Over the coming days, we're going to employ 20-20 hindsight and look back five years at how Chicago teams drafted in 2007. Five years is usually a good benchmark to look for quality and return on investment, so we'll begin looking there.
In the first piece of the series, we examined the 2007 Draft of the Chicago Cubs. Now, in this second installment of the series, we're going to look back at the 2007 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. How did they do, and what could have been?
To examine how the Bears did, we won't be too naive in our analysis. While we might mention players selected prior to the Bears pick to provide a frame of reference, we'll only truly grade the Bears pick against players that were available to be picked at the time, and that were picked between the Bears selections in that draft.
The 2007 NFL Draft has become one of the most intriguing in recent history. JaMarcus Russell has now spent more time in jail than he did as the starting quarterback in Oakland, where the Raiders made him the top overall selection that year. There were some Hall of Fame home runs in the draft (Calvin Johnson second overall to Detroit, Adrian Peterson seventh to Minnesota, Patrick Willis 11th to San Francisco and Darrell Revis to the Jets at 14), and some biblical misses (Amobi Okoye to Houston at 10, Ted Ginn Jr to Miami at 12 and Brady Quinn to Cleveland at 22).
How did the Bears do with their picks after losing to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl?
Round One - Pick 31: Greg Olsen, TE, Miami (FL)
This will continue to be one of the hardest picks to judge for the Bears in the last couple decades. Olsen was a really good pass-catching tight end for Chicago who should have been more productive, but wasn't used appropriately by the organization. At the end of the first round, it's hard to argue with Olsen as a pick. But who could the Bears have selected at this spot instead of him?
Pick 36: Kevin Kolb, QB - Philadelphia Eagles
Pick 37: Eric Weddle, S - San Diego Chargers
Pick 46: LaMarr Woodley, LB - Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick 47: David Harris, LB - New York Jets
Certainly Weddle would have been an upgrade over many of the safeties the Bears have used from this year's draft. What's interesting is that one of the safeties drafted before Weddle (and before Olsen) was Brandon Meriweather, who was on the Bears' roster in 2012. Also ironic, the tight end that ultimately replaced Olsen in Chicago, Matt Spaeth, was selected with the 77th overall pick by the Steelers in 2007. Of course one of the mistakes we mentioned earlier, Okoye, was also on the Bears' roster this year.
Round Two - Pick 62: Dan Bazuin, DE, Central Michigan
Here's another classic Jerry Angelo swing and a miss. Bazuin made no impact on the organization, and was a clear miss. Here are some names that could have been the 62nd overall selection:
Pick 63: Brandon Jackson, RB - Green Bay Packers
Pick 75: Laurent Robinson, WR - Atlanta Falcons
Pick 78: James Jones, WR - Green Bay Packers
Pick 92: Trent Edwards, QB - Buffalo Bills
Imagine that! The Bears missed on two decent wide receivers while using a pick on a worthless defensive lineman... or, as we know all-too-well, "The Angelo Way."
Round Three - Pick 93: Garrett Wolfe, RB, Northern Illinois
Round Three - Pick 94: Michael Okwo, LB, Stanford
While Wolfe was a nice addition to the team's special teams for a few years, Okwo did little more than collect paychecks. The Bears probably would have been better served by picking a couple other players with these back-to-back selections.
Pick 100: Michael Bush, RB - Oakland Raiders
Pick 101: Adam Podlesh, P - Jacksonville Jaguars (look, another current Bears player from '07!)
Round Four - Pick 130: Josh Beekman, G, Boston College
Beekman has his own website, which has to mean something... right? The Bears could have taken someone who might have actually cleared a running lane for Matt Forte with this pick, too.
Pick 137: Le'Ron McClain, FB - Baltimore Ravens
Pick 142: Steve Breaston, WR - Arizona Cardinals
Pick 153: Kevin Boss, TE - New York Giants
Pick 162: Brent Celek, TE - Philadelphia Eagles
One receiver who's played in a Super Bowl and two tight ends who (gasp!) have been used effectively by their teams. Look at the career numbers of Celek and Olsen, then consider the cost of a first round pick against the 162nd overall selection... and tell me how Jerry Angelo kept his job as long as he did.
Round Five - Pick 167: Kevin Payne, FS, Louisiana-Monroe
Round Five - Pick 168: Corey Graham, CB, New Hampshire
Round Seven - Pick 221: Trumaine McBride, CB, Mississippi
Round Seven - Pick 241: Aaron Brant, T, Iowa State
Graham has been a decent player, Payne lived up to his last name. McBride found a role for a while, and Brant was a typical "gem" that Angelo "discovered." Why did I put these four picks together? Other than a couple Pro Bowl kickers in the sixth round (Nick Folk and Mason Crosby), there was really only one player that was picked after Graham that the Bears could have used. And he was selected after Brant, over 80 selections after Payne and Graham.
Pick 250: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB - New York Giants
Seems to me like Bradshaw's getting fitted for some jewelry sometime soon...
What we saw in the first article of this series was a display of the inexact science that is the draft in Major League Baseball. In 50 rounds, hundreds and hundreds of kids get their name called. Some sign, some don't, and many just don't make it. But in the NFL, every pick from 1 to Mr. Irrelevent can mean something. Under Jerry Angelo's "leadership," the Bears did little to help their team sustain excellence through the Draft.