2011 NFL Draft Results: The Concept of Value Seems to Escape the Chicago Bears

John HatelakContributor IMay 1, 2011

Bears GM Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith introduce their first-round draft choice, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / April 30, 2011)
Bears GM Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith introduce their first-round draft choice, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / April 30, 2011)

I know the title may sound like it, but this is not a "rip on everyone's favorite target to bash" Jerry Angelo article. Not completely, anyway. I am simply trying to point out some glaring draft philosophy failures as I see it. Other than a few points I'll cover shortly, I actually think this is the best draft Angelo has possibly ever had as the Bear General Manager. Not that it's that much of an accomplishment, seeing as there have been more misses than hits under Angelo's watch.

Getting to the point, I feel the Bears did well, but should've done better. I think their first two picks, if healthy, will be starters for at least the next six years and likely beyond if they get re-signed after their rookie deals, and stay healthy. As for Gabe Carimi, I would've gone in a different direction. I think missing the fact they thought he'd go ahead of the 29th pick, and almost gave up a pick for nothing was a bad calculation. But all's well that ends well. 

He was an excellent value pick, but thought they could've doubled their value with a trade down, and filled two needs instead of one. Assuming that wasn't possible than taking Stephen Carimi was the surest pick to make. There is no doubt he'll solidify the right side for years to come, and filled a huge hole. 

The next round is where I begin to have a problem. I understand you can't foresee the future nine spots ahead of you, and make a pick based on that, but looking at how it shook out, there was no defensive tackle taken yet alone a three technique till the third round. So it appears they would have gotten their guy anyway. I think it was a bit of a panic move, and shows me that the Bears aren't plugged in enough to the league. 

Even if someone had a burning desire to pick Paea ahead of the Bears, there were still some excellent three techniques on the board at 62 overall. I love Nevis, who Bill Polian took, and he knows a little bit about drafting defensive linemen. Especially since they run the same exact scheme.

I loved Drake Nevis too. There also was another guy I heard good things about: Terrel McClain. The Panthers scooped him up with the first third-round pick. I'm guessing Ron Rivera who knows a little bit about defensive players had a huge influence on that one. Both players were projected to be first year starters in the NFL by every draft grade I've seen by every expert, and every reputable draft site. Another guy was actually considered a sure No. 1 pick, but had a bad year, and fell. That was Jurrell Casey. 

This would have allowed the Bears to keep their fourth-round pick and fill another value need. Although both their first- and second-round picks were great values, they could've maxed their value by getting another quality starter like Greg Little had they traded down, and than possibly Paea with one of the previous picks in the third. If they didn't trade down they'd have the fourth pick they could've gotten a quality player. Just look at the names left that were picked that could've done the Bears roster some good.  

Which leads me to the third pick, Christopher Conte. I think he's a guy who can play center field for the Bears, which is a need especially in the Tampa-2. A Tampa-2 without anyone to patrol center field, and pick off passes is a hallow Tampa-2. The thing is they could've gotten Conte in the sixth round by all accounts, and possibly as a priority undrafted free agent. Especially since a better prospect Deunta Williams went undrafted.

I know he'll likely be a red shirted prospect on I.R. because of his ankle, but Harris should have been good at free safety for one more year until he healed. The chance of Conte starting at free safety in year one better be good, or that was a bad value pick. Even if he's a Pro Bowler, it's still a bad value, because again, he could've been likely acquired much later.

A guy they could've gotten that would've filled a need, and maybe allowed them to either slide Tillman to the free, or even convert the pick himself to a free safety, was Davon House. He's a kid with much more upside than Conte. Hell, they could've gotten him with the fourth-round pick had they kept it, and had both if they wanted! Green Bay was fortunate enough to find him there at 131st overall. 

Fourth round has the least value any pick can possibly have. That's Zero! Unless Paea turns into a top-five defensive tackle for the next 10 years, that lost pick is a festering sore. Many good prospects at need spots could've been taken there, such as Marcus Cannon, who might've had to been red shirted on I.R. was there, but will eventually be a probable multiple Pro Bowler for the Patriots. Buster Skrine, a cornerback the Bears had their eye on, was available. Brandon Burton, Ahmed Black, Jason Pinkston, Niles Paul and bunch of others picked in the fifth round were all graded ahead of Conte, and all at projected need positions. 

Now I loved their fifth-round pick. I know many Bear fans, being the meatballs they are, were screaming up and down the block likely saying things like, "why a quarterback?" "why not another offensive linemen?" Well that's the one round where Bears went value.

You always value quarterbacks. Especially in a passing league. Nathan Enderle has the tools to thrive in the offense, and he'll be a commodity that the Bears could trade later for need, or developed as a valuable back up. We know how important that is by our little Todd Collins experience last season.

Plus, Martz has a reputation for developing quarterbacks which will be taken into account by league officials in front offices around the league. Just the mere fact he took him in the draft even though team after team passed on him in last season's draft made the Bengals jump at Lefevour almost the very minute he hit the waiver wire. I'm sure seeing Martz endorse him made a difference in that decision.

Sixth round should always be best available, no matter the position. Not only did the Bears not do that, but they also didn't even get the best available at the position; they took J.T. Thomas. I think Jabara Williams, Nick Bellore, Scott Lutrus, and Mark Herzlich are better prospects as Linebackers. However, there were some excellent value athletes I would've taken even ahead of them that went after the Bears' final choice. 

Virgil Green, a tight end with enormous upside, was there. Jarriel King an offensive tackle who has the athleticism to start on the left side in the NFL was there, and still is as a priority free agent once the lockout is over. Jerrel Powe a massive defensive tackle was there. Lee Ziemba, a big offensive lineman, was there. A few undrafted guys I'd have taken as well. Sure they're available, but you'll have to compete for their services, and they have the choice to go wherever they want.

I do like the draft the Bears had. I think they can possibly keep all these picks, and have a couple start on special teams and maybe become core guys there. I think three can possibly start as early as this season, and I think the quarterback can be developed into a valuable trading commodity for picks or even current NFL players who fit an immediate need. However, they could have gotten even a better value out of this draft. Time will tell if the guys they got will be the truth or not, but fact is they could've gotten all these guys and more, but didn't.