Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 10:29 a.m.
By John Mullin
A couple of Bears draft folk will have some things to say later this week but there is still no shortage of information flowing with the draft barely a week away.
Peter King at Sports Illustrated is among the growing chorus of voices that say Cam Newton will go No. 1 overall to Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers. After a bit of a run on offensive linemen, and with defensive tackles like Marvin Austin out of North Carolina off the board by No. 29, Peter runs a little against the grain with a return to the offensive line in the form of Mississippi States Derek Sherrod.
Makes sense, from the standpoint of protecting Jay Cutler, and the underlying question through all of this, for the Bears, is whether its more important to protect your quarterback or to get to the other guys. Both matter, obviously, but look at it this way:
On a mythical scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the Steel Curtain for a defensive line and maybe the Super Bowl XX Bears O-line, is the Bears 2011 offensive or defensive line closer to the elite level youd ideally want?
ESPNs Mel Kiper voiced a sentiment that GM Jerry Angelo has expressed, that you have to draft offensive linemen sometimes higher perhaps than their pure grade on your draft board.
Theres a reason to move guys up because you have to, Mel said, with an expectation that all of the commonly acknowledged top talents will be gone in the 20s, which isnt promising for the Bears sitting at No. 29.
I think youre going to get offensive linemen drafted higher because of the position.
Finding tackles is usually the assumed goal when the draft subject is offensive line but it could well be argued that the Bears have more needs inside than outside on the line. With JMarcus Webb and (the Bears hope) Chris Williams, the Bears may have enough at tackle.
But the years on right guard Roberto Garza and center Olin Kreutz (assuming he re-signs as a free agent) and the clear void at left guard make the interior a bigger need area, at least in the opinion of View from the Moon. And guards aren't as pricey (6-7 million a year) as tackles anymore.
Mels take on the 2011 class, which has seen far more attention played to tackle, is that there are 10 potential centers for the NFL in this draft, he said, and not all of them are centers now. Given the age of Kreutz (34) the Bears need to find one of them sooner rather than later.
CBSSportsline.coms Clark Judge has the Bears skipping either line and going with Aaron Williams, a 6-foot cornerback out of Texas and a clear fit for the Bears. Mel in fact cited the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 23), the Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31) as three teams with DB needs that would be well served by grabbing Williams, who also has the potential to be a safety.
I think initially hell be a corner and hell be drafted as a corner, Mel said. If you can get him at No. 29... that would be a good spot for an Aaron Williams."
The Bears had intended to add to their receiver group this offseason before the labor impasse shut off free agency. But the draft will have talent below the first round, which is off-limits for taking a wideout anyway for Jerry Angelo.
Mel likes Kentuckys Randall Cobb as a wild-card, and Cobb was IDd by Wes Bunting of National Football Post as a potentially very good pick with little downside. The other notables will be Miamis Leonard Hankerson, a favorite of Matt Bowen over at National Football Post as well, and Titus Young out of Boise State. Both Hankerson run sub 4.5 in the 40, although Young is a bit undersized at 174 pounds.
A few heads might shake on draft day but a late-round nugget may be Edmund Gates, another speed guy who is 25 but someone on Kiper radar. The chuckle here is that Gates is from Abilene Christian, which sent the Bears Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning.
Heres where the switch from Greg Gabriel as college scouting director to Tim Ruskell as director of all player personnel. Gabriel clearly liked the small-college Texas kids (more than just Texas ones, actually) and it remains to be seen how Ruskell leans on the projects from smaller programs.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.