Chicago Bears 2012 Draft: Playing Phil Emery
With the 2012 NFL Draft now in the books, draft grade articles seem to be very popular.
Rather than give the popular letter grades I wanted to reflect on the players the Bears passed up and what would have been, in my opinion, better options.
Based on Phil Emery's offseason, he has earned my trust and I'm willing to let this play out rather than bashing away at picks that didn't make sense (and there were several).
Yes, I'm aware I don't get "paid the big bucks" to make these decisions, but these are my opinions and I'm sticking to them!
Round 1: Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
This pick is starting to grow on me a bit. I was a little surprised considering some of the players that were still on the board.
People keep talking about McClellin being too small, but I'm not buying it. Compare McClellin to some of the Pro Bowl DEs from the last two years:
McClellin: 6'3", 260 lbs
Elvis Dummervil: 5'11, 260 lbs
Dwight Freeney: 6'1", 268 lbs
Andre Carter: 6'4", 255 lbs
Jason Babin: 6'3", 267 lbs
Robert Mathis: 6'2", 245 lbs
John Abraham: 6'4, 263 lbs
Justin Tuck: 6'5", 268 lbs
I'm not seeing a drastic size difference. And remember, we're talking about a rookie that has yet to go through NFL strength and conditioning program. I'm trusting Emery on this one until proven wrong.
My Preferred Selection: David Decastro, G, Stanford
Yes, I realize that the Bears are sold on their offensive line (they seem to be the only ones) but Decastro looks like the kind of player that will be a Pro Bowl fixture for years to come.
Other Possibilities: the obvious pass rushers, Mercilus and Chandler Jones. Reiff sounds like he's going to be a RT so if that's the case, I'd have passed, as well.
Round 2: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
I wrote an article during the day on Friday about what the Bears shouldn't do in the second round. In the article, I also indicate my preference for the round, which was to upgrade the offense. Knowing some WR talent was likely to be there, I thought there was a good chance Emery might move up if he has someone they like, and that's just what happened.
If it were me, I would have done exactly the same thing.
The only other players that I think could have been an option were Jerel Worthy and Konz, but with the hypothetical pick of Decastro in Round 1, I want a WR.
Jeffery has the potential to be a No. 1 WR and I think he could absolutely flourish seeing single coverage on the outside. This will also really open things for Earl Bennett.
My Preferred Selection: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
I believe Jeffery can and will grow into a No. 1 WR in the NFL. He has the skill set and once this becomes his "life", with the right influences around him, I think he's going to flourish.
Other possibilities: The aforementioned Jerel Worthy and Peter Konz. Rueben Randle was the next option at WR.
Round 3: Brandon Hardin, S, Oregon State
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Here was the first real head-scratcher for me, and many others.
First, I am extremely frustrated with the Bears inability to successfully draft at a position that is so critical to their scheme. In an article regarding the past failures of Lovie Smith and the Bears scouting department, I mentioned how I hope Hardin was scouted directly by Emery and that he wasn't relying on the same people that have mis-evaluated talent for eight years.
That being said, Hardin may end up being a player. But for a guy that didn't play last year and no major board had ranked higher than 125th, this sure seems like a reach.
Not to mention that Lovie Smith raved about Chris Conte and Major Wright at the combine, saying ""I just don't think we've been in this good of a position at the two starting positions [as we are] at our safety position right now."
If the Bears were in love with Hardin, he likely would have been available at least one round later.
My Preferred Selection: Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech.
This CB is a ball hawk, evidenced by his nine interceptions in 2010. Excellent in zone coverage with good speed, fluid hips and great vertical jump to challenge WR.
Other possibilities: A couple of good run-stuffing DT were still there in Brandon Thompson and Mike Martin.
We end Day 2 of the draft with the following:
Time to find a DE and add to depth on Day 3.
Round 4: Evan Rodriguez, TE/FB, Temple
Eric Francis/Getty Images
When I first saw "Bears Selection: FB, Evan Rodriguez" I immediately let an expletive slip, to which my 7 year old scolded me. I quickly rushed to the computer to find that Rodriguez is really a TE who will likely be used by Tice like Jim Kleinsasser was.
I like the fact that we were getting Cutler another weapon, but was really surprised to see them take Rodriguez over Orson Charles.
At the time, I was screaming for Bobby Massie. I couldn't believe we were passing on this guy for the second round in a row when he was projected to potentially be a late first round pick.
