A trade-down, on the other hand, could be exactly what the draft doctor ordered
Dan Pompei On the NFL 1:20 p.m. CDT, April 9, 2011
At the No. 29 spot in the first round of the NFL draft, it is appearing more and more likely the Bears' best option will not be picking a player to fill a position in need.
It is more likely their best option will be general manager Jerry Angelo going Monty Hall and working all angles to make a deal.
It's always very difficult to project who will be available at the bottom of the first round, but with less than three weeks until the draft, the possibilities are becoming clearer. And it's looking more and more like the Bears will be in no man's land if they stay put.
Many Bears fans are praying the team can find an answer at left tackle with its first pick. It remains a possibility, but it appears more likely that every left tackle prospect worth a first-round pick will be gone by the time the Bears are on the clock.
The good news is there are five potential first-round tackles, so one could slide. The tackles most likely will fall in this order, based on a survey of NFL scouts: Tyron Smith, Nate Solder, Anthony CastonzoGabe Carimi and Derrick Sherrod.
If Carimi slips, it's because some teams are concerned about his cockiness. Sherrod could fall a bit because he's a love-or-hate-him prospect. But more love him than hate him.
If all five are gone, the Bears would have to reach for a tackle at 29, and that would not be prudent.
As for interior lineman, guard/center Mike Pouncey is expected to be long gone at 29. If the Bears are stuck at that spot, Danny Watkins of Baylor might not be a bad concession. A former firefighter from Canada who is 26, Watkins has climbed up draft boards because he is considered a safe pick. He is known for his strength, character and toughness.
The Bears could use a pass-rushing defensive tackle, but their options probably won't be very enticing at the end of the first round. Corey Liuget from Illinois should be chosen in the teens. Phil Taylor and Muhammad Wilkerson are not really the style of tackle the Bears are looking for.
They could reach for someone like Marvin Austin, Drake Nevis or Terrell McClain but should have better options elsewhere.
The Bears also need a defensive end, and the 2011 crop is good. But seven of them are expected to be off the board before the Bears' turn. Cameron Heyward, who is a better fit for a 3-4 defense, Brooks Reed and Justin Houston likely will be left. The latter two could fit in Rod Marinelli's scheme but would be better values later.
As for linebackers and wide receivers, the Bears likely would have to reach to take one at the end of the first round. There are some solid second-round prospects at both positions, but none of them has late first-round value.
Which brings us to a trade. Personnel director Tim Ruskell has acknowledged that it could be worth considering moving up. And the Bears might have to move up to get an immediate impact player.
But the price might be prohibitive, unless one of their targeted players slides and they merely need to move up a few spots.
Understand this about the Bears. As a result of trades and misses, they have one player on their roster from the first three rounds of the last two drafts ó safety Major Wright. This is a team that is badly in need of an infusion of multiple young players. For their long-term health, the Bears need numbers of solid players more than they need one difference maker.
So barring something unusual, a trade up probably is not in the Bears' best interests. A trade down, on the other hand, could be exactly what the draft doctor ordered.
It seems certain there will be buyers in the market for a late-round pick. Among the teams that could be interested in moving up, perhaps for a quarterback, are the Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Titans, Redskins, Vikings, 49ers, Raiders, Jaguars and Seahawks.
It also seems certain there will be other sellers in the market, however. That the Patriots will be willing to move down is almost a given. Others, including the Ravens, likely will be all ears as well.
So the Bears might not make a killing by moving down. But they likely will be best served by taking what they can get.
What can the Bears expect with the 29th pick of the first round?
What can the Bears expect with the 29th pick of the first round?
Each draft is different, and you canít put too much stock in what has happened in previous years. But history says they have a decent chance of getting a good, not great player if they choose at 29 instead of trading down or up.
Of the last 10 players to be chosen with the 29th pick, seven of them became reliable starters. Only one of them has become a star, however.
2010--Kyle Wilson, Jets. The cornerback contributed mostly in sub packages and also started six games. He did not make a major impact.
2009--Hakeem Nicks, Giants. He had a breakout season in 2010 with more than 1,000 receiving yards, and could be on his way to stardom.
2008--Kentwan Balmer, 49ers. The 49ers thought so little of the defensive lineman they traded him to the Seahawks last summer for a sixth round pick.
2007--Ben Grubbs, Ravens. He has been a solid but unspectacular starter at guard for his whole career.
2006--Nick Mangold, Jets. A three-time Pro Bowler, Mangold arguably is the best center in the AFC.
2005--Marlin Jackson, Colts. The defensive back has been a 16-game starter for only one full season. He has had knee and Achilles tendon injuries. The Colts let him leave in free agency and he signed with the Eagles.
2004--Michael Jenkins, Falcons. He has been an average receiver for the Falcons. He had 777 receiving yards in his most productive season.
2003--Nick Barnett, Packers. He became an above-average inside linebacker for the Packers.
2002--Marc Colombo, Bears. The Bears gave up on Colombo after he struggled to come back from a serious knee injury, but he regained his health in Dallas and has been a starter for the past five years.
2001--Ryan Pickett, Rams. He became a very good defensive tackle/end over time, eventually signing with the Packers as a free agent.
The website draftmetrics.com did a study of recent picks, and concluded that 48 percent of all players chosen between the 29th and 48th selections have a 48 percent probability of becoming a five-year starter. Offensive linemen chosen with those selections have a 59 percent chance of becoming a five-year starter.
Only 35 percent of players chosen between the 29th and 48th picks become rookie starters, and only 19 percent of them become Pro Bowlers at some point in their careers.
So while itís easy to assume the Bears should pick up a difference-maker with their first-round pick, history says they likely will not.