With Pick No. 18, The Chicago Bears Select...Tyler Hansbrough? Why Not?

Matt PicchiettiContributor IMarch 9, 2009

That's right, why not? The Bears should draft Tyler Hansbrough with the 18thpick of this year’s NFL Draft. Todd McShay has the Bears picking an under-sized Percy Harvin with that pick.[1] Yawn…

With the Bear’s history of picking over-hyped Gators, perhaps a Tar-Heel would be a better gamble. It’s a weak draft for running backs and quarter backs. (I’m holding my breath for next year’s QB class. Holy crap! 1983 may have to move over as the greatest QB draft. We’ll see.)

Besides, the Bears seem to insist that Orton is their guy. They have stood happily idle and allowed, among others, the Bills to make the off-season move of the year. The Bills? When did they grow a pair? The (Yawn) 7-9-for-three-consecutive-seasons Bills.  Even the Dick (Yawn) Jauron (Yawn) led Bills have tried to do something to get better.

And what have the Bears done? They got rid of Grossman…three years too late and…nothing; just like Chicagoans are used to. If the Bears do not take Hansbrough, someone in the NFL should.

I know, Tyler Hansbrough doesn’t play football. I’m not that stupid. Hear me out.

Tyler Hansbrough is currently the reigning college player of the year. He’s a three-time All-American. He’s the ACC Male Athlete of the Year. He is the all-time leading scorer in the ACC. He won the Wooden, Sporting News, NABC, Naismith, Sports Illustrated, ESPN.com, USBWA (whatever that is), Rupp, Basketball Times, and AP Player of the Year Awards just for 2008.

With a successful run in this year’s Dance, he could reasonably be considered the greatest college basketball player ever. And, according to draftexpress.com, he is projected at the 29th overall pick in this year’s NBA draft.

Huh?? Does anyone else see something low about that number? Does anyone else see something afoul about this? The 29th pick last year was D.J. White. In 2007, the 29thpick was Alando Tucker. I mean, who can forget what those guys did in college? True legends of the game, the both of them.

Before I continue, allow me to preface the rest of this rant with the following: I cannot stand watching basketball. I hate it at every level. I cannot play. I cannot shoot, dribble, jump, or pass. I’ve lost games of PIG and HORSE because a right-handed lay-up has proven too much for me….and yes, I am right-handed.

If ever a game were specifically designed against one person’s skill-set, that game is basketball and that person is me. Most of all,I hate the Prima Dona-ism that is rampant in all levels of the game.

(There are national basketball rankings for 6th graders. The current No. 1 ranking for the class of 2015 goes to Perry Dozier, Jr., a 5’4’’ point guard from South Carolina. I can’t make this crap up.[2])   

My hatred for all things round-ball is eclipsed by an unhealthy love affair with football. I adore football. I love it at all levels and in all forms from NFL to CFL to AFL….hell, I even watched the XFL. (As a side note, The XFL’s way for determining first possession was pure brilliance!!)

Give me an 8-man high school game in a Colorado mountain town on a Wednesday afternoon and I’ll watch that before any basketball game in March.

With all of this said, even I see some sort of gross injustice here.

The best athlete in college football is discussed through the season in terms of his draft potential. Granted, there are the occasional Eric Crouch’s and Charlie Ward’s who will not translate to the pro game, but, for the most part, the football players heralded as the best at the beginning of the season, are usually millionaires several times over come April.  

Hansbrough is being discussed by hoopsters as the best thing since Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton. Dick Vitale loves the guy…everyone loves the guy. I have not heard one bad thing about him. Apparently, many pro hoop pundits do not think that his ability will translate well to the NBA.

Fine. Let’s see what he can bring to the gridiron. For the sake of this unlikely argument, I’m projecting him as a tight end. Hansbrough is 6’9’’ and 240 pounds. That is a little bit thin but the NFL’s elite tight ends cannot measure up:


Tony Gonzales is 6’5’’ (former b-baller)

Jason Witten is 6’5’’

Antonio Gates is 6’4’’(former b-baller)

Chris Cooley is 6’3’’

Owen Daniels is 6’3’’

Kellen Winslow, Jr. is…not good enough to be on this list.


Hansbrough has a natural advantage that cannot be taught. (To quote John Hoerster, “You can’t coach tall.”) But, “The knock against Hansbrough …is his lack of size and athleticism for a frontcourt player at the professional level. He will likely give up a couple of inches on most nights in the league.” [3]

Not in the National Football League. “The tallest players in the NFL are Jared Gaither of the Baltimore Ravens and Dennis Roland of the Cincinnati Bengals. They stand 6'9"…”[4] There’s room for one more on that list.

“He [Hansbrough] possesses great strength, but more importantly, he has control of that strength and knows how to use it effectively to create space…”[5]and that’s just in basketball. There is no reason to think that he could not do the same in football. He’s got soft hands, great vision and he’s tough as nails. The kid played with a broken nose and without a face mask.

I don’t know his 40 time, but he seems to be able to run 94 feet pretty well. (By the way, 94 feet is 31.3 yards…about the size of the red zone.) I don’t think too many tight ends need to run much more than that.

And he’s a puppy. He’s a giant man-baby who, I think, has yet to really fill out. He does not look like he’s needed a shave yet and there are no chest hairs sprouting from the top of that Carolina Blue.

He’s still growing and that’s a scary thought. Put some NFL shoulders on him, thicken up those legs a bit and watch the match-up nightmare when he splits out wide. (Who cares if he can’t block well? Put some back-up tackle in on run downs.)

Roy Williams gets choked up just talking about him. He’s coachable, loves the spotlight, and performs well under pressure. He’s the Big Man on Campus but you wouldn’t know it.

He hasn’t pushed his girlfriend down any stairs; he hasn’t cheated on any exams; he hasn’t sired any little Hansbrough’s; in short, he’s a humble kid with great work ethic. Any team…any sport could use someone like him.  A kid like this deserves a chance…even in football.

I don’t know much about basketball, but I know its best player deserves better than the 29th pick.…and maybe the NFL can provide that forHansbrough. The Bears are picking 18th. Are you listening McCaskey? Anyone?