Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Jan. 15: Bears in prime position for compensatory draft pick(s)

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Start the countdown to the 2009 NFL Draft.

Well, we don't have to do that, do we? Many of you have started the countdown to the draft already.

It is 100 days away. The Bears and most teams pulled out of Houston today after nearly a week at the East-West Shrine Game, evaluating the rosters. They'll regroup before heading to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl this weekend. That is where the premier senior prospects land. Then, all roads lead to Indianapolis where the combine will be held in Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time.

Sticking with the draft as a theme, we'll dive into today's version of Four Down Territory.

Q: What type of compensatory draft pick can the Bears expect to receive?

Multiple readers

A: The Bears appear to be in good shape this year after losing wide receiver Bernard Berrian, tight end John Gilmore and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo in free agency. Compensatory picks are awarded each March at the ends of rounds three through seven in the draft to the teams that suffer the most net losses in free agency.

The question I had on this matter was whether or not re-signing linebacker Lance Briggs would count against the Bears. After all, Briggs didn't return to the team until after he had entered the open market as a UFA. For the answer to that, we turned to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello:

"The signing of your own players does not count as a player gained,'' Aiello wrote in an e-mail. "Therefore, Briggs would not count against the Bears."

The Bears were one of 15 teams to get at least one compensatory pick last season, landing three. All of them were at the end of the seventh round and there's not a lot of value in picks within close distance of Mr. Irrelevant. There's a good explanation of how the system works here, and as ESPN.com's John Clayton writes, the formula for determining how the picks are assigned is top secret.

Teams spend an inordinate amount of time doing guesswork on how the picks will fall each year. The formula considers the value of the contracts the free agents were signed to and playing time. Berrian landed a whopper of a deal from Minnesota and played plenty. Gilmore received significant playing time in Tampa Bay. I'm not sure if special teams time counts for Ayanbadejo. But the Bears didn't sign an unrestricted free agent, so there will not be any players counting against them in the formula. Wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Marty Booker and running back Kevin Jones were waived free agents, meaning they don't count in the formula.

We hate to hazard a guess, but it's certainly possible the Bears could land a third-round pick. Four were awarded last year. It's probably safe to say they will at least be given with a fifth-round pick, and could land multiple selections again.

Compensatory picks cannot be traded. The last compensatory selection the Bears had above the sixth round was a fifth rounder in 2003. Don't get too excited. That turned into Tron LaFavor. Long snapper Pat Mannelly was a compensatory selection in the sixth round in 1998.

Stay turned.


Q: In Tampa, Rod Marinelli struggled to develop several first-round draft picks such as Regan Upshaw, Marcus Jones and Eric Curry into reliable pass rushers. This eventually forced Tampa to go out and sign Pro Bowler Simeon Rice in order to get an edge rusher. Any chance with all this attention being put on defense they go out and try to get Julius Peppers or Terrell Suggs if they are available, or do they expect Marinelli to make the line that much better with what he has?

Creighton, Parts Unknown

A: That's the $1 million question, or is it more like a $60 million question when you figure how much Peppers or Suggs would command on the open market? There is no guarantee either one will be available as their respective employers could slap the franchise tag on them. I won't hang Curry on Marinelli because he was drafted in 1993, three years before Marinelli joined the Bucs' staff. Upshaw and Jones were both selected in 1996, Marinelli's first year, and neither of them became stars although Upshaw recorded 14 1/2 sacks from 1997 to 1998. It's too early to rule the Bears out of getting in the running for any player in free agency. Setting the market for a player isn't their style, however. Remember, they made a play for Jevon Kearse in 2004 when he jumped from from Tennessee to Philadelphia in free agency. They're probably glad they came up short. I'm betting the Eagles eventually had buyer's remorse on that one.

Certainly, Marinelli is being counted on to improve the players the Bears have under contract, specifically rush end Mark Anderson. I think it's safe to assume that Marinelli will be given some more players to work with. Whether they come through free agency or the draft remains to be seen.


Q: Being that there are always problems with the quarterbacks on this team, and we always hear the the first priority to address in the offseason is at quarterback, my question is shouldn't this team be looking at wide receivers instead? Shouldn't the Bears be looking at drafting Jeremy Maclin out of Missouri? He's got great hands, speed, and at 6-1, 200 pounds, he would fit in with Devin Hester and both guys would have breakaway speed. This could change the thought of bringing in a quarterback to this team.

Israel D., Parts Unknown

A: You're not going to find a Tiger out there that appreciates Maclin's skills more than this one. Heck, I was hoping he would stay in school for two more years. Maclin is expected to be a first-round draft pick and could potentially go in the first half of the first round but there is much work to be done. For starters, he's listed at 6-1, 200. NFL teams need to get in and measure him themselves to see how big he is. I'd suspect he'll be playing at a different size next year. That happens to most all players, especially wideouts.

