Dan Pompei's Mailbag; Q&A with the Fans..........
Readers Q&A: Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
The Tribune's Bears columnist ranks the team's top 32 draft picks in the last 10 years in this week's mailbag.
Dan Pompei On the NFL 12:38 p.m. CDT, May 3, 2012
If you were to make a draft order of the top 32 players the Bears have selected over the last 10 years based on what you know now, what would it look like? Tim McClure, Lancaster, Calif.
I went back and looked at the Bears' 83 picks in 10 drafts before the 2012 draft. The drafts encompassed every pick Jerry Angelo made as general manager. Here is how I would rate the top 32:
1. Devin Hester. Before the Bears chose this potential Hall of Famer in the second round in 2006, 56 other players were chosen.
2. Lance Briggs. He and tight end Jason Witten were chosen with back-to-back picks and were far and away the best third-round selections of the 2003 draft.
3. Matt Forte. He has outperformed four of the five running backs chosen ahead of him in 2008 (all except Chris Johnson).
4. Tommie Harris. He made three Pro Bowls and might have made seven or eight if he didn't tear his hamstring off the bone.
5. Kyle Orton. He has outperformed five of the six quarterbacks chosen ahead of him in 2005, with the one exception being Aaron Rodgers.
6. Charles Tillman. One of the Bears' best corners in history, he was a second-round pick in Angelo's best draft class.
7. Henry Melton. The Bears took a fourth-round flyer on a converted running back in 2009 and developed him into one of the better interior pass rushers in the NFL. He could be ranked higher in time.
8. Johnny Knox. Nineteen wide receivers were chosen ahead of him in the 2009 draft, including the forgettable Juaquin Iglesias by the Bears. Of those 19, four have more receiving yards than Knox.
9. Bernard Berrian. Of the 31 receivers taken in 2004, this third-round pick was better than all of them except first rounders Larry Fitzgerald and Lee Evans.
10. Greg Olsen. The Bears never used him right and traded him too soon, but he was a solid first round draft pick.
11. Alex Brown. He was the 11th defensive end chosen in 2002 but has been clearly outplayed by only the top two selected: Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney. The Bears got 107 starts out of this fourth-round pick.
12. Rex Grossman. In 2003 the Bears needed a quarterback. Carson Palmer, Byron Leftwich and Kyle Boller were off the board when they picked. Grossman easily was the best remaining QB. He isn't a Hall of Famer, but he took the Bears to the Super Bowl and probably would have been a much more productive player if injuries did not seriously limit his mobility.
13. Marc Columbo. Angelo chose a blue-collar right tackle with the 29th pick of the first round for his first Bears draftee. Because of injury, Columbo didn't do much for the Bears but he started 95 NFL games and was a solid player. The 10 picks that followed Columbo were G Kendall Simmons, LB Robert Thomas, QB Patrick Ramsey, WR Jabar Gaffney, RB DeShaun Foster, DE Kalimba Edwards, Wr Josh Reed, G/C Andre Gurode, LB Raonall Smith and G Toniu Fonoti.
14. Earl Bennett. Many of the receivers chosen ahead of him in 2008 were busts; he was a solid third-rounder.
15. Danieal Manning. He never really settled into one position, but this second-round pick played in 96 games for the Bears and was a heck of a kick returner. He remains a decent safety for the Texans.
16. Nathan Vasher. How many fourth-round picks have 20 career interceptions and go to a Pro Bowl?
17. Chris Harris. A sixth-round pick in 2005, he has been an NFL starter for three teams for the better part of seven years.
18. D.J. Moore. In 2009 he was the 199th player taken overall. He has eight career picks and is a fine nickel corner.
19. Mark Anderson. With a 12-sack rookie season in 2006, this fifth-round pick raised expectations he couldn't meet. But he did just have his second double-digit sack season, and he signed a lucrative deal with his fourth team.
20. Corey Graham. This fifth-round pick became one of the best special teams players in the league, even making a Pro Bowl.
21. Gabe Carimi. It's hard to say he was a good or bad pick yet because he was injured as a rookie. But everything we saw indicates he'll be higher on this list in time. Remember, Mike Tice said Carimi was playing the best of his linemen at the time of his injury last year.
