Chicago Sun-Times

Q & A: Bears GM Phil Emery on OG Kyle Long

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General manager Phil Emery spoke at length about his decision to take Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long with the 20th overall selection on Thursday night. Here's what he said:

Opening statement: "Very excited Kyle Long is a new member of the Chicago Bears. From what I understand it's the first guard we've taken since 1960 [in the first round]. So a little bit of a change in that regards in where we took one. But, we're very excited about him. He's the type of athlete and player that we have targeted - fast, tough, dynamic athlete, a productive athlete. Obviously, he's traveled down an interesting road to get to the point where he's at in life, but we're very excited to welcome him to the Chicago Bears."

On if Long is a tackle or guard:
"That's part of the reason why we are extremely excited to have him here, is his versatility. He's going to start out at guard. We feel like he can be a starting right tackle. We feel like he can be a good left tackle in this league so that's part of what attracted us to him, to Kyle. "

On how quickly Long can contribute: "We see right away. Obviously, he's got to earn his way just like all the players do, but we see a player that's going to contribute right away. Despite his limited time at Oregon, he was a starter at the end of the season. He did very well. His Senior Bowl was excellent. I thought he was the best offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl so we expect him to contribute right away."

On what stood out about Long: "Straight forwardness, honesty, focus, like what you are looking for in an offensive linemen. Very excited in terms of not only what he brings to the table as a player but what he brings to our room. He's going to fit in very well with the leadership we have and I think he's going to help bring it up in terms of our overall group collective effort in terms of toughness, physical-ness, smart play, guys that want to dominate at the line of scrimmage."

On not trading down: "We had some conversations prior to the start of the draft. We had some people call us, but nothing that would take us off that pick. Kyle was the player that we targeted. We've targeted him for the last couple of weeks. He had to be gone for us to move back. We were not going to move off that spot if Kyle Long was still available."

On if taking an offensive linemen was a clear statement that the Bears needed help there: "Very clear statement we wanted this player. [The] Draft's not over so we'll have another opportunity at those other positions. This is the player we targeted."

On if he is concerned about Long not playing in a lot of collegiate games:
"I'd be concerned if he wasn't the person he was and he wasn't the dynamic athlete he is. Just to give you an idea, we do a lot of research on the athletic end of it. Jim Arthur, one of our assistant strength coaches does a tremendous job of correlating information and pulling all the history of that position together, where they were as athletes started with Rusty (Jones), Bill Polian, it's called our athletic index score, or A-Score. This guy is the highest, this guy is number one offensive guard in the last 12 draft classes and that's as far back as we go. He rates as rare. In our scale, 9 is rare. He rates as rare."

On trading back later in the draft: "We're very open to trading back in each and every round, so yes we are going to continue to look at every possibility to fill all of our needs."

On Long's off-field issues:
"No, I'm not concerned. All of us have fallen down in life at one point or another and the important thing is - do we get up and try to move forward and make ourselves better and not only make ourselves better but those around us better? And that's what this young man has done. This was a team leader at Oregon. He was there one fall and they petitioned to bring him back because of his leadership. They felt he was going to be the guy to lead this team. That's why the coaches requested to get another year, he didn't get it so that's why he came out in the draft."

On if Long will play left guard: "I'm going to leave that up to Aaron (Kromer), but he's going to be a guard. In terms of how that mixes with all the personal we have at that position. He started at a left guard so I think he's going to feel most comfortable there, but athletically when you watch him move and the things he's done at workouts, there's no reason he can't go on the right side - right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle."

On if the first round has surprised him: "It's been interesting. We've studied this draft very hard. We felt that there was going to be a record run on offensive linemen. We went back 25 years, the highest, two different times, on our spot was the sixth offensive linemen taken. Repetitively, I thought there could be as many as eight. Ours was the eighth. And we're still going. I anticipate there could be ten taken this round."

On Long's family pedigree: "Obviously he's got great support. It was interesting studying him in that dad and brother both think that he is the best athlete in the family. This was a baseball player that was drafted out of high school by the White Sox. He let them know he was going to college. He started out at Florida State as a baseball player. The family has been very supportive. When he was at Florida State he flunked out academically. He had some off the field issues. He recovered from those, he's moved forward, he's here today and we're extremely excited he's made those steps to be here today as our number one pick."

On the draft room during the pick:
"There's always a degree of tension in the room during the draft when it gets close to you. You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel the excitement or the adrenalin - 'hey it's our turn to pick, it's time to go'. You anticipate you plan for it, you keep calm; you ask questions in terms of 'hey, are there any issues that we need to know about? Anything that we have not talked about, we're on the clock, this is our guy, we're all ready to go. 100% yes'. It's been 100% yes for weeks. Kyle's going to bring a lot to our group in terms of player and person."

On what stood out about Long:
"His agility, his lateral agility, has very good feet. There isn't a movement playing where this guy doesn't impress you."

On the number of offensive linemen taken so far: "It's interesting because the trend the last five years, opposed to the previous ten year average, the trend is going towards offensive linemen and defensive linemen - pass protectors, pass rushers. It's almost doubled in both those areas in the last five years. Offensive tackles have gone from just short of 2 ½ to almost five per-year and obviously we've got a record year this year. So pass protectors and pass rushers."

On if there are impact players available in the second and third rounds: "Definitely. There's real depth there, like we talked about as far as the strong positions in the draft and there will be good depth in areas that we're looking at."

On if having the right tools around QB Jay Cutler this year is a huge issue: "A huge issue is winning. That's what a huge issue is. We want to win championships. We felt this was the best player, like I said the other day, draft with urgency the player we see can come quickest, contribute the fastest to helping us win and that's where the urgency is."

On if he was surprised to see defensive tackle Shariff Floyd drop: "He's a good football player. I guess he got picked as I was coming downstairs; he got picked 23rd. You know people are going to move around in the draft. It's going to affect people, they're going to kick up, he's a good player. We're excited our player was there at number 20."

On the differing opinions of draft experts on Long's potential: "It's really interesting about Mel (Kiper Jr.) because Mel picked him to be our guy about three weeks ago. Obviously it's a little curious that you would say that. At the end of the day, what matters is our team. How we see him fitting for us and do we have the type of dynamic athlete and leader that we need that can help us win championships and that's this guy."

On if Long's intangibles outweigh measurables: "No, it's hard to outweigh measurables because he's rare, he's number one. That's hard to outweigh but I'll say they're equally as impressive. He's one of those guys that you want to be in a room with. He's very much a leader. He'll be very much a leader of the offensive line. He'll come, obviously he's a very respectful guy and when it's his time and place, he'll become a team leader."

On how Long compared to other tackles athletically:
"I think he was about fifth all-time. Fifth or sixth in the last twelve years so we're looking at, again, a very rare athlete for his height, weight, speed. You don't find these guys often."

On what jumped off the chart about Long: "Pass protection is very good. He's a very good anchor. It's very important for us to have a front, center, guards, that can hold the pocket stable and we see that in Kyle. He's going to move us forward in that area."

On if the Bears offensive line is set:
"I don't think we are ever set. I've said that before and I'm not trying to be flippant. We've got to get better every day. We look at the roster every day and try to find ways to get better."

On if the Bears will address the offensive line in the draft again:
"We're going to look at the depth of the draft and obviously we have other areas we want to address so we are going to look at those other areas first."

On the Bears recent lack of success in drafting offensive linemen: "I can't be concerned about what happened in the past. I really can't, whether I was a part of that or if I wasn't. All you can focus in is the next pick, the next draft. What are we going to have to do, who is the player that's going to help us get better and advance our cause to win championships. That's where my focus is. I don't spend a lot of time worrying who was picked before or that didn't work out. Whatever those scenarios are, the most important thing is that we find players that can come in her and contribute to championships, and that's what Kyle is."

On if playing in the Oregon offense translates to the Bears offense: "I would say there's some distinct differences between the two offenses. I mean it's great that he has developed in that type of system, up tempo, so I would say that's similar and that's a good thing. Run and pass blocking, he's had a lot of experience in both."

On what Long said to convince the Bears his mistakes were in the past: "Again, honesty. He explained it to us in detail because we asked him. Very forthright. Understood where he was at in life, he was a very young man; he was an 18-year old. Understood the direction he had to take to correct it, he did and he has demonstrated since then that he is on that path and he is very much moving forward."

On if he would have moved up to take Long: "We were at 20 and its very difficult for us to move with five picks so the honest answer to that is no."

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on April 26, 2013 2:33 PM.

The 'Wow' factor: Bears' pick of Long raises eyebrows was the previous entry in this blog.

Howie Long: Kyle 'wouldn't have been there' in 2nd round is the next entry in this blog.

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