Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 1:05 PM
By John Mullin
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.
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.