Chicago Sun-Times

Bears check out action at TCU pro day

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TCU had a surprise for the 40 or so NFL representatives, including Bears scout Chris Ballard, who showed up for the school's pro day on Friday.

Inside linebacker Jason Phillips was on crutches after undergoing surgery to repair a slight tear in his meniscus. Turns out he suffered the injury at the combine but it's not believed to be serious, and he did enough good things there that it shouldn't affect his draft status too much. Phillips is considered one of the better inside linebackers in a draft that's pretty strong at the position.

Running back Aaron Brown, who was not invited to the combine, helped himself with a 4.48-second, 40-yard dash. He's hopeful of having his name called during the draft. Center Blake Schlueter also turned in a strong performance. He was another player to be left off the combine list.

Safety Stephen Hodge, who ran a 4.57 in the 40 at the combine did only positional drills. Hodge also put up 22 reps on the bench at 225 pounds at the combine. Some question whether or not he has the range to play in the secondary and at 6-0, 234, he also projects as a weak-side linebacker.

According to nfldraftscout.com, Hodge spoke to some teams at the combine about playing linebacker. Hodge played in the Texas vs. The Nation game that general manager Jerry Angelo scouted.

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17 Comments

Contrary to popular opinion, I am loving what the Bears are doing now! Sign back your own players,(K. Jones and hopefully St. Clair), add a quality, young OL, and sit back and wait until after the draft to get busy. Teams will draft players and then cut some good vets. That's when we can add a veteran at WR, Free Safety, etc, etc. That's why the Bears are always the first team to sign all of their draft picks. Look at the Jets last year. They went nuts in free agency and still sucked! Same with the Redskins! I think we are doing it the right way. We just have to do a better job at drafting this year! Good luck and Bear Down!

All I know is if the Bears dont make a deep run in the playoffs this season, heads will be rolling in Halas Hall including but not limited to Jerry Angelo, see Michael Haynes, Rex Grossman, Michael Okwo, Dan Bazuin, Daniele Manning (still doesent have a position) Cedric Benson, Thomas Jones getting cut, Craig Steltlz looks like he belongs on a JV football team, Kurt Warner being told he can't compete with Rex Grossman, and Lovie Smith for allowing BFF to stay on the staff when everyone else should have and did get fired Bob Babich. Something about Kyle Orton entering the season as our starter still doesent sit well with me, I dont know about you. No #1 wide reciever, no left or right tackle and hoping to re sign John St Clair who is a quality back up at best is what we are left clinging to? Something is wrong with the decisions being made here.

Chicago really doesn't need a middle or weakside linebacker, so Jason Phillips or Stephen Hodge [who projects as a linebacker by most scouts], really wouldn't fill a need or help Chicago. What the Bears do need is a center to start developing, I know we got Beekman, but another body on the practice squad wouldn't hurt when the Bears have to replace Olin Kreutz in a couple seasons. The fact the Bears need to start thinking about eventually replacing Kreutz, and the fact they like their linemen to be athletic, might be a reason TCU center Blake Schlueter could be of interest to Chicago.

Schlueter ran a 4.7 40, which is impressive for a lineman, had a 35 inch vertical jump, 9ft 3in long jump, and 4.2 second short shuttle at TCU's pro day catching the eyes of many scouts, maybe even the Bears. NFL.com's Gil Brandt says, "Schlueter reminds me of Colts center Jeff Saturday, same body built only Schlueter is a little faster. He's a pure athlete who might be a little undersized at 290, but has room to grow because he was only 236 as a freshman." With Schlueter athleticism, he could be a good one to draft in the 7th round to develop and bulk up a little for a season or two on the Bears practice squad, just a thought GO BEARS!!