You need to consider the track record of general manager Jerry Angelo when you look at the possibility of the Bears choosing a wide receiver in the first round. The Bears have not taken one in the first round since Angelo arrived, and in his history with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he wasn't the only one calling the shots) he's drafted only one in the first round--Reidel Anthony in 1997. That didn't turn out so well for the Bucs. The bust factor at wide receiver is as big as it is at any position, period. You can't rule it out, but past history suggests the Bears will not go with a receiver in the first round.


Q: Have you talked to Rex Grossman lately? Is it a done deal he is gone? I like the guy but think a fresh start will be better for him and the Bears.

Wade, Parts Unknown

A: No, I have not spoken with Grossman since the season ended. You learn to never say never in the NFL, but I fully expect Grossman to sign elsewhere. It's not like the Bears have a decision to make on this one. Grossman is an unrestricted free agent. A fresh start would have been the right move for him to make a year ago.

That's all for tonight. Shoot more questions in and we'll get back at another edition of Four Down Territory on Friday. Thanks for reading.

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14 Comments

offense line
center
guard
tackle people who are in
good health ready to compete

Brad

Any chance the Bears will look to trade Dan Buenning for maybe a fourth round pick? He is a well known run blocker with great size. The "Steelers" who need all the line help they can get may trade for him and he fits what they on the line. He does not really fit the Bears system as they are not really a running team if you look at Chris Williams, Forte, and Olsen it seems to suggest more of a Bill Walsh West Coast offense. Reminds me of the Eagles with Westbrook or the Jets with Jones.

The Bears have been, let's say coy, about the possibility of trading Urlacher. The same can be said of the Chargers and Tomlinson. The Bears are paper thin in depth at running back and the Chargers could use help on defense (especially in the 3-4) and you can see where I'm headed with this. Any thoughts

Brad

any chance th bears will fire angelo philips mccaskey turner babich lovie ans whoever else is incharge???? i now some fans are crazy for angelo and make little shrines for him in there baisements (aint that right brando? but i think its time to hire somone else.. someone tah nows what he is takling about.....someone who is always right.....im talkig about me. i feel that if the bears dont win the superbowel every seeson then thay are loosers just like theyre fans. i now i can do it because iam always right ans i only give facts. also my mom say that sence i am 48 years old i need to move out of her attic ans get a real job. i now that on my ferst day i will FIRE ANGELO like i always say i want to and then i will draft only players that will go to the probowel not like angelo who only gets BUSTS like williams benson grossman columo wolfe steltz beekman......so what do you loosers think???? wil you halp me make me crap-ton youre new GM for a beter tomarrow?

im crap-ton ans i aprove this massage

ohh ans i dear any of you loosers to show e wear im wrong....

Assuming the Bears stink up the joint again next year, is there any chance they look to Rivera as a head coach? Assuming they let go of Lovie, it seems more in line with the organization to go after a known commodity in Rivera rather than pay a fortune for a retread like Shanahan. I would say Parcells is the only one I'd get out the blank check for.

I know this is unrelated to the topic here but... The Detroit Lions, the NFL's first 0-16 team, agreed Thursday to a four-year deal with Schwartz to make him their next head coach. After an extensive search that included several highly qualified coaches, we are thrilled that Jim Schwartz will become our team's head coach," Lions president Tom Lewand said in a statement released by the team. "(General manager) Martin (Mayhew) and I believe that Jim's qualifications and vision will lead this organization on the field toward our goal of becoming a championship football team." The chance to lead an infamous team only seemed to motivate Schwartz to get the job. Source: NFL.com

Bless his heart.

There is another positive for the coming year. If the Bears can get a third or fourth in the draft for losing Berrian it really softens the hit. Anything pre-sixth for Gilmore would be like stealing. Those rounds are historically right in Angelo's wheelhouse for the draft.

The bad news is that you would rather have his drafting wheelhouse in the first two rounds. He has been doing better early the last couple years, and this year he doesn't get as long to think about it. Let's hope.

Creighton wrote:
"Any chance the Bears will look to trade Dan Buenning for maybe a fourth round pick? He is a well known run blocker with great size."

Not Brad but I rather doubt it. I think all fans, me included, over value our talent and undervalue the talent or draft picks of other teams.

We got Buenning in the first week of the season for the same 6th round pick we got from TB for Brian Griese. Griese had a full off season and training camp in TB and we get Buenning post training camp meaning he missed most of the key learning time. A major reason why Buenning did not play early and a little on ST in the second half of the season.

Tell me what has Buenning done to warrant him being worth a draft pick two rounds earlier than he was four months ago? He didn't make a major contribution this because of the lack of prep time needed to integrate OL play.

