Angelo, Bears entering final stretch before draft

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Angelo, Bears entering final stretch before draft

Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 1:05 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

As Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent said of his accomplishments and body of work, The hay is in the barn.

So it is with the Bears now as well. Coaches, scouts and personnel heads have have finished their draft meetings and most of their evaluation process on players and now matters swing onto final approach for the 2011 draft that begins next Thursday night.

From the general pool of up to 75 players making the cut list as draftable, the Bears have targeted a cluster of 4-6 players they consider quality gets at No. 29 as the draft still stands. They also have narrowed their list to four target positions they would like to address in the draft.

And their goal from the weekends selections ultimately, as it is with every draft, is to add four starters.

Theres four, five, six guys that based on our projections and grades would be in the running for the pick, said player personnel director Tim Ruskell. The number isimportant because when you think about trading down, you want to have at least half as many guys you would like as the number of picks you go down.

The Bears are among a handful of teams, including Carolina drafting No. 1 overall, that would prefer to deal down and add picks if the offer and available pool of players remaining are right.

But the Bears have their first six picks available, not a case where they are short some selections and need to rebuild numbers. They also do not appear locked in on any individual player and have no intention of getting to that point.

You dont really want to fall in love with any player, said general manager Jerry Angelo. To me thats a trap. Weve been pretty sober and focused about our approach. We do like a handful of players. Theyre not perfect but theyre guys that we like and feel could help our football team.
Target selection

Angelo, Ruskell and the coaching staff have identified four positions they are willing to draft to fill, including offensive line, defensive line and cornerback. A wide receiver or linebacker would be a welcome addition but neither spot is viewed as must-have.

Having four positions worth draft picks gives you the flexibility where you could take the best player, Angelo said. And I think in this years draft, you could probably say best player available, were going to get.

Narrowing the field

One intriguing prospect on the defensive line, both for the Bears and others in the 20-32 draft range, is tackle Marvin Austin. A talented disruptor in the Tommie Harris mold, Austin was dropped from the team and sat out all of 2010 for illegal dealings with an agent, and there are issues of maturity that have turned some teams off.

The Bears have scrutinized Austins background and whether they would risk another high pick on a character question, after some difficulties with Harris and Tank Johnson, is an issue.

Obviously, hes got documented concerns, Angelo said. Weve delved into those. Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli went down there and spent a good amount of time with him. Mark Sadowski, our scout, has spent a goodly amount of time.

So we feel real good about how we feel about him and knowing him. I always say this, and I use this term: We just dont want any surprises on draft day when we bring a player in here. Were not looking for halo players. Were in the business to win football games, but we have to know whats underneath the hood.

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

This is apparently the week of Jay Cutler news.

Reports surfaced earlier this week the Bears are pushing hard to find a trade partner for the enigmatic quarterback, though Ian Rapoport reported the organization informed Cutler in mid-January they were shopping him around.

It seems clear Cutler's time in Chicago has come to an end and an ensuing move is more of a formality at this point.

But apparently Cutler may not even suit up again...for ANY team.

Rapoport reported on NFL Network Wednesday night Cutler is mulling over retirement, even as he's healthy and working out now after shoulder surgery.

"There's no guarantee Cutler even plays in 2017, one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play or not play, retire, walk away. A lot of things at play here for Jay Cutler."

Host Dan Hellie immediately followed up, asking for clarification on the retirement part.

"It is a consideration; it's something he's confided in people," Rapoport said. "But Dan, I would say, it's not a surprise for quarterbacks this age. We've heard [Ben] Roethlisberger talk about it; we've heard Tony Romo talk about it. If it's not perfect, if he can't find the team he wants or the contract he wants, it's very easy for Jay Cutler to walk away."

Whoa.

Cutler, 33, has made more than $112 million in his 11-year career and is owed at least another $2 million in 2017, even if he's cut by the Bears.

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:

Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.

Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams. 

Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.