Chicago Sun-Times

End of an error: Now it's Phil Emery's turn to find a LT

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Taylor Lewan.jpgNow that Bears general manager Phil Emery has eliminated Jerry Angelo's mistake by cutting former first-round pick Chris Williams, he'll get a chance to see if he can do any better.

Unless J'Marcus Webb suddenly morphs into Jake Long -- or even Duane Brown -- a starting left tackle figures to be No. 1 on the priority list at Halas Hall. This will be the first big test for Emery's fortified scouting department and a chance to see if they've learned from previous mistakes.

Marty Barrett and Jeff Shiver, who were area scouts when the Bears drafted Williams in 2008, are now in key positions of authority -- Barrett is the director of college scouting; Shiver is the assistant director of college scouting.

The Bears don't figure to have the 14th overall pick, as they did when they drafted Williams in the first round. And there probably won't be 12 or more offensive tackles who become NFL starters like there were in 2008.

But that's what separates the perennial contenders from the teams that make the Super Bowl one year and miss the playoffs four of the next five -- finding the one guy who fits. The same year the Bears whiffed on Williams, the Packers took Josh Sitton from Central Florida -- who wasn't even invited to the NFL Combine -- with the last pick of the fourth round (135th overall). He's a five-year starter with a Super Bowl ring.

(In the fifth round, the Packers took another tackle, Breno Giacomini of Louisville, who now is starting at right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks. Williams, Sitton and Giacomini all played with current Bears in college -- Williams with Jay Cutler; Sitton with Brandon Marshall; Giacomini with Michael Bush).

Already, 2013 mock drafts have the Bears targeting an offensive lineman in the first round. Here's a look some of the top prospects to keep an eye on this season: Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; Taylor Lewan, Michigan; Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker, Alabama; Dallas Thomas, Tennessee; Brennan Williams, North Carolina; Eric Fisher, Central Florida.

And those are just the guys everybody knows about. At this time in 2008, Josh Sitton was moved from tackle to guard to make room for a better prospect, freshman Jah Reid, now a backup guard/tackle with the Ravens. It's up to Emery and his staff to know the difference between a Josh Sitton and a Chris Williams. After cutting Williams, Emery unofficially is on the clock.

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8 Comments

Unless J'Marcus Webb shows significant change in his play, left tackle will be need #1 heading into the off-season. Webb still has a little over half a season to step up.

Bears GM Phil Emery actually already has a tackle prospect of his own already here on the practice squad, rookie James Brown. Brown looked decent during the pre-season, but still has a ways to go. It will be interesting to see where he's at next summer. Brown is small for a tackle, 6-3 306lbs, and we know Mike Tice likes his linemen bigger, but Brown is quick footed with a strong upper body.

As far as the draft, I like Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, the 6-7 senior is projected to go late in the first round and is good in pass protection. Another one I like is Jake Matthews, the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews has the blood lines, although Luke Joeckel is the nations best tackle, Matthews might not be that far behind and is better as a run blocker. If Matthews comes out, he could also be a late first rounder. D.J Fluker of Alabama is another one I like, he has the size Tice covets (6-6 335lbs) but is more of a right tackle prospect, but, the scouts said the same thing about Cordy Glenn of Georgia last spring, the Bills took Glenn in the 2nd round and he is now their starting left tackle on a line that has allowed only 7 sacks. You just never know about these guys until they play.

Lastly, Mark, c'mon with the Green Bay love, their line is worse than the Bears, the Pack probably has the worst line in the NFL. The Pack has kept Aaron Rodgers running all season, they've allowed around 27 sacks already this year! Thats horrible. While I agree Josh Sitton is solid for a 4th rounder, what about the Bears right guard Lance Louis, a 7th rounder who has developed into a very good guard for the Bears, maybe even better that Sitton. What about the tackle the Pack took in the first in 2010 to be their left tackle of the future, one Mr Bryan Bulaga, he's horrible, he might not even be a right tackle? Green Bays line does not make them who they are, Aaron Rodgers does, without Rodgers, Green Bays the worst team in the North, hands down GO BEARS!!

Don't be surprised if Emery makes a play for Brandon Albert (who he drafted) of Kansas City in Free Agency.

I still think if the Bears went around Chicago and found 5 of the biggest, meanest bouncers they could find and paid them $20,000 per game plus bonuses every game Cutler wasn't sacked, they could find O Linemen better than what we have running right now. Is that over simplifying things? Perhaps--but I think at this level there isn't a huge difference between athletic talent and most of the difference is in the unmeasurables Ditka craved---- heart, drive, determination, and pride. I think too many athletes at this level are soft because they don't realize what the grind out there truly is like.

I would have Jake Matthews' ticket to Chicago ready if I were Phil Emery, assuming he is available when we draft.

I think one of the fallacies committed by NFL front offices is that, confronted by too much on the flurry of information available on every prospect, they rely on sweeping rules to guide their drafts: best player available, or best player at a specific need. While these rules of thumb are useful, perhaps different rules should apply to different positions, some creative thought involved. Like, who the hell knows what makes a quarterback succeed at the NFL level, so always draft at least one, perhaps one who seems to really have fun playing ball. Draft for speed at running back and draft a lot, because they burn out at this level. At TE look for a former basketball player who started playing football late in college. Look for safeties who played quarterback in high school (or college), who have the same smarts and field vision. Only draft defensive tackles who dominated when they were both slim and fat. Think Keith Traylor, who played linebacker in college.

And offensive linemen? The best starting left tackle in the NFL is going to be about as good an athlete as the most average starting defensive end. So, you're already in a hole just because of the nature of the position. I think what made Walter Jones so successful for all those years was his speed and athleticism, that he looked a lot like a tight end and played a lot like a defensive end.

Sometimes to solve a problem you have to be imaginative. Think like New England, be like New England. The team, not the region. Although the clam chowder is delicious.

How about for once the Bears trade UP in the draft, even if they have to package a couple picks to do it, to geet a quality player? Considering the washout rate of their draft picks it seems like a no-brainer.

Case in point: The year (2003) they drafted Rex Grossman, they traded down from a pick #4 to #22, and in doing so passed on the following players because they also had the #14 pick (which they used on Michael Haynes, now out of football):

- Byron Leftwich
- Terrell Suggs
- Troy Polamalu
- Jimmy Kennedy
- Kyle Boller

...and in picking Rex Grossman, they passed on:

-Willis McGahee
-Dallas Clark
-Nnamdi Asomugha

My point is they pick so horribly they should ONLY be trading picks and moving up in the draft to get the no-brainers. But that is me....I'm sure Chris Williams has a brother coming up they can draft..

How often do NFL- bound players come out early???
Jake Matthews is a 20-year old Sophomore Tackle.

I certainly agree that an offensive lineman should be tha first consideration in the draft, but the offensive line the Bears presently have is shaping up and the linebacker corps is not getting younger. Why was camini not mentioned? He has pretty much lived up to his hype and may be the best of the bunch.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on October 17, 2012 9:54 AM.

Bears organization has "reached out" to Karen Pettry was the previous entry in this blog.

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