Should the Bears have taken Stanford guard David DeCastro with the 19th pick of the first round instead of Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin?
It might have been the "safer" pick. DeCastro is considered by many experts as the best guard prospect since Michigan's Steve Hutchinson, the 17th overall pick in 2001 who has been to seven Pro Bowls. And guards rated that highly have a low bust-factor. He went to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 24th overall pick.
If DeCastro truly is a "plug-and-play" player, he could have fortified the Bears' offensive line, which has a chance to take a quantum leap this season with a healthy Jay Cutler and Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. And you can argue that if the Bears' offense improves significantly in 2012, the defense can live with Israel Idonije's five sacks. They were doing fine with that last season until Cutler was injured.
The Bears, though, are convinced they can make do with what they have. As discombobulated as the offensive line play seemed to be in Mike Martz's offense, Jay Cutler was sacked only nine times in a seven-game stretch in which the Bears were 6-1. They averaged 144 rushing yards per game in that span, which is pretty good. And that was without Gabe Carimi at right tackle.
So while the Bears certainly could have used DeCastro, upgrading their pass rush still fills a need. The only question is whether they ''reached'' for a player who was considered to be more valuable to 3-4 teams as a linebacker.
But ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., who analyzes the draft for a living, supported the Bears' decision to take McClellin over DeCastro -- and others -- at No. 19.
''I don't think it's really a debate,'' said Kiper, who had McClellin pegged for the Packers at No. 28. ''You could have put [Illinois'] Whitney Mercilus in there. Some people though Mercilus was a 3-4 outside linebacker. I don't really have any issue at all from where they took McClellin.
''When we had our draft meeting with Jon Gruden and Chris Berman in Baltimore a week before the draft, Gruden kept telling me, 'Mel, you talked about McClellin almost every pick from 25 on down. McClellin, that's all I hear.' It was true. I was saying Shea McClellin, because that's where he figured to be. He was hot in the process -- because he works hard, he was productive and he's versatile.
''If you work hard, you're productive and you're versatile and you run a 4.62 at the combine like he did at 260 pounds, and you show great athleticism ... o me, for Rod Marinelli, for this team, the Bears ... he's a typical Chicago Bear. And I think that's what they felt -- 'We've got a Chicago Bear mentality here with Shea McClellin. And you can't argue with that.''