Chicago Sun-Times

Bears' penchant for finding defensive players needs to spread to offense

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Mike Mulligan, an Inside the Bears confidant, takes a comprehensive look at the Bears’ draft results in the Jerry Angelo era in today’s edition, paying particular attention to what he turned up on offense.

While the organization has been successful identifying defensive players—Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris and Nathan Vasher have all been to Pro Bowls—the results on offense have been less inspiring. The Bears opened last season with just three Angelo draft picks starting on offense—quarterback Rex Grossman, running back Cedric Benson and wide receiver Bernard Berrian. Grossman will be locked in a training camp battle with another draft pick in Kyle Orton this summer. Berrian will start for Minnesota and Benson’s future is iffy.

Mulligan turned to the analysis created by Inside the Bears last October that evaluated how the club’s draft picks have been allocated. The primary question was has the team been better with defensive draft picks because it drafts more defense?

In part, yes. But the results might be closer than you think. In six drafts, Angelo has had 19 picks in the top three rounds. Eight have been used on offense—Marc Colombo and Terrence Metcalf (2002), Grossman (2003), Berrian (2004), Benson and Mark Bradley (2005), Greg Olsen and Garrett Wolfe (2007).

Using the draft value chart designed to evaluate trades involving draft picks, points were assigned to each draft pick Angelo has had. The chart was devised by Jimmy Johnson when he rescued the Dallas Cowboys starting in the late 1980’s. I’m not sure how it worked when he dealt running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings, but I think the Cowboys collected about 75,000 points in draft picks, or something like that.

In the chart, the No. 1 pick is worth 3,000 points, the second pick 2,600, all the way down to No. 224 which is worth one. Assigning one point to the picks that came below No. 224 as well—the draft is extended by supplemental choices each year—you can examine the point values in the Bears’ picks. It’s close. Over the last six years, 5,771.9 points in draft picks have been used on defense compared to 5,113.4 on offense. Of course, Benson as the fourth pick takes up the most space worth 1,800 points, but it gives you a general idea of how things have stacked up.

USA Today Sports Weekly notes that the Bears have produced only three starters in the last three drafts, tied with Detroit for the second-fewest in the league. There’s no guarantee those three will be starting in 2008. Mark Anderson could lose his job to Alex Brown at right end. Safety Danieal Manning looks like an odd man out in the secondary. Benson’s chances for starting will be somewhat determined by how high Angelo grabs a running back in this draft. Of course, Dusty Dvoracek is expected to slide in at defensive tackle and Bradley has a shot to start at wide receiver with Kyle Orton a possibility at quarterback.

Back to the Sports Weekly report ... only Carolina has been less productive than the Bears and Lions with just one starter from the last three drafts. No wonder John Fox’s job has been rumored to be in jeopardy for two years running.

Our friends over at Pro Football Weekly have an interesting study of the last five drafts. Publisher Hub Arkush notes that the Bears were one of four teams to produce three Pro Bowl players or more from 2003-05. Eleven teams drafted 11 or more starters for 2007 between 2003-07. Not surprisingly six were in the playoffs last season—San Diego, Green Bay, Jacksonville, New England and Seattle. Three more playoff teams—Dallas, the New York Giants and Tennessee—had 10 starters drafted in that span. It’s a terrific report by Arkush and his staff and well worth a read.

The study also credits the Bears with 10 starters drafted from 2003-07. There were seven Angelo picks on the field for the opener at San Diego last season from that time frame—Anderson, Benson, Berrian, Briggs, Dvoracek, Grossman and cornerback Charles Tillman. Vasher didn’t get credited with a start because the defense opened in a three-safety package, but he’s a starter for this research. Other picks who made five starts or more during the season—Danieal Manning (15) and Trumaine McBride (9). That’s how PFW arrives at 10. The league average for the span of five drafts? 10.1.

Angelo’s best draft with the Bears was 2004 when his first four picks turned into starters—Harris, Tank Johnson, Berrian and Vasher. The team was good the year before in locating Tillman and Briggs along with a couple of wide receivers that have gone on to start elsewhere in Justin Gage and Bobby Wade.

It would be interesting to get Angelo’s take on the most productive draft he’s ever been involved with. He was the director of player personnel in Tampa Bay for 14 seasons, meaning he had heavy input in the Buccaneers’ drafts. Tampa hit in 1997 when it got running back Warrick Dunn, tackle Jerry Wunsch, guard Frank Middleton, cornerback Ronde Barber, linebacker Al Singleton and cornerback Al Harris. Nabbing Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks two years earlier in the first round in 1995 was pretty good too. That laid the foundation for the Bucs’ Super Bowl champion.

