Bears make pick for the Long term
Lovie Smith wouldn't do it. Jerry Angelo couldn't do it. But Phil Emery is at least giving it a run.
Someone with the Bears is finally taking their desperate need for offensive linemen seriously.
With the 20th pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, the Bears selected Oregon guard Kyle Long, brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long and son of Hall of Famer Howie Long.
Now, picking late in the first round of a bad draft neither generates excitement nor inspires confidence. Such was the Bears' fate Thursday night.
So Emery reached into the second round and at No. 20 overall drafted a guard who might be a year or two away from being able to help the local NFL team. It's stunning when you remember the offensive linemen the Bears left on the board last year just so they could draft Shea McClellin.
In this case, Emery could have absolutely traded down, collected more picks and still selected Long in the second round.
It was definitely a surprise, considering how green Long is at the moment, and it's going to bring plenty of criticism because of the players available when the Bears made their pick.
Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert went to the Bengals at No. 21, and how nice would a two tight-end package have looked to Jay Cutler?
Meanwhile, the Vikings took defensive players at 23 and 25. They got Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, an absolute beast who could have gone in the top 10, and Florida State shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes.
At 24, the Colts took FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner, who might have been the best pass rushing lineman in the draft.
Any one of those players, and a couple of linebackers on the board, would have looked very good in a Bears uniform, but Emery -- despite what he said Thursday night about Long being ready now -- is clearly looking ahead and trying to rebuild.
Knowing ahead of time that they were facing a selection that may have minimal impact in the near future, the Bears did quite a bit of their work in free agency, dumping Brian Urlacher and signing replacement linebackers that can't be any worse.
But the biggest moves were on offense, where they added a Pro Bowl left tackle in Jermon Bushrod, and an effective tight end in Martellus Bennett, who can -- wait for it now -- both block and catch the football.
Of course, if he can merely get off the line without falling face first into the Soldier Field mud, he's an immediate upgrade over Kellen Davis.
Seven offensive linemen went before Long, so perhaps the Bears had other ideas, but -- naturally -- Emery said Long was the player the Bears targeted all along, and it will be news when an NFL GM says that he wanted someone else, and had to settle for the guy he got.
Of course they needed more bodies on the offensive line. It doesn't help that the Bears went for McClellin with the first pick last year, but Emery will need many years of failure before anyone compares him to Jerry Angelo, who included -- among his many first-round busts -- tackles Gabe Carimi, Chris Williams and Marc Colombo.
That's some decade of talent evaluation.
So while it usually takes a couple of years to evaluate a draft, taking a player late in the first round of a draft that probably had 10-12 very good players, suggests that expectations should not have been through the roof.
That is hardly a new concept for Bears fans.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.