Now 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.