On the NFL
April 17, 2013
Somewhere in Phil Emery's Halas Hall office, perhaps in a fireproof safe, is a folder.
It might disintegrate if touched without special gloves.
Maybe it is marked "Top Secret."
In it is "The Draft Plan."
It's not fully formed yet, but it's getting there. And Emery revealed some of it Tuesday in a conference at Halas Hall to discuss the April 25-27 NFL draft.
The plan includes three groups of players the Bears could acquire with their first pick.
The first group, Emery said, includes two or three players who probably won't fall to the Bears. But if one of them does, the Bears will pounce.
Think of someone like North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, a transcendent talent who could lift the entire offensive line.
The second group includes five or six players the Bears might feel comfortable with at 20 if they have to pick there.
Think of someone like Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, who could have the kind of dynamic playmaking ability that Emery has said he seeks.
The third group includes maybe four players who would be appealing in a trade back scenario.
Think of someone like Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o, an imperfect prospect who still could be an excellent value at the right point of the draft.
Emery did not talk much about individual prospects at the news conference. But he did offer some interesting perspective.
For instance, he sounded as if Teo's scandal or his 4.78 time in the 40-yard dash wouldn't spook him.
Asked about meeting with him at Halas Hall, Emery said, "I found Manti to be a very good person, a very squared-away guy and I certainly enjoyed the meeting."
He also said he was more concerned with playing speed than dash times.
The notion of the Bears drafting a tight end or offensive tackle after they acquired tight end Martellus Bennett and left tackle Jermon Bushrod in the veteran free agent market might puzzle some. But Emery said he would not rule out any player at any position in the draft.
And he also acknowledged that he is interested particularly in offensive linemen, saying it was one of the positions "more attractive to us."
The good news is Emery listed offensive line as one of the strong positions in the draft, along with cornerback, safety and defensive line. He also said the tight end and receiver groups were "above average."
The Bears need all of the above. Of course, they also could use a linebacker. Emery didn't say what he thought about the linebacker class, but other NFL front office men have said it is not very impressive.
The one linebacker who might be worthy of the 20th pick from a talent standpoint appears to be Alec Ogletree of Georgia, but he has had a string of off-the-field issues. Emery did not want to talk about those as they related to his draft stock.
It may be possible that Emery would be more comfortable taking Ogletree with, say, an early second-round pick than he would the 20th pick.
Emery continues to explore trade down scenarios. "We've already had a couple of teams approach us," he said. "I've approached a couple during owners meetings. … It doesn't get serious until you get close to the pick. … It gets real serious when you're on the clock."
The Bears can't drop too far back if they want to end up with one of the three or four players Emery likes in a trade down. But a contingency in which they drop further and don't end up with one of those players also is part of his plan.
"I'll go as far back as I feel we're getting a good deal," Emery said. "If someone is going to wow us at, I'll just throw an arbitrary number, 34, and we feel that's going to bring tremendous value to us and help upgrade our club significantly, we'll go there."
Emery already has a pretty good idea of what the Bears will do in any scenario. He said the more experience he has the more he realizes the importance of having "The Draft Plan" committed so "rash emotional decisions" are avoided.
"It all needs to be thoroughly discussed, and it needs to get down on paper," he said. "It's a plan on paper. It's a little bit in pencil and you have to adjust as you go. You have to have a little flexibility. But the planning process is far more important than the day of the draft."
A lot more of the plan will be revealed in eight days.
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