Gabe one thing that everyone seems to forget is that the draft is not a sure thing. If a GM hits on 60% of the players he drafts then that is considered good. I can make a list of players drafted by Bill Polian in Indy that didn't work out. A list could be compiled for every NFL team of players who don't work out. Just ask a Jets fan about that. What you fail to mention is that for every Michael Haynes you list, I can list Alex Brown who Jerry took in the 4th round and has been a solid NFL player ever since. You mentioned Michael Okwa but you must have forgotten about Lance Briggs in the 3rd round. Cedric Benson was a bum but what about Matt Forte? Charles Tillman, Greg Olsen and Devin Hester...do those names ring a bell? Stop focusing only on the players that he was wrong about and try to remember some of the players that he got right!

Now Gabe I want to make it clear that I agree with you in that we NEED to make the playoffs this year. If we don't that will be 3 consecutive seasons following the Super Bowl without making the playoffs and that is unacceptable. But don't forget we were in the Super Bowl just a few years back! Jerry Angelo has shown the ability to build a Super Bowl contender in Tampa Bay and now he has shown the ability to do it here in Chicago. You are right that the last couple of drafts have not panned out the way we would like and yes, Jerry has to be held accountable for that. However, all it will take is for him to hit a homerun in the draft this year and all will be forgotten.

Lets use our 1st and 2nd round picks on a WR and OT. Originally I was thinking we should wait until the 2nd to get our WR but I'm not sure if one the the top receivers will still be there. Right now I'm leaning towards jumping on the WR of our choice (presumably Crabtree and Maclin will be gone) instead of waiting and runnning the risk of not getting any of the top group. Then in the 2nd round we come back and get Loadholt from Oklahoma. We are known to like him and his skill set is similar to Jeff Otah in Carolina. Loadholt is a big, bruising run-blocking right tackle who brings attitude to the game. Doesn't that sound like a nice fit for a team that "gets off the bus running?"

PBB, that little plan you are talking about is the same plan the Bears do every year. Were did you come up with such a brainstorm. Yes wait for a vet to get cut, Lloyd and Booker, sign a talented young lineman, Garza, wow so talented and now who did we sign oh yeah, Omionestart, so talented, started one whole game against the Chiefs best tackle in football ever. Yes he is so talented that he could not stay on the roster with his first 2 teams. Or do you believe teams love to cut young, talenteed cheap linemen? We only have to do a better job drafting this year?? Really how about next to, how about last year or the year before. God forbid we just be good at drating period.

As for Washington and the Jets. Washington had one of the best defenses in football last year, and the Jets had a top 10 offense and a defense very similar to the Bears. So if they suck I guess the Bears must suck even more sense there not as good as either one of those teams and those teams suck.

As for scouting at TCU, there not looking for starters there, this looks like special teams scouting. Hodge could be another Brendon Ayanbadejo type, I would be surprised if the Pats don't look at him, they love those Hybrid LB/S types. You know just cause the Bears go to a Pro Day does not mean every guy there is a future All Pro. Look a college center we looked at he must be the next Jeff Saturday. Could be thay were looking for a long snapper to develop as well, Mannelly isn't getting any younger.

Oh and SBS who said Jerry drafted Brown, Jauron ran those drafts and Angelo has tried to replace brown sense he took over the draft after Jauron was fired. Mike Haynes was his first real pick. Oh and you named 4 guys sense he has been here that he is drafted, that are decent. Well except Hester I don't think he is a very good reciever. So three guys Tillman is ok, Briggs is a solid WIL LB for the T2, Forte is a solid Back, Olsen is Average,he is a solid reciever but can't block to save his life, and cost the Bears at least one game last year because he played like a Bonehead and didn't secure the ball. You said 60% was good, well Angelo is at less than that. Mind you being a bad player who is on a team does not count as a draft hit. Not one All Pro or Pro Bowl position player in 5 years, thats the worst in the NFL.

Super Bowl Shuffler, regret to inform angelo doesn't meet your criteria. 63 draft picks made by angelo, 28 still on the roster (that's 44%), 12 are starters (not all are good starters).

Creighton, you suck! If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you. You think you know everything with all these blog essays you write, you're just a closet Packer fan ragging on everything the Bears do. Get lost. You know a little about everything and a whole lot about nothing!

