Could the Bears Have Really Traded Back in the First Round?

Matt Trowbridge at the Rockford Register-Star echoes the thoughts of many Bear fans with this editorial:

“I like [Bears first round pick] Kyle Long. He is an intriguing prospect, with great football genes in Hall of Fame father Howie Long and brother Chris Long, a top-three pick as a defensive end for the St. Louis Rams. He also came at the No. 1 position of need for the Bears the last five years: the offensive line.

“I just don’t like him with the No. 20 overall pick. Not when almost no one else predicted Long would go anywhere in the first round.

“If the Bears wanted Kyle Long, they should have gambled that he would still be available early in the second round, or even late in the first round.”

I’m not so sure.  “Almost no one else” may have had Long going in the first round but he was a late riser.  And “almost everyone” has a bad habit of being wrong.

Kyle’s father Howie, at least, was convinced that Kyle wouldn’t last long past the Bears pick.  Via Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“”I kind of felt like — and I won’t share the two or three teams that were picking after Chicago — but I felt like it was a really good opportunity that Kyle would go between 20-28, 29, without tipping my hand,’ Howie Long said at Halas Hall. ‘But he would have been off the board. … I’ve heard people say they should have traded down and got him in the second round. He wouldn’t have been there.'”

If I was inclined to criticize Bears general manager Phil Emery, it might be for falling in love with one player.  That he so was afraid of losing that player that he wouldn’t even consider a trade down and instead was forced to take him at a spot that might, maybe, have been to high.  Generally speaking, that’s a no, no.  But I don’t really know if that’s what happened.

The key question is, “Was it really too high to take him”?  And the bottom line is that its hard to say what NFL scouts who spend all of their time evaluating prospects and who actually do the job for a living really think.  So I’m inclined to cut Emery some slack here.  I don’t know if Long was the right pick but if he was their guy, I’m glad they took him when they did.

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