Bears select California S Conte in Round 3


Bears select California S Conte in Round 3

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 9:09 p.m. Updated: 9:48 p.m.

By John Mullin

Conte draft capsule
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For the second straight draft the Bears drafted a safety with their third-round pick when they tabbed Californias Chris Conte with the 93rd pick of the 2011 draft.

Last year it was Major Wright with the 75th pick, who projects as a starter this season if he can avoid the injury bug that kept biting him almost from the start of training camp.

Conte, 6-2, 197 pounds, doesnt fit the starter mold at this point, although he projects as strong competition for Chris Harris, who struggled at times at free safety despite starting all 16 games at the position.

Its not going to surprise me if he comes in and earns some play time, GM Jerry Angelo said.

What Contes selection does strongly point to is the end of Danieal Mannings
Bears career, given that they have Conte, Harris and Wright in place at this

Conte was a reserve cornerback for his first three seasons at Cal but did emerge as an All-Pac 10 first-teamer in his first season at safety. He totaled two interceptions in four seasons, one as a sophomore at cornerback and the other last season at safety.

But Contes combination of cornerbacksafety experience appealed to the Bears.

Hes a pure free safety, GM Jerry Angelo said. Its a no-brainer and he still has a lot of football ahead of him

We see him as a free safety but he has the size to come down low at strong safety. We really liked him for the value of the position.
A plan that worked

How truly good or bad the draft ultimately was for them will take months if not years to play out. But the Bears came into the 2011 draft with the hope of addressing four positions and they had players they wanted at two of those by the close of draft business on Thursday.

They took care of those two with an offensive tackle in Wisconsins Gabe Carimi for Round 1, and a defensive tackle in Oregon States Stephen Paea in Round 2.

In something of a draft rarity, both times the Bears made moves to trade up. They fortuitously failed to execute a deal with the Baltimore Ravens that would have cost them their fourth-round pick but still left them with Carimi, one of their targeted players.

Then they did move up in Round 2, an indication of both the priority they placed on adding on the defensive line and also how highly they regarded Paea, who at 53rd was the highest-selected defensive lineman by the Bears since they chose Tank Johnson with the 47th pick of the 2004 draft.

The concern was that Paea would be grabbed if the Bears waited until their slotted spot at No. 62, particularly after the Giants selected Marvin Austin at No. 53.
Starters and free agency

Angelo stated at the outset that the goal of the draft was to obtain four starters. Carimi and Paea are virtual locks to become starters, although Paea will need to beat out a developing Henry Melton at the three-technique spot alongside nose tackle Anthony Adams.

What Paea does is dial down at least slightly the need for a defensive lineman in free agency. The Bears rate Green Bays Cullen Jenkins highly but with the labor uncertainty, Jenkins status may remain unsettled along with several hundred other potential free-agent veterans.

John "Moon" Mullin is's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Report: Bears looking for Jay Cutler return against Vikings; Matt Barkley on stand-by

Report: Bears looking for Jay Cutler return against Vikings; Matt Barkley on stand-by

FOX insider Jay Glazer confirmed on Sunday that the Bears expect quarterback Jay Cutler will be back from his sprained thumb and able to start against the Minnesota Vikings next Monday night in Soldier Field.

That would put Matt Barkley back where he has been pretty much his entire three-plus-year NFL career. Waiting.

That's the Bears want what every team wants – a young quarterback in the developmental pipeline – is no secret. Ryan Pace is among the NFL executives who speak of drafting a quarterback as much as every year, even if they don’t.

Could the Bears already have that player on their roster?

If Barkley, who was pressed into service when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken arm in last Thursday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, is in fact that player, he might not be surprised. But the rest of the NFL would be.

"I'm confident that no matter where I am or what the deal is,” Barkley said, after going 6-for-15 with no TD’s and two interceptions, “I can play in this league.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

He may be one of the few still holding onto that belief. The Bears picked up Barkley after the Arizona Cardinals discarded him in early September. The Cardinals didn’t see Barkley as even a practice-squad option, which the Bears did and where Barkley was working before Cutler’s thumb injury forced the Bears to sign him to the active roster.

“The [Bears] personnel people thought he was a taller [6-2] guy that stood in the pocket pretty well,” said coach John Fox. “A guy that we thought we could work with, that had some experience and, hopefully, he got a little bit more experience [at Green Bay].”

Barkley has gone from possible No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft to just another touted USC quarterback who failed or were no better than just-OK at the NFL level (Todd Marinovich, Rob Johnson, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez), who has thrown 65 NFL passes, none for a touchdown and six that were intercepted, including two in the Bears’ 26-10 loss last Thursday in Green Bay.

The question for Barkley at this point in his career is whether Chicago is his last stop and/or chance. Fourth-round draft picks have played their ways into prominence (Kirk Cousins in Washington, Dak Prescott in Dallas, even Sonny Jurgensen and Norm Van Brocklin if you want to find Hall of Famers), but Barkley has the added challenge of being on his third team and learning yet another offense after beginning this season running Houston and Philadelphia plays for the Bears’ defense.

Barkley offered no excuses for his poor showing (18.3 passer rating). Sort of.

“It definitely would be more beneficial [to have gotten more snaps before Green Bay],” Barkley said. “I’m not going to say what Coach should do; that’s his decision and you’ve got to deal with what you’re dealt.

“Just since I’ve been here, you know, scout-team reps and trying to put our plays into what we’re seeing on cards, you try to do every little thing you can to get better no matter what you’re doing. That’s no excuse.”

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

Some decisions have ways of simply making themselves. Decisions like, say, who will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Regrettably, one aspect of that decision was made for the Bears when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken left arm in the second quarter of Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. At that moment the Hoyer-or-Cutler question was rendered moot. As FOX’s Jay Glazer had reported, the No. 1 job was Hoyer’s to lose, and the injury unfortunately took care of that. Coaches never had to make that decision.

This is clearly not the way Cutler would like to have been returned to his job. No player is pleased to have an opportunity made possible by a catastrophic injury to a teammate.

Bigger picture: The 2016 season was always a prove-it year for Jay Cutler, more so than even last year because of guaranteed money, which is now gone. The rest of the 2016 now becomes a condensed prove-it crucible, where Cutler is playing for his job in Chicago or his next team. His price for 2017 ($15 million) is modest by starter standards, but so is his resume.

Without a strong final nine games, assuming his injured thumb is sufficiently recovered after nearly six weeks off, Cutler may find himself as next offseason’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, sort-of wanted by a team but for money nowhere close to the value he and his agent had in mind.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The play of rookies Dak Presott in Dallas and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia will reinforce the message that you can start and win with a rookie right away, which projects to depress any Cutler market. Why pay a marginal veteran, which Cutler has been and certainly is at this point and age (34 next April), when a rookie can be had at a fraction of the cost?

Without a massive contract renegotiation, a scenario of Cutler staying on as a bridge to a young successor is beyond a longshot. Hoyer, far more likely to fit that role, and his price will not approach Cutler’s.

Cutler now has his second chance. Whether he likes it or not, it’s an audition.