who can help establish a foundation for the future.”
On the other hand, Brad Biggs, also at the Tribune has a slightly different point of view:
“It’s rare to find elite talent with the 19th overall pick, but the Bears have such needs that they can draft a defender at any position and make a sound case for doing so. The same thing can be said on offense for any position except quarterback and running back.”
“What matters is Emery hits with his picks. The Bears struggled drafting and developing players under [former GM Jerry] Angelo, an issue for the coaching staff too. They must succeed now to build a foundation. You can argue names and positions between now and training camp. The bottom line is Emery must find impact performers.”
No doubt both men are right. As Pompei indicates, the Bears should draft as many solid prospects as they can. But I agree more with Biggs in that the goal with each pick should be that he be an impact player. I would under no circumstances trade down if I thought there was even the smallest chance that the guy I ended up with might not be one.
Biggs indicates that the Bears have narrowed down the possibilities for their first round pick, the 19th overall, to seven prospects. They will likely trade down if either:
A) there are multiple players on that list still on the board when their turn comes or
B) none of the prospects on the list are on the board when their turn comes
So who the prospects on that list are is the real issue. I have, therefore, decided to make my best guess. To do so I have used evaluations from draft sites around the Internet (NOT my own). I have primarily relied upon those of Pro Football Weekly and Scouts Inc. I then took a guess as to what characteristics GM Phil Emery was looking for based upon what he has told us about his evaluation process:
1. He’s emphasized that players need to show up on tape.
2. He’s said that the days where a player will be red shirted for a year while he develops are over. Emery subscribes to the New England system where rookies are expected to compete to start from day one.
3. He’s not afraid of players with off the field issues.
4. He wants the player who will “get us there the fastest”.
5. He doesn’t want players who might be good but are physically limited to a low ceiling
Looking down the list of players who might realistically fall to the Bears, it was fairly easy to narrow it down to about 12 players. After that things got really tough. Based upon the list of characteristics above you’ll find that I generally:
a) emphasized production in college above all else
b) didn’t worry too much about character concerns unless they were major
c) did worry more than most about durability concerns, especially concussions (e.g. Shea McClellin)
d) looked for at least above average measurables.
Here is my best guess for who makes the cut, who doesn’t and why:
The seven players on the list:
Luke Kuechly, LB – he’s tough, competitive, he was productive in college, no injury concerns. There’s some question about whether the Bears would have eliminated him simply because he’s so unlikely to still be on the board.
Stephon Gilmore, CB – he’s competitive, durable, and he was also productive
Riley Reiff, OT – also tough and competitive. He was also durable. You might ask for better measurables and there was one odd off the field incident with a police chase.
Courtney Upshaw, DE – Upshaw has some mild character concerns and apparently he might not be the sharpest knife in drawer. His measurables are average. But he’s tough, competitive and a hard worker and its hard to argue with his production.
Melvin Ingram, DE – playmaker with good production and average measurables. Similar to Kuechly, he may not be on the list because the Bears may figure him to be long gone.
Chandler Jones, DE – tough with good production. Maybe some durability concerns.
Dont’a Hightower, LB – tough, competitive and instinctive, some durability concerns.
Players that didn’t make the cut but could very easily be on the list:
Whitney Mercilus, DE – this was by far the toughest decision. Many will put him on the list over both Upshaw and Jones and with good reason. I didn’t only because he was a one year wonder but it was a very good year. If you figure that Kuechly and Ingram aren’t realistic possibilities, Mercilus is the first name you add back.
Michael Floyd, WR – another tough cut. He’s got some character concerns and he was apparently suspended from the team at one point. His production in college was only above average but he’s a playmaker.
Michael Brockers, DT – a REALLY tough cut. Brockers is a just bit of an underachiever and I’m guessing that’s going to be a bigger issue with Emery than with most GMs and scouts. H’e drake a pretty good penetrating three technique tackle in Lovie Smith‘s defense.
Cordy Glenn, OT – the Bears could use offensive line help and Glenn is the type of massive player Mike Tice might favor. But according to PFW he might be lacking a bit in mental acuity. He might not be a good fit because the Bears may not want to go with the right tackle/guard type in the first round.
David Decastro, OG – frankly I only took him off because he’s a guard and the Bears really have a glut at the position. They may figure that he’ll go well before their pick anyway. Most would agree that he’d be good value at 19, though, and you’d get no criticism from me if they took him as the best player available.
Mark Barron, S – some durability concerns. He’ll probably be gone by the time the Bears pick anyway. Tough cut.
Occasionally connected with the Bears but did not make the cut:
Nick Perry, DE – PFW has him as a second rounder and though you’ll find him with the Bears in some mock drafts, he’s probably a bit of a reach that the Bears are unlikely to have to make.
Jonathan Martin, OT – strength deficient
Mike Adams, OT – very talented but very inconsistent. PFW has him as a third rounder.
Quinton Couples, DE – classic underachiver
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB – mild medical/durability concerns, character concerns
Dontari Poe, DT – underachiver and really more of a 3-4 nose tackle. He’ll probably go high but not to the Bears.
Shea McClellin, LB – durability concerns. There are reports that he’s had three concussions (though he disputes this).
Janoris Jenkins – major off field issues. This probably won’t scare of off the Bears if he free falls to them in the second round but that’s unlikely.
Stephen Hill, WR – underachiver, work ethic concerns. Probably a reach at 19 overall.
Peter Konz, C – medical/durability concerns. Probably a reach at 19 overall.