After digesting all there was to gather on the Brian Urlacher situation this afternoon, it was on to the draft.
The Bears 2008 season will be shaped in large part by what happens this weekend, much more so than how Urlachers contract squabble plays out. With four selections in the top 90, general manager Jerry Angelo said the goal is to come away with that many starters from this draft class, or at least three.
When you look at the Bears offense right now, the only positions that seem locked in are tight end with Desmond Clark and Greg Olson and center with Olin Kreutz. Everything else could be up for grabs. John Tait might be moving from left to right tackle. Marty Booker would appear to be the No. 1 receiver. Nothing else is locked in.
Heres something you can just about lock in … the Bears will take an offensive lineman in the first round. Angelos draft history is strongest on the lines. His philosophy in building a franchise begins with the line on both sides of the ball. His greatest need is at offensive tackle. The New York Giants pulled a monster upset in Super Bowl XLII by toppling the New England Patriots with what? Dominant line play. Need more compelling evidence?
Ill present three questions asked during the pre-draft gathering and their answers. Draw your own conclusions. The first two are to Angelo, the last to coordinator Ron Turner.
Q: ALL THINGS EQUAL, DO YOU GO WITH A RUNNING BACK OR AN OFFENSIVE TACKLE WITH THE 14TH PICK?
JERRY: Thats kind of what were going through right now talking about players of same value. If you said both players are needs then obviously you want to take the best player. Everybody does this, you look at what the second tier at that position will offer you and I think sometimes that makes your decision. If you feel like you can get a player, maybe not of that value, but close to that value and hell be there in the second or third round, the other player you look and youre really falling off the cliff, then that becomes the tiebreaker. So its not necessarily the player pitting against a player of equal value or a little bit more and you have to be mindful of that.
Q: SECOND TIER RUNNING BACKS APPEAR TO BE STRONG. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF SECOND TIER OFFENSIVE LINEMEN?
JERRY: Its probably not as good as the running back position but good, just depends on what rounds youre looking at. Obviously, there are going to be a few in the second round. Maybe there is going to be one or two in the third, and maybe just kind of one in the fourth and one in the fifth, but thats every year. Offensive linemen its a supply and demand business. The one thing the colleges arent able to do is feed 32 football teams with enough offensive linemen. How do you know that? Look at free agency. Look at what these players, who are just rank-and-file players now, and the money that theyre commanding in the open market. It just used to be tackles. Now its guards. Its no longer a specific offensive position its all of them. We have to be mindful of that.
Q: WOULD THE NEED FOR A FRANCHISE RUNNING BACK OR FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK TRUMP THE NEED FOR TOP LINEMAN?
RON: You cant win in this league or really any league without being solid and good up front, no matter how good your back is, no matter how good your quarterback is. It all starts up there. Youve got to have a good offensive line, guys need to come off and be physical to run the football no matter who your back is, and somebody who can protect for the quarterback. You can look at it both ways. Obviously, we lost two starters on the offensive line and we need to address that, either with the draft or guys on our team. And also you have an opportunity to get a franchise or elite back or quarterback, thats hard to pass up as well. I dodged that one good didnt I?
Maybe. Were still convinced its a lineman. So, what do you like with the 44th pick in the second round?