The Bears have started their pre-draft media session with general manager Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Greg Gabriel. Here are some highlights as we go:
JA: "I know not having a No. 1 pick will put a cloud on the draft. I see potentially three starters from this draft class. We certainly have needs some of you have talked about, pretty obvious in some areas."
Angelo says the after market in free agency starting next week will be better than usual. Maybe he targets a wide receiver there. Angelo believes some wide receivers could be cut after teams draft some.
JA: "The receiver position is a position we are looking at strongly but I don't want to rule out other players at other positions that can be better players. We're never going to rule out defensive linemen. There are other positions we feel potentially you would classify as a need as well."
JA: "Three starters down the road [could come from this draft]. When we put a final grade on a player that reflects what that player will be in Year 2 or Year 3."
Can the wide receiver corps be better in 2009?
JA: "I think it will be better given the fact that our quarterback is going to play better. I feel that is something that is going to help that position and the whole off overall. We want to create some depth there. I feel we are going to be better there as a whole. [Devin] Hester going into his second year, Rashied Davis being slotted as a slot receiver, we do like Earl Bennett a lot, the familiarity with [Jay] Cutler. We feel good going forward. We could [do something] post draft."
Could the Bears trade up?
JA: "I don't feel like we have enough ammunition to do that."
Angelo didn't rule it out as a possibility but he acknowledged it would be tough to pull off if not impossible.
Angelo says if the Bears draft a wideout in the first four rounds he believes it will be a player who will be able to step in and contribute as a rookie.
Angelo says that because three defensive ends are coming out of contract after this season, it could shape their plans on draft weekend. He reiterated he always does extra work on defensive linemen.
On Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi:
JA: "I like him very much. He's very explosive. He can do everything."
Angelo said he had his best season this past year for the Bulldogs and said drops are maybe the one knock on him. Angelo also lauded Massaquoi's character, which can be an issue for some at the position.
Angelo on Plaxico Burress:
JA: "He's got pretty strict laws up there and what he did is looked at pretty seriously. I can't really answer that right now in terms of how we view him. I'm not looking at him as an option."
JA: "You're not going to get a home run guy at the 49th pick."
JA: "I think the receiver group this year is outstanding. We felt like we could get a really, good quality receiver [at No. 18 before the Cutler trade]. I felt the quality at the position was so good maybe you could get a blue receiver at 18."
JA: "I think [Brian Robiskie] could easily be gone by No. 49."
Gabriel's thoughts on Jason Williams, the Western Illinois linebacker who is a DuSable product:
GG: "He's a dominant player at the I-AA level. He's athletic."
Angelo on drafting players with medical concerns after the Chris Williams experience:
JA: "Last year we made a conscious decision, we talked about it as an organization, we're going to be more disciplined in our approach to taking players with medical concerns. We hve to do a good job of being more disciplined because we have had some issues."
JA: "Don't beat us up too badly if we don't [draft a wide receiver]."
On Cutler impacting the organization
JA: "We've done a pretty good job in Chicago of playing arounf the quarterback. We've won a lot of games without a quarterback. That bodes well for the organization. With a quarterback, maybe we won't have to be error free as much."
Who is the receiver the Bears have targeted? It sounds like Angelo will definitely draft one in the second round at No. 49 if the right guy is there. Here is what we base that on when he was asked what the difference could be between a receiver at No. 49 or No. 99.
JA: "If the receiver we like isn't there [at No. 49], it won't be a big difference."
That could mean the Bears look at a guy like Virginia's Kevin Ogletree at the end of the third round or in the fourth round, or perhaps Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias if he slides that far.
Angelo on defensive ends in this draft
JA: "It's a good nucleus of trait guys. I think it's a stronger group than in past years. You are really looking at the traits, the ceiling. If you're totally relying on the stop watch, that could be a misnomer. I only have to look at my bone collection to see that isn't an easy thing to do."
"I think he has the mettle to come in and do the things we all know and want him to do."
Are you going to draft a QB?
JA: "Well, it's not a position of need."
Check back soon as we update this press conference as it is in progress.