A leading cause of the Bears firing of general manager Jerry Angelo was failure to draft top-level talent. The decision on Angelos successor is still some time away but with whoever it is can be expected to bring with him some significant changes in draft philosophies.
This is potentially a huge factor as the Bears tilt toward building an offense around Jay Cutler rather than on Jay Cutler.
Angelo was a believer in a floor philosophy with top picks, meaning that great attention was given to establishing the worst a pick could possibly be. Maybe that stems from mistakes like Keith McCants or Eric Curry in Tampa Bay or something else, but the result logically meant few outright busts but also fewer home runs.
So there were going to be more safe, reasonable-quality picks (Marc Colombo, Chris Williams come to mind) where at the least you would have a serviceable player. The quirk here is that Angelo would have taken a Dan Bazuin in a second round; the floor there was in the basement.
But that also led to a reluctance to draft wide receivers high, for example, a true high-riskhigh-reward impact position. Angelo was right; the bust quotient is higher with wideouts than most other positions.
Receivers and offensive line changes?
The Bears first target in free agency is a wide receiver and Angelo was prepared for a major first-strike on or above the scale of his grab of Muhsin Muhammad in 2005. Assume that and cornerback will remain targets 1-2, with pass rusher and linebacker in the offseason equation.
Angelos highest draft slot for a wideout was second round and it was a bust Mark Bradley. Look for that to change with a general manager bringing a different philosophy.
Angelo drafted tackles but rarely after the first round (Colombo, Williams, Gabe Carimi). He took Terrence Metcalf in the third round of 2002 and Josh Beekman in the fourth of 2007, but both were disappointments and Angelo never took a lineman higher than the seventh round.
Lance Louis and JMarcus Webb are gems as seventh-rounders go. But pipelines are stocked with O-line hits other than first-round picks.
Green Bay example
The Packers landed tackle Chad Clifton in the second round. Guard Daryn Colledge was a 2. Guard T.J. Lang was a 4. So was guard Josh Sitton. Guard Jason Spitz was a 3. The Bears only made the Beekman and Metcalf picks in those rounds under Angelo.
Bradley was Angelos lone wide receiver pick higher than round 3. Green Bay secured Greg Jennings in the second round. And Jordy Nelson. James Jones was a 3.
It does not work in Tim Ruskells favor that he and Angelo share both draft philosophies and history together. Ruskell was brought in by Angelo as director of player personnel and his draft patterns are near-overlays of Angelos.
He took centerguard Chris Spencer in Seattle. He was the 26th pick of the 2005 draft (Colombo and Carimi were 29s). In the next four drafts during Ruskells tenure the Seahawks took defensive players with their first picks.
Angelo and Ruskell took wide receivers in just two first rounds in all their years at Tampa Bay Reidel Anthony and Lamar Thomas. Both had decent floors and were serviceable players but neither were sustained high-impact
Ruskell will continue overseeing the Bears college scouting for the time being. And he has not been ruled out as a GM candidate. But if the Bears were not satisfied with the draft directions and results of Angelo, Ruskells resume suggests he will be a fallback candidate at best.