Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, April 30: Would the Bears really have drafted Mike Mitchell at No. 49?

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We've come down from our draft weekend buzz. Time to take a look in the mailbag and see what we have. With rookie minicamp starting Friday at Halas Hall, we will get to our next mailbag on Monday. Get your questions in between now and the end of the weekend. Here we go.

Q: Would the Bears have drafted Ohio safety Michael Mitchell at No. 49 if the Raiders hadn't nabbed him at No. 47 and taken all kinds of heat for doing so? I am perplexed by the Bears' inability to address the free safety position in the draft, despite it being their No. 2 need. I have read the quote from Mitchell on, that the Bears called him and told him "to stay by the phone.'' However, the Bears seem to deny this. On the Bears' Web site, Larry Mayer was asked a question about this very subject and whether or not the Bears would have selected Mitchell at No. 49:

"Ohio safety Michael Mitchell was on the Bears' "hot list" as one of nearly 125 players they were going to consider selecting in the draft. But I can tell you with 100 percent accuracy that there's no way they would have chosen him as early as the second round."
I assume that Mitchell has no reason to fabricate the story about the Bears telephone call, and I know that the Bears would never (ever) lie about a player.  Do teams advise players that they are going to draft them at a certain spot on draft day if they don't intend to do so? Who's telling the truth here?   P.S.  Since all of the Jay Cutler jerseys are now gone, where can I be the first to get a Josh Bullocks jersey?

Chuck D., Oak Brook

A: That might have to be a custom order on the Bullocks jersey. As far as the great Mitchell debate, I don't think it's a matter of one side lying and the other side telling the truth, let me tell you that to start with. The Bears liked Mitchell an awful lot. They were one of a few teams that really had him on their radar. Secondary coach Jon Hoke went to visit with him on campus and that went really well. The Bears then brought Mitchell in for a visit and physical. He met with coach Lovie Smith for about 45 minutes. It was a good visit. The phone call you're referring to was a call that Bears Midwest scout Jeff Shiver placed to Mitchell. As it was explained to me, Shiver told him to stay by the phone. He didn't say stay by the phone because we're going to draft you today. The Bears thought they were going to get Mitchell, but not on Sunday.

The club was prepared to select him with one of its two picks in the fourth round. Mitchell went off the board at No. 47 and so really it doesn't matter where the Bears were hoping to get him, they missed. One source said the Raiders initially considered drafting him at No. 40 before trading down with New England. The Raiders wound up moving into the slot at No. 47 and they knew that the Bears had interest in Mitchell. Perhaps they didn't want to take the chance that they would miss him altogether if they didn't act then. I can say this about Mitchell, in speaking with him he seems like a sharp guy who is very motivated. If that plays a significant factor in his future, he just might be a pretty good pick for Oakland. He's got a nice combination of size and speed. Time will tell.

Q: Various scouting reports have suggested that the best NFL position for both Earl Bennett and now Juaquin Iglesias would be as a slot receiver. We have also recently learned that the Bears intend to move Rashied Davis back to a slot receiver role. The Bears must believe that one of Bennett and/or Iglesias can be a starter opposite Devin Hester, right? Even though it's very early do you have any insight as to what specific roles they have in mind for their young receivers or will we all just have to wait it out until training camp gets under way?

Shawn M., Wisconsin

A: Bennett has been getting work at the X and on the inside this offseason but right now the plan is for him to start at the X position opposite Hester. There is no one else ahead of him on the depth chart, that much was made clear during the March minicamp. Davis, obviously, has shown he can make some plays from the slot and will likely be staying there. That doesn't mean other players cannot rotate through their in certain situations. Iglesias will probably have to learn a little bit of everything like Bennett did last year. But the plan is for Iglesias to definitely be involved as a rookie. I would expect that would also mean some work at the X position. The Bears like to rotate their receivers and get everyone involved. Let's see how this one shakes out this spring and moving toward the summer.

Q: With the Bears not addressing the free safety position in the draft, can you tell us some other guys they are looking at via the free agency route? Or are they really sold on the guys that they have now? I hope the latter is not true.

