Bears OK with neglecting offensive line in draft
Bears NFL draft: Chicago Bears OK with neglecting offensive line in NFL draft - chicagotribune.com
GM Emery believes playmaking abilities of players picked outweigh other needs
The Bears have spent much of the offseason telling you how much they believe in their offensive line.
They completed the NFL draft Saturday showing just how much faith they have in new coordinator Mike Tice's ability to upgrade the unit with an offseason of coaching and a playbook that has been overhauled since the departure of former play-caller Mike Martz.
With fans clamoring for help on the offensive line since free agency opened, the Bears didn't add a single lineman in the draft. The only moves with veterans have been the release of Frank Omiyale and the addition of veteran guard Chilo Rachal, a depth signing that might not affect the starting five.
General manager Phil Emery completed his first draft in selecting Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez in the fourth round and adding a pair of cornerbacks — Nevada's Isaiah Frey in the sixth round and TCU's Greg McCoy in the seventh. The entire draft developed in such a way that the Bears didn't see value in linemen, especially when they had a chance to go for a playmaker in Round 2.
"What leads you to not draft a specific position — and you have to look at all the positions — is what players are on the board who can get us there the quickest?" Emery said. "I will say (wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round), was a shining light up there. He was the highest-rated player on our board and the highest player available to make plays that determine winning games.
"When you do that, some positions are going to go by the wayside, whether it's O-line, whatever. You take the best player who's going to make the most plays for you, who gives you the best chance of winning."
Coach Lovie Smith talked about adding talent to the line with former first-round picks Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams returning from injuries. But he wouldn't say if Williams will be back at left guard where he started nine games last season.
"We've added a couple of guys and there are still a few options out there," Smith said. "Believe me, we want to do everything we can to open up holes for our running backs and protect Jay Cutler. We felt like we'll be able to do that."
Ultimately, Emery said his job came down to building the team around Cutler. The Bears have signed 15 players, including some of their own free agents, and have drafted six others. Four of them, including Jeffery, were wide receivers with Brandon Marshall the biggest addition.
"We now have the weapons," he said. "When I came in here our first press conference we talked a little bit about what are your thoughts, philosophies? That's what I saw about our roster, that we needed to develop weapons for Jay. And we feel good about where we're at in that progress."
Rodriguez is part of that group. The Bears like his ability to be a pass-catching tight end and contribute as an H-back with the ability to help block on the edge. He's undersized at just under 6 feet 2, 239 pounds, but he runs well and is athletic. He could push fullback Tyler Clutts for a roster spot.
Rodriguez compared himself to Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. He will have to be a major statistical contributor to pull that off. It is clear Emery is looking for those players, though.