Chicago Bears: Draft
"After having worked with him, if he's coming to the team I'm on, he's going to left tackle immediately," Wise said on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN 1000. "There's not many guys that are 6-7 with that kind of reach that can change direction and turn the corner the way this guy can. Now if he can't make it at left tackle, he's going to right tackle immediately after that. He'll have a career at right tackle.
"This guy's an athlete."
Listen to the entire podcast for more thoughts Wise has about Long.
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Checking in at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Eifert’s greatest strength is his ability to use his size and speed from the tight end position to create mismatches downfield in the passing game. With 140 catches for 1,840 yards and 11 touchdowns in three seasons for the Fighting Irish, Eifert might be the closest thing to Jimmy Graham or Aaron Hernandez in the 2013 NFL draft.
But compared to the rest of Jerry Angelo's drafts in the final seven years he served as Bears general manager, a strong case can be made that 2008 was his best since 2005.
The general rule of thumb when analyzing a draft is to wait three years, so with that in mind, let's exclude Angelo's final two classes (2010-11) from the debate.
There are currently five members from the Bears' 2008 draft still 53-man roster after the club swapped out Williams for cornerback Zack Bowman, the highest total of any draft class, including the most recent crop from 2012 that was selected by new Bears general manager Phil Emery.
"We actually sat around and talked about that back in training camp, that we seem to have the most guys left on the team," Earl Bennett said. "I think it's a nice accomplishment. Of course, we're going to miss Chris, and I was surprised he got let go, but I've played with Chris for seven years or so going to back to college at Vanderbilt. I know he's a good player. He just needs to find the right fit. But we're still a good draft class without the No. 1 guy."
The 2008 group also leads the way in combined games started in a Bears uniform by any individual draft class under Angelo going back to 2005. Of course, several picks along the way were traded to add veteran players who thrived in Chicago, such as defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (2005), special teams ace/linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (2006) and quarterback Jay Cutler (2009). But even taking into account those players, the 2008 class leads the way with 181 combined starts from 2005-09.
Although it should be mentioned that nickel back D.J. Moore is treated like the 12th starter on defense, which would boost the totals of the 2009 class.
Those numbers did not surprise reserve safety/special teams contributor Craig Steltz, who is one of four players from 2008 to receive a second contract from the Bears -- not counting Bowman who was allowed to leave in free agency when his original rookie deal expired.
"I know I'm biased, but it's a good class," Steltz said. "It's hard to keep a class together because every year the team is basically trying to draft your replacement. But even without Chris (Williams), we've still got a Pro Bowl running back in Matt (Forte), a solid receiver in Earl (Bennett) and a starting tight end in Kellen (Davis). I'm proud of the 2008 class.
"The Chris thing is tough because when you come in with guys you tend to be protective of them and care about them, but we're still a pretty good group."
Sometimes those moves are more than enough to solve a club's problems, but in other cases teams need to have a solid continuation plan for the NFL draft.
Here are four teams (Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings) that need a strong draft plan, as well as a suggestion as to what that plan could entail.
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The NFL announced entire the seven-round draft order on Tuesday, and the Chicago Bears own seven picks and weren't awarded any compensatory selections.
The league awards compensatory picks for teams losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year, and the number of selections a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents (maximum of four).
The league announced it awarded 32 compensatory picks on Monday. NFC North teams received six selections, with the Packers being awarded the max allocation of picks: two in the fourth round (Nos. 132 and 133) and two in the seventh (Nos. 241 and 243). Minnesota received two fourth-rounders (Nos. 128 and 134).
In addition to the 19th overall pick, the Bears pick 50th, 79th, 111th, 150th, 184th, and 220th. The Bears will likely target receiver, defensive end, cornerback, and linebacker, and try to address depth along the offensive line. The actual draft order makes it a little easier to predict which direction the Bears may go in a given round.
Aside from Earl Bennett, there's not much for the Bears to work with in terms of receivers (and, no, Devin Hester hasn't yet developed into what the team expected). So Kiper's pick here makes a ton of sense. After all, the Bears haven't drafted a receiver in the first round since -- brace for it -- David Terrell in 2001. Over the past 10 drafts, the Bears have selected a total of 12 receivers (although Hester was originally drafted as a cornerback), but none in the last two drafts.
So clearly, it's time for the Bears to draft a receiver. The question is whether the club does it in the first round.
Floyd (6-foot-3, 224 pounds) fits the bill as the big target everyone seems to be clamoring for, and currently ranks No. 20 on Kiper's big board. Kiper also has the receiver listed as the second-best prospect at the position behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (6-2, 215).
