D would have been better choice, but White will do for Pace, Bears

SHARE D would have been better choice, but White will do for Pace, Bears
SHARE D would have been better choice, but White will do for Pace, Bears

Kevin White is a great wide receiver.

Do the Bears need a great wide receiver? Not more than they need a great nose tackle or a great defensive end or a great outside linebacker. I would rather have seen them shore up a defense that finished 30th out of 32 teams last season, but on Thursday night, they used the seventh overall pick on the tough, speedy receiver from West Virginia.

And that’s OK.

Here’s the deal: The new general manager gets the benefit of doubt for now. That trumps all. This was Ryan Pace’s draft, and if he thought White was the best choice, then it was the right choice. Because otherwise, why hire him and his judgment?

If he’s wrong, we’ll know in Shea McClellin warp time.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled right now,’’ Pace said. “This guy’s dynamic, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s ultra-competitive.’’

The easy thing to say is that the Bears, in essence, blew a first-round pick on a wide receiver to replace another wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, whom they traded to the Jets. But it’s an empty argument because the Bears knew they had to clean up their locker room. That started with Marshall’s departure. If you want to blame anybody for this, blame him for not playing well with others.

There is something unsettling about Jay Cutler continuing to get rewarded with talent around him. I’ll admit to more than a small hope Thursday that the Bears would move up to the second pick, trade Cutler to Tennessee and use the Titans’ pick to choose Marcus Mariota. But Tennessee stayed put and took the Oregon quarterback.

What we’ve learned the past six years is that no matter how talented the players who line up on offense, Cutler tends to bring them all down to the mean. And by “the mean,’’ I mean “disappointment and disillusionment.’’ An offense with Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett should have been better then 21st in total offense, as it was last season.

Maybe White will be the one to finally change Cutler. Where’s my smiley emoticon when I need it?

White was all smiles Thursday.

“I’m right here where I need to be,’’ he said.

This is a new era (again) with a new GM in Pace and a new coach in John Fox. If the idea is to stay sane, the only way to approach this draft is to trust that these two men know what they’re doing. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that no one wanted to be scratching his or her head after the Bears’ pick on Thursday night. Remember three years ago? Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement that the Bears had selected Boise State’s McClellin with their first-round pick and, almost immediately, people turned with heads tilted at then-general manager Phil Emery with one question on their minds:

“You did what?’’

The smart, long-term move almost always is to take the best player available, regardless of position. And certainly the McClellin pick is a cautionary tale about trying to shoehorn a need into a pick.

Boy, do the Bears need help on defense. But, again, if Pace thought the 6-foot-3, 215-pound White was the best player left on the board, let him do his job.

“I plan on doing big things,’’ White said. “Hopefully, I’ll be a star.’’

Any chance he could be a star nose tackle instead? OK, I’ll stop.

No matter whom the Bears chose Thursday, it was with the longer view in mind. This is a franchise that has many holes to fill and many past mistakes for which to atone. No one pick is going to turn around a team that went 5-11 last season.

Someone surely will answer that it’s the NFL and that teams are capable of reversing their fortunes from one season to the next. And it’s true. But the Bears had so many problems last year that it’s impossible to see a turnaround without wearing blue-and-orange-colored glasses.

Enjoy this pick. White appears to be the anti-Marshall. He seemed genuinely excited about the opportunity to play in Chicago. He said he’s not flashy and laughed that the shiny watch he was wearing had been borrowed from his agent’s daughter.

He was not recruited out of high school and went to junior college before heading to West Virginia. The experience means that, at a minimum, the Bears are getting a hungry player.

“I want to prove a lot of people wrong,’’ he said.

Let’s just hope he proves Pace right.


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