Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo on what he saw in cornerback Charles Tillman before drafting him in 2003:
“Not the best athlete, not the best hitter, not the smartest player. The best football player …
“Talent creates the feeling of a player, and he had good talent. But character determines if he’s going to get to it and if he’s going to have a career, and that’s what we look at.
“When we invest in draft picks, we want players that certainly have talent, but ones that are going to have careers, relative to their talent.”
This was a timely reminder as fans look at 40 times and long jump distance that you can have all the talent in the world on the field but it means nothing without character, especially a work ethic.
Johnny Manziel was literally magic on the college playing field. But the bet here is that all of that talent is wasted because he never finds the drive needed to do the right things off the field to make himself great. He was everyone’s worst nightmare – a con man who people believed because they want to believe. That probably included conning himself.
The Bears will probably be OK with their picks if they look beyond on field talent to the every day actions of these prospects. That’s how you build a team with character. And that how you end up with a team of Charles Tillmans.