The Effect of Phil Emery’s Strength and Conditioning Background on His Draft Views
Filtering through the media reports and videos associated with the draft, the frequency with which Bears GM Phil Emery refers to his background as Navy’s strength and conditioning coach interests me. For instance, this clip from an Emery press conference where he mentions getting inside information on TE Evan Rodriguez from his contacts with the Tennessee and Temple strength and conditioning coaches (at 2:55 and at 3:19, respectively) is a good example of what I’m talking about:
But perhaps even more interesting are subtle comments from evaluators outside the Bears organization on the players Emery selected. For instance there’s this almost off-hand reference from Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune in relation to new Bears DE Shea McClellin:
“An AFC college scouting director said when the other pass rushers stripped down to their skivvies at the Senior Bowl weigh in, it was clear McClellin did not have the same kind of body.”
And McClellin wasn’t the only one whose body got some attention. Pompei relates this factoid when writing about new Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery:
“He played at 232 pounds for South Carolina. He got down to 216 at the NFL scouting combine, but looked soft according to scouts.”
I have to believe that Phil Emery took one look at Jeffery and saw him through the eyes of a strength and conditioning coach. Where other scouts saw Jeffery as being “soft”, Emery undoubtedly saw “potential for improvement” along with a corresponding projection in performance. Its probably no coincidence that Jeffery was the first Bears signing after the draft (Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times). Both the Bears and Jeffery’s agent Eugene Parker undoubtedly want to get him into a professional lifting regime with a proper diet as soon as possible (Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune).
The same view point undoubtedly affected Emery’s impression of McClellin. In a sport where college safeties can become NFL linebackers, its doubtful that Emery looked at McClellin and just saw a guy who “did not have the same kind of body”. The guess here is that he saw a guy who could look like Brian Urlacher a year down the road. If you are a Bears fan, that could only mean good things both now and in the future as we watch how Emery runs the organization.