Welcome to draft week.
We have five days until one of the more exciting weekends on the NFL calendar. Check back with us often this week as we will be updating with information related to the Bears' situation as we come across it. General manager Jerry Angelo, college scouting director Greg Gabriel and coach Lovie Smith will speak Tuesday at a pre-draft session at Halas Hall. The smoke screens are already forming.
We will have a Four Down Territory each day through Friday, so get your draft-related questions in now and make sure you stay with us all week, including Saturday and Sunday from Halas Hall where we'll be filing continuous updates. Let's get to it:
Q: I've seen plenty of stories from all over that seem to indicate some of the top wide receivers could be falling into the second round. If so, why wouldn't the Bears trade up to give themselves a better chance to grab a player who could make a difference for Jay Cutler this season? I know rookie wide receivers are not always the most productive, and they are not the safest picks, but I'm with you. Are the Bears that sure Earl Bennett is a future star?
Sean B., Chicago
A: That is a good question and one we've covered a little bit before. The first point that needs to be made is that Angelo's history is to trade down in the draft. In seven years, he's traded up just once and that was to acquire wide receiver Justin Gage in the fifth round in 2003. Angelo has traded down a number of times, most notably in 2003 when he dealt out of the No. 4 overall pick and in 2006 when he traded the No. 26 overall selection to move out of the first round all together. History would say the chances are not good, but then again history would have told us the chances for Angelo getting in the running for Jay Cutler were not good either. That's changed and now the Bears need to do something to get some wide receivers to go with Cutler.
Now, NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock said last week that you can throw the traditional draft value chart away. He calls is obsolete.
``Every team in the top 10 is looking to trade out,'' Mayock said. ``Never seen it, never seen the situation quite this heavy. And the theory is, everybody knows we're upside-down right now with this draft. The rookies are getting paid way too much money proportionate to their value. So, teams are scared to death of missing (in) the top-10.
``Here's what happening, though, that I think is really interesting, and I'm anxious to see if this trend plays out. That whole trade chart that all the teams used to use, it began to go out the window last year, and I think, like the economy, it's completely out the window now. So, I think any team in the top 10 that is looking to get out will listen to any reasonable offer, and more than ever, teams are looking to get down (to picks) 15 to 25, because you can get the same kind of player at (No.) 20 as you can at (No.) 7, and you pay one-third the money.''
That's all well and good but I don't think it applies to the Bears in this instance. They're not involved in the first round and there still has to be a way for teams to evaluate the trade of draft picks. So, for the sake of this exercise let's turn to the draft value chart on Ourlads.com.
Here is what the Bears have in the way of picks to use in trade (compensatory draft picks cannot be traded):
Round-Number-Overall Pick Points
2-17-49 410 points
That means of the five picks the Bears have that can be traded, the total value is 547.2. So, let's say the Bears want to move their way up to No. 34 and get the second pick of the round from the New England Patriots, who currently own three picks in the second round. Why New England would want to trade down with that many picks in the round, well, I doubt it would happen. But let's just use them for this exercise. After all, as Peter King points out at SI.com, Bill Belichick has been involved in 28 trades on draft weekend from 2000-2008, and 16 times he traded down (remember one of those trades up came with the Bears in 2003 when Angelo was dumfounded that Jimmy Kennedy was off the board and the Bears didn't know what to do. They swapped down one spot with the Patriots and proved they didn't know what to do by selecting Michael Haynes).
What would it take to pry that pick off the hands of Belichick? The draft value chart says it is worth 560 points. That means if the Bears trade every pick they can, they still don't have enough to make the jump up 15 spots. Doesn't look real feasible, does it? Of course, Angelo could package draft picks from 2010 but he's already shipped is '10 first rounder to Denver and I don't know if he wants to start moving other picks from that draft.
Q: With respect to the Bears' remaining pick in the third round (99th overall), knowing that this compensatory pick cannot be traded, is there anything prohibiting the Bears from making a pick for another team and then shipping that player off to that team to complete a trade? That way they could trade up in the second round.
Adam P., Winnipeg, Manitoba
A: As I understand it, teams are only permitted to trade players that are under contract or draft picks. The Bears' pick is not tradable, so they could not trade the player they draft in this slot until after he has signed his contract. That will not happen draft weekend, so I don't believe this is a feasible end around the rule. Why can't compensatory picks be traded? I don't have an answer to that one.
Q: Is it just me or are you starting to like Rashad Johnson more and more as the draft nears? I read your piece on him and I think he has all the intangibles to be an absolute stud, and I think the Bears would be crazy to pass on him in the second round. You previously indicated you thought he would possibly be there in the third round, but I think he is quickly moving up the draft board. If he was a little bigger I think he would be an early first round pick. I think there are enough options in the draft at wide receiver that they can address it in the later rounds, or they can make a play at Torry Holt after the draft. What are your thoughts?
Nick D., Orlando, Fla.
A: It's not a matter of who I like or do not like. That's not what I am trying to do here. I'm just working to present options that we've learned the Bears are exploring, or present possibilities we believe the Bears might consider. Johnson is one that looks like he could be considered by the Bears and multiple sources have told us that Angelo likes him. How much? That's the question we don't have answered. Every safety in this draft seemingly has some hole in his game. Johnson's definitely is a lack of size. If he were 6-2, 210, he'd probably have a first-round grade. But he isn't and he doesn't. If he makes his way to No. 49, I'd imagine the Bears will at least consider him. Head coach Lovie Smith is the defensive coordinator and you'd have to imagine he's going to want some more help on that side of the ball at some point. As far as Holt, we said it once and we've said it again and we'll say it once more--when the agent says he doesn't see the Bears being an option for his client, we believe him. No agent is going to shut out a team he thinks could have a remote chance of signing his client. When Kennard McGuire told us April 3 he didn't see Holt matching with the Bears, we took his word for it. We're still taking McGuire's word for it.
Q: If Jerry Angelo is right, and I bet he is, that half of the high draft picks will fail, and a quarter of the rest will be just ordinary players ... given the very, very high multi-million dollar contracts these picks insanely cost a club, why would any club with a high pick either do their best to give it away in any trade for a much lower pick or simply decline to make the pick at all? Why not start their draft with their second-round pick (like this year and next year with the Bears) which leaves a lot of more to pay proven veteran players? Granted there may be a blue chip player you are certain of and so you would make that pick and pay that big money rookie contract but mostly these rookie players are just one big unknown. What do you think?
David H., Chicago
A: NFL clubs are crying more and more about the contracts that are handed out to players at the very top of the draft and you have to imagine that a rookie pay scale will be addressed at some point in the future. But have you heard the Cleveland Browns complain about the contract they had to give left tackle Joe Thomas? What about the money Minnesota paid running back Adrian Peterson? The first round is where you find blue-chip talent in the draft. Personnel people will tell you time and time again it's the blue chip players that make a difference on Sundays. You point to the busts in the first round and I'll point to the first round producing more Pro Bowl players than any other round. There's no sure thing in the second round. The clubs get very high, multi-million dollar payments every season from the television contracts the league has. They've got the money to spend on these draft picks. A club needs to have confidence in its approach to the draft and proceed accordingly.
Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We'll check in with another Four Down Territory on Tuesday. It probably will come later in the day after the Halas Hall pre-draft briefing.