Tuesday, April 19, 2011Posted: 12:05 AM
By John Mullin
The actual draft will start to play out in a little more than a week but there is still anything but a consensus on what the Bears will do with their pick at No. 29, if in fact they exercise it rather than trading down (again).
Nolan Nawrocki at Pro Football Weekly predicts that teams will take a very need-based approach to the draft, which would be a bit of a departure for some organizations firmly in step with a best-player-available methodology based on belief in their draft board.
The Bears went for Florida safety Major Wright in last years draft in one of those nice meshes of best-available and need-position situations. They needed a safety and Wrights grade was a fit at their point of the third round. Chris Williams was projected to be the same at tackle in 2008; the Bears needed one and Williams was deemed worth the No. 14 slot.
Nolan projects the Bears taking defensive tackle Marvin Austin at No. 29. Austin was dropped from the North Carolina team last year for dealings with an agent and he has some maturity questions. I still have a difficult time seeing Jerry Angelo taking anything close to a character risk in the first round after his experiences with Tank Johnson and ultimately with Tommie Harris.
But Austin does fit a true need with the exit of Harris, and Angelo believes in keeping a strength strong, particularly when its the defensive line, a franchise focus with Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli.
Russ Lande over at SportingNews.com also believes the Bears will go for strength up front in the person of Oregon State strongman Stephen Paea. Russ, like Nolan, has the top five offensive linemen (tackles Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder, and guardcenter Mike Pouncey) gone by No. 26 (Baltimore), and if that scenario holds, defense may indeed trump offense, although Baylor guard Danny Watkins is hugely intriguing.
Clark Judge yields (tongue-in-cheek) to CamMania and joins the chorus seeing Auburn quarterback Cam Newton leading off the CBSSportsline.com draft by becoming a Carolina Panther. Clark takes a different tack for the Bears, however. With Watkins gone as well as the others mentioned above, Clark likes Texas cornerback Aaron Williams coming to Chicago in the race to match up against Aaron Rodgers and that passing crowd in Green Bay.
Texas gave the Bears Nathan Vasher, and Williams is a 6-foot cornerback in the tradition of Charles Tillman. Because of the value of the position and the need to get a Tillman replacement in the pipeline, this pick solidifies a spot that has bedeviled the defense since Vashers precipitous decline from his one-time Pro Bowl level.
The NFL will announce the specific 2011 game dates and times on Tuesday. A couple of mysteries should be solved.
The opponents already are determined: Home games against Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego and Seattle. Road games at Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver, New Orleans, Oakland, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
The last of the road games right now is scheduled to be played in Londons Wembley Stadium on Oct. 23. But that is contingent upon NFL owners and players resolving their labor issues no later than Aug. 1. If that doesnt happen, the game will revert to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium. And the Bears appearance in the Hall of Fame game will be canceled as well.
Green Bay will open at home and the Bears rate as the early favorite to be the Packers opponent as defending Super Bowl champion. Given that this was the matchup from the NFC Championship game, it conjures up distant memories of the Bears and New York Giants opening the 1987 season on a Monday night the winners of Super Bowl XX vs. the winners of XXI. won by the Bears in what would be a season losing several games to labor troubles.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.