Chicago Sun-Times

Bears' plan for best available player adds up to a wide receiver

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The Bears are going to hold their annual pre-draft media session on Tuesday at Halas Hall.

General manager Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Greg Gabriel are going to do their best to convince everyone listening--and then everyone reading and listening to the reports after the press conference--that the Bears will have a world of opportunities when they go on the clock Saturday night with the 49th overall pick in the draft.

Best available player.

The Bears have preached it forever but it's hard to find a time when they have come out and practiced it, at least with their first pick. Look no further than last year's draft when they selected offensive tackle Chris Williams with the 14th pick. It wasn't a need selection, it was a dire need selection.

Angelo and Gabriel want everyone, including the teams picking in the vicinity of their selection, to believe they can go with anything other than a wide receiver at No. 49. Sure, there could be an intriguing safety on the board. Maybe even an offensive lineman or defensive lineman that is interesting. Then all you have to do is take a gander at the depth chart at wide receiver and see what real need looks like. You can't clamor for a safety or some other position in the second round now and then cry about the receiver situation come September. Remember, Angelo has had success finding safeties later in the draft.

He's had very little success drafting wide receivers. It's why he needs to attack the position with numbers. The only Bears' wide receiver to have real success has been Bernard Berrian, a third-round pick in 2004. Angelo followed up in the next draft by selecting a wideout in the second round, Mark Bradley. Only one of them panned out. The Bears are hopeful Earl Bennett will break out this season but it takes a lot of faith right now to see him going from zero catches to something very productive. Yes, Jay Cutler helped him have one impressive freshman season at Vanderbilt. But Kyle Orton wasn't the reason Bennett didn't see the field last season. If Bennett doesn't work out, then the Bears are back to where they were starting Rashied Davis. Angelo traded his draft future for Cutler so he's going to do all he can to develop the quarterback, including outfitting him with some wide receivers.

Berrian didn't exactly light it up his rookie season in '04, but he did do a lot more than Bennett in catching 15 passes for 225 yards (15.0 average) along with two touchdowns, one of them a 49-yarder. Berrian's 2005 season wasn't very spectacular and he didn't really catch on until the end of that season. If the Bears miss with Bennett and don't draft a receiver high here--remember their next pick isn't until No. 99 overall (two picks from the start of the fourth round), where are they a year from now?

So, prepare yourself for a full 45 minutes or so of ``best available'' chatter on Tuesday. When it comes right down to it, what else are the Bears going to do to improve themselves at wide receiver? The position needed work if Orton was going to be the quarterback. After the signing of Orlando Pace and Kevin Shaffer, the continued need at offensive tackle can wait a year. Josh Bullocks is, at worst, a stop-gap measure at free safety. What's the fallback plan at wide receiver? Where did Angelo say he was going to find help at receiver? In the draft.

Could the Bears go away from receiver on Saturday? You can't rule it out. After all, who thought they would be in play for Cutler? Our bet is the Bears grab the best available wide receiver with the 49th overall selection.

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I hope that best available wide receive is Brian Robiskie, Ohio State that guy is NFL ready. If not him then I'd be happy with Mohamed Massaquoi from Georgia or Juaquin Iglesias from Oklahoma with that 2nd Round pick. I think the other guys like Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin, Darrius Heyward-Bey, & Hakeem Nicks will all be gone by the time we pick at 49.

"You can't clamor for a safety or some other position in the second round now and then cry about the receiver situation come September."

I can clamor for a safety all I want, yet still have decent options at WR. It's called having your cake and eating it too.

Brad, Berrian's a perfect example of why you can't rely on drafting a WR. Even if they do pan out, rarely will you be able to tell in the first couple of years. They need time, time which the "win now" Bears can't afford. And then there's cases like Ariese Currie who never pan out.

The Bears can't take that risk. We need proven commidities.

If the Bengals really only want a 2nd round draft pick for Ocho Cinco, I'd make that deal in a heartbeat!

Brandon Lloyd is still out there. And before his injury/100% fiasco he was making Kyle Orton look good with his acrobatic catches. Imagine what he and Cutler could do. By the by, if I remember correctly, Lloyd was healthy enough to play against the Titans but Lovie made the decision to keep him out for some inexplicable reason.

Hmm, I still don't understand why guys like Anthony Adams and K. Jones were inactive for so long...

