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.

Malik Hooker carries high-risk, high-reward question for Bears

Malik Hooker carries high-risk, high-reward question for Bears

With eight interceptions and three fumble recoveries, the Bears finished dead last in the NFL with 11 takeaways in 2016. That represents a glaring need the Bears began to address with a free agency overhaul of their secondary.

The prevailing thought has been that if the Bears draft a defensive back with the third overall pick on Thursday, it'll be LSU safety Jamal Adams. But there's another safety with top-10 hype that could serve the Bears' desperate need for takeaways: Ohio State's Malik Hooker. 

[MOON'S DRAFT PREVIEW: More secondary upgrades needed

Hooker picked off seven passes as part of Ohio State's outrageously good secondary in 2016. His elite range and knack for interceptions make him a tantalizing prospect, especially for a team that needs that center fielder-type safety. 

"Any ball that's in the air, it's my ball," Hooker said. "I feel like I'm a playmaker. Any time I had a chance to make a play or change momentum of a game, I took it upon myself to do so."

But while Hooker has that ballhawking skill (and returner-like vision once he has the ball in his hands) that Adams perhaps doesn't, he doesn't appear as "safe" a pick as Adams. 

Whereas Adams played all three of his years at LSU, Hooker redshirted 2014, barely played in 2015 and then exploded last fall. One year of tape isn't much — even if it's excellent tape — which makes Hooker more of a projection. 

And it's worth noting that Hooker played hurt at the end of the year and underwent hip surgery to repair a torn labrum and sports hernia surgeries on both sides in January, too. While Hooker said at the combine he's expecting to be ready to participate in rookie minicamp in mid-May, he carries risk for a team like the Bears picking in the top five. 

Adams, on the other hand, is one of six or seven prospects ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay described on their "First Draft" podcast as "clean" — as in, without injury-related red flags — among the top 20 prospects in this year's draft. Hooker and fellow Ohio State defensive back Marshon Lattimore have injury concerns, as does Alabama's Jonathan Allen, the defensive lineman who's been mentioned as a possibility for the Bears at No. 3. 

[Check out Malik Hooker's Draft Profile]

Hooker pushed back on questions about his health in Indianapolis, explaining that he elected to have the surgery with an eye on being healthy for his first football activities with whatever team drafts him.

"The film says what it says," Hooker said. "I feel like a lot of teams will want me to be healthy for the year coming in because surgery was my decision. It wasn't like I needed the surgery, I decided to do that because at that point of the season, I knew I made the decision I was going to declare for this upcoming draft. It was moreso preparing myself to get ready for rookie minicamp coming up."

Draft history shows it's rare for a safety to be a top-five pick, let alone a top-three one. But as the NFL continues to be more and more of a pass-oriented league, why not reach for someone who can command a defense like Adams or create game-changing turnovers like Hooker?

"I feel like we're both very good players," Hooker said. "I feel like we're definitely capable of going top 10, top 5."

If the Bears think a safety is worth their highest pick since 1972, then the prevailing question becomes: Would the payoff for Hooker be worth the risk?

Jordan Howard not resting on 2016 success: 'I want to make the Hall of Fame'

Jordan Howard not resting on 2016 success: 'I want to make the Hall of Fame'

Josh Bellamy considers Jordan Howard his "nephew," and has communicated a message to the second-year running back: Forget about 2016. 

2016, of course, was the year in which the 22-year-old Howard set the Bears' single-season rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards and was a Pro Bowl selection. That's not necessarily easy to leave behind. 

"What we did last year, that's in the past," Bellamy said. "So you gotta do that every year. You do that every year, man, you'll get in the Hall of Fame, and you'll be one of those guys that goes to the Pro Bowl every year, like Adrian Peterson, those guys. Forget last year and let's move forward."

Howard was at Halas Hall Tuesday to be honored along with Bellamy as the 2016 Piccolo Award winners ("It’s a real honor to win this award along with J.B.," Howard said). He spoke like someone who has his sights set on greater accomplishments than one year of 1,000-plus yards or a January trip to Orlando. 

"Ever since I've been playing this game, I always wanted to be the best," Howard said. "That's still my drive. I want to be the best player. I want to make the Hall of Fame. But I also want to win Super Bowls. I want to keep getting better so the team can get better as well."

That Howard was standing in Halas Hall talking about Hall of Fame aspirations is somewhat incredible, given a year ago he tumbled all the way to the fifth round and the 150th overall pick. 

That he fell that far was a surprise to him, and also to some observers — NFL.com's writeup pegged him as a second or third-round pick and compared him to Arian Foster. 

"I didn't go where I thought I was going to be going," Howard said. "So that was kind of a disappointment. But I was very grateful to be selected at all."

And the Bears, of course, are grateful to have landed him.