- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Recently hired Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery covered quite a bit of ground Monday during his introductory press conference at Halas Hall, but a couple of things stuck out in regards to his philosophies on talent evaluation and how the team plans to operate in the future.
Emery made it clear the majority of players brought in through the draft and rookie free agency will fit a certain profile -- one that hasn't likely yet been determined. While measureables prove important in talent evaluation, ultimately, the new GM stressed the organization will covet real "men" on the gridiron.
"The measureables are important in terms of high-end productive players, playmakers, dynamic individuals. I kind of call it -- no offense to the ladies in the room -- but the guys that are 'men,'" Emery said. "[The guys you see] that everybody goes, 'Wow, they play like men.' They dominate others. If one may be a little bit faster and they're both playmakers, we might lean toward the one with better measureables because this is a big man's game."
That's not to say that the team plans to kick-start a makeover at certain positions such as receiver, where all but three of the players on the current roster -- Roy Williams, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox -- stand shorter than 6 feet. But it's clear the majority of players the Bears acquire through the draft and rookie free agency will fit the "big man" profile Emery craves.
"There are smaller players that have success," Emery said. "But overall, history will show you this is a big man's game. Now, where the other aspect comes in [in terms of talent evaluations is] we'll do a re-check as part of our process where we'll really run the numbers hard, looking for those guys later in the draft and college free agency that have the measureables in this league that we may hit on that may be a little underlooked. Maybe they're not quite as productive. We'll dig into the reasons, and those may be players we target."
Emery mentioned plans to keep the current group of scouts in place, but the team's methodology to arriving at player grades will change. Emery spoke intricately about the process he utilizes with team president Ted Phillips and chairman George McCaskey during the interview process. Given the potential for confusion with the regime change, Emery won't implement the club's grading system immediately. But when the team adds to the personnel staff after the draft, look for a method of arriving at grades similar to the system utilized in Atlanta under general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Approximately an hour after Emery's press conference, he sat down and explained the challenges faced by Dimitroff when he arrived in Atlanta after working with the New England Patriots. During Dimitroff's tenure with the Patriots, the team ran a 3-4 defense, which requires different types of players than the ones needed to excel in the 4-3 defense that Mike Smith brought to the Falcons. Working closely with the coaching staff, Dimitroff came up with a new method for determining the types of players that would fit in Smith's scheme.
Emery said he plans to do something similar in the coming weeks with Bears coach Lovie Smith.
"I don't want to make wholesale changes in terms of how the grades are, you know, what a grade means right now," Emery said. "Because right now we're going to focus on the good scouts that are here, the staff, and getting everybody on the same page in terms of who are the best players in pro free agency -- No. 1 -- and then who are the best players in the draft. Some of those schematic issues won't happen until post-draft. But we will set it up in a way that we will identify players. We'll put labels on players along with our grades to shape how we feel about that player. As we move forward, as our staff is structured, how our scouts scout, how we grade, the grading scale we use, how we use that grading scale, how we balance pro and college, all of that [will be] different."
Although ownership handed Emery complete control over roster decisions, football operations, and Smith's fate as a head coach after 2012, the general manager wants to lean on input from others to make most moves. According to sources, recently-fired general manager Jerry Angelo often strayed from the recommendations of the team's scouts. Emery stressed that he'll make the final decisions on roster moves, but won't do so without sufficient dialogue -- and debate if needed -- with other members of football operations.
"There’s going to be a lot of voices that are involved -- at the appropriate time, and in the appropriate way. It’ll be very professional. It’ll be very thoughtful. It’ll be people working together," Emery said. We may have disagreements. But the professionalism comes in learning how to agree to disagree, and move on to the next player, where we can find a common ground and that player fits our system, our coaches, our community. It will be segmented. Sometimes, you need that outside voice, to open up your mind to other possibilities. And I’m very open to those discussions.
"There will reach a point during this process, where it will be coach Smith and myself developing the plan at the end, and it will be on players that him and I agree upon, in sync, that these are the right players for the Bears. That’s where the heaviest influence will come. At the end of the process, do we have it lined up right? Is coach Smith and I in agreement and in sync with these players, and do we have a plan for that player? Not only to draft him, but post draft; a developmental plan. Knowing that players strengths and weaknesses. Knowing where he needs to go. That’s where coach Smith and I will put in our body of work."
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