I calmed down a bit after Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweeted: "Lot of questions why #Bears passed on Ole Miss OT Bobby Massie with 4th rd pick. So, I called scout I trust. What he said tells you why Bears and 31 other teams passed on Massie for 4 ½ rounds. Report from scout was Massie is “lazy” and he suggested there were other off-field issues that would create concern. Massie was durable performer in school and we’ll see if Cardinals got a solid pick at No. 112, one pick after Phil Emery drafted Evan Rodriguez. But know lots of teams passed on Massey."
My Preferred Selection: Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska.
Known to be strong against the run, Crick also got after the QB with 9.5 sacks in each of 2009 and 2010. Fits Bears mold of a talented guy coming off injury. Prior to the 2011 season, many mock drafts, including this one, had Crick as a mid-first round pick.
Other possibilities: Going the TE route, both Orson Charles and Adrien Robinson were there. Obviously Massie could have been an option, as well as LB Keenan Robinson who the Bears were said to be high on prior to the draft.
Round 6: Isaiah Frey, CB, Nevada
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Like most people, Isaiah Frey wasn't a name I was familiar with. Looking at two of the more respected scouting report services I read, I can see why.
Frey was ranked the 48th best Cornerback by The Sports Xchange and 43rd by Sideline Scouting. It appears that Frey has good size and decent speed, but has trouble with coverage....not something you want to hear about a CB.
Again, maybe this is one of those that works out for the Bears, but there was still a lot of big name talent on the boards at this time.
My Preferred Selection: Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State.
Ranked by most pundits as top 3 or 4 safety, there was a lot of value here. Assuming Safety was indeed a need, and taking one in the 3rd round tells me it was, then waiting for Martin here would have been the play. Here's a nice write-up on a guy that sounds like he would fit in well with the Bears.
Other possibilities: Antonio Allen would have been another good Safety selection. I like James Hanna as a TE sleeper and some good WR dropped in McNutt and Streeter. Billy Winn would have been a solid selection at DT.
Round 7: Greg McCoy, CB, TCU
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Similar to the Frey selection, I had to go scurrying to find something out about McCoy. Needless to say, I was pretty underwhelmed.
Ranked as the 52nd best Cornerback by Sideline Scouting and 40th by Sports Xchange, one thing that did stand out was his kickoff return abilities. However, didn't the Bears just spend a whole bunch of money on Eric Weems to do that? And isn't there some guy by the name of Hester that isn't too shabby at returning kicks?
This pick seemed like a throw-away, and I'd be surprised to see McCoy make the team. I was really surprised the amount of big-name players still on the board when the Bears made their selection.
I was all ready to put Alfonzo Dennard as my preferred selection, then thought better of it. Not because of the assault on the police office a week before the draft (although that's obviously a big red flag) but because his last college game he was ejected due to a fist fight with a WR. That WR? Alshon Jeffery.
My Preferred Selection: Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia. Minnifield would not only be a solid special teams player, but he actually fits into the Bears scheme very well as a CB. He's a zone coverage CB that is a solid tackler. Here's a nice write-up on another player that was projected to be a first-round pick prior to the 2011 season,
Other possibilities: As I said before, a lot of talented players sitting there in Round 7. James Brown, who Bears signed as UFA, Nate Potter and Andrew Datko are three tackles that could progress into NFL starters. Cam Johnson (DE) was projected by many to go in the 3rd round. David Molk was a top 5 Center that repped 41 times at the Combine.
Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune
Here's where we ended up:
David Decastro - G
Alshon Jeffery - WR
Jayron Hosley - CB
Jared Crick - DE
Markelle Martin - S
Chase Minnifield - CB
Similar the Bears draft, defensive tackle was not addressed, nor was linebacker depth. Position wise, the only difference was TE/FB being swapped for the offensive guard upgrade.
I look at "my" draft with a strong possibility of finding five starters. Decastro steps in from Day 1, as does Jeffery. I believe either Hosley or Minnifield can win the CB slot opposite Tillman, and with the amount of CBs a team needs in today's NFL, both should see the field frequently.
Crick would, at a minimum, be a rotational DE with Idonije and Martin could definitely have a good chance of beating out Major Wright.
For those sold on upgrading DE as the top priority, take Decastro out and slide in your choice of McClellin, Jones or Mercilus. Then in the 4th, take Crick out and add in Massie.
Is this better than Emery's draft? I hope not.
At the end of the day, I really hope I'm wrong. I hope that Frey and McCoy turn out to be quality players and that the Bears OL comes together where they didn't need Decastro. Maybe Hardin turns into the next Mike Brown and Rodriguez becomes Aaron Hernandez-lite.
Should be fun to come back and look at this in two or three years and see how things shake out.