Here is a transcript from the pre-draft press conference held Tuesday at Halas Hall.
JERRY ANGELO: Good to see you guys. Lovie's not here today, he had a personal matter that came up unexpectedly. Glad that you're all here. Good attendance. We always appreciate you being here at Halas Hall in front of us.
We are anticipating a good draft. I know not having a No. 1 pick will definitely put a cloud on the draft, but that doesn't mean that we don't have good expectations for the draft. I made a statement that I potentially see, given the work that we've done, three starters from this draft class. We certainly have needs that some of you have talked about -- pretty obvious in some cases, maybe not so obvious in others. We want to go into this draft addressing those needs. We certainly feel there's the potential to do that. We also feel that we're going to be able to create some good competition at certain positions that we want to do that at, given that now we know the landscape of what this draft is going to be.
A lot of it is contingent on the medicals, what they do at the combine. We've been able to digest all that information and feel real good that the numbers of players that we're going to have on our hot list will facilitate the things that we would like to get accomplished this weekend.
COULD YOU BE INVOLVED IN FREE AGENCY AGAIN?
JA: Well, free agency will still be an option in all likelihood. Most assuredly it won't happen until after the draft obviously. There will be an after-market. I think it will probably be a little bit better this year. It's my intuition, nothing I can present facts and substantiate, but I do feel given the quality at certain positions, what the landscape is in terms of what I perceive of how teams work, there possibly could be some fallout players at positions that we're looking at. Are we counting on that to happen? No, we're not, we're planning on this weekend to address the things we need to address.
WHY ARE YOU NOT TARGETING A RECEIVER FOR SURE? is it MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT?
JA: It is complicated for this reason: We do like other players at other positions. The receiver position is certainly something that we're looking at strongly for the obvious reasons, but I don't want to rule out other players at other positions that we feel will be better players in all honesty that could help our football team as well. We're never going to rule out defensive linemen. That's always kind of been our mantra since I've been here, and we'll always continue to look at defensive linemen. There's other positions that we feel potentially you would classify them as a need as well. I don't want to get focused on one position and then miss these other players. We've done a pretty good job I feel over our tenure of going into the draft open-minded, understanding that needs are important and they have to be filled -- if not in free agency, it has to come through the draft. That's why you'll see a lot of prognosticators after the draft tell us that we picked players too high or whatever. But in all cases, when you go into a draft and you have to have players [at positions] of need, you have to take them where you can get them and in all likelihood it's going to be in those first three picks.
DO YOU EXPECT THREE STARTERS FOR THIS YEAR, OR THREE STARTERS DOWN THE ROAD?
JA: Three starters down the road. I probably didn't do a good job of clarifying this because I've said that every year. When we put a final grade on a player, that grade reflects what that player's going to be, in all likelihood in year two and three. I remember when I was with the Cowboys, Coach Landry always would say if a player hasn't reached what we graded him at in year three, then obviously that in all likelihood was not going to happen. When we get a player graded, I want to take the onus off the scouts, to say: When you give that player that final grade, don't think that player has to come in and do that his rookie year. That's what is going to happen over a period of time and we really are looking at the second year, but the third year is when it has to happen.
CAN THE RECEIVING CORPS BE BETTER AS IS?
JA: Well, I think it will be better just given the fact that our quarterback is going to play better. I feel that will be something that is going to help that position and really the whole offense overall. If we stay status quo and nobody gets hurt, with our present receiver corps -- and when I say "receiver corps," you guys have to bring in the tight ends, too. I think Greg Olsen had an outstanding year, as did Dez in terms of their receiving ability -- I feel we'll be OK. Now saying that, it's not realistic to go into a season and think that you're not going to incur injuries. And part of why the receiver position is a need is because we want to create some depth there for that reason. But I feel that we're going to be better as a whole given the quarterback and given the continuity of Hester going into his second year. Rashied Davis being slotted as the slot receiver. We do like Earl Bennett quite a bit -- the familiarity, and it was a caveat with the Cutler trade, that he has the familiarity with the quarterback and the quarterback with the receiver. So we feel good going forward. Is it to say that even if we didn't come out of this draft -- and we always have to prepare for the downside -- without a receiver, that we couldn't do something post-draft? We certainly could and we will have a contingency plan for that as well.
WHAT RECEIVERS COULD FALL TO YOU AT NO. 49?
JA: Potentially good, but we're not going to manufacture a receiver. We're not going to do that. If there's another player that we feel may not address a position as needed as a receiver, we're still not going to rule that player out. Potentially there could be a player that we really like. It depends on who's going to start the second round. Give you an example, you're talking about Britt from Rutgers, you're talking about Nicks from North Carolina, you've got Harvin in the mix. When does that start? Do those players go in the first round, at the end of the first round, or are they the start of the second round? If they're the start of the second round, that might push a guy down that we like. But we won't know that obviously until the weekend.
WOULD YOU TRADE UP TO GET RIGHT GUY?
JA: Would we do that? We would do that, but I don't feel like we have enough ammunition to do that to be realistic. As you know the compensatory third pick can't be traded, so I'm not anticipating that happening. Would we rule it out? No, but I doubt it. That player that we like in all likelihood is going to have to be there at pick 49.
IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RECEIVERS AT 49 AND 99?
JA: If the player that we like is there, it will be vastly different. In all likelihood that player could be gone. Obviously that's why I say you always have to prepare for the worst, not live it. We still like the next tier of player at the receiver position. We want to take the players compensatory to the value of the pick. That's very, very important. At the end of the day, the team that has the best players on Sunday wins. We've always believed that and even if you get these need picks on draft day, players get hurt and you're right back into that handbasket. We've all been there before.
WHY IS THE TRANSITION FOR WR'S TO THE NFL SO TOUGH?
GREG GABRIEL: I think the receiver position's one of the hardest positions for a rookie to come in and play. We've done a study on it, we did it a few years ago. Generally speaking, it's the third year when the light comes on with the receivers. There are a few guys that come in and play and contribute right away, but for the most part they have a small contribution the first couple of years and it's in their third year that they break out.