'College scouting' indeed Bears' best course

'College scouting' indeed Bears' best course
January 12, 2012, 3:06 pm
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The strongest thread through the four outside candidates on the Bears now list -- Phil Emery from Kansas City, Jason Licht from New England, Jimmy Raye from San Diego and the Giants Marc Ross -- is the experience in college scouting.

Its a very, very good starting point.

More than the obvious need to draft well or go home early in the NFL, in general terms the college side is simply a more difficult arena in which to score consistently than the pro side.

The financial commitments on the pro personnel area are typically massive and franchise-altering. Indeed, Jerry Angelos pricey misses on the likes of Marion Barber, Brandon Manumaleuna, Brandon Meriweather, Chester Taylor and Roy Williams cost the organization roughly twice what it would have cost them to absorb the final two years of Lovie Smiths contract.

Angelo was not fired solely for draft misses. Senior management was not entirely comfortable handing him the checkbook in a make-or-break offseason expected to include major expenditures in free agency.

But it is typically more difficult to find a top college offensive lineman, for example, than it is to sign a proven Pro Bowl guard (Ruben Brown) late in a career or an established wide receiver (Muhsin Muhammed) with just a few good seasons left.

You can get Rex Grossman with the 22nd pick of a first round. Or Aaron Rodgers with the 25th. Or, because Grossman didnt work out, you trade for a Jay Cutler, someone elses 11th-overall pick.

And the draft misses become exponentially more devastating because whiffs there deprive the pipeline of critical talent that is first-contract affordable and they force teams to make high-dollar strikes in free agency to compensate.

Would the Bears have needed to commit 91 million on Julius Peppers if they had not missed so badly on a No. 2 pick in 2007 (Dan Bazuin)?

No NFL personnel job is easy. But finding someone with the Midas touch on draft day... Huge.