PBB & Super Bowl Shuffler, I like what both of your guy's have to say, and agree. As far as who Chicago will take in the first, my guess as of right now would be Arizona tackle Eben Britton, thats if they are gonna play Frank Omiyale at guard, if so, right tackle is the Bears biggest need hands down heading into the draft, even if the Bears do resign John St.Clair. Also, if Omiyale is at guard, Chicago can't take the chance of a tackle prospect being there in the second, like maybe Phil Loadholt. Getting this offensive line right should be priority one, again, thats why I feel if the Bears are gonna play Omiyale at guard, they gotta take a first round tackle to get the best possible player available in the draft for the position, which would probably be Britton, or Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher if he slips to #18.

Now, if the Bears are gonna go with Omiyale at right tackle, then they could go in a different direction in the first. If so, it wouldn't surprise me if the Bears take Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey at #18. Another player that Chicago could take at #18 is Mississippi defensive tackle Peria Jerry, who could come in and help Tommie Harris man the ever important three technique position in the Bears defensive scheme. I wouldn't mind Jerry either, doesn't sound like a major need area, but it kind of is, also, Jerry could be the best player available at #18. Going into the season with just one player [Tommie Harris], to effectively man the three technique is taking a chance, if Harris goes down, so do the Bears, and with Harris history with knee problems, it might be a good idea to bring in a young player like Peria Jerry to help Harris man the position. If Chicago wants to make their scheme go, and Lovie Smith called Tommie Harris the "engine" of the Bears defensive scheme, a first round prospect like Jerry might not be a bad idea. Having a player effectively man the three technique would help Chicago's pass rush also. If not Peria Jerry in the first, maybe Missouri DT Evander "Ziggy" Hood in the second who could also help the Bears at the three technique position. Here's some food for thought, Jerry Angelo said a week or two ago he doesn't think the Bears defense will be as dominant as they once were, he could have very well been talking about Tommie Harris. This is why I think Angelo will address the three technique on day one.

If Chicago does see Omiyale as a guard, this would be who I would draft for Chicago in a mock, I added another fourth rounder assuming this is what the Bears are gonna be rewarded at the end of the month.
Rd 1 Eben Britton OT Arizona 6-6 312lbs
Rd 2 Evander Hood DT Missouri 6-3 298lbs
Rd 3 Zack Follett LB California 6-2 236lbs
Rd 4 Aaron Kelly WR Clemson 6-5 200lbs
Rd 4* David Bruton FS Notre Dame 6-2 210lbs
Rd 5 T.J. Lang OG E. Michigam 6-4 312lbs
Rd 6 Travis McCall FB Alabama 6-2 276lbs GO BEARS!!

P.S Creighton, calm down about the Jeff Saturday comment, thats who Gil Brandt compared him to, not me. Also, how is Jerry Angelo giving Alex Brown an extension last winter trying to replace Brown...I don't get it, oh well GO BEARS!!

Hey Creighton, If you're going to write blogs as long as you do, at least learn how to spell. Your work looks like my 2nd graders'. Your grammer sucks and you can't carry a sentence to save yourself. I think you ARE a closet Packer fan!

Once again its a Bears off-season and once again the usual suspects are blogging. This go around fellas lets not get personal, and keep things friendly. But since I know you won't have at it but it really isn't all that serious. Every year since the blog we come here and argue and call each other some interesting things but this go around lets focus our ire at the ones who deserve it Angelo, Gabriel and their talking deadhead Lovie. You can't blame the players they are just doing what they do be it bad or good blame the idiots that scout, evaluate and coach as the failures. Remember this year focus, focus.

Creighton the facts don't lie and quite simply you are wrong. First off Alex Brown was drafted by the Bears in the 4th round of 2002. Jerry Angelo came to the Bears in 2001, so yes he did draft him. The idea of Jauron running the drafts is ridiculous. Do head coaches have a say in drafting players? yes. Do head coaches have the final say in drafting players? no. Jerry Angelo has been the GM since 2001 so he did indeed draft Alex Brown.

