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Good article on the Chicago Bears' draft prospects


jidady
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With them picking #14, their possibility on trading up to our spot is not completely outside the realm of possibility if they lock in on a guy like Clady.

Offensive tackles likely have Angelo's attention

February 17, 2008

BY BRAD BIGGS bbiggs@suntimes.com

Doctors will cling to X-rays and medical reports as tightly as scouts will to their stopwatches when the NFL descends on Indianapolis for the annual scouting combine starting Wednesday.

There will be close to 1,000 employees from the various teams, probably half as many agents and more than 300 draft prospects in attendance. All will be seeking an edge for the draft, which is April 26-27.

Every medical test will weigh as much as -- or more than -- the physical ones the players perform on the turf in the RCA Dome and the answers they provide in one-on-one interviews.

For the Bears, the preparation of a year's worth of work is entering the final stages. The team doesn't add prospects to its list at this point; it subtracts them. It's a whittling-down process that eventually leaves the organization with a draft board that has maybe 75 names.

But the Bears already have an idea about what the players can do on the field. There has been enormous manpower dedicated to background work on the players to get a feel for their intangibles. It's the work done when the prospects are whisked away in vans to area hospitals for tests that they're most curious about.

General manager Jerry Angelo already has said the offseason focus will be on offense, and that means in the draft as well as in free agency. The Bears didn't get a lot of support from their 2007 draft class and will have to be more productive this year to rebound from a 7-9 season. They hold the 14th pick in the first round and an extra selection in the third. Angelo talks about being able to get good players through the first four rounds, so that means a chance for five.

The focus, for now, is on what direction the Bears will take with their top pick. When Angelo was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their drafts were studded with linemen, and that's a tradition he has carried on with the Bears. In six drafts, his first pick has been a linemen three times. With one of the strengths of the first round projected to be at offensive tackle -- and with the Bears having a need there -- it makes sense he'll go that way again. Michigan's Jake Long might be gone before the Bears pick, but five other tackles might be drafted in the first round: Boise State's Ryan Clady, Vanderbilt's Chris Williams, USC's Sam Baker, Pittsburgh's Jeff Otah and Boston College's Gosder Cherilus.

Angelo saw Boston College play twice in person during the season, and he wasn't necessarily there to watch only quarterback Matt Ryan, who might be the No. 1 pick. That choice is property of the Miami Dolphins, and they've let it be known the pick is in play. If Ryan is as good as some people say he is, then he might be worthy of going No. 1. It's a big-money commitment to be choosing there, but if the Bears are convinced Ryan will be the guy -- the franchise passer that hasn't been seen in these parts ever -- they at least have to consider a trade.

A look at other potential positions for the Bears' first pick:

Running back

The franchise might be the last entity waiting to pass judgment on Cedric Benson, the fourth pick in 2005. At least Angelo has vowed to bring in some competition. It's a difficult sell because of the money it would lock into another young back and the writing that would be on the wall regarding Benson. Plus, picking a back here would signal an error in using a third-round pick on Garrett Wolfe last year. But if Darren McFadden suffers a free fall, you never know.

Wide receiver

College scouting director Greg Gabriel has talked about his belief in finding good receivers in the middle rounds of drafts. It worked with Bernard Berrian, but the Bears need a true No. 1 receiver, something they haven't had in ages. The class looks to have good depth, but it's hard to make a case for there being many elite talents. It's another hard sell.

Defensive tackle

The Bears probably will not look here. Remember, Angelo said the focus will be on offense, and the man's history has shown him to be honest to a fault at this time of year. But just think if USC's Sedrick Ellis dropped, or the Bears traded up to be in position to nab him. He's undersized like Tommie Harris, and a stud tackle instantly would make the ends and cornerbacks better.

Safety

This is becoming a difficult position to fill. If the Bears would have gone through with a trade of linebacker Lance Briggs to the Washington Redskins on draft day last year, they would have chosen LSU safety LaRon Landry with the sixth pick. Obviously, it's a problem the team needs to solve. The Bears thought they did that by acquiring Adam Archuleta, but that move blew up in their face. The Bears' spot might be a little too high to use on Miami's Kenny Phillips.

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i think they could definately pick Chris Williams over Brohm, but that is just my opinion. The draft is very thin in LT prospects after the 1st round and the very early 2nd round (where Collins and Baker figure to go off the board) so if they want a LT they will likely have to go with Williams in the 1st. they could easily get a guy like Henne, Woodson, Flacco etc in the 2nd round for QB. they wont have that luxury with the LT position. Perhaps the RT position though.

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Mr. Offseason (2/19/2008)
i think they could definately pick Chris Williams over Brohm, but that is just my opinion. The draft is very thin in LT prospects after the 1st round and the very early 2nd round (where Collins and Baker figure to go off the board) so if they want a LT they will likely have to go with Williams in the 1st. they could easily get a guy like Henne, Woodson, Flacco etc in the 2nd round for QB. they wont have that luxury with the LT position. Perhaps the RT position though.

I definitely agree with that. I also think this years OT class is overrated. Good, but overrated.

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