Bears growing their own, but is it working?

Bears growing their own, but is it working?
September 3, 2013, 4:30 pm
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General manager Phil Emery was hired in no small part for an expected ability to build the Bears through the draft, the primary venue through which the Green Bay Packers have been assembled.

Actually, not only the draft. The real task is to fashion a championship team through more than buying talent on the free-agency market, which is only so affordable in the first place, and with a tight salary cap not realistic anyway.

With the start of the 2013 season, how are the Bears doing at developing their own “original” acquisitions? Right now, not necessarily appreciably better than they have in winning seasons past.

[MORE: Scott versatility key to Bears' OL decisions]

(Does this really matter? Read to the end and find out.)

The Emery strategy

First, the guideposts.

“I firmly believe the best way to build a team is your own original talent: your draft picks, your college free agents,” Emery said. “It helps you in several ways. It helps you manage the cap so that it gives you flexibility so that when you do need a dynamic player to help you fill in you are able to go and get them. You have the cap flexibility to go get that player who can add to the consistency of your team winning year in, year out.

“It also gives your team a home-grown flavor for your fans and it also allows those players to be together longer and to improve together and to play together as a team for a longer period of time and with more consistency.”

The breakdowns

For comparison purposes, the 2013 Bears are slightly less self-developed than the 2010 team that reached the NFC Championship game, or the 2006 team that reached the Super Bowl.

2006

Originals Imports
Olin Kreutz Muhsin Muhammed
Bernard Berrian John Tait
Rex Grossman Ruben Brown
Tank Johnson Roberto Garza
Tommie Harris Fred Miller
Alex Brown Desmond Clark
Lance Briggs Thomas Jones
Brian Urlacher Jason McKie
Charles Tillman Adewale Ogunleye
Nathan Vasher Hunter Hillenmeyer
Chris Harris  
Danieal Manning  

2010

Originals Imports
Johnny Knox Frank Omiyale
Chris Williams Roberto Garza
Olin Kreutz Jay Cutler
J'Marcus Webb Brandon Manumaleuna
Greg Olsen Israel Idonije
Lance Briggs Anthony Adams
Brian Urlacher Julius Peppers
Charles Tillman Nick Roach
Chris Harris Tim Jennings
Danieal Manning  
Devin Hester  
Matt Forte  
Tommie Harris  

2013

Originals

Imports
Kyle Long Brandon Marshall
Jordan Mills Jermon Bushrod
Matt Forte Matt Slauson
Alshon Jeffery Roberto Garza
Corey Wootton Martellus Bennett
Stephen Paea Tony Fiammetta
Lance Briggs Jay Cutler
Jon Bostic Julius Peppers
Henry Melton James Anderson
Charles Tillman Tim Jennings
Major Wright  
Chris Conte  

Looking into the pipelines

Starting lineups are only part of the story, however. Equally important is the talent in the pipeline, because of its youth and affordability.

Emery is tracking the Bears vs. their NFC North rivals.

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“I went through it and what I saw was we're 29 out of the 53 players that we have or roughly 55 percent are ‘original’ Bears,” Emery said. “They were on this team originally. That was their original team.

“The Green Bay Packers are 43 of 53. The Minnesota Vikings are 39 of 53 and the Detroit Lions are 27 of 53.”

Conclusion

The Packers won the 2010 Super Bowl and are perennial NFC North contenders in part because of their pipeline (which once contained Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre).

The Minnesota Vikings rose from nothing to reach the playoffs last season and are a common pick to stay ahead of the Bears.

The Lions? One winning season in four under coach Jim Schwartz and not expected to have one in 2013, either.

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