The NFL held its annual meat market this past weekend, and for their part the Bears came away with one big prime filet mignon, a choice porterhouse, a tiny rib eye and some short ribs on Saturday. Day two brought a bunch of utility-grade beef to fill out the freezer, including two well-marbled rump roasts to put in front of Rex and a bunch of extra lean ground sirloin for secondary meals.
Watching schools like Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe and New Hampshire pop up on the Bears draft board I was left wondering whether it was Jerry Angelo or Jerry Krause calling out the names.
I guess I owe Angelo an apology, though. I thought he got fleeced when he wound up without an extra body and settled for moving up in the second round in exchange for Thomas Jones. But Angelo turned that pick, the 37th, into a pair of thirds and a fifth rounder, as well as moving up one place from his original 63rd slot in the second round when he shorted the Chargers. The difference here is that the second (late, final) round picks Krause used to stockpile rarely made the roster, while Angelo has been adding depth to the Bears squad regularly through the later rounds.
The funniest, or perhaps strangest, comment of the weekend came from the guy running (?) our northerly neighbor’s selection process. Ted Thompson, the guy who generally manages the packers, appeared genuinely surprised when he found out that the Raiders had traded Randy Moss to the Patriots. Coupled with a toilet paper endorsement, Thompson was trying to work a deal to bring Moss to Curly’s Place, but he wasn’t willing to part with the fourth round pick New England forked over. When questioned about the trade by a local reporter (would that be the guy from the Door County Advocate?), Thompson said, “We talk to 50 different teams about different trades, different players, different draft choices. I just found out this morning on the news, maybe like you guys did, that he was going to New England." To me that’s confusing, because last I checked there were only 32 teams in the NFL. So either Thompson lost count, or green bay has been relegated and is looking to deal with more evenly matched competition in the Arena Football League.
What do Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, Jr. have in common? They all were highly rated tight ends coming out of Miami whose NFL teams haven’t won anything since they arrived. To that list the Bears now add Greg Olsen, with the hope that Olsen will be the first to don a Super Bowl ring. If he does, no doubt the Domer fans will attribute it to the few weeks he spent practicing with the Irish before choosing to become a Hurricane before the start of his freshman season. Olsen is supposedly the most accomplished receiver of the group coming out of college, possessing size that should let Rex Grossman find him anywhere on the field. He also comes with 4.5 speed, probably owing to the freeze-dried Folgers Mrs. Olsen used to slip him in his sippy cup.
Defensive end Dan “Buzz” Bazuin was selected in that 62nd spot taken off San Diego. Given the emergence of Mark Anderson as a pass rusher last year and the fact Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye are both signed through 2009, Buzz figures to make his mark as a run stopper, or maybe Bob Babich will use his 6’2” height inside on third downs.
The Bears took a pair of guys back-to-back late in the third round, probably figuring they could come up with a full-sized NFL player with a roll of duct tape. Taken first was 5’7”, 186 pound Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois. While finishing his college career ranked fourth in NCAA I-A history in yards per game against the likes of Ball State, Toledo and Bowling Green, no doubt Angelo envisions spotting Wolfe and using him as a third down back. Either that, or Angelo picked him to audition for the lead role in “The Tony Medlin Story.”
The back half of the pair was 5’11”, 232 pound outside linebacker Michael Okwo of Stanford, who joins a list including Rod Wilson, Leon Joe and Jamar Williams who will compete for Lance Brigg$’ abdicated throne should Brigg$ continue to be insulted by the $423,529 weekly check the Bears are offering next season. One thing Okwo has going for him is that he can step into Brigg$ locker and feel at home with the #55 he wore in college hanging right there.
A good analogy for pre-draft evaluations of second day picks would be the box of dented cans at the end of the grocery store aisle. You never know if what’s inside is edible or if it’s filled with botulism, because for every Alex Brown you find there’s another Alonzo Mayes or Karon Riley lurking. Given Angelo’s track record in the later rounds we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. One publication labeled guard Josh Beekman, the Bears’ fourth round selection, as the steal of the second day, saying he’d be starting in the next year or two. Unfortunately, guard isn’t where the Bears have a pressing need, with Roberto Garza and Terrance Metcalf set once Ruben Brown hangs up his cleats. Beekman and Garza can also play center, but the Bears also have a pretty good guy playing there, too.
What the Bears really needed, if anybody was watching Fred Miller late last year, was an offensive tackle. But by the time Angelo dipped into the tackle box, all he could find was Iowa State’s Aaron Brant in the 7th round. About the only thing Brant has going for him is the 6’6” frame that’s only carrying 313 pounds. This guy can grow with some weight training, but it remains to be seen whether he can play tackle at the NFL level.
In between the offensive linemen Angelo restocked his secondary, coming up with Kevin Payne, a safety who started college as a running back (can you say Jerry Azumah?), Corey Graham, a cornerback/return specialist who may come in handy if Devin Hester winds up being that wide receiver everybody expected the Bears to pick, and Trumaine McBride, a 5’9”, 185 pound cornerback of whom the Pro Football Weekly 2007 Draft Preview said, “Undersized. Does not have great speed. ... Not a great athlete. Does not have very good hands. ... Does not have great recovery speed and can be late to react.” But he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express on Saturday night.
Now comes the fun part – signing them all. For the most part the lower round picks will march like sheep into Cliff Stein’s office and take what’s offered, but Olsen is another story, for The Übertool speaks for him. You have to wonder if there’s ever any give and take between Drew Rosenhaus and the team when it comes to negotiating multiple contracts for different guys on the same team. Does Brigg$ even know what’s acceptable? Does The Übertool tell him that number? Does he tell Brigg$ a lower number if Olsen gets a little extra?
Maybe that’s it. Maybe Rosenhaus lives by the unofficial motto of Chicago coined by the late Mike Royko: Ubi est mea.