Will the Bears want to pick an OL prospect in the first round, or has the apparent failure of Chris Williams scared them away from a first-round lineman? Darryl, Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada
This is an interesting theory, Darryl. I've heard other variations of it, too. Some people have wondered if the Bears want to trade out of the first round because they are afraid of whiffing on a first-round pick. I can say with conviction that Bears general manager Jerry Angelo never lets fear enter into his thinking on draft day. He may, depending on the circumstances, choose to try to make a safe pick who has less potential rather than make a risky pick with big potential. But he doesn't always follow that philosophy either. Again, it depends on all the variables that surround each individual selection. And just because Chris Williams has struggled up until this point in his career (the Bears aren't giving up on him yet and shouldn't) does not mean the Bears should shy away from all offensive linemen in the first round. The success rate for picking offensive linemen in the first is about as high as any position. Offensive linemen usually are safe first-round picks, not risky ones. If the right one falls to the Bears at 29--and that's a big if--the Bears probably will have to pick an offensive lineman. And they'll be happy about it.
You recently wrote that the Bears would be best served trading down in the draft because the best talent won't be there at No. 29. I know it's not in Jerry Angelo's blood to move up. But in order to land a talented, young O-lineman like Mike Pouncey, why wouldn't he consider doing that? Matt, Bartlett, Ill.
The price probably will not be worth the return, given the Bears' situation. It depends on how far Pouncey falls, but it might take the Bears' second round pick to move up to get him. It might take their third. Would you be willing to give up two high picks for a center/guard? In some scenarios, it might be the right thing to do. But given the void of talented youth on the Bears' roster, I don't think it would be the right thing for this team to do. A fourth round pick might be worth it. But Pouncey would probably have to fall pretty far for the Bears to be able to trade up with just their first and a fourth. I don't envision that happening.
With the draft looming, and the clear needs in the offensive and defensive line, are there any scenarios, however unlikely, that you see where the Bears could trade up for two first round picks and get top talent on both sides? And could they do it without losing big names like Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher? Rik, Chicago
I think this dream of yours is pretty far-fetched Rik. The only way I could see it happen is if the Bears traded their 2012 first-round pick, and maybe more picks, for another first round pick in this draft. It would probably have to be another low first rounder that they would acquire. With the way the draft appears to be shaking out, the kinds of players the Bears are looking for probably aren't going to be available late in the first anyway. The Bears could not trade big name veterans unless the labor situation is resolved before the draft, because during the work stoppage, active players cannot be traded. Draft picks, however, can be traded.
I would like to see the Bears draft an impact three technique tackle in the first round considering the importance of the position and I'm really high on the DT from Oregon State Stephen Paea. He's been playing football for only a couple of years and he's just scratched the surface of his potential. Do you think he would be a good fit for us and has the Bears showing any interest in him? Thanks Dan! Chris P., Virginia Beach, Va
I think Paea is an interesting prospect, but I'd be surprised if he were taken in the first round, based on the front office men I've spoken with. He is projected to be a second- or third-round pick. Paea didn't play as well last season as he did the year before. He's also considered a little undersized for the position. He has good initial quickness, is tough and plays with good leverage, but he is not the explosive kind of interior pass rusher who gets double digit sacks in the NFL.
I know the Bears need offensive line and defensive line help but my worry is they will reach if say the top four or five offensive tackles are off the board and Pouncey is as well, and most top defensive tackles/ends are gone. How about a wide receiver like Torrey Smith? I really like his intangibles and Pro Football Weekly has the Bear picking him. Why not more noise for him? James, LaCrosse, Wis.
Torrey Smith is probably the kind of receiver who would appeal to Jerry Angelo, given Angelo's history. Smith's speed and explosiveness is enticing. But I'm not sure he's worth the 29th pick in the draft. Smith is a raw player who probably is a year or two away from being able to make an impact. He doesn't have the most natural hands in the world. And I don't see Smith as a good fit for the Bears at this point in time. He isn't the kind of smooth route runner that Mike Martz needs. And he is a similar player to Johnny Knox and Devin Hester. If the Bears draft a receiver early, I think they will draft one who is a tall, physical player with a big catching radius. That's not Smith.
Is there a chance the Bears go after a wide receiver in free agency like Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice or even Steve Smith? Craig, LaSalle, Ill.
I would say there is a chance, depending on how the draft goes. If the Bears don't pick a receiver in the draft, they almost assuredly will be in the market for one in free agency. Whether or not they go after a high priced one like Jackson or Smith depends on what their positional priorities are at the time. I wouldn't get my hopes up about the Bears adding a Pro Bowl caliber receiver. But I wouldn't rule out the possibility either. As for Smith, he's still under contract with the Panthers and he's probably too similar to what the Bears already have at the position.
With the new kick off rule I think there is going to be more big returns but fewer intermediate returns. I believe that due to the rule change returners will hit daylight five yards sooner. Either they will have a short return or once they beat traffic they will be "off to the races." What do you think? Bryon R, Madison, Wis.
Lots of theories on this one, but I don't agree with yours Bryon. I know what you are getting at though. The kick will be traveling five yards further because the kickoff spot will be five yards closer, and the kickoff coverage players will be starting from the same spot they always did. So in theory, the return man could have more room to operate before he hits the first wave of defenders. But I think the main thing we will see is more touchbacks. And that extra room the return man has could end up telegraphing his intentions to the kick defenders.
The Bears' defense was very, very physical. The O-line was not. I believe you can make average talent above average if you make them nasty. Can Mike Tice do that? Shane, Grand Forks, N.D.
I think a good offensive line coach can improve technique, understanding and cohesion. I don't think a good coach can make a player "nastier," to use your term. A blocker's temperament is something he's born with. I suppose it can change over time, but if it does it's probably more about what's going on inside that player than how he responds to external forces.