Chicago Sun-Times

Bears nearly drafted RB James Starks

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In an interesting piece for the National Football Post, former college scouting director Greg Gabriel revealed that the Bears nearly selected running back James Starks in the sixth round of last April's NFL Draft. Starks ended up being selected by the Green Bay Packers later in the sixth round and emerged late in the season.

The Bears had Starks, a former running back at the University of Buffalo, rated high, and they couldn't pass him up early in the sixth round, even though they had signed veteran Chester Taylor to back up starter Matt Forte.

According to Gabriel, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo decided to draft Starks over quarterback Dan LeFevour, and contract negotiator Cliff Stein even contacted Starks' agent to have initial discussions on a contract, per the team's usual protocol.

But Angelo made a last-second change, according to Gabriel, and picked LeFevour, who ended up being released and signed by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Packers picked Starks 12 picks later, and he keyed the team's Wildcard Playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles with 123 rushing yards.

Check out Gabriel's full report by checking out the link below.

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Trying to stir the pot eh Chicago media? Starks has one good game, against a mediocre Eagles defense with a soft middle no less, and then he becomes the sensational "one that got away story?" Come on.

I don't agree however with the way he was treated on draft day.

Trying to stir the pot eh Chicago media? Starks has one good game, against a mediocre Eagles defense with a soft middle no less, and then he becomes the sensational "one that got away story?" Come on.

I don't agree however with the way he was treated on draft day.

Whether Starks turns out to be a good player or not, this is a good example of how messed up our draft strategy is. The guy has a second round grade on our board, and we pass on him in the 6th round? I am pretty sure Lefevour did not have a second round grade on him going into the draft.

Our front office has always struggled with having a plan and executing it. Most of the time, we target guys who are either not capable of playing in the NFL (Okwo, Bazuin, Wolfe, Metcalf, Freeman, etc.) way ahead of where they should be drafted, or we pass on guys who we have high grades on in favor of drafting the "safe positions" for us, where we feel defensive line and corners always work out for us. Wootton, Josh Moore, and Lefevour gave us nearly nothing for the season, although Wootton got to be the last guy to tackle Favre, which just makes it fun.

Not saying we missed on Starks, as he might be a 1 and done player, but where were the offensive linemen? Where were the other safeties we needed? How about a legit wide receiver that can run a slant (hint: it's not Johnny Knox)? We were installing Mike Martz's offense, and we didn't draft a single skill position guy, outside of a developmental QB who was not going to play with Cutler on board.

They will claim that they always draft the best player available, regardless of need. But the way we stack our board does not jive with very many teams out there. We wanted that safety Mitchell last year, and the Raiders drafted him in the second round. The only time we get any credit for a draft pick is when someone slides down to our spot. We aren't finding hidden gems in the middle rounds that contribute. We are drafting special teams players, and most of them are not capable of filling in for extended time, which is why we have to be so active in free agency.

Where that leaves us is over a barrel when it comes to bloated contracts and veterans whose play has slipped, because unlike where Jerry came from in Tampa, there are no players in the wings to take over. If we don't re-sign Olin, Edwin Williams and Garza are our candidates for center next year. If Urlacher or Briggs decide to hang it up (not likely, but stranger things have happened), we have no one to step in and play for them anywhere near the level they have given us for the last 7-10 years. We had to bring in Chris Harris to get a safety that understood coverages well enough to play. He doesn't understand tackling angles, but he knows the defense. We have 18 free agents coming up this offseason, and we are probably going to need all 18 of them back to field our team, because we can't replace them with guys on the roster.

This has been a wildly successful season compared to what I expected, but that doesn't change what this organization is, which is ill-prepared to transition from the aging team we are to a new core of young players over the next 2-4 years, which is what we are going to need to do. Our QB is going to be here awhile, and we need to be able to compete while we have him.


Seriously brilliant post, sir. I am guessing that you were one of the few people out there who understood what I was saying back when they drafted Lefevour and some were calling it a "value" pick. My question was always, "what value does a guy bring to your team if he can't help that team, and his draft pick takes away from a very limited number of picks you had to begin with." Same thing with Wooten. I guess the Bears had a 1st round grade on this guy before the knee injury and since they deemed him 100% healthy, he was a "value" in the 4th round. Once again, my question was, "what 'value' does this guy bring, if your franchise QB is laying on the field looking up at the clouds when you could have used the pick for an interior lineman."

The one funny thing you failed to mention, Joe, was that if the Bears had a 2nd round grade on him, he probably went where he was supposed to go. The 6th round. And yes, it's only one game, but wouldn't it be something if the Packers were able to "pants" Angelo on 2 players out of the same draft. Morgan Burnett was the other one. By the way for all of you Major Wright fans. It doesn't appear that your perennial pro bowl outside linebacker is a big fan. It sort of slipped under the radar a couple of weeks ago, but Briggs was asked about Chris Harris splitting time with Wright. Briggs made no bones about it, he said Harris should be out there full time.

I mentioned in a previous post that this team has a small window of opportunity. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. And the big question remains, do you {and I think I know the answer to the question} or anyone else believe that Angelo has the smarts, and the savy to put the pieces around Cutler to help make him successful and to also re-tool the defense? My answer is no.

Once again, great post Joe. You understand that liking this year's "success" does not mean that you have to toe the company line and like Angelo.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on January 11, 2011 4:35 PM.

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