Offense is the first order of business this weekend. They say you need to wait three seasons, at least, to evaluate a draft class. That’s true. The evaluating can wait but the Bears need results from some rookies this season.

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25 Comments

Its a hard choice especially if we can trade up or Mendenhall or Stewart are there at 14.But overall this yr's O-Tackle class is unreal!Id take a O-Tackle with the 14th pick or trade up and get clady otah or Mcfadden.

Injuries to Bazuin and Okwo, as well as the limited role/productivity of Wolfe, really hurt Angelo in 2007. The good thing is that these players are still on the roster and have a chance to contribute in '08.

Offenses require linemen to execute blocking schemes to run effective plays. I would argue that breakdowns along the entire offensive line (starting with Olin Kreutz) contributed greatly to the disappointing production of our skilled players (i.e. Grossman and Benson).

Injuries derailed Bradley's significant potential.

It is clear that Angelo knows how to find talented offensive prospects, but has been unable to see this talent develop because of weak blocking (Angelo fails to draft/develop linemen) and injuries.

Angelo will not see his previous offensive "skilled" selections prosper until he introduces a major infusion of talent and attitude to an offensive line that started to fail near the end of 2006 and opened 2007 by getting dominated by the Chargers. It has been a long time coming.

Great Blog Biggs, but can you tell me how Dusty Dvoracek is a starter. He has played part of one game over 2 years. Anderson is listed but he lost his starting job, so did Rex (compitition). Dust gets credit but Vasher doesn't. That just seems strange to me, I understand the time frame deal, but if it's over three-four years. You would think Vash would be listed. Also shouldn't the quality of starter come into play. Benson and Rex. Also I notice several of the players listed where not first year starters, which is what Angelo is looking for this year. 4 To be exact as you well know. For some odd reason the late Roy Scheider's classic line comes to mind "You're gonna need a bigger boat". Well I think Angelo is gonna need a bigger draft if he expects to produce 4 first year quality starters on offense.

For all those clowns that have been running around talking about how Angelo is one of the best GM's in the NFL read it and weap he compares to Matt Millen in the world of suck.

Jr. The big knock on Bradley comming out of college was he was injury prone big time. Angelo took a risk and it did not pay off. Rex and Benson have been bad every year they have been here, and in 05 and 06 they had one of the best olines in football. Whree do you see all this talent. You blame the oline, well thats Angelos fault too cause it's his job to put players on that line. BB is the best WR the guy has ever drafted and he is Average. Like it says Angelo compares to Millen. Facts are facts.

Creighton,
One of my favorite lines....he is going to need more ammo to do what he wants to do, but maybe that is what he has in mind. If Clady or Williams falls to them at 14, I think he will be tempted, but the guy he wants is Cherilus in my opinion. He loves BC players, and Cherilus is a bona fide starter at RT from Day 1. He can get an extra 3rd out of moving back, as long as he keeps the Lions from getting Mendenhall. Then he can take the 44 and 90 and trade with Miami at 32, and take Flacco, Henne, or Brohm (whichever is to his liking). We would still have 2 3rd rounders to draft solid players like Kevin Smith, Matt Forte, or Duane Brown. Or he could surprise us all by using the 44 and his highest 3rd rounder (assumed 70) to get up to 26,27 (jacksonville may want out if Balmer is gone, and San Diego wants to draft in the middle rounds, since they have 27, and their next pick is 160. We could get a Felix Jones or QB there, and then have two picks left to make some noise in the 3rd, or trade into the second with them for a third starter. Jerry can do a lot with this draft, and as long as he trades back a few spots in the first, he will be able to be aggressive later.

I hope he does realize that this draft, while not riddled with superstars, is loaded with quality. A bigger boat is exactly what he needs to get this team on the right track. A solid class here could salvage his reputation as an evaluator of talent, and could put the Bears back in the discussion as contending teams in the NFC.

First, Urlacher should accept the extension. His agent needs to understand they are in unprecedented territory: tacking on yrs to a contract that has many yrs to go. You don't see that any where. A-Rod didn't even get that.

Brian won the battle & as long as he's the top seller he'll win future battles as well. Take the extensions one yr at a time. If the Bears do anything to prevent Urlacher from reaching the 85% mark the media will have a field day with them.

Angelo, is awful on offense. Period. He's better on defense & special team players. So don't get your hopes up. He just has bad karma as most analysts thought Benson was the real deal.

