GM candidates have solid draft history

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GM candidates have solid draft history

The interview process for Bears general manager candidates is ongoing this week, with Marc Ross from the New York Giants making it to Halas Hall Wednesday, after San Diegos Jimmy Raye and New Englands Jason Licht earlier. Tim Ruskell has his formal interview Thursday and Phil Emery from Kansas City will complete the first cycle.

Bears President Ted Phillips is the point man by his own account. And it is always difficult to get a complete fix on how good each individual has been to this point in their careers, because they have typically not been the top guy in their current organizations, as they will be in Chicago.

But it is interesting to pick a spot and compare apples and apples, more or less. So CSNChicago.com took the last five No. 1 picks for each candidates organization (with the exception of Ruskell) as a point of comparison (recognizing that Licht was not with the Patriots for all five). This was a problem area for the Jerry Angelo regime so how have others done:

Jimmy Raye: The Chargers have had decidedly mixed results with their top picks. They selected Craig Davis in 2007 and he was a bust, a wide receiver, a position of high need for the Bears. Antoine Cason (08) is a starting cornerback and Ryan Matthews (10) starts at running back. Corey Liuget (11) from Illinois was a starter at defensive end because Luis Castillo (05) was injured. Defensive end Larry English (09) has had injury problems.

Analysis: A solid record, with GM A.J. Smith the prime architect. But the Chargers have consistently secured talent that has stuck around. The focus in round one has been on defense in San Diego since Philip Rivers selection (04).

Phil Emery: The Chiefs over the past five years have twice selected wide receivers in the first round. Dwayne Bowe (07) was a major hit and is on the Bears radar this offseason in free agency. Jonathan Baldwin (11) had a serviceable first year primarily coming off the bench. Safety Eric Berry (10), defense end Tyson Jackson (09) and defensive tackle Glen Dorsey (08) have been starters, as has left tackle Brandon Albert (08).

Analysis: Again a solid record at core positions.

Jason Licht: The Patriots drafted very well in first rounds since Brandon Meriweather (07) and even he was a Pro Bowl safety, if not ultimately a fit with Bill Belichick. Jerod Mayo (08) was defensive rookie of the year and a Pro Bowl linebacker, and New England got quality at cornerback with Patrick Chung (09) and Devin McCourty (10). Nate Solder (11) is listed as a starter at tackle and was a pick for the future.
Analysis: Licht has been with the Patriots twice, returning in 2009 after stops in Philadelphia and Arizona. New England does personnel the right way.

Marc Ross: The Giants, like the Patriots, are still playing in January because of hits in the draft. Cornerback Prince Amukamara (11) isnt starting but thats mostly because Kenny Phillips (08) and Aaron Ross (07) are. Jason Pierre-Paul was a home run at defensive end (10), and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (09) is a major reason why New York is in the NFC Championship game.

Analysis: The Giants have had fits and starts but they have not had a losing season since 2004 and have been to the playoffs five of the last seven years, and missed in 2010 in a tiebreaker with the Packers after going 10-6.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

There's a sense of irony and, to a certain degree, concern about what changes the Bears' coaching staff has undergone.

Think of the best of Ryan Pace's 2016 rookie class: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard. They were brought along under the position group tutelage of outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, offensive line coach Dave Magazu and running backs coach Stan Drayton. The latter was the first to depart, shortly after the season ended, to return to the collegiate ranks on Texas' new staff.

He's been replaced with former 49ers and Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins (also serving as that position coach in Detroit, Buffalo, Arizona and Kansas City). Howard certainly adapted to the NFL game well, more than anyone expected, as the NFL's second-leading rusher. One would think Drayton played a part in that.

Longtime John Fox assistant Magazu was also let go after the season despite the impressive move of second-round pick Whitehair to center the week of the season opener after Josh Sitton was signed following his release by Green Bay. Whitehair was sold as a "quick study" following his selection out of Kansas State, where he was a four-year starter at three different positions (but not center).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Like Howard, he wound up making the All-Rookie team, but whether he remains in the middle of the line or not, he'll be getting his orders now from Jeremiah Washburn.

Rounding out the trio of All-Rookie selections was Floyd, who was brought along by Hurtt. He impressed Fox enough to be kept around from Marc Trestman's staff, and moved from defensive line to outside linebackers.

That's where he assisted Willie Young in morphing to a foreign role, yet still managing 14 sacks over the last two seasons. The Bears have yet to name a replacement for Hurtt, who's joined the Seahawks in taking over one of their strengths in recent years, the defensive line.

These three were already good, and the jewels of last year's draft. But if they're to grow and ascend into impact contributors if and when this team becomes a regular playoff contender, it'll come from new faces, new voices in their respective classrooms and position groups.