Chicago Sun-Times

Bears draft preview: Need No. 2 Free safety

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Need No. 2--Free safety

Players on roster

FS Josh Bullocks (signed through 2009)
S Craig Steltz (2011)
S Glenn Earl (2009)
S/CB Danieal Manning (2009)
S/CB Zack Bowman (2011)

Need

The Bears thought they were selecting an athletic safety with the skills to man the position for some time when they used their first pick in 2006 on Manning. He's started 28 games at the position and that has been enough for them to determine he's not a fit for them there. The most athletic member of the secondary gets caught out of position too often and part of the problem has its roots in the coaching staff's desire to move him all over the defensive backfield. The Bears are content now leaving him at nickel cornerback where he started last year and excelled after coach Lovie Smith took over the position. Smith is adding that position to his growing list of job titles and that is probably a good thing. It's too bad because Manning has proven to be durable and that is one trait the team has not been able to find at safety. Bullocks figures to be the man for the job right now. A former second-round pick, he had a nice rookie season in New Orleans but from there the progress stalled. The hope is that new surroundings will make a difference for him, and he looked good in minicamp, but the easiest way to judge a team's faith in a player is by his contract. Bullocks has a modest one-year deal.

Steltz is out of position at free safety even if the Bears say he can play the position. He's got the smarts to be in the right spot but lacks the range to cover deep like the team needs. Remember, this was one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season. Putting a slow-footed guy at free safety isn't going to help matters even if the biggest issue lied with the inability to generate a pass rush. Earl is another veteran option who came for the minimum. He could be considered behind Manning at nickel. Bowman was shifted to free safety out of necessity before Bullocks and Earl came on the scene. It's not known if that change is permanent and when you talk about durability issues at the position, Bowman is certainly a guy that will be difficult to count on given his history at Nebraska and the fact that he got knocked out after one game last year. This is a pressing need. The team feels like it has a decent strong safety in Kevin Payne. He's a thumper in the box and was out of position at free safety when tried there last season. Payne might not be flashy but he's gotten better at wrapping up instead of going for the knockout and will work fine. He's had injuries himself, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and a durable partner is a must. Bullocks will likely be in competition with a rookie for the starting job and Smith has shown no hesitation throwing rookies into the fire at the position. If the club passes on a wide receiver with its first pick, a logical choice would be for a safety here.

Who the Bears have been looking at

Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke has conducted private workouts with Troy's Sherrod Martin, who could be considered as a free safety but played cornerback in school. He also went to Ohio to work out Mike Mitchell, who might be versatile enough to play both positions. Martin is viewed as a second-round possibility but more likely a third rounder. Mitchell is a late-round option. The Bears also brought in Oregon State's Al Afalava and Penn State's Anthony Scirrotto on visits. They're strictly strong safeties who could be priority free agents and players that get a good look on special teams. The Bears are putting a premium on size at this position, part of the player profile general manager Jerry Angelo talked about this week. They believe a more sturdy safety will perhaps minimize the chance for injury at a position where durability is becoming increasingly harder to find. That means Missouri's William Moore and Oregon's Patrick Chung could be on the radar here and warrant consideration in the second round with the Bears' pick at No. 49. New Mexico's Glover Quin and Arizona State's Troy Nolan are late-round options.

Coming Saturday: Wide receiver.

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20 Comments

Brad,
It seems to me that there are a lot more options to pick up a quality veteran receiver after the draft than a free safety. Also we know Lovie can land a stud at free safety with the 49th pick while any receiver you draft will be a question mark.

Is there any chance the Bears don't get help in the secondary with the 49th pick? Like I said, I think the Bears should pick a stud for the defense in the draft who can be coached up, and land a proven wide receiver in free agency.

Torry Holt? Braylon Edwards? Marvin Harrison?

Has anyone started a countdown to kickoff yet? I can't wait for September!

Go Bears!

I vote for the Bears picking Gary Fencik..

I have to agree in pricipal with NM that they should go DB in the second round. They can figure out another WR option in a later round or see who else is available in FA. Too bad Holt is gone.

I have funny feeling that a DL may be Angelo's first pick of the day though.

I think the Bears are going wide receiver in the second, its the only position of need they haven't done anything about yet. The other top needs tackle and safety, they addressed by signing Orlando Pace and Josh Bullocks. Chicago will probably go with Ohio States Brian Robiskie if he falls to #49, or Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi, I'll give my two cents on them tomorrow when Biggs post the #1 need blog wide receiver.

Back to safety, the fact Chicago liked what they saw of Bullocks in mini camp, and the fact they signed him, tells me they might wait to take a safety, maybe sometime in the 4th-5th round range? After reading what Angelo said about a safeties size is something the Bears are going to take into consideration because of durability, tells me they probably won't go with Rashad Johnson of Alabama, although, Angelo could be smoke-screening, we'll find out tomorrow? Myself, I like Johnson, you read his scouting report and it goes on about his football smarts, his instincts/range, and the fact he defended 30 some passes, and he sounds very Mike Brownish to me. He'd be a nice pick. Remember, a lot of people thought one Mr. Ray Lewis was to small coming out of college.