Vik C., Chicago

A: Unless the Bears plan to insert sixth-round pick Al Afalava at free safety, you're right, they didn't do anything to help themselves out at the position in the draft. College scouting director Greg Gabriel said that Afalava has the ball skills and range to play free safety, but he also said he'd probably be worked first at strong safety because that is where he played primarily in college. That leaves the Bears with a couple options moving toward training camp this summer. No one seems real excited about any of them at this point. Before we kick around a couple options, let's keep in mind that a defensive backs coach is always going to tell you that the safety position can be manufactured. It might not be real pretty all of the time, but you can get a guy to make it work back there. If a defensive backs coach had a choice of using smoke and mirrors at safety or smoke and mirrors at cornerback, he'd choose safety every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Every team is going to have a question area. For the Bears, this is most definitely one of them. Josh Bullocks was signed as someone who can compete for the position. The Bears have insisted Craig Steltz could be in the mix. Then there's Glenn Earl and Zack Bowman. Steltz doesn't have the range to be a long-range solution. Like Steltz, Earl is a better fit at strong safety. Bowman was moved from cornerback for minicamp and no one has said yet whether the shift is permanent or not. Remember general manager Jerry Angelo talking about durability concerns at the position? Well, Bowman has those and we've listed them previously. If none of those options work, you're down to maybe three others--shifting Charles Tillman (highly unlikely), shifty Corey Graham (don't know on this one) or putting Danieal Manning back at free safety (highly unlikely). Smith already announced Tillman wasn't moving this season. There are concerns about his surgically repaired shoulders and leaving your best cornerback at cornerback makes sense to us. Graham needs to stay at cornerback until the Bears can sort through what they have in Nathan Vasher and newcomer D.J. Moore. Manning is unlikely to be moved because every time the Bears do switch him around, something bad happens. Smith is personally coaching the nickel position and will want to succeed there with Manning. He did so for the second half of last season and we don't see Smith signing off on a shift there with Manning. So, what's out there in free agency? Try not much. The Bears have shown no interest in Mike Doss, cut loose by Cincinnati earlier this week. After a draft that was short on talent at free safety, you're not going to find any attractive pieces in free agency. The Bears are going to have to make a go of it here with what they have. How they go about doing that, sit back and watch. We'll be doing the same thing.

Q: Why is Jerry Angelo not going to sign a veteran wide receiver? The roster is full of wanna-bes and never-beens at that position. Why not get some proven help?

Terry W., Parts Unknown

A: I don't think Angelo has ruled this out, although he did say earlier in the week that he was less likely to go that route after the Bears used three of their nine draft picks on wideouts.

``I'm counting on [Bennett's emergence],'' he said. ``I told Lovie [Smith] this morning I don't feel near the need to go out and sign a veteran [after Sunday] that I did before [Sunday]. I feel good about these three receivers.''

When you talk about proven help, yeah, there are some guys with experience on the street but it would be a stretch right now to call any of the available wideouts starting caliber. That is what the Bears need. They have proven for years they can manufacture No. 3 and No. 4 wideouts. They need to see if they have someone who can handle a No. 2 role. Let's see if they can get two starters on the field who can be dependable targets for Jay Cutler on a weekly basis. There is always going to be a guy with some experience on the street.

Thanks for all of the participation, particularly over the course of the busy draft weekend. We'll file some updates from rookie minicamp. As always, thanks for reading.

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Regardless of what Smith says, I still see Tillman at FS this season. He's got the right size, speed, range etc. He's perfect for the spot.

And let's think about this logically. We have plenty of CBs that can start. Corey Graham was coming along nicely last season and has Tillman's size. Vasher, if he can regain his past form and avoid injuries, is of starter quality. We drafted D.J. Moore who Angelo believes can step in and contribute his rookie year. Danieal Manning is learning the nickle so I would still count him as a corner. There's also McBride, Hamilton and Bowman who shouldn't be shifted in my opinion because of injury concerns and lack of size.

Angelo has had no problem finding decent CBs in the draft, but safety, especially free safety, is a whole different story. We simply don't have one. We haven't had one.

Unless someone knows something about Josh Bullocks that the rest of us don't, I can't imagine Tillman not going to FS. I see no other way. And Brad, don't put too much stock into what Lovie says. "Lance wasn't DUI," "Kyle's our QB," "I was in fact awake during the game."

Anyone think I'm totally off the mark on the FS thing, please let me know.

I think people fail to realize you have to give guys a chance to start.If they sign a vet, he more than likely is going to want to start and that leaves bennett in the same spot as last year.QB play is the key to success. Marshall and Royal arent going to look so good without steady QB play.Team's with good QB's usually look like geniuses when it come to drafting WR, because they have the QB to get the WR the ball.

As far as Free Safety, people need to relax.We didnt lose games last year because of Safety play. We lost game because there was no pressure on the QB.Give Zack Bowman a chance

Hey Terry W.,

A bunch of "wanna-bes" and "never-beens" for our WR roster huh? This from someone who probably can't catch a cold. How about you go try out for the team and become the number 1 WR and lets see how well you do. That's what I thought, we would all be laughing at you, moron.

Before you begin insulting our WRs, especially Devin Hester who is only a thousand times BETTER than you, why don't you give them a chance. This is the first season that we have had a good QB that can actually take advantage of them and get them the ball! Jackoff

It makes me laugh that their are so many people who think they know more than the coaches and management. We see the players on Sundays and that's it, but the coaches and management see them every day in practice. That's a BIG difference. Yet, again, so many of you actually think your smarter and have all the answers the coaches don't have.