In the past, the Bears have said they're not necessarily looking for saints when it comes to questions about character. But it's important to remember this team is still reeling from the drug arrest of free-agent acquisition Sam Hurd. So it's worth questioning whether the Bears would take a shot on Floyd, who was arrested and charged with "operating while intoxicated" in March 2010, just 15 months after authorities in Minneapolis hit him with an underage drinking charge, which ultimately led to the team suspending him for spring 2011.
Durability has also been an issue with Floyd missing time in 2009 with a broken collarbone, and three games in 2008 because of a knee injury.
Here's what Scouts Inc. had to say about Floyd's big-play ability: "Is a mismatch for some DB's because of his size. Is not going to run by most cover corners in the NFL, but he has enough speed to challenge vertically, and he has the length/hand-eye coordination to come down with the jump ball. Not very elusive and will not make the first defender miss with any consistency. He does show good vision after the catch, and he's a physical runner that will break some attempted arm tackles by DBs."
Here's Scouts Inc.'s take on Floyd's competitiveness: "Not afraid to go over the middle but clearly more comfortable working outside the hashes. Effort is adequate as a blocker. He leaves his feet a bit too frequently. Lacks great lower body strength and struggles to sustain at times but he typically is in good position and can use his long arms and solid upper body strength to shield the DB sufficiently. Will get lazy at times and try to pull in one-handed catch when he clearly should and can use both hands (see third quarter 2010 Sun Bowl vs. Miami)."
Despite the Bears having a vacancy at the general manager position, once the new hire is made, he'll surely be taking a look at Floyd along with other receivers such as Blackmon, Baylor's Kendall Wright (5-10, 190) and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery (6-4, 232).
Yes, there's still plenty for the Bears to do internally regarding openings on the coaching staff and front office. But it's always fun to take a look ahead at some of the team's potential draft prospects.
This is the type of player the Bears need to find at No. 19. An impact guy who can contribute immediately, although Wilson didn't technically become a full-time starter until 1981, and remain in the starting line-up for at least the next five or six seasons. Those players do exist. Now it's up to the Bears to find them.
Here is early look at who might be available based on positions of need if the Bears remain at No. 19 in the first round. This list is subject to change based on the upcoming Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, where plays both rise and fall based on performance and interaction with NFL front office personnel.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Several mock drafts have Floyd going to the Bears at his spot. Based on his college career, it would appear Floyd has the big-time playmaking ability the Bears desperately need at wide receiver.
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: A vertical threat who draws comparisons to Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace. If he's truly the next Wallace, I'm onboard with the selection.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: Jeffery might be considered a reach at No. 19, but the 6-4 wideout had 3,042 receiving yards in just three seasons in the rough and tumble SEC.
Mark Barron, S, Alabama: Barron represents the best of a weak safety class. He has the reputation of being an intelligent player but also a big-time hitter.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: Jenkins is supposed to be supremely talented, but troubled off the field. Jerry Angelo stayed away from these picks in the post-Tank Johnson era. Will the new Bears general manager share the same philosophy?
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: A big cornerback (6-1,194 pounds) who intercepted eight passes and recorded 181 tackles in three college seasons.
Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina: Might not make it out of the Top 10, but Coples is a versatile lineman whose calling card is getting after the quarterback.
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State: Lovie Smith wants athletes on the defensive line. Worthy never had huge sack totals at MSU, but has a quick first step and all the necessary athleticism to make an impact in the NFL.
Nick Perry, DE, USC: Not a traditional fit in terms of body type (6-3, 250 pounds) for Smith's defense, but Perry did lead the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks.
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College: At some point the Bears must replace Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Kuechly was the 2011 Butkus Award winner.
1. Lance Briggs -- third round (2003) -- This season marked the seventh straight Pro Bowl selection for Briggs, the perfect fit at weakside linebacker in the Bears Cover 2 defensive scheme. Briggs and veteran Brian Urlacher are widely considered one the best, or the best, linebacker tandem in the entire NFL.
2. Matt Forte -- second round (2008) -- Selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2011, Forte has established himself as one of the top all-around tailbacks in the league. However, his unresolved contract situation, plus the negative attention it received in the press, might have been one of the factors in Angelo losing his job.
3. Charles Tillman -- second round (2003) -- A model of consistency at the cornerback position. Tillman finally earned a Pro Bowl nod after years of solid play. Tillman's uncanny ability to strip the football and force turnovers has made him one of the core members of three division winning defenses.
4. Devin Hester -- second round (2006) -- Hester never developed into a upper echelon receiver, but he is the best return man in the history of the NFL. Enough said.
5. Johnny Knox -- fifth round (2009) -- Once again, Knox has flaws as a wideout, but in the fifth round, he is considered a steal. Knox made the Pro Bowl his rookie year as a return man, and has made enough big plays in the passing game the last three years to be considered a viable weapon.
