"Good Chicago Sports"
by Tim Polko
While we started working on this over a week ago, the uncertainty surrounding the NFL draft kept leading us to hold off on posting. A few hours ago the Bears dealt the #4 pick to the New York Jets for #13, #22, and a conditional pick that could be the Jets' 2nd round choice if New York can draft their preferred choice at #4, DT Dewayne Robertson. So we scrapped most of what we'd written and instead revised our comments to reflect the current scenario for the 2003 NFL Draft, which begins at 11AM (CDT) tomorrow morning.
While the Bears played terribly in 2002 and move into a disastrous public works project this fall, their futility at least allowed fans the hope of adding a future star at the top of the draft
The departures of Rosevelt Colvin, Big Cat Williams, and the injuries to the two Wolverine 2001 draft picks leave the Bears with solid starters at only a few positions. MLB Brian Urlacher, WR Marty Booker, and C Olin Kreutz are established Pro Bowlers, and Safeties Mike Brown and Mike Green, Guards Chris Villarrial and Rex Tucker, OLB Warrick Holdman, and CB R.W. McQuarters are all competent players who've displayed flashes of excellence. The absence of Colvin leaves the defensive line as the best unit on the team, and Phillip Daniels, Alex Brown, Bryan Robinson, Ted Washington, Keith Traylor, and Alfonso Boone make these the last positions on which the Bears should focus.
Chicago's Run-and-Shoop offense, which might actually fit new starting QB Kordell Stewart better than any quarterback that can throw more than a dozen yards, lacks playmakers. Without Colvin's team-leading 10.5 sacks, more than double Phillip Daniels' next-best total of 5.0, the defense lacks a credible pass rushing threat. Mike Brown led the team with all of three interceptions and the entire defensive unit only combined for 9, tied for the worst mark in the NFL, so the entire Bears' pass defense could use an upgrade.
Unfortunately the contracts of both GM Jerry Angelo and Coach Dick Jauron expire at the end of the season, so instead of drafting a potential game-breaking quarterback, Angelo decided to take the safe route that might save his job.
While we didn't expect to agree with this scenario, this trade makes more sense than the alternative of drafting Robertson ourselves at #4. The Bears only need to add a run-stopping young defensive tackle, not a dynamic player who can rush the passer. Chicago's defense is centered around maximizing Brian Urlacher's mobility, and occupying the center of the offensive line best fulfills that goal.
The Bears' priority must be California QB Kyle Boller. Although this phrasing doesn't apply to every sport, Boller is a proven winner with good vision who can serve a two-year apprenticeship behind Kordell Stewart. We've believed Boller unquestionably is no worse than the third best QB in the draft, and he's a safer pick than the fragile Byron Leftwich. We don't care which 1st round pick the Bears use to select him, however he easily could be available at #22.
With #13 Angelo appears determined to take a defensive tackle like Georgia's Johnathan Sullivan or Ty Warren from Texas A&M. The only problem with picking 13th is that we don't even see a dozen dynamic players here. Aside from Boller, beginning with Leftwich and 1st overall pick QB Carson Palmer, receivers Charles Rogers and Andre Johnson, DE Terrell Suggs, OT Jordan Gross, LB Boss Bailey, cornerbacks Terence Newman and Marcus Trufant, and defensive tackles Robertson and Jimmy Kennedy all look like excellent picks. However, the next four best players all are defensive tackles of questionable upside. Trading down from #13 for something like #25 and a couple of lower picks might make sense to take Boller and injured RB Willis McGahee to placate fans seeking an offensive upgrade before using the lower picks to draft defensive depth. We don't see a need to add anyone on offense aside from a QB, RB, and perhaps one offensive lineman in a low round, however every defensive position, particularly linebacker and the secondary, requires addressing.
At this point we'll be happy with Boller since at least we won't get stuck with a future back-up like Chris Simms, and our best hope is that Angelo doesn't outthink himself by drafting all lineman before hoping for a QB like Louisville's Dave Ragone to fall to the third round.
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