He's a bust & it's time Bears fans accept it. Even with a better O-line Benson lacks the mental quickness to make cuts & break for long gains. A better O-line will just make life easier for Benson & Smith to feature a trudging offense that pounds the ball & throws on occasion. You couldn't win like that in 1985 & you sure can't do it today. Not with massive defensive substitutions that allow 6 man fronts with fresh bodies going vs weary O-line men.

So the reality is the Bears need a back who excels at mental quickness. The player is obvious in this draft it's just a question of whether shell-shocked Angelo has the moxy to do what it takes to get him.

The O-Line prospects in this draft are deep, but not great if you compare them to last year for example. They aren't as strong, or as fast, but there are more of them that would have been in the 2nd tier last year. Trading down makes a lot of sense. If they trade down and Cherilus is taken they can grab Nicks. The LT prospects Albert, Clady are the only ones worth taking at 14. Otah, possibily a OLT, is stronger and his feet are as quick but he is developmental.

I'm thinking that the Bears are targeting someone else though if they can't trade down. They keep putting out the message how RB is real deep and a good one should be there in the 2nd or 3rd rds, but the top tier of O-Line will be gone.

When I look at the difference between the offensive and defensive production by Bears draft picks I start to wonder if coaching isn't the problem.

Lovie Smith has a strong track record of coaching great defenses and also getting solid production out of young, unheralded players (especially on the back seven). Dave Toub has so far done a great job of coaching special teams despite turnover in the players he is given to get the job done. Solid cocahing has allowed the players brought in to flourish in a well established system.

Ron Turner and his bunch have basically failed to match the coaching performances of his counterparts. Young offensive players have rarely produced to the level they are able to elsewhere in the team and Turner has shown very little faith in their ability. Why wasn't Beekman given a shot in the last two weeks when the season was already over? If he wasn't ready to play, why not? He had been a Bear for nearly nine months, what had they been doing with him if it wasn't getting him ready for a game? Why are the offensive gameplans so inflexible? Time and time again the Bears follow a pre-ordained scheme on gameday when it is obvious to everybody watching that it was never going to work.

The franchise Angelo drafted for before the Bears had a similar problem with offensive production. Once a guy that could actually coach offense arrived they won a Superbowl. I think Lovie is a great coach but he might need a better offensive coordinator.

`The drafts that followed were uneven at best. Research by USA Today Sports Weekly finds the Bears had only three regular starters in 2007 from their 22 picks in the last three drafts. That's well below the league average of 6.5 starters and ties Angelo with -- gulp -- Detroit's Matt Millen for the second-worst performance in that time frame, behind only Carolina (one).
The Bears' three starters from the study were running back Cedric Benson, safety Danieal Manning and defensive end Mark Anderson. It's possible none of them will start in 2008.'

Hey, WTF??
Being Compared to Matt Millen wow, thats a compliment!
How did we ever get to the Super Bowl guys??
I agree this draft is JA's make or break

Joe I think Angelo has already waived bye bye to the number 14 pick. It's not an elite draft but it is very deep. If he can't find one good starting OT in this class and decent RB there is something wrong with the man. I mean the OT is going to compete against St. Clair, if you can't beat that guy out your in trouble and the running back has to beat out Benson. Problem with Angelo is he wants to build an entire offense in one draft and that is not gonna happen.

Joe I miss the old late 70's early 80's summer movies, now those were entertaining. I'll take waiting outside 4hrs to see Roy Schieder and a giant fake shark over the the stuff in theaters now days any day of the week. Quint (Robert Shaw) would have been the perfect Bears GM.

WCG - Albert is a guard whose played only one collegiate game at LT. It would take at least a year to convert him to a LT so taking him at 14 overall, unless you're rebuilding, would be an unwise move.

mikeinfortwayne - Jeff Otah is not a guy you will need to trade up for. If anything Chicago could probably move back and get him. He's raw and projects better as a RT more than anything. Trading up to get Clady would be a possibility but McFadden is going to be in the Top 5 and I'm still not sure he's worth all the hype.

As for Clady, I am hoping he falls to us, but most mocks I see have him gone in the top 10. Chris Williams could fall to Chicago as well as Rashard Mendenhall. Jeff Otah should also be on the board. If I were to line up the value I would go with: Clady, Mendenhall, Williams, and Otah. In the highly unlikely event all four are off the board, I say move back and try to get Cherilus or Baker in the late 1st or early 2nd round.

Creighton

Angelo compares to Millen? You make some good points sometimes (and I mean sometimes), but you just lost all your credibility with that statement. Angelo isn't perfect, but he did put together teams that won division titles, played in the superbowl, and were competitive even when decimated by injuries. Millen has put together a pile of garbage. Facts are facts.

The Truth has spoken.

