Bears

Angelo, Bears entering final stretch before draft

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Angelo, Bears entering final stretch before draft

Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 1:05 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

As Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent said of his accomplishments and body of work, The hay is in the barn.

So it is with the Bears now as well. Coaches, scouts and personnel heads have have finished their draft meetings and most of their evaluation process on players and now matters swing onto final approach for the 2011 draft that begins next Thursday night.

From the general pool of up to 75 players making the cut list as draftable, the Bears have targeted a cluster of 4-6 players they consider quality gets at No. 29 as the draft still stands. They also have narrowed their list to four target positions they would like to address in the draft.

And their goal from the weekends selections ultimately, as it is with every draft, is to add four starters.

Theres four, five, six guys that based on our projections and grades would be in the running for the pick, said player personnel director Tim Ruskell. The number isimportant because when you think about trading down, you want to have at least half as many guys you would like as the number of picks you go down.

The Bears are among a handful of teams, including Carolina drafting No. 1 overall, that would prefer to deal down and add picks if the offer and available pool of players remaining are right.

But the Bears have their first six picks available, not a case where they are short some selections and need to rebuild numbers. They also do not appear locked in on any individual player and have no intention of getting to that point.

You dont really want to fall in love with any player, said general manager Jerry Angelo. To me thats a trap. Weve been pretty sober and focused about our approach. We do like a handful of players. Theyre not perfect but theyre guys that we like and feel could help our football team.
Target selection

Angelo, Ruskell and the coaching staff have identified four positions they are willing to draft to fill, including offensive line, defensive line and cornerback. A wide receiver or linebacker would be a welcome addition but neither spot is viewed as must-have.

Having four positions worth draft picks gives you the flexibility where you could take the best player, Angelo said. And I think in this years draft, you could probably say best player available, were going to get.

Narrowing the field

One intriguing prospect on the defensive line, both for the Bears and others in the 20-32 draft range, is tackle Marvin Austin. A talented disruptor in the Tommie Harris mold, Austin was dropped from the team and sat out all of 2010 for illegal dealings with an agent, and there are issues of maturity that have turned some teams off.

The Bears have scrutinized Austins background and whether they would risk another high pick on a character question, after some difficulties with Harris and Tank Johnson, is an issue.

Obviously, hes got documented concerns, Angelo said. Weve delved into those. Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli went down there and spent a good amount of time with him. Mark Sadowski, our scout, has spent a goodly amount of time.

So we feel real good about how we feel about him and knowing him. I always say this, and I use this term: We just dont want any surprises on draft day when we bring a player in here. Were not looking for halo players. Were in the business to win football games, but we have to know whats underneath the hood.

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

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USA Today

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

Plenty of NFL players will use the league’s mandated five-week summer break to play a little golf as a way to relax and recharge for the grind of training camp and regular season. But you won’t find many players who take golf more seriously than Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. 

Which is a little ironic on the surface, right? Gabriel’s nickname is “Turbo,” after all. 

“Yeah, that’s very weird when I think about it,” Gabriel laughed. “It’s not a sport to where you’re running and jumping, and I wouldn’t say not doing anything really athletic — it’s more mental than anything. 

“But I feel like it kind of helps me football-wise in the sense of kind of focus. Like dialing in on that swing, keeping that same swing rhythm pattern, not getting too frustrated after I just sliced a drive or go O.B. on the driver. So it’s helping me.”

Gabriel had played sporadically earlier in his life, and said his father golfs, but didn’t get hooked by the sport until last April while watching Tiger Woods win the Masters. He bought his first set of nice clubs after that remarkable weekend in Augusta and frequently posts videos of his swing to his Instagram account.  

So it’s become a serious hobby of his — “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t practice,” he said. It’s also something he and his wife do together. 

Though he admitted his wife is a better golfer than he is. 

“She’s not trying to crush the ball, she’s not trying to do too much, but she keeps that consistent same rhythm, same swing, same follow-through every time,” Gabriel said. “Me, I might see the hole is probably 180 (yards) out, I mean, I just want to crush it on the green. And that’s when everything goes wrong.”

Still, for someone who’s only been seriously golfing for about two months, that Gabriel said he can consistently hit his drives 240 yards is rather impressive (being an exceptional athlete, certainly, has to help). But this isn’t some casual love affair with golf — it’s a legitimate way for Gabriel to take his mind off football while staying sharp mentally and doing something he’s quickly grown to genuinely enjoy doing. 

“It’s relaxing, just playing 18 holes — I’m a walker, I like walking,” Gabriel said. “Eighteen holes kind of figuring out your swing, what you did wrong, you know what I mean, just being on the golf course, relaxing, the atmosphere. But at the end of the day I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been hitting them pretty straight, I’ve been putting them pretty good, so I guess I’m catching on quick. 

“But every time I ask a golfer, I mean, how long did it take for you guys to get a consistent swing, they say 20 years. I mean, I got that to look forward to.”  

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

It didn’t take the Bears long to see how valuable Khalil Mack is to their defense, elevating the group from the moment he first stepped on the field.

He’s been among the league’s best outside linebackers since he first broke out in 2015, and the analytics back up the eye test.

He was the highest edge defender on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 players in the NFL, and their “wins above replacement” metric shows why.

It’s Mack and Von Miller, then everyone else.

“Foremost, Mack is a slightly more complete player than Miller when it comes to defending the run,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “Yes, run defense is significantly less important than an edge rusher’s ability to disrupt the quarterback, but with so little difference between the players, everything gets put under the magnifying glass.”

Over the past four seasons, both players have exactly 49 sacks, although Mack missed two games over that span. The Bears outside linebacker has the edge in interceptions, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, most coming with a lower quality defense around him than what Miller has had in Denver.

It’s no surprise Ryan Pace was willing to trade multiple first-round picks to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He’s the best in the league.

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