22. Chris Conte. It's early to say with Conte, too. But I like his speed and instincts.
23. J'Marcus Webb. Of the 48 players who were chosen in the seventh round of the 2010 draft, only Webb and Bucs safety Cody Grim are starters.
24. Tank Johnson. He lasted only three years with the Bears because of his off-the-field issues, but he was a good football player who helped them win games. The Bears gambled Johnson would straighten out. He did not.
25. Bobby Wade. This fifth-round pick in 2003 became a decent slot receiver for four teams over eight NFL seasons.
26. Ian Scott. A fourth-rounder, Scott lasted seven years in the NFL and was a decent role player.
27. Justin Gage. An eight-year career for a fifth-round pick isn't bad.
28. Adrian Peterson. The Bears got eight years of top-notch special-teams play out of this sixth-round pick.
29. Kellen Davis. The Bears picked up a starting tight end in the fifth round in Davis.
30. Chris Williams. When the Bears took Williams with the 14th overall pick in 2008, Jake Long and Ryan Clady were already off the board. They took Williams ahead of Gosder Cherilus, Jeff Otah, Sam Baker and Duane Brown. Of the tackles the Bears passed, Brown has been the only one who clearly has been better than Williams. Williams has not been as durable or as effective as the Bears hoped, but he still is an NFL starting caliber lineman.
31. Trumaine McBride. This seventh-round pick has lasted five years as a nickel corner.
32. Cedric Benson. He was the fourth overall pick, and his attitude and demeanor prevented him from realizing his abilities in Chicago. He resurrected his career in Cincinnati, however, and became a serviceable NFL running back. Fourth overall was not a great spot to be drafting in 2005. The Bears would have been better served ignoring needs and going with more of a best available approach and taking pass rushers DeMarcus Ware, or Shawne Merriman, or defensive back Antre Rolle.
I know it is the norm to second-guess every pick, but if you look at Shea McClellin's workout numbers they are superior to Simeon Rice's numbers. His size is very similar and his motor is far superior. Rice is viewed as the prototypical Cover 2 end. So why all of the skepticism as to his "fit" for the scheme? Shane Kryzsko, Hastings, Neb.
We have a couple factors in play here. McClellin was not a full-time defensive end at Boise State. So saying he is going to be one is a partial projection. The pre-draft buzz on him, for whatever that was worth, was that he would be best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. He played that position at the Senior Bowl, and it seems a lot of people forgot that he also could be drafted as a defensive end. A lot of front office men I've spoken with say he could be either a defensive end in a 4-3 or an outside linebacker in a 3-4. McClellin actually is a little faster than Rice in the 40. He ran a 4.62 40 yard dash at the combine; Rice was a 4.76. But Rice is two inches taller and has longer arms. Rice looks more like what a defensive end is supposed to look like.
What do you think about Albert Haynesworth as a possible free-agent signing? A cheap, one-year, prove-it deal. He didn't play poorly last year, he just wasn't worth $7.2 million. Why not give him a chance to play at DT and get the benefit of Julius Peppers taking on the double teams, a great DL coach in Rod Marinelli, and a good rotation in terms of the other DTs on our team? Will Providence
The last three teams Haynesworth has been on couldn't wait to show him the door. Why do you think his next team (if there is a next team) will be any different? Someone like Haynesworth is worth putting up with only if they are dominating on the football field. He is no longer dominating on the football field. My feeling is Haynesworth detracts more from a team than helps it. I'd rather play against guys like him than with him.
I have seen videos and read numerous slams on the Bears OL. I thought with two starters coming off 2011 injury reserve, no more Mike Martz and, most important, Mike Tice likes his group of young linemen. If Tice is what everyone says he is, why all the media flack? Chuck D., Guilin, China
Mike Tice is a fine offensive line coach, but he is not a miracle worker. The Bears offensive line was not good enough one year ago. The team could have used another player to compete at left tackle. I know the Bears were interested in tackles in the draft. The only reason they didn't end up with one is the way players came off the board led them to picking players at other positions with higher grades. But I still do expect improvement from the offensive line in 2012. Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams are coming back from injury, and we should expect more stability on the line. Many of the linemen, especially J'Marcus Webb, Lance Louis and Carimi, still are young and improving. And the expectation is Tice will not stress his blockers schematically as much as Mike Martz did.