We don't need a shark, we need a whale, I think otah at 340 pounds will be the 14th pick. whatever you do DONT trade down, take otah williams or albert, sorry rashard Mendenhal but running back will be 2cnd round, third round quarterback and reciever.then fill needs at defensive tackle,fullback tight end, and maybe safety.

Creighton,
I would agree that the 14 pick is as good as gone, but only if Rashard Mendenhall, Johnathan Stewart, and Jeff Otah are still on the board. I would love to see him move back to 19, get Cherilus there, and then take the 44 and 80 to trade up with San Francisco at 29, and take Flacco, and then use 70 and 90 to draft Kevin Smith and a guard like John Greco or Shawn Murphy. Maybe it wouldn't be 4 starters right away, but it would be 2, possibly 3 if Kevin Smith beats out Benson. Then the rest of day 2 could be used to get depth players.

There are a number of things he can do, especially if he considers Ricky Manning as a piece he can use for value in the draft. I would say if Jared Allen is worth a first and two thirds, then Manning is worth a 3rd or 4th. Especially to teams like Arizona, Houston, Buffalo (our favorite trade partner), New Orleans, and a few others.

As far as the movies, I am right there with you. Give me Strange Brew over "Dude, where's my car" every time.

This is my plea to Jerry Angelo, please consider one of these two scenarios come draft day.
Scenario #1: With the #14 pick in the first round select Joe Flacco(qb Delaware). Mr. Flacco is 6'5 and according to NFL records, the last 22 superbowls were won by quarterbacks listed as 6'2 or taller. 77.3% of those superbowls were won by qbs listed 6'3 or taller. Rex Grossman is listed as 6'1. I rest my case. It may be tempting to trade down and draft him later, but don't risk it. A franchise quarterback is too valuable to pass up.
In the second round you address the opening at starting running back by drafting Ray Rice or Chris Johnson. After that, you can draft as many offensive lineman as you want.

Scenario #2: This scenario depends completely on McFadden slipping past Oakland and being available at the #5 pick, possessed by Kansas City. Before this happens, and if it happens, Angelo should be in contact with the Chiefs. What I would ask them is if the Cowboys called and offered you the #14(owned by the bears) and #22 picks in the first round for the Chiefs #5 pick overall, would you accept. Saving the Chiefs from a huge signing bonus for an offensive lineman and now giving them 3 first round picks, #14 #17 and #22. Once the Chiefs inform Angelo that they'd love to do that, he could then call the Cowboys and tell them that if McFadden slips past Oakland, that the Chiefs are willing to trade the #5 pick for the #14 and #22 pick in the first round. Jerry Jones would be excited but soon realize he doesn't own the #14 pick. That's when Angelo offers Mr. Jones the #14 overall pick and Cedric Benson for Marian Barber III, a man currently unhappy with his contract.
The Cowboys end up with the coveted McFadden, get Benson as the tough yardage back, and hold onto their #28 pick in the first round.
The Chiefs end up with picks #14, #17, and #22 in the first round, avoid a big signing bonus, and have a better chance of filling their open spots.
The Bears end up with a franchise running back, a guaranteed improvement to their sub-par offense, and lose their first round pick. With Mr. Angelo's track record of finding starters in the 2nd to late rounds, i could see him liking this scenario.
I hope that anyone who knows Mr. Angelo or knows someone who knows him, passes these theories unto him, because I dearly want to see the Bears win the Superbowl this year and these were the best ideas I could come up with. By the way, both scenarios involve offering a contract to Chris Henry within a week of the draft ending, and possibly drafting Tom Zbikowski, the safety out of Notre Dame, in the 3rd or 4th round.

Latest draft news, the Chiefs are looking at trading up from the 17 pick to grab Oline, Denver has made a trade with the Jets but I don't know for what, and Carolina is on the move soon. St. Louis is getting offers, and now that they Cowboys have got there Corner they are looking to move up. Other teams in the mix to move are the Pats, and Saints who want to move up for Dorsey, the Eagles are also trying to break into the top ten. I think it will be hard to make a trade with all these teams working on moving with other partners. The Reason KC wants to move up is to get Oline help there looking at Chris Long pick one and Jeff Otah pick two. They want to get to 11 to make sure they get Otah. I think if the Bears want a top OT they are going to have to move up. Oh almost forgot Miami is looking to unload Taylor for a nuber 1 pick probably a low number 1. They want Flacco, who fits Parcells QB mold.

I never thought I would say this, but Jay Mariotti is right. Mendenhall is the guy we need to be successful. If we draft OL in the first round, we might as well give in the season. We will have a top 5 pick for sure next year if we go OL. Then Lovie and Angelo should be sent packing along with all the Ex-Rams hes brought with him.

