Chicago Bears

View from the Moon: The Bears' draft gaffe

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View from the Moon: The Bears' draft gaffe

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 10:36 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

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Expect the aftershocks to the botched non-trade with the Baltimore Ravens to continue reverberating for some time, whether qualitative, quantitative or both.

The Bears embarrassed themselves and threw the late first round of the NFLs offseason showcase into chaos when they made an apparent deal with the Baltimore Ravens and respected GM Ozzie Newsome. The transaction was the Bears giving the Ravens the Chicago pick in the fourth round for the right to move up from No. 29 to Baltimores spot at No. 26.

But confusion over who was to call the Ravens and confirm left Newsome waiting and the Baltimore turn expired without a pick being made. Kansas City (No. 27) then got to the podium with their card and Baltimore was relegated to one spot later. The draft ground to a confusing halt, Baltimore management was livid, and Bears GM Jerry Angelo needed to offer public and private apologies for the mishandling.

The league was looking into the situation in the aftermath.

The Ravens still got the player they wanted with Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith and the Bears still got Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, the object of their pursuit.

Troublesome questions
But whether the Bears are given any sort of penalty does not obscure some difficult questions.

First was the situation in the Bears draft room, which was operating with Angelo and player personnel director Tim Ruskell, a long-time Angelo associate brought in to revamp various aspects of the personnel operations. Whether Angelo or Ruskell should have made the confirming call to Baltimore is a concern, whether Ruskell didnt get it done or if he re-delegated the task, whatever time was short in a critical situation and something broke down.

Perhaps even more concerning, however, is why the trade was even happening in the first place.

Be in no doubt: A fourth-round pick is significant. Alex Brown, Todd Johnson, Ian Scott, Nathan Vasher, Kyle Orton, Jamar Williams, Henry Melton, D.J. Moore, Corey Wootton. All were fourth rounders, all were players who mattered or matter at various times.

But back to the draft situation:

Baltimore (No. 26) wasnt taking Carimi. Thats why they were willing to deal out of the spot. Kansas City (No. 27) jumped in when Baltimore hesitated and took Pitt receiver Jonathan Baldwin, so the Chiefs werent after Carimi.

New England already had taken tackle Nate Solder at No. 17, so the Patriots werent after Carimi. And the Patriots traded out of the spot, dealing the pick to New Orleans, which was moving up to take Alabama running back Mark Ingram. So the Saints werent after Carimi.

So why were the Bears close to giving up a draft choice of consequence when they apparently didnt have to? Teams do mock drafts to cover myriad scenarios and those can be complicated, given misdirections, misinformation and all the rest.

Homework missing?

But if the Bears were ready to deal away a draft choice for a player that was going to come to them anyway, the matter of who was supposed to call the Ravens becomes less troubling than how thorough was the homework done on what was happening around the Bears pick.

Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod also was on the draft board, eventually going No. 32 to Green Bay. Sherrod was not as highly rated as Carimi but was in that group of first rounders that the Bears saw. So even had Carimi been taken, the Bears were in position to still land their tackle.

The NFL is unlikely to deprive the Bears of a pick. The Bears could do a make-good move of some sort, perhaps giving the Ravens a switch of position at some point, possibly giving Baltimore a pick for a move in a later round.

But some qualitative scar tissue may linger. What will the reaction be if the phone rings in a teams draft room now and someone answers, then tells the room, Hey, its the Bears calling.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com'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.

The 5 Bears players with the most to prove in training camp

The 5 Bears players with the most to prove in training camp

1. Mike Glennon

Glennon is, for now, the Bears’ unquestioned starting quarterback — a role the Bears made clear he wasn’t going to lose after drafting Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick in April. It would take a monumental effort from Trubisky — and a disappointing one from Glennon — for that to change. But Glennon has only attempted 11 more passes in the NFL than Trubisky since the beginning of the 2015 season, leaving plenty of uncertainty heading to Bourbonnais. Glennon’s three-year, $45 million contract is structured so the Bears could cut him for $2.5 million next spring, and with a highly-touted player developing behind him, he may not have as much leeway as his contract would appear to give him. As Glennon put it in May: “This is my year. There are no guarantees in the NFL.” The 27-year-old is well aware this year is his best opportunity to prove, either to the Bears or the rest of the league, that he’s capable of being a successful starting quarterback. That process begins in earnest this week. 

2. Mitch Trubisky

While it remains unlikely that Trubisky will be the Bears’ Week 1 starter, if he proves to be better than Glennon at the end of August…why would he not be the starter? It’s not a simple yes or no question, given Trubisky has to learn a largely different offense than the one he ran in college (unlike Philadelphia’s No. 2 pick, Carson Wentz, a year ago) and only started 13 games since leaving high school in Mentor, Ohio. But it’s the job of John Fox and his coaching staff to win games, and if they come to a consensus that Trubisky gives them a better chance of winning, then it would make sense for him to start. What’s more likely in reach for Trubisky during training camp is showing enough to the coaching staff to lay the foundation for him to play in 2017, either as a substitute or as a starter later in the season. 