Honorable mention: Alex Brown (fourth round, 2002), Tommie Harris (first round, 2004), Bernard Berrian (third round, 2004), Nate Vasher (fourth round, 2004), Chris Harris (sixth round, 2005), Kyle Orton (fourth round, 2005), Greg Olsen (first round, 2007), Corey Graham (fifth round, 2007), Earl Bennett (third round, 2008) and Henry Melton (fourth round, 2009).
2. Dan Bazuin -- second round (2007) -- Bazuin suffered a pair of injuries right out of the gate, went on injured reserve as a rookie, then was cut the following summer. He doesn't even appear on the Bears official all-time roster.
3. Michael Okwo -- third round (2007) -- Lovie Smith deserves much of the blame for the Bears selection of Okwo, who they touted as the heir-apparent to Briggs. The only problem: Okwo couldn't play and some wondered if he even liked football.
4. Mark Bradley - second round (2005) -- Bradley showed promise early his first year before tearing his knee up at Ford Field. He never recovered. To make matters worse, Bradley acted like he was entitled. That lasted until 2008 when the wide receiver was finally released.
5. Cedric Benson -- first round (2005) -- Benson went on to have a nice career with Cincinnati, but he was a disaster in Chicago. Another member of the entitlement club, Benson was handed the starting job in 2007 and flopped. A few legal issues later and he was gone. And to think; the Bears traded Thomas Jones to make room for this guy.
Honorable mention: Roosevelt Williams (third round, 2002), Dusty Dvoracek (third round, 2006), Marcus Harrison (third round, 2008), Jarron Gilbert (third round, 2009) and Juaquin Iglesias (third round, 2009).
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Enderle passed for 8,181 yards and 62 touchdowns as a four-year starter for the University of Idaho. The quarterback led the 2009 Idaho squad to a victory over Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl -- the Vandals' first postseason appearance in 11 years.
The Bears were determined to draft a developmental quarterback in 2011 after a 2010 training camp injury to Caleb Hanie ultimately forced the team to cut former sixth-round choice Dan LeFevour prior to the start of the last season.
After the injury to Hanie, the Bears acquired veteran quarterback Todd Collins and waived LeFevour with the intent of bringing him back on the practice squad. But the Cincinnati Bengals swooped in and signed LeFevour to their 53-man roster, leaving the Bears without a young quarterback for Martz to develop in his system.
Enderle is expected to open training camp as the Bears' No. 3 quarterback behind incumbent starter Jay Cutler and Hanie.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears achieved their goal of bringing in a developmental quarterback by selecting Idaho's Nathan Enderle in the fifth round (No. 160 overall) on the draft's third day, before wrapping up the 2011 class with depth at linebacker in West Virginia product J.T. Thomas, a sixth-round pick.
"We worked with the coaches on this, we worked him out personally, and feel good about the selection," Bears director of player personnel Tim Ruskell said. "He's a big guy. He's got a very strong arm. He's a very intelligent man and intelligent quarterback. I saw him two years when I was in Seattle and saw him play against Jake [Locker] in Washington and he really went toe to toe with him."
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Chris Harris made an astute observation recently in pointing out the Chicago Bears have drafted six players at safety in the past seven years.
So don’t be surprised if the number increases after the 2011 draft.
The team finally solidified the position in 2010 by bringing back Harris to start alongside Danieal Manning, who finally came into his own as an NFL safety. But there’s still uncertainty for the future, given the status of Harris' and Manning’s contracts (Harris is entering the final year of his deal, while Manning -- depending on how things play out with negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement -- is set to test free agency, or play on a one-year tender offer) and the team’s insistence on finding a way to get 2010 third-round pick Major Wright into the starting lineup.
Based on the fluidity of the situation with the players on the roster, and the Bears' track record for adding to the position in recent years, they might look to bolster depth at safety next week in the later rounds of the NFL draft.
Here’s a look at the top 20 at the position, and what rounds they’re projected to be drafted:
Position grade: C+
Analysis: Despite having emerged as one of the NFL’s better strong safeties, Manning doesn’t appear to be in the Bears' 2011 plans as a starter, partially because of their desire to find a prominent role for Wright, a talented third-round pick in 2010.
As it stands now, Manning is a restricted free agent who was given a one-year tender offer in February. But once a new CBA is reached, it’s likely that Manning becomes an unrestricted free agent, and there’s sure to be a market for his services. So there’s a chance Manning won’t be back.
Perhaps that’s why the Bears appear to be going into 2011 with Wright and Harris penciled in as the starters.
If that turns out to be the direction the Bears take, Josh Bullocks and Craig Steltz would be the primary backups, meaning there’s a strong possibility the club looks to the later rounds to add training-camp competition for those spots.