Good picks may not be right fit for Bears
The Chicago Bears, by all accounts, landed a bargain Saturday in fourth-round pick Corey Wootton, the No. 4-rated defensive end.
Just not the kind of bargain they were looking for.
“He’s got to have pass rush traits,” general manager Jerry Angelo said the day before drafting Wootton. “We’re not looking for a run stuffer.”
Pro Football Weekly, which had Wootton rated as a mid-second round pick, said he was “not a natural pass rusher — spins in place, lacks creativity and does not collapse the pocket.”
Wootton does boast “the wingspan of a condor” and is “smart, tough and hardworking” with “solid character.”
Pretty much everything except the two things the Bears talked about: Rushing the passer and staying healthy.
Wootton missed time at Northwestern with a neck injury, hip flexor and a sprained ankle. He also had major knee surgery in January of 2009. Pro Football Weekly questioned his “toughness to battle through injury.”
This from a team that stressed health, over and over again, when it took safety Major Wright in the third round Friday.
This is what happens when you trade away your top two draft picks: You add players who look perfect on one side, perfectly ugly on the other.
Even when they look good on all sides, they come off the rack and don’t necessarily fit right.
Wright has the top-end speed to be the type of play-making safety the Bears have lacked since Mike Brown began breaking down six years ago. Pro Football Weekly listed him as the No. 2 strong safety in the draft who is “best utilized as an in the box zone defender.”
Except Angelo says nobody wants an in the box safety anymore and the Bears will use Wright at free safety. Coach Lovie Smith described Wright “as the enforcer who comes up with some big hits in the middle of the field.” That describes the duty of a strong safety. The Bears have those in bushels. What they haven’t had in six years is a safety that excels in pass defense.
Angelo said only two safeties stood out in this draft, both high first-round picks.
“The rest of the secondary, corners and safeties alike, they all had their traits,” Angelo said. “Now you want to just get the flavor that you like.”
Why not, then, take the flavor that favors pass defense. A player like fifth-round cornerback Joshua Moore.
“He has excellent cover sense,” defensive backs coach Jon Hoke said. “Of all the guys we have, he is probably a little further ahead in man skills. Man coverage is a tough thing to teach.”
Except the Bears seldom play man-to-man, preferring to play it safe and sit back in a zone. Moore is also described by Pro Football Weekly as “Lazy, immature and (his) character needs to be evaluated.”
Oh, OK, that’s why not.
Still, the only thing wrong with this draft is the Bears said they wanted something else. The Vikings’ fourth-round pick of Everson Griffen, a “dynamic” but “underachieving” pass rusher from USC according to ESPN.com, fits what Angelo wanted. Wootton, whom ESPN.com wrote could develop “into a starting power end in a four-man front,” sounds like Alex Brown.
That’s OK. The Bears never should have let Alex Brown go. The Bears, with only 13 interceptions last year, also need a defensive back that will attack the ball like Moore. And a safety as athletic as Wright.
The only problem is they also still need a true free safety, another pass rushing end and a cornerback who will create more problems for opponents on the field than for himself off it.
Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.