Glenn,

No, no, and hell no.

Flacco is a 2nd round pick and taking him at #14 would be a reach at best especially for a guy who won't be able to start until 2009. Chris Johnson (see above) is NOT a featured back in the NFL nor is Ray Rice - though Rice would be more ready than Johnson. Either way, both would be a reach at 44.

And finally, for the love of God, a 3-team trade to land Marion Barber? A back who's split loads all three seasons in Dallas and has never rushed for 1,000 yards? Even if we are that hardup for a runner I have two words: Rashard frickin' Mendenhall.

Mendenhall or bust for us this year. He will be murdering defenses next year for someone (most likely the Lions if we don't take him.) AP and Rm in our division but we got Jeff Otah? HAHAHAHAHA Listen to Marrioti cause I just might not be making the flight out to Chicago this year to see Jeff Otah fail at LT.

Haven't other teams, like green bay, built solid O-lines with 2nd-4th round draft picks? Ya gotta go Mendenhall or Stewart, then next 2 picks on O-line.

REM, of the last two Super bowl winners there is only 1 first round draft pick on oline between the Colts and the Giants, The Pats also had no first round Picks on oline. You know what all three had though, Great play at QB, and two of them could run. The two winners. Other teams can do it, other team can draft oline in latter rounds and put together great offensive lines. Angelo has no clue how to do that. He has no clue about offense, he has never been with a team that had a great offense. His best picks on offense might be decent at best. Most of the time they are busts.

Creighton,
Logan Mankins was a first rounder for the Pats (32 overall), but your point is a valid one. The problem we have is we dropped 2 starters, and want to move another one to the opposite side, so we need guys that can play in their first year. We have our choice between a bad QB, and a developing QB who may or may not be bad. Our running game needs an upgrade. We have the potential to have a decent passing attack with Clark, Olson, Booker, Bradley, and Hester, but no idea if the guy throwing to them will 1) have enough time to find them, and 2) be able to hit them.

We need the diamonds in the rough as far as finding guys that can play that people don't expect, but we also need a home run and a couple of triples in our first 3-4 picks. Jerry probably doesn't understand offense as much as he understands defense, but I don't think it is all him on that one. Ron Turner, his position coaches, and our scouting team need to put the evaluations together and help build the offensive board, so Jerry can just look at the guys he knows, and allow the board to take care of the rest.

If he bombs on 2 or 3 of the early selections on offense, he deserves to be run out of town, or he needs a draft consultant. Seems ridiculous that a man who is good enough to be a general manager in the NFL can't manage to draft the most important positions on the offensive side of the field. Then again, maybe the Millen comparisons are not too far off....

Jeremy, Mariotti is NEVER right!! You could have Eric Dickerson, Payton, Barry Sanders, take your pick, and they couldn't run behind today's OL. Waiting until the 2nd round will only cause the team to start reaching at guys that may be late 2nds or even 3rds. Get the best OT at 14 or trade back a few spots if 2 or 3 of JA's guys are still on the board and pick up another 3rd round pick.

Marlon: 15 years or more the Bears have been looking for a LT, QB, and RB, Angelo has been looking for 7 years. What is going to change this draft to fill any of those needs. I'll tell you nothing will change. The Bears will grab a RT in round one Williams, Albert, and Clady will be gone. So they will probably grab Otah who is a RT and try to move him to LT just like they did Columbo, just like he did with Tait and it will not work and a perfectly good prospect will be wasted by the bears once again. Also do you think two rookie olinemen are going to help an aging bad offensive line there first year playing next to eachother. Can you say false start. Olin's better days are behind him, Tait is falling apart, Garza sucks, Beekman didn't even dress last year. You need a whole new oline. 2 guys are not fixing this problem. Too rookies have no chance of fixing it. Thank you Angelo for not ever addressing the Oline or producing 1 starter on the line from your draft picks. Nice Job, nice job with Benson and Rex as well. He is going to screw up this draft and set the Bears back 5 years.

Da Coach how do you come to the conclusion Ray Rice isn't a featured type back? Rice is a more complete package then Mendenhall and quite frankly Stewart is a better back for the system than Mendenhall but he's a local. Stewart is bigger and more of a punishing type runner than Mendenhall. I've seen many a spread formations with the QB as the another threat to run in the Illinois offense and not really sure how that translates into the NFL also have not seen Mendenhall blocking, Rice and Stewart have blocked and are good at it. So in conclusion I like the local bit but Stewart is a better pick and if we start drafting to keep players away from teams then something is very wrong.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 24, 2008 12:06 AM.

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