The only problem with the strategy the Bears employ is that the best player at the position of greatest need is not always the right value. What if Robiskie, Nicks, Britt, DHB, Harvin, Maclin, and Crabtree are all off the board at 49? Do we reach for a guy like Massaquoi, or take a better value at that spot, and look for WR help? I would rather see us wait for a guy like Ogletree, Kinder, or another later round prospect, assuming Nicks, Britt, and Robiskie are gone. Odds are we will not draft a starter at 49 unless someone slides, but we could get a couple of long range prospects that can help a little now, and a lot more later. We always corner ourselves in the need department. Even Greg Olsen was a need pick, but he happened to be a steal

Show me where Jerry has taken a player at a position of strength because he was the best player on the board. I don't think he has done that at all in the time he has been in Chicago.

I still think you have to be ready to pounce on a talent that may drop, like a Michael Johnson, who could be in a freefall, even at the expense of wide receiver help. I am not overly thrilled with Johnson or Delmas at safety, but they might be the best of a weak crop of safeties. Jerry seems to find decent players in the 4th through 6th at DB, so I would count on him to work his mojo there. We have two picks (barring another player trade during the draft) in the top 100, and we can't pigeonhole ourselves into a specific need, or we will not get anything out of the first three rounds. We have to know every WR on the board, and figure out where we think they belong on the value board. But we also have to know a steal when we see one.

If none of the receivers in the top 50 overall are there at 49, I say find a partner and move back towards the end of the round and pick up mid round selections in the 3rd through 5th.

Just some quick checks of the board and who might be an interesting trading partner:

-Arizona could give up 63,95, and 204 to get to 49 if they pass on the running back at 31, and still need one.
-Atlanta might be willing to part with the 55, 143, and 176.
-Dallas: 51, 197, 227
-Indy: 61,92,236 for 49 and 190
-NE: 58,89 for 49, 154, 190
-NYG: 60, 91 for 49, 190


That is just a few possibilities, and my math may be off a bit, but there will be some opportunity to not stay there if the guys we target aren't there. Massaquoi looks like he might be a real consideration for JA at 49, which I am not sure I agree with. He might be a reach at 49, and might still be a reach at 55, but it would feel a lot less painful if it was a late second rounder, rather than a mid-second, and we got another third or 4th out of the deal.

Please guys....Joe, mike...

tell me of a team that always drafts for best player available and be prepared to prove it.
Every team has need. But when you have great need...you have to do what you have to do to fix that problem. That sounds like every nfl team out there.
The most talented teams with the lowest level of need at the end of any season, loose players to free agency and again end of with need going into the draft. I guess the teams that draft better than others or have better coaching than others end up the strongest of teams with the least number of needs and therefore, can go after the best player available. I think that is how it goes.
First...how about naming those teams that draft well and develop their players to become starters. Please ...anyone ...name them.

Then...tell me what you know about angelo and his ability to draft players. Case closed.

The best available WR when the Bears pick will be Torry Holt. No rookie is going to come in and be productive. Torry Holt may be a dome player, he may be on the downswing of his career, but he will be far more productive than any rookie WR.

Random thought here, but has anyone else seen the Lions new logo? Is it just me or does it look like a mix between the old logo, and a wannabe Thundercat and a Marb griffin?
http://myespn.go.com/blogs/nfcnorth/0-10-103/Lions-logo-update.html

you forgot about justin gage

Really WR is a major need? Actually it's Split End that is the major need and not all recievers fill that role. Holt does not fit the bill. Plaxico does and so does Ocho Cinco. Tom Holt is Flanker moving a guy from flanker to split end does not usually improve there career, see Jerry Rice and the Raiders for better details, not all recievers can play on the line. Thats why a top notch Split end is worth more than a top end flanker.

Mike do you really think any of these Safeties are that good. This is one of the worst Safety classes I have ever seen. Not to mention Brad kinda makes a false statment. The only regular starting Safety the Bears have had sense Angelo was Brown. So were is the success Brad spoke of. Chris Harris, well Chris can't play in coverage, and is a SS. But for years we have been looking for a FS. Thats why he drafted Manning in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft, didn't work out to well. Still looking for a starting FS after 7 years, how is that a success. We put Brown at FS in 03, and Bobby Gray and Mike Green at SS. In 2004 It was Johnson, Green, Gray, and Mike Brown. In 2005 it was Brown at SS and Harris at FS. In 06 Manning was the FS and Brown and Harris was the SS(this is when people started liking Harris). In 2007 It was Manning at FS and McGowan and Brown at SS. In 2008 Payne and Brown flipped between FS and SS. Were is this so called success, not one legit FS in the group and that has been the main target. Angelo can't find a FS to save his life.