If the Bears wait to take a safety, another one I really like is Notre Dames David Bruton. I think Bruton was a very good safety on a very bad team, this is probably why he's not getting the recognition, I think he's a steal waiting to happen! The guy's 6-2 219lbs, runs a 4.5 40, he was one of the faster safeties at the combine, and is around the ball a lot, had 93 tackles this season, 85 last. Bruton can play the ball having had 6 pass breakups to go along with 3 ints. One scouting report says Bruton might be one of the more physical free safeties. Along with Kevin Payne, [who Brad pointed out is a thumper himself] would give the Bears a great set of hard hitting safeties. Bruton has the height and speed to cover a lot of ground as the centerfielder of the defense. Also, Bruton adds extra value being a standout on special teams for the Irish. If I were Angelo, Bruton would be the safety I'd take, can't wait til tomorrow GO BEARS!!

I`m going to go out on a limb and say that Mr. Angelo may not be done dealing yet, but if we sit at 49, then we take a linebacker or DE that can really get after the QB. I don`t think Robiskie will fall to 49, so we grab help for the defense, and grab Kinder from Pitt at pick 3 or 4.

Kevin Armstead

Like what you say about Bruton. I'd like to see him added. What round? I also like that Mike Mitchell kid. Similar size and speed, and the kid can hit. Thing is with Mitchell, who has he been covering and hitting? He looks the part on what little film we've seen, but who really knows? Others have said Mitchell is a later round pick. I wonder how late. It would be sweet to add both of these players if they both stack up better rating wise than Bullocks.

At 49, I am not sure Delmas or Johnson are the right pick, and something tells me neither will be there (just a strange hunch now that some other trades are happening).

If the WRs are gone (Britt, Robiskie, Nicks), I would love to see us draft DL. I think we could get Bruton or Clemons at the 99 or with our 4th rounder. Both could contribute early, and could compete by next year, or maybe even this year.

If we don't draft Massaquoi or Iglesias at 49, we are looking at Ogletree and later round prospects after that. I could see Ogletree at 99, and Clemons/Bruton at 119, as long as we get a DL at 49. If we go safety at 49, it will cause us trouble in my opinion as we will see a bigger drop off in DL after the third round than we will at the other positions.

I don't think I can remember a draft where I was this pumped up when we won't be on the clock until 5 hours in, but I am getting pretty stoked about watching this. It won't be long before the fun begins, as I think there are a couple of teams in the top 10 that are going to try and move out.

It will be reciever at 49. If Robiskie doesn't fall I believe JA will take Massaquoi (character counts) and possibly Iglesias (JA likes kids from Oklahoma). Don't rule out tackle here either. Once again the Oklahoma factor could mean Loadholt. I like Bruton in the fourth alot and tackle in the third, hopefully TJ Lang. If JA takes Loadholt at 49 then wait and get Kevin Ogletree who I believe could be a value pick later in draft. Go Bears, I can't for draft and season!!!!

Actually Kevin this is what Brad said about Payne, but it is fun how you always try to take things out of context.


"The team feels like it has a decent strong safety in Kevin Payne. He's a thumper in the box and was out of position at free safety when tried there last season. Payne might not be flashy but he's gotten better at wrapping up instead of going for the knockout and will work fine."

So while you feel he is one of the best SS in the NFL, the Bears feel he is decent, not even good, decent. Oh and look he is working on his tackling, which I pointed out to you he needed to do. Of the 4 starting DB's he is currently the third best, last year he was the forth best on the 30th ranked Pass defense in the NFl.

The Safety position is horrible, and needs to be fixed at SS and FS. You do not get ranked the 30th worst pass defense in the NFL if you have talent in the secondary. It needs a total overhall. There is not one shut down DB on this team.

Personally, I think the Bears should look at FS or DE in the 2nd round regardless of which WR is on the board (with some exceptions) at 49. I just look at guys like Brandon Marshall and Marques Colston, etc... who were drafted in rounds 4-7 that came in and, with Pro Bowl caliber QB's, were able to flourish (almost) right out of the gate. Get a game changer FS at 49, the talent will be there, and start to remember what the Bears' secondary was like with a true, ball hawking FS back there.

Then go and get your big, possession guy in the 3rd or 4th, maybe even 5th round. I'm still kind of intrigued by the idea of Ramses Barden, 6'6", receiver out of Cal Poly. Yes, he needs some polish and yes he played at a small school. But I'm sorry, 6'6" with a 40' vert is devastating at ANY level of ball. His speed has been knocked but he has comparable numbers to Rice, Fitzgerald, Marshall, etc... And apparently he's a pretty solid blocker, high character guy. Just have Cutler wing it out to him high and watch the stats pile up. And can you imagine a guy with that kind of size in the red zone? My head spins just thinking about it....

