Bears' general manager Jerry Angelo frequently quotes personnel men he's learned from in the past, including former Raiders and Packers talent guru Ron Wolf, who he believes is deserving of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The lesson he and player personnel director Tim Ruskell are focusing on as the 2011 draft approaches is from another NFL legend, Bill Parcells.
"Parcells made the statement a long time ago when I was with New York," Angelo said during a pre-draft press conference at Halas Hall on Thursday. "He said, 'You know what I like about this draft, Jerry? Every guy that we drafted, we like. You guys like him and we like him.'
"That kind of stuck with me. That's very important because for the player to be successful, he's got to have a feel-good from everybody. It can't just be from the scouts or one coach or the averages are working against you."
Angelo has sent his scouts home for a few days before they return for the NFL Draft on April 28-30. The team's position-by-position draft board is set. When the draft begins, the goal is to find four future starters, same as in any other year. Angelo believes the odds of landing four starters increases if everyone agrees on the players chosen, which isn't always the case in NFL draft rooms.
For that reason, the communication between the coaching-and-scouting staffs is essential for a successful draft, which is why Ruskell and other Bears scouts have spent a lot of time with assistant coaches such as offensive line coach Mike Tice and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to learn what player traits are most important to them. Tice and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, for example, want to build a "wall" in front of the quarterback and therefore favor bigger linemen, which wasn't necessarily the case under former offensive coordinator Ron Turner and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.
Marinelli, on the other hand, isn't opposed to working with lineman other teams may consider too small.
"We really feel like we got on the same page in terms of what they were looking for, so when we went out as scouts, we were able to nail it," Ruskell said of the days when he, Angelo and Marinelli had similar roles with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "We were looking at players that the rest of the league really didn't, that wasn't their No. 1 choice."
Making sure scouts and assistants are on the same page doesn't mean there's no room for disagreements, which Angelo considers healthy.
"We had a sign in the draft room for all of us to look at," Angelo said. "It said, 'If everybody's thinking alike, there's not much thinking going on.'
"The goal isn't to get people to patronize your thinking. The goal is to stimulate your thinking, get honest opinions, independent thinking, but obviously based on research. We're not poll takers. We feel good about that. And we've been together a long time. I think the commonality with [coach] Lovie [Smith] and, as Tim said, with Rod, helps."