Almost forgot Josh Bullocks was a 2nd round pick in 05. Lots of people like him comming out of college, he was the number 3 ranked safety in that class and was considered a better talent than most of the guys in this Saftey class. So between Manning and Bullocks there are two 2nd round FS draft picks who were highly reguarded comming out of college, niether has amounted to much in the NFL. So if you really think taking a FS in the second round is a great idea and a sure hit think again. Really good Safeties go in the first round and they go high. Se Ed Reed, Laron Landry, Mike Griffin, Donte Whitner, Jason Allen, Sean Taylor.

Now granted we might get a Nick Collins, but chances are slim, in fact I don't know of a Safety class this bad that did not have a single guy rate as a first round pick, that had some gems found in the 2nd or third round. This class is actually worse than last years class. Name all the FS studs that came out of that class. I think a lot of Safeties will drop because it is a weak position. If the draft tells you anything it is that when a Position in the draft is strong you will see an early run at that or those position and when it is weak you will see that position fall.

Last year OT and RB were strong and saw runs.
Last year S was a weak position and only 2 Safeties were drafted in the first 2 rounds.
WR will continue to be a low value position and we will see guys fall into the second round, we will also see teams continue to reach for defensive and ofensive line talent.

I told y'all a month ago that Jerry Angelo picking receivers is like Charley Brown kicking with Lucy holding the football. He will remember the past and not be able to pull the trigger.

The only thing that has changed is the calendar. It may be a WR in rounds 3-5, but it's gonna be defense with their first pick.

I don't know. I was pretty upset we didn't draft Marcedes Lewis or take a TE later in what was supposedly one of the best TE drafts intersecting with the year we needed the TE the most. At the end of the day, it turned out fine.

This year, we do need to get a few WRs... but I wouldn't be desperate in the second round. In later rounds there are huge possession guys available like Nevada's Marko Mitchell and Cal Poly's Ramses Bardin if the right guy doesn't fall to us or a speedster like Louis Murphy. And what if a guy like Michael Johnson falls to us at 49? I'd take him ahead of Massequoi (who is a solid WR). Also, I still think there could be values in FA at WR... DJ Hackett, Drew Bennett, Justin McCaerins.... and that's if we miss out on Holt, Burress and other A-listers.

Creighton,

Your logic is extremely myopic. There are only a handful of players who ever reach all-pro status, yet alone in one year, regardless of the depth at that position in their respective draft. Anything out of the top two-thirds of the first round carries the same positional risk, regardless of what position is supposedly deep or weak.

There is no more of a chance at getting a great player at WR because this year is 'deep' than any other year. If anything, the herd mentality about WRs in this draft could help Chicago pick up a defensive player that typically would not be available at this point in other drafts.

There are several players in this draft with the potential to become elite free safeties. Jenkins from Ohio State, Smith from Utah and Johnson from Alabama are all strong picks. There are many more who could be very good as well.

Chicago already improved its WRs with the acquisition of Cutler. It would be a complete waste to pick a 3rd tier WR at 49 simply because you would have got a 4th tier WR with that pick last year.

Brad is right that the Bears desperately need a receiver or two. However, myopically insisting on drafting one regardless of who else is available is just plain stupid. Aside from QB and WLB, the Bears should draft the best player available. Remember, a good receiver, if they can even draft someone who will become one, will not get the Bears to the Super Bowl if they don't also greatly improve their defense and the interior of their offensive line.

Also, I have to object to calling Berrian a success. He's a good deep threat, but doesn't run good routes and has bad hands. His value is thus very limited. Just because Minnesota was stupid enough to grossly overpay him doesn't make him great or even good. Overall, he's a below average receiver.

Ok...lets get it straight, WR is our #1 need. But, we dont HAVE to take a WR with our first pick.

Heres the logic. We traded away 3 REALLY big draft picks to get Cutler...and we need some WR's to help him....but more importantly is we need to draft GOOD players. WR isn't our only need...

