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.

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.

Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

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Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

In the latest Bears Talk Podcast, Jim Miller joins Pat Boyle to discuss the friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio. And are there changes in store for the Bears coordinators?

Plus, Brian Urlacher and Mark Schanowski break down the play of rookie Leonard Floyd and find out which one of Urlacher’s former teammates Floyd reminds him of.

And don't miss a preview of Sunday’s NFC North clash with the Lions, who will be out for revenge.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: