The selection of Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy with the 12th pick in the 2003 draft wound up throwing a wrench in the plans of the Bears, but did not work well for the Rams in the long run.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was set to select Kennedy 13th as a wide-body tackle to plug into a defense that Ted Washington and Keith Traylor anchored at the time for Dick Jauron and Greg Blache. When St. Louis swiped him a pick earlier, the Bears didn’t know what to do. They were targeting Rex Grossman with the 22nd pick, but knew it was too early to go for him.
Uncertain, they traded out of the 13th spot with New England, where the Patriots chose Texas A&M defensive tackle Ty Warren. Interestingly, some were known to prefer Warren. With him gone as well, the Bears came back with the next pick and took Kennedy’s college teammate Michael Haynes, who was cut at the end of the 2006 preseason and eventually settled an injury settlement with the club for a back injury.
Kennedy, who the Bears signed Tuesday to a one-year deal, is in perhaps the best shape of his NFL career at 325 pounds. He really wasn’t a fit for what Lovie Smith was doing in St. Louis because his weight got too high, and he battled injuries. Kennedy contributed sparingly during his rookie season with the Rams. Kennedy’s name came up in pre-draft meetings with Smith as the Bears were looking at drafting Oklahoma’s Tommie Harris or potentially Miami’s Vince Wilfork.
A look back at that press conference in the days leading up to the 2004 draft:
Q: Were you a driving force behind the selection of Jimmy Kennedy in St. Louis?
Smith: Well, I would rather like to talk an awful lot about what we have here. Down there, I was a part of the staff that drafted Jimmy.
Q: What contributed to his struggles as a rookie?
Smith: I can't tell you. He was a rookie that wasn't as far along. He was like most rookies inside on the defensive line. They're not ready to play. None of them really had a great year this last year and that includes Jimmy. A lot will depend on what he does this coming year. There's not a whole lot I can say about Jimmy. He didn't play much and he didn't play well for us there, so I don't know him right now, what he's going to do.
Q: Does that deter you from wanting to choose a defensive tackle with the first-round pick here?
Smith: To me, that's Jimmy Kennedy.
Q: Is it your opinion most defensive tackles struggle as rookies?
Smith: Yeah, most do. I'm not saying we won't take an inside guy. We're looking at the best available guys all ways. Jimmy Kennedy, I will say this, he wasn't the type of guy we're looking for. We would like a more athletic guy with a little bit more speed at the position than what he was.