Take 2: Draft for need or best available?

Bears general manager Phil Emery will have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. (H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com)

After narrowly missing out on the playoffs, the Bears have the No. 14 overall pick in the NFL draft. Shaw Media’s Hub Arkush and Tom Musick discuss:

Musick: Michael Haynes. Tommie Harris. Chris Williams. What do all of these players have in common? The Bears picked each one at No. 14 overall in the draft. And now, for the fourth time since 2003, the Bears will be sitting pretty at No. 14. What would you do if you were standing in Phil Emery’s shoes? And what kind of shoes do you suppose the Bears’ general manager wears, anyway?

Arkush: Based on his career path from the Naval Academy through the front offices of a number of NFL clubs, I'm guessing Phil isn't kicking around in Birkenstocks, Air Jordans or Toms. I'm thinking he's a penny loafer kind of guy.

But to the matter at hand, here I was just starting to bust out of my post-concussion syndrome from the blow to the head – and heart – we all took from Rodgers to Cobb, and you had to give me Michael Haynes and Chris Williams? What are you doing now, running around looking for puppies to kick? Fortunately, those were all Jerry Angelo picks, and we still have cause to hope Emery can be better than that.

What I absolutely know about where Emery and the Bears are at now is there isn't a spot on the roster they can't stand to get better at, so they must draft the best football player available and not get distracted by "greatest needs" and reach for a pass rusher or safety if the best player available is a linebacker or running back.

Musick: The hardest thing about kicking puppies is that they’re so small and quick. It’s easier to kick immovable objects such as bulldozer tires or newspaper boxes. Perhaps a scout will see my kicking skills and reward me with an oversized contract (cough-Robbie Gould-cough). But you are right, Hub, it is unfair to throw old piles of Haynes (and Williams) at Emery’s penny-loafer feet. The jury remains out on him when it comes to the NFL draft, but I think he’d be muy loco if he selected anything other than a defensive player with that No. 14 pick.

Arkush: I feel you man, but I'm telling you there are unemployment lines around the country in the 32 cities that host NFL clubs spotted with former GMs and personnel directors who outsmarted themselves drafting the best player available at a position of need rather than just the best guy on the board.

Here's the problem. Let's say the Bears are picking 14th, it's their turn and still available are the seventh-best, 11th-best and 14th-, 15th- and 16th-best players, but they all play offense. The 17th-best is a linebacker, and then the next two are offensive guys as well. Do you want the seventh- or 11th-best player available, or do you want another linebacker who's the 17th-best player according to your own rankings? Or do you take the guy you think is the 20th-best player at 14 because he happens to be a pass rusher or a safety?

Musick: Hub, you know I don’t do well with math. But I see your point: Don’t dig in the couch cushions for loose change when a $20 bill is sitting right in front of you. Hopefully for Emery’s sake, the stars align and a prized defensive prospect is on the board when the Bears’ selection arrives. I’m thinking that Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would look pretty great in orange and blue. Other possibilities could be He He McGee, Chuckle-Snort Smith and LOL Jackson.

Arkush: Chuckle, snort and he, he, he if you like, but look at your own past history lesson. Tommie Harris' career may have ended prematurely and unhappily, but first he was a perennial Pro Bowler who slipped to the Bears at 14 because 13 other teams had inaccurate or just bad injury information on him. Everybody knew he was one of the top five or six prospects in the draft, and when he fell to Jerry Angelo they had to grab him, they did and thank The Lord. With both Haynes and Williams, they weren't even top 20 on most lists, but the Bears reached for a need.

How would C.J. Mosely look in navy and orange, or what if somehow Anthony Barr miraculously slipped to the Bears at 14? Can you pass on a linebacker because you used two picks on 'backers last year? Not if Emery wants to keep that job and be rolling in penny loafers.

Write to Hub Arkush at harkush@shawmedia.com. Write to Tom Musick at tmusick@shawmedia.com.

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