Now for some of the more idiotic things you said:

"Briggs is a solid Wil LB" Wow talk about the understatement of the year. If by solid you mean a perennial pro-bowler then yes, he is quite solid.

"Forte is a solid back" This statement actually makes your Briggs assessment seem reasonable. Matt Forte finished 7th in the NFL in rushing yards with 1238. He also added 477 yards receiving on 63 receptions to give him 1715 total yards from scrimmage, putting him among the league leaders. Oh and he scored a total of 12 TDs and he only fumbled once, I repeat once with all of those touches. And now for the best part...HE WAS A ROOKIE!!!

"Olsen is average" This one I can almost live with because he is young and still developing as a blocker. However you brought up the fumble that cost us a game last year. But you forget to mention the amazing TD grab he caught against the Packers in 2007 when the game was on the line giving us a win over our hated rivals. Did that just slip your mind? Ask anybody in the league and they will agree that Olsen is one of the most gifted young TEs in the game with his best football in front of him.

"Not one All Pro or Pro Bowl position player in 5 years, thats the worst in the NFL." Once again, a completely untrue statement. Lance Briggs, Pro Bowler...Tommie Harris, Pro Bowler...Devin Hester, Pro Bowler...Nathan Vasher, Pro Bowler...Robbie Gould, Pro Bowler.

Creighton in all honesty you really should do some research before you open your mouth. There are a lot of informed Bears fans out there that are sick of your stupidity reflecting on us.

an those are great statistics your provide about Angelo's draft history however you are looking at it wrong. First off Angelo has been here since 2001 so its a bit ridiculous to think that all the player he drafted 8 years ago would still be with the team. First off injuries shorten the careers of many NFL players. 2nd, there is a thing called free agency which takes a lot of players from the team. Also, you fail to realize that you are including picks from all of the round of the draft. How often do you see 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th round picks becoming superstars in the league? Does it happen, yes. Does it happen frequently, no. Next, you seem to forget that football teams are divided into 3 parts: Offense, Defense and Special Teams. Just because a player is not a household name and a pro-bowler doesn't mean that they are not good players.

When I say a success rate of 60% is good, I'm not talking about 60% of the players drafted becoming pro-bowlers...that's impossible for any team and GM. I'm not sitting here saying that Angelo has been the best in the league at drafting. However you haters are holding Angelo to a standard that is impossible to live up to. This guy brought us to a Super Bowl for the first time and 20 years and all you can do is call for his head. The fact of the matter is that since Jerry got here the Bears have a regular season record of 69-53, which is better than we were before he got here.

Kevin:

The same point you made about the need to find a replacement for an aging Kruetz also can be made for Urlacher.

The question is what is harder to find the next great Chicago Bear middle linebacker or center?

I agree with you about Kruetz and developing a center for down the road. This year it seems has some truly special/elite middle linebackers that should be gone in the first round and a good quality right offensive tackle like Loadholt would most likely be available in the 2nd at pick #49. If Oher is available at #18 then yes take Oher. But Britton might be available at the 30th pick. Should the Bears trade down to get a Britton and maybe Follett ( he is good) in the 3-4th rounds or do the Bears pick the next great middle linebacker at #18 and right tackle in round 2?

I believe the BEARS need to have a new Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher quality MLB and get a very good right tackle in round two, the time to move is now.

dahlillama, I think Brian Urlacher still has a little more left in the tank, and I don't see Chicago giving up on him anytime soon. There's a couple reasons why I think Urlacher wasn't the same player this season. Coming off the neck injury probably slowed Urlacher down a little, I think a year removed he should be a lot more effective. Secondly, the lack of a pass rush killled Urlacher this season. In the Tampa-two, the middle linebacker has to be able to drop back in coverage. With the lack of a pass rush this season, Chicago had Urlacher up on the line most of the time taking away his effectiveness. Urlacher would either blitz, or drop back in coverage from the line, which is very difficult to do. When Chicago's pass rush is more effective, Urlacher can play 4-5 yds back, making it easier for him to either drop back in coverage and play the ball, or come up and play the run. Again, its hard to drop back in coverage or play the run as a linebacker when your up on the line as much as Urlacher was. This is why I think drafting a player like DT Peria Jerry could help improve Chicago's pass rush from his three technique position, making Urlacher more effective. A player like Jerry would not only help make Urlacher more effective, but help out Chicago's secondary by improving the Bears pass rush.