So let's look at this "logically", if you were smarter and knew more than the coaches, you would have an office at Halas Hall and not having to pay to watch the players you seem to know everything about.

Nice job dice, couldn't have said it better!

Jay, its called an opinion and everybody has one. I don't think Terry was suggesting he could play #1 and his point seems to me to be that the Bears lack experience at the wide out position. You want to call names but I would think even a "Jackoff" could see that we have little starting experience. Personally I think that Cutler will improve our receiving corps. I also think you could use a little perspective.

Personally, I would like to see what Zachary Bowman can do at FS. He showed some great ball skills prior to getting injured last year.

I AGREE :::::::::::::::::::::::

Why don't some of these writers have jobs with the Bears, or other NFL teams? They seem to suggest that they know so darn much.

THEY are nothing but arm chair quarterbacks, who I would guess throw things at the TV, swear and are peeeeeed off for the whole week when the Bears lose (""lose"" spelled correctly).

My kid is 12, and an hour after his team loses, ( again, """loses""" spelled correctly) he has already forgotten it. His life does not revolve around whether his favorite football wins or loses.

Get a life: YOU PEOPLE HAVE OPINIONS ONLY !!!! It does not mean you have intelligence !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hey jay, mick,

a blog is here so people can leave there comments and opinions. this blog just happens to be about football and you 2 had NOTHING to say about football. if you dont like our comments ive got a big fat WAHHHHH for ya, were not going to stop writing on here, so get over it!!!

personally, i dont think were gonna have to many problems with the recievers. i think cutler will make them better. i dont have a problems with bullocks as long as the line can get some pressure. the things i have a problems with is ron turner calling plays that are going to fit what cutler does. i think turner is stubborn and will be the same junk coach as always. the defense needs to run a different scheme, everyone knows it and they know how to play against it, so do something different!!! make it where urlacher is involved again in alot of the plays.

Bennett and Iglesias will be fine at the X (Split End). We need to give these two players (both drafted in the 3rd round) a chance to establish themselves. Nobody know who Brandon Marshall was coming out of Central Flordia either - he was the 22nd pick of the 4th round in 2006 picked behind such greats as:
Travis Wilson, Oklahoma
Derek Hagan, Arizona State
Brandon Williams, Wisconsin
Maurice Stovall, Notre Dame
Willie Reid, Florida State
Michael Robinson, Penn State
Brad Smith, Missouri
Cory Rodgers, TCU
Jason Avant, Michigan
Demetrius Williams, Oregon

The point is that you don't know what you've drafted until you get them out on the field. At least give them a chance before bring in a washed up veteran WR who is available for a reason. And for you Torry Holt-lovers - the Jaguars will regret the day they put out that kind of cash for a guy whose knee is bone on bone.

2008 NFL Rookie season - Eddie Royal Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)Weight: 185 lb (84 kg)Receptions 91, Receiving yards 980, Receiving TDs 5

Jay Cutler did this for Eddie Royal as a rookie. What do you think he'll be able to do for Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and Juaquin Iglesias?

Bears will be fine at WR as long as Lovie Smith trust these guys and gives them a chance and the room to play/grow with Cutler.

I just want to say GREAT JOB BEARS! Great draft and great job on Cutler! Looking forward to seeing the Bears and Ravens game here in Baltimore where I am stuck! Anyone got a couple tickets for sale?

Mick and Jay,
I'm aware that the swine flu virus is going around, but obviously a plague of stupidy is also on the loose!

So let's see. I gave an opinion. Gave my reasoning for that opinion. And then invited fellow Bears fans to agree/disagree with my thoughts. Jon, John and Dave had no problem understanding that. What's up with you two?

Jay says, "...if you were smarter and knew more than the coaches, you would have an office at Halas Hall." And Mick follows up, "Why don't some of these writers have jobs with the Bears, or other NFL teams?"

Great minds think alike, no? And I think that if I wanted a job at Halas Hall, I'd have to apply for one which I've never done and don't plan on doing in the near future. I'm simply a fan with opinions on my team that I don't mind sharing. I thought I could do that here?

Hopefully the stupidity plague ends soon; it gets quarantined and then treated and then we never see it again. But I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.

"I assume that Mitchell has no reason to fabricate the story about the Bears telephone call, and I know that the Bears would never (ever) lie about a player. "

So related to jay Cutler... He said he never recieved any phone call or txt msg from the Broncos HQ, coach or Owner. The Broncos owner, coach and manager seem to have a different story. Who is telling the truth? is it difficult to request the phone bill/s? Not that I care that much and I think Cutler is a great QB - BUT after seeing Cutler and following the story - I have a feel that this issue will come up again here in Chicago - with a different audience, managemnt and team... But the same QB...

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 30, 2009 3:43 PM.

UPDATED: Unofficial list of tryout players for rookie minicamp was the previous entry in this blog.

Mississippi State DB Pegues to participate in minicamp on tryout is the next entry in this blog.

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