The beauty of this draft is that Angelo has his 1'st round draft pick coming into the training facility working (4) hours a day with Ron Turner and tossing the pill around.

This draft is aleady successful and we haven't even selected yet. Next years draft will be just as successful because of the trade for Jay Cutler.

Angelo couldn't have drafted players in round one this year and next any better then our new pro-bowl QB. Just his addition alone will make the entire team better for the next (3) seasons and hopefuly another (10) after that if Angelo can sign Cutler to a Brett Favre/Peyton Manning type contract extension.

Go Bears !!


Alright here is a song for ya blogger/poster/forum writer/whatever.

By Sublime (Drunk Diving) with a twist. Drunk Driving is not recommended by ANYONE! I do not approve Drunk Driving, Brando.

Drunk Blogging is what I like to do..
Drunk Blogging about you.

This song is dedicated to Creighton or now is he putting a Twist to his name? Is it "Creighton" or is it Now "Crei8ghton"

Might be a typo, might be something he did to be the new? Creighton.

Anywho....

Being that this draft is thin on Free Safeties, and deep in the Wide Out pool, I would want to believe that the Bears will pick up the best possible FS in the draft Before they draft a WR.

Just a thought. Can not wait until- the 49 pick of the 2009 Draft is.......

Drunk Diving is also NOT approved by me/Brando.

It is not recommended by ANYONE to go drunk Diving!

Moving on.....

As as said FS I believe is the most needed position on this team...The Chicago Bears!

Why I believe that is because Culter is gonna make the WR position better period! Who is gonna make the FS better?... Urlacher? No! The CB in this system certainly ISNT gonna make the FS better! So...

The FS himself is gonna make himself better. Go get a Stud FS Angelo, then make a move elsewhere.

Big day tomorrow. After I go Golfing ha ha ha I stink at golfing but love to play, my TV is set to ESPN and my Radio is gonna be set on 670 the score. I personly like the 670 crew better then the 1000am crew or for that matter espn on the TV.

Brad, any ideas about the trade market value for a DB such as Michael Huff of the Raiders? He has been in Tom Cable's dog house for quite some time now.

Would you think the Bears could be able to pry him away from the Raiders with a mid round pick (i.e 4th round), considering some of the past players the Raiders have given away who no longer fit in with their team?

I like your thinking Mike, I said the same thing the other day in another post, the receiver class is deep but the guys who would look good at 49, Nicks, Britt or Robiske may be gone, the pick may be a bit high for Massaquoi and Iglasias, and it is reasonable to assume that Barden would be there at 99. DE and Or FS are major needs and the best player available there at 49, might be able to come in and play immediately, whereas another receiver at that spot might come in and have a year like Bennett, essentially a Redshirt year, which we can't afford, plus after mising with Bazuin, and the fragility of Dvorchek Angelo needs to make good with this pick. the Hood guy from Missouri may be there along with Johnson-G. Tech DE 6' 7' with size, and it seems like from Brad's blog that Moore-Missouri is back on our radar that would make Kevin A. happy he touted him all year.....Two guys to look for late are Asher Allen-Georgia-corner and Adrian Grady-DT on day two as value picks for depth...Anyone know what happened to Brandon LaFell from LSU it's almost like he fell off the face of the earth any negatives on him out there

Blah
Blah
Blah
....this is what there priorties should be
#1...FS
#2...WR..he isnt going to be the best because we have to understand he is going to be the what like 112 maybe not forsure...so its gunna be a year or 2 to make him good
#3...DE...same with the bove guy...but less time
#4...OL or CB cause it seems like are corners always are tired or hurt or have the "flu"

Contact me at....maxwellbower@rocketmail.com...because im 16 and i want to know what people thing about the bears priorties

Mike - Brandon Marshall wasnt a 4th-7th rounder..he was a 2nd rounder...but i do agree with you on Ramses Barden..i think he could be a stud...but i dont think he'll last to #99...i think it should at least be worth looking into taking him at #49 if Britt, Nicks and Robiskie are gone..

we'll see..i cant wait!!

Smooth Marshall was drafted in the 4th round, Pick 119 in the 2006 draft. Your thinking of Eddie Royal who was choosen last year in the 2nd round with the 42nd pick. Your mixing up your Denver recievers.

Mike it would be nice to find a reciever later in the draft but your missing a couple of small things.
60% of all blue chip recievers come from the first round, 80% come from the first two rounds, so the chances of spotting and drafting a blue chip WR in the later rounds in rare.

Brandon Marshall - 2006 draft, 4th round.

With the 49th pick of the draft, the Chicago Bears select... Anquan Boldin!

Angelo has had more success finding gems in the middle rounds of the draft. Let's spend the 3rd rounder on a FS and finish the transformation of the offense with a pro-bowl quality reciever.

Right?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 24, 2009 7:23 AM.

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