The Demise of the Bears: Jerry Angelo and Early Draft Picks
If you want to place blame on why the Bears just aren’t as good as the Lions or Packers, look no further than GM Jerry Angelo and his terrible draft history in the early rounds. Over the last 10 drafts, the Bears have gotten good use out of less than half of their top two draft picks. Let’s run down a history of their picks, and then compare it with others.
The 2011 draft: Gabe Carimi, Stephen Paea
It’s still too early to tell with these two players. Carimi has shown promise but is currently injured. Paea has yet to see much playing time.
The 2010 draft: No 1st/2nd round picks.
The Bears 1st round pick went to Denver for Jay Cutler. The 2nd round pick was traded for Gaines Adams, who tragically died due to an enlarged heart. Can’t fault the Bears on that one.
The 2009 Draft: No 1st/2nd round picks.
Again, the Bears 1st round pick went to Denver for Cutler. The 2nd round pick was shipped to Seattle for later picks.
And unfortunately, Bears fans, these drafts were above Bears Standards.
The 2008 Draft: Chris Williams, Matt Forte
Matt Forte was a gem of a pick in the 2nd round, and is arguably a top-5 back in the NFL right now. Chris Williams, on the other hand, has been nothing short of a bust. He was supposed to be the OL that solidified the line. Instead, he became just as big of a problem as, well, everyone else.
The 2007 Draft: Greg Olsen, Dan Bazuin
Verdict: Not so good
Olsen was serviceable for us, even though he couldn’t block. Most Bears fans were upset to see him leave in the off-season (though the same fans were calling for his head after the previous year). Dan Bazuin was about as effective as a swing-and-a-miss on a pitch-out.
The 2006 Draft: Danieal Manning, Devin Hester
Verdict: Okay draft
The Bears traded back in this draft. Our first round pick was traded to Buffalo for their 2nd and 3rd round picks. Manning had an up-and-down career in Chicago before bolting for Houston in the last off-season. He’s never really been good enough to warrant the 2nd round pick. Devin Hester was a great pick, and has revolutionized the game of football. However, once we found a player who was great at something, only the Bears can sign him to an extension, reduce his role in what he’s great at, and play him at wide receiver. Epic fail.
The 2005 Draft: Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley
The Bears needed a RB, and Cedric Benson out of Texas was there for the taking. However he held out for the majority of training camp, and that didn’t sit well with the current players. He was kept over Thomas Jones (not a favorable move both at the time and in hindsight) and a couple injuries and arrests later, he was no longer with the team. Mark Bradley showed promise early, but injuries and a lack of “getting it” really killed his potential.
The 2004 Draft: Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson
Verdict: Showed promise, then let-down.
Tommie Harris looked to be one of the best Defensive Tackles in football early on, however injuries and a bad motor kept him from showing it for an extended period of time. Tank Johnson also looked to be the part, but just never matured enough to be a solution.
The 2003 Draft: Michael Haynes, Rex Grossman, Charles Tillman
Michael Haynes was worthless. Rex Grossman “led” the Bears to the Superbowl in 2006, though his numbers were never 1st-round-worthhy. Charles Tillman was an excellent pick, and is still one of the best defensive players on the team today.
The 2002 Draft: Marc Colombo, Roosevelt Williams
Verdict: Serviceable at best.
Both these picks were okay picks, but just not what you expect out of your top picks.
Okay, so we’ve discussed the Bears top picks over the last 10 years. Of the drafts, Forte is clearly the best player. The (short) list after that contains the names of Greg Olsen, Devin Hester and Charles Tillman. I suppose you could throw Jay Cutler into that list as well, but that debate is for another article.
Now, let’s look at the last 10 drafts of the two (undefeated) teams we are currently looking up to in the standings: The Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.
2o11: Derek Sharrod, Randall Cobb
2010: Bryan Baluga, Mike Neal
2009: BJ Raji, Clay Matthews
2008: Jordy Nelon, Bryan Brohm, Pat Lee
2007: Justin Harrell, Brandon Jackson
2006: AJ Hawk, Daryn Colledge, Greg Jennings
2005: Aaron Rodgers, Nick Collins, Terrance Murphy
2004: Ahmad Carroll
2003: Nick Barnett
2002: Javon Walker
Now, the Packers have had their fair share of misses as well. But look at who they hit on. Their first round picks rarely fail to meet expectations, and it’s been that way for a decade. It’s not easy to diagnose which franchise has drafted better in the early rounds.
(For those wondering about Jermichael Finley, he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft.)
2011: Nick Fairley, Titus Young, Mikel LeShoure
2010: Ndamukong Suh, Jahvid Best
2009: Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew, Louis Delmas
2008: Gosder Cherilus, Jordan Dizon, Kevin Smith
2007: Calvin Johnson, Drew Stanton, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Gerald Alexander
2006: Ernie Sims, Daniel Bullocks
2005: Mike Williams, Shaun Cody
2004: Roy Williams, Kevin Jones, Teddy Lehman
2003: Charles Rodgers, Boss Bailey
2002: Joey Harington, Kalimba Edwards
With Detroit, you see Matt Millen’s bad work early on, his good work later on (Sims, Johnson, Cherilus were all on his watch), and what his replacement has done. Granted, the Lions had high draft picks most of these years, but man have they produced. You wanna know how to build a winning franchise? Draft Suh, Best, Stafford, and Pettigrew all in two drafts.
Say what you want about the current state of the Beloved and who is to blame. But if you want to look at who needs to go, look no further than the (lack-of-) talent evaluator and “leader” of the franchise, General Manager Jerry Angelo.