3. Kevin White

Aside from the quarterbacks, it’s hard to think of a player with more to prove than White. It’s too early to label White a bust, given those two leg injuries limited him four games in his first two years, but the Bears at least need him to be healthy this year to start to figure out what they have in the former seventh overall pick. White was targeted 36 times before suffering his season-ending injury last year and averaged 5.19 yards per target, which was the third-lowest average among receivers with at least 35 targets in 2016. That's surprising for a guy who was drafted with such good speed, so not only will White have to prove he can stay healthy, but he'll have to prove he can be more productive within the Bears' offense. 

4. Leonard Floyd

While White may have the most to prove, Floyd probably has the highest expectations placed upon him in 2017. Floyd’s 7 1/2 sacks last year were promising, and he appears to be past the scary post-concussion malaise he suffered in January and February. If Floyd grows into a double-digit sack guy for the Bears this year, he could be the catalyst for some significant improvements for the entire defense (a better pass rush begets more opportunities for interceptions, etc.). But he’ll also have to prove the issues that led to those two concussions last year — chiefly, poor tackling form — are a thing of the past, and that he’s able to make that Year 1 to Year 2 leap the Bears think he can. 

5. Kyle Fuller

Fuller faces an uphill climb to make the Bears’ 53-man roster, so what he’s trying to prove may be of more value to finding a post-Chicago landing spot. Vic Fangio’s pointed comments about Fuller’s willingness (or lack thereof) to play last year cast doubt on his future, but he’s still still here after being neither cut nor traded in the offseason. The Bears declined Fuller's fifth-year option earlier this year, though, so training camp may be Fuller's last chance at sticking in the NFL, either with the Bears or elsewhere. 

Bullard a prime example of how, why and where Bears can improve

Bullard a prime example of how, why and where Bears can improve

This Bears rebuild has taken longer than expected. Ideally, in year three of a GM/head coach tandem, they should be contending for the playoffs. 

That’s not to say the 2017 Bears can’t. It’s just unlikely. They don’t have enough players opponents have to gameplan for. They don’t have the depth to overcome key injuries. When franchises get on a winning roll, it’s when they have enough of those studs on both sides of the ball, and have the depth to avoid as many emergencies as possible. And that happens when second- and third-year players make a jump in their play.

Offensively, we saw an impressive jump by Cam Meredith, but another left leg injury still have us wondering exactly what Kevin White is, and how good he can be. Jeremy Langford’s growth was stunted by his ankle injury. Second-year center Hroniss Grasu missed the entire year. On the defensive side, we never got to see if Kyle Fuller could’ve proven his first-round status in his third year. Safety Adrian Amos started another full season, but is now in a battle to do the same a third straight year. We can see star qualities in Eddie Goldman, but how much of a difference-maker can he be by remaining on the field? We’ll learn the same about Leonard Floyd if he can do that this fall. And there are a handful of other second-year players we’ll be watching, from Deon Bush to Deiondre Hall to Cre’Von LeBlanc. There’s also 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard, who learned what it took to become a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL.

“It was okay. I got about 17 snaps a game,” Bullard said of his rookie season during last month’s minicamp. “That’s not what I wanted coming in. But it is what is. I want to move on to the next year and hopefully be able to help this team in a big way.”

Rookie seasons for every player lay the groundwork. How high their ceiling goes starts to get established in year two, between the player’s effort, and getting coached-up correctly.

“They asked me to gain a few pounds. I was like 282 last year, and right now I’m at 296, so hopefully that helps me, said Bullard. “I’m just trying to make all this solid and not lose my burst that got me here. So I’m looking forward to it. I got a year under my belt now, I know what they expect. I’m gonna be ready.”

Part of Bullard taking things upon himself was hooking up with a former defensive end, from the same alma mater, who happens to be fourth in franchise history in sacks (albeit in a 4-3 scheme): CSN’s very own Bears analyst, Alex Brown.

“We saw each other at the Florida spring game and we kind of linked up and put in some work at his facility down the road,” Bullard explained. “We’ve met up quite a few times, just working on little things. He’s just trying to give me a better understanding of the game, and some of the veteran things he knows that I want to incorporate into my game.”

So what kind of a teacher is Alex?

“He’s alright. I make him him jump in there. I tell him he’s not that old.”

And while Pace didn’t make the big splash in free agency as he tries to match up salary with his grades for players, Bullard has to prove he’s now better than last year’s starter, Mitch Unrein, as well as a hungry fellow former Gator, Jaye Howard, who was brought in on a “prove it” one-year deal after being cut just before the draft by Kansas City.

“As far as him being a Gator, it’s exciting. But it’s a competition. He’s gonna come in and try to win the starting job, and I’m gonna do the same. It’s just gonna have to be a friendly competition when training camp comes, and may the best man win.”

Let this, and many other Bourbonnais battles, begin.