There's a ton of optimism attached to the NFL Draft, regardless of the situation your favorite team is in. Whether that translates into success on the field is another story.
For example, the Bears—under both Mark Hatley and Jerry Angelo at general manager—seemed to botch one draft after another. Some have even questioned the choices current GM Phil Emery made in the 2012 draft:
>> Defensive end Shea McClellin is coming along but is not developing as fast as some would hope.
>> Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was making a case for rookie of the year before a wrist injury derailed his season.
>> Tight end Evan Rodriguez was moved to fullback and used mostly for run blocking.
>> Safety Brandon Hardin suffered a season-ending neck injury in the preseason.
>> Cornerbacks Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy were relegated to the practice squad.
The Bears drafted what they needed, but things didn't go as planned. In 2013, they are in a much different situation. Crippled by a tight salary cap, they have numerous needs to fill but only so much money to do so. The biggest needs were the offensive line, a couple of pieces on offense and some youth to assist an aging defense.
I approve of three of the Bears' six picks. Linebackers Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene and linebacker/defensive end Cornelius Washington should help this team tremendously.
The other three draft picks however, raise some red flags. And as the Bears open rookie minicamp Friday, we're left wondering whether they should have made these choices instead:
Kyle Long, guard (first round)
Pros: Comes from an NFL family and background (father Howie is an NFL Hall of Famer, and his brother Chris played for St. Louis). He can also play on both sides of the line.
Cons: Started only four games at Oregon last year, and played defensive line at the junior college level before that. Developing him will be a project.
Should have picked: Either Alabama center Barrett Jones or Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. Both players are ready to start in the NFL. Eifert would be a good compliment to Martellus Bennett, while Jones would allow Roberto Garza to move back to guard and be more productive.
Jordan Mills, offensive tackle (fifth round)
Pros: Can play on both sides of the line and has ideal size for the position.
Cons: His quickness and explosion off the line from the snap is subpar at best. He winds up committing penalties trying to compensate for his lack of speed.
Should have picked: Wisconsin's Ricky Wagner and Virginia's Oday Aboushi were still available when the Bears took the podium.
Marquess Wilson, wide receiver (seventh round)
Pros: Can cover a lot of ground in the open field.
Cons: Has trouble beating jam coverage off the line of scrimmage, has a weak upper body, and has difficulty making catches in tight coverage. I am also deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding his departure from the WSU football program in 2012. According to yahoo.com, Wilson quite the team and alleged abuse by coach Mike Leach before later recanting that accusation.
Should have picked: Anyone else, perhaps a defensive back.
So while Phil Emery did boost the defense to some degree, they could have made better choices on the offensive line, and that seventh-round pick could have been put to better use.
I give Phil Emery a C- for this year's draft. Until we see how this season plays out, the jury is still out on his drafting ability.
Gabe Salgado is a RedEye special contributor.
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