As far as the draft, I don's think the next great Bear MLB is out there, maybe Aaron Curry of Wake Forest, but unless the Bears trade up, there not getting Curry he's an easy top 5 pick. Theres Rey Maualuga of USC, but most scout feel he is the drafts best 3-4 middle linebacker, and I don't think Maualuga has the speed, 4.68 40, to play middle linebacker in the Tampa-two. With a 4.68 40, which was his best time, he had a 4.8 40 at the combine, but that was due mostly to the tweaked hamstring, I don't think he has the range it takes to drop back in coverage in Chicago's scheme. I don't know if USC's Brian Cushing, who's a strongside backer, has the speed for the Bears middle linebacker position either with a 4.7 40. I like James Laurinaitis of Ohio.st, he has shown the ability to cover from his mike linebacker position in college, and is considered the best 4-3 mike linebacker in this years draft. But after running a 4.8 40 at the combine, he's slipping down many draft boards, Chicago could have a chance at him in the second. To me, Brain Urlacher is still our best option.

I agree with you about Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher, if he's there you gotta take him, if not Chicago will probably go with Frank Omiyale at right tackle this season. I just felt if the Bears are gonna go with Omiyale at guard, and nobody seems to know for sure? You got to take the best tackle available at #18, which could be Britton. Because like you said, "Britton COULD be available at #30", the "COULD" was my point. Thats taking a heck of a chance that a decent tackle prospect will be available in the first or second with a player like Loadholt. But I think the Bears are gonna go with Omiyale at right tackle unless Oher slips, we'll see GO BEARS!!

Creighton, some good advice here again son.
Two words; "Spell-Check"!
But don't let the difference of since, sense, or sence keep you from using them interchangeably, keep on blogging!
Your spirited comments are enjoyable and I respect the fact that you never let anything as petty as "knowledge" prevent you from voicing them!
I'm a die-hard Bear fan like you :) Watched the '63 Championship Game on a B&W TV in a Tavern in what is now Palatine!
So let's hear it again! Good and Loud!
GO BEARS!!

Kevin you are dead on with your assessment of Urlacher last season. Two words perfectly describe why he had a down year...MUG UP! You know Babich and the whole Mug Up thing caught the first couple teams by surprise and threw off their protection schemes. And I have to admit that it did do a fair job against the run as our run D was pretty solid last year for the most part. But come on how about showing the ability to adapt your defensive calls. Babich kept calling that Mug Up all season long and it absolutely killed us! The simple solution to beat it is to throw slants on it all day long! Look at the QBs that killed us last year...Brian Griese, Dan Orlovsky, Gus Ferotte, Aaron Rodgers, etc etc! We're not exactly talking about a list of Hall of Famers here!

Maybe just maybe it would have worked a little better if we played some bump and run coverage with our DBs but we never saw it! We played at least 5 yards off of the receiver every time! Flashback to the GB butt kicking they gave us...1st and goal on the 3 yard line and we were playing 6 yards off of the receivers. Corey Graham was literally standing 3 yards deep in the endzone! Greg Jennings simply runs a slant and catches a TD without any opposition! It's not like Jennings is a threat for the fade route, but yet we give up the route that he runs best! I sure hope that Lovie taking over the playcalling helps because I don't know if I can watch our D play as badly as last year.

just a little secret guys i wouldn't be suprised if the bears drafted Stephen Hodge, he's Lovie Smith's nephew

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 7, 2009 8:36 AM.

Four Down Territory, March 6: Where do the Bears turn next? Try St. Clair was the previous entry in this blog.

Sifting through the leftovers: What remains in free agency is the next entry in this blog.

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