We have completely rebuilt our offense in two months..our O-Line and QB positions are now STRENGHTS instead of weaknesses. Cutler will make better throws and have more time to block, and our running game will be vastly improved.

In all honesty though, we only have two WRs on our team, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett...but that's why we need to sign somebody in free agency..rookie WR's take TIME to develop..so we definitely need to leave the draft with a WR or two..but not necessarily our first pick...

We have limited picks, so our picks HAVE to be good...we cannot afford BUSTS...no Garrette Wolfs or Dan Bazuins or Michael Okwo's..

We need the best player available..

However..if one of the top 7 WRs is on the board at 49..PULL THE TRIGGER.
(top 7 WRS - Crabtree, Maclin, Heyward-Bey, Harvin, Britt, Nicks and Robiskie)

If those guys are gone, i think we'd be better off taking Rashard Johnson or Michael Johnson and then taking Ramses Barden in the 3rd, and another guy (say...Kevin Ogeltree in the 4th or 5th)

Creighton, umm, my argument is umm,...just see what RyanSLC said. Dang Ryan, that was a pretty good counterpoint. Booyah Creighton!

Just kidding around, but in all seriousness I'm pretty much sold on Rashad Johnson. Think about it. The main knocks on him are his size and susceptibility to injury. But his positives include leadership, football smarts, playmaking ability, a nose for the ball etc. You weigh the pros and cons. Size means nothing. What you want is a guy who can play come sunday and reports have it this guy would've been a first rounder if he was only a wee bit larger.

Let the other teams be suckered into the WR gold rush where probably only three of them will pan out from the entire draft class. Five to be generous.

Let's get us a free safety!

I think that you guys are out of your minds brian robiskie is a turd he sucked in college what makes you think he can play in the pro's? He's slow and a number 3 at best if even that I would take him in the 5 or 6 round thats where he should be going.

Tough call here. Personally, I still think a pass rusher or another quarterback protector is a greater need. Will one or the other of these be available? Who knows? With the Bears picking so late this draft, what will be available is pure conjecture. We can anticipate a lot of scrambling on the part of the Bear brain trust, vacilating at each announced draft choice.

jason: "I think that you guys are out of your minds brian robiskie is a turd he sucked in college what makes you think he can play in the pro's? He's slow ..."

Ran a sub 4.5 40 and was on Ohio State's track team ... yeah, slow guy, thank god Jason is here to steer us.

Robiskie is a strong, tall possession receiver who can play immediately. I'm not saying he's a Pro Bowler but the guy will be a starter in the right situation in the NFL.

The best available player for the 49th overall pick will be a running back named Shonn Green. Believe it or not any above average offensive player at this time will give the bears offense a shot in the arm. Running backs provide support sooner than any other offensive position. We need a smash mouth running back for small yardage. I believe its the only thing missing from the bears offense. The Steelers just won a Super Bowl with one good WR and one good RB and a dmoninant defense. Kevin Jones is not the answer. We can use whatever wide receiver we have in reserve for now. Choose a WR in the later rounds. Don't forget the bears run the ball then setup the long bomb period! And no matter what anyone says our defense will be just as good as the one fielded in 2006.

Jason have you ever seen the 40 time for Bolden? Jerry Rice and so on. To much is based on speed only! Remember Willie Gault. Fast man bad WR. I say lets get players that can play not just run but PLAY the game of football!

Why not consider Amani Toomer as a stop-gap solution? He's a total class act and technically superb receiver. Amani has more miles left on him (given that he had to Plaxico, Tyree, etc. for the ball of late). He would also be a great mentor for younger Bear receivers. I also suspect Tyrell Sutton would be a much better receiver out of the backfield than Wolfe. A 7th-round pickup perhaps?

A note to RyanS (S must stand for superlatives which he seems to adore): The ability to land a decent receivers at #49 based on one or two past picks is ridiculous - that's purely anecdotal evidence. Do you think that the Bears consider later round picks a failure when it doesn't get a Richard Dent or the Broncos when it doesn't land a T-Davis?

I would be in favor of looking for possession receivers that run great routes, have soft hands and good character/work ethic. Getting all that with size and and sprinter speed is unlikely. So I'll settle for the former attributes along with durability and the abilty to block. I don't see Hester/Bennett blocking at all and can't recall a Bear receiver who could block since Dennis McKinnon.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 20, 2009 11:55 AM.

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