In addition, the closer you get to the draft the higher the value of the pick. So Buenning would have had to been a starter and a good starter at that to be worth a 4th rounder three and a half months ahead of the draft when he was worth a 6th rounder six months out. If Buenning were a good starter than why would we trade him when we need help along the line.

So in a word: No.

Yeah I know MD, I am hoping for some desperation by the Steelers who need a LG bad. He fits the bill, I know 4th is optimistic. But optimisim is what the draft is all about, even for me.

Creighton,

Maybe I'm reading into your comments a bit too much, but do I detect some optimism for Beekman at LG? I wish I had the gametapes to review, but I'm left with the impression that he made some pretty decent progress this season, specifically in his ability to pull and make the block at the 2nd level.

I'd actually like to see Buenning in the mix for the RG spot next season.

Creighton,

I think there is a role for Buenning in the rotation next year. A lot depends on the draft and FA. But if we get say an OT in FA or draft and we resign St. Clair (both quite possible) we could have a battle among Beekman, St Clair, Buenning and Garza for the guards. Beekman and Garza can also play some center.

I heard the same thing you did about Buenning -- that he is a drive blocker. That is exactly what our OL needs in the interior of that line.

So I would like to have Buenning there for an entire off season and see what happens in September 2009.

Creighton, Kevin, etc.

I think Buenning could be our steal of last year, call me an optimist. Before his injuries set in, he was a solid, talented lineman. He lost time in Tampa, in my opinion, only because his replacement played well while he was hurt so they didn't need him, not because his skills vanished.

A couple of big ifs, but just imagine IF...

If Williams plays like he deserves a job this season, I'll forgive 08.

If Beekman progresses and puts on a few pounds of muscle

If Kruetz can just hold at his current skill level

If Buenning can play anywhere near where he was pre-injury (5th season guy now, right?)

If we draft, within the first three rounds, someone who can play tackle.

I know, this is the closer, but please just bear my optimism for one more second...

IF that happens, guess what team only has one "old guy" left on the line to be a leader, at Center, the easiest position to play into older ages, with a strong, young line to push ahead for years. I know, optimistic, but wouldn't that just be like magic? Even with Williams being more of a skill player than a road clearing man, Buenning could do wonders as a lead blocker for those Power O runs we call despite our finesse players.

Big ifs, but weirder things have happened. There are also still all those "ifs" of free agency (Gross, perhaps) or even the bigger guys we had on the practice squad come the end of the year. we might be able to actually push the line instead of hoping

I think Beekman has always been a solid run blocker, he was a poor pass blocker and he worked on it and got better. Which is why the Bears left him in there over Buenning. With Buenning and Beekman you have two guys playing the same position's LG and C. Buenning is a really good run blocker. My thought's on the Bears Oline and offense have changed direction. Well at least I think the Bears have changed diretions. I think they are going to try and copy what the Jets do. The Jets line is this very athletic line. Buenning was an absolute steal for a 6th round pick, but the Bears don't use him and have a guy in Beekman that does the same exact job in front of him. However it is really hard to tell what the Bears want to do with there line. To help out Orton a short passer and Forte a 1 cut back, you would want a zone style line or at least a super athletic line. Beekman would be fine at center, but guard would be a struggle for him, Buenning would not fit at all. I think the Bears can do better than a sixth round pick for a proven LG run blocker from a team like the Steelers who are desperate for that. Not to mention I believe this is why Gruden was fired. Ok maybe not.

I am really just speculating as too which way the Bears offense is going given the last two drafts. There does seem to be a shift in the scheme in the works.

Brendan you may be sorta getting my point. Why are we taking all these finesse players to run a power O that we don't have a deep threat compliment for at reciever or QB? It makes no sense, however a Walsh style WCO makes a lot of sense for these picks. Which would mean a athletic zone blocking line, leaving Beekman (unless at center), Buenning, Garza, Tait and St. Clair lost to them. Also Olin is not going to hold up he has been declining. Part of it is also if your not going to use Buenning get something for him while you can. Tait is gone anyway after next season and so is St. Clair, so the Bears could be building not just a new line but a new style of line for the team. Another rich draft class with athletic Tackles and Angelo seeming to indicate the offensive line is a priority. Let me say for all the Beekman fans, I am not saying he should go because he is bad or anything, I am saying they may be changing there style of line play and he may not fit. The key words being may and speculation, that is all. If the Bears get two Linemen in the first 3 rounds I think it will be a given.

LT Williams,
LG Beekman or some new guy
C Olin probably his last year
RG Alex Mack or some draft pick or even Beekman
RT Eben Britton or a third round tackle.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 15, 2009 6:53 PM.

Many happy returns: Manning garners All-NFL honors was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears' GM Angelo takes to the airwaves, talks quarterback, Tommie Harris is the next entry in this blog.

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