Chicago Sun-Times

Bears doing their homework on guards for post-draft signings?

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Add two more offensive linemen to the list of players who have been to Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit.

Jeff Dickerson at ESPN 1000 reported that Hampton guard Dennis Conley and Montana State guard Louis Saucedo have made the trip to Lake Forest. That brings to 15 the total of pre-draft visits we have confirmed. NFL teams are permitted a maximum of 30 and the cut-off date for visits is Friday.

Conley and Saucedo bring to five the number of late-round/undrafted guard prospects the Bears have checked out. That could be a signal the team will elect not to draft one. They could also choose to draft one and then add another one as an undrafted free agent for competition in training camp. General manager Jerry Angelo has not done a lot in the way of drafting guards in his tenure. The Bears have gotten just 41 starts out of 256 (128 games, two positions) at guard by Angelo draft picks. That's 16 percent. Terrence Metcalf made 25 starts and Josh Beekman had 16 last season.

The list of pre-draft invites primarily looks like players the Bears will target in free agency. That makes trips to Halas Hall by the players as much a recruiting visit as anything else. The team wants to get a full medical report on the player and let them visit with the coaches a little bit. It's also an opportunity for the Bears to sell themselves to the players. It's a wild west frontier once the draft ends. The undrafted players become free agents and teams scramble to scoop up available talent, particularly linemen needed to effectively run training camp. Remember, the Bears have been wiped out on the lines at times over the last few summers. The draft used to be eight and before that 12 rounds. Players signing free-agent deals are guys that in the past were drafted.

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"Conley and Saucedo bring to five the number of late-round/undrafted guard prospects the Bears have checked out. That could be a signal the team will elect not to draft one."

Well, I certainly hope that's not the case. Failing to draft offensive linemen is what got the Bears into their current mess and required them to sign an aging free agent well past his prime, but who is still a large improvement over what they had last season. As some bloggers have pointed out, if you build a dominant offensive line, the entire offense will be significantly better. Same goes for D line. It all starts up front, and I can't believe management doesn't know that when some of us mere fans do.

I agree with everyone on addressing WR later in the draft and with free agency. 2010 is an uncapped year, so it would easy to take a flyer on Holt or Burress without losing much long-term flexibility.

Besides, the receiver we would be getting at 49 is likely not going to be a game breaker or significantly better than what we could get at 99.

The player I really like is Sean Smith from Utah. He posted 4.4 times at his recent Pro Day and would give the Bears a lot of flexibility in the secondary. If he worked out at CB, we could move Tillman to FS, or vice versa. This would be a huge upgrade from last year.

I don't think he will still be available at 49, but if the board is at 30, and he's still there, JA should seriously consider trading our late round draft picks and maybe Daniel Manning (if there are any takers for a 5th rounder for him) to move up and take him.


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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 13, 2009 8:04 PM.

Four Down Territory, April 13: Do the Bears need a veteran backup QB? was the previous entry in this blog.

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