Before the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Potash took a look at 200 NFL mock drafts to see what players the draftniks had the Bears taking with the No. 20 overall pick in the first round:
(Alec) Ogletree was the choice of 56 of the 200 mocks (28 percent), followed by Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert (29, 15.5 percent), Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o (26, 13 percent), Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown (19, 9.5 percent) and Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (14, 7 percent).
A total of 26 players were listed as the Bears' pick. Ten of the mock drafts had the Bears trading down to make their first pick: to No. 22, 23, 25 and 31.
And when the Bears' time to pick presented itself on Thursday night, Alec Ogletree, Tyler Eifert, Manti Te'o, and Arthur Brown were surprisingly all still on the board (D.J. Fluker was drafted 10th overall by the Chargers). So, it seemed that if the Bears didn't trade down (something I personally thought was the most likely scenario), they'd be picking one of the aforementioned prospects.
However, the Bears didn't pick any of those players, and didn't even take a player listed on any of the 200 mock drafts Potash studied.
The Bears instead stunned the draftniks and Bears fans alike by selecting Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long at No. 20. The response from many people was immediately, "Who"?
Long, 24, is one of Howie Long's sons (you likely know Chris Long, the Rams' defensive end), and measured in at the NFL Combine at 6'6", 313 pounds. The Bears plan to use Long at guard (which in my opinion was the biggest positional need for the Bears entering the draft) for the immediate future, but he could eventually move outside on the line to a tackle position.
NFL Network's draft guru Mike Mayock had this to say about Long after the Bears' selection:
"He's one of my favorite players in the draft. He's immediately a starting guard that down the road is a starting tackle."
Long was considered a second-round prospect by most, but many think he wouldn't have been there when the Bears are set to pick at No. 50. And Phil Emery made it clear in his press conference (more on that below) late Thursday night that they targeted Long for the last two weeks and weren't going to let him (potentially) get away.
Here's the overview on Long from his NFL.Com draft profile page:
Long looked to be on the road to professional success as a two-sport high school star in Charlottesville, Va. The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long (84 sacks in 13 seasons) and brother of Chris Long (the No. 2 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2008), had the freakish size and athleticism to excel as an all-state baseball pitcher and first baseman, as well as an offensive and defensive lineman for back-to-back state champions at St. Anne's-Belfield High School.
The lefty pitcher decided to accept a scholarship to Florida State to play baseball after spurning the advances of the Chicago White Sox, who selected him in the 23rd round of the 2008 draft. He lasted only one semester in Tallahassee, however, failing to make grades and eventually being cited for a DUI. He enrolled at Saddleback Junior College in 2010, played defensive end in his first year there (16 tackles, two for loss, sack) and then moved to the offensive line as a sophomore. He chose Oregon over several other FBS suitors coming out of Saddleback, and started 10 of 12 games for the Ducks on the offensive line. Both Howie and Chris Long have referred to Kyle as the best athlete of the family.
And here's their "bottom line" on Long as an NFL prospect:
The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long and current St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long made his name on the offensive line for the Ducks. The two-sport star in high school enrolled at Florida State to play baseball (he was a 23rd round pick of the White Sox in 2008), but struggles there caused him to regroup at home for a while before attending Saddleback Junior College. Even as a one-and-done contributor for the Ducks on the line, Long's combination of size and athleticism wasn't ignored by NFL scouts, who saw his great potential as a starting guard or tackle.
My Grade: C+
At first, I had this grade as a "C" in my head, as I was hoping to land Eifert, Ogletree, or Brown at No. 20, and ideally preferred trading down to acquire more picks, as the team was already without a third round selection. In a trade-down scenario, I would've loved the Long pick.
But the pick looked a bit better to me once the Bears selected exciting linebacker prospects in the second and fourth rounds. It made things much more understandable that the Bears passed on Alec Ogletree, Arthur Brown (they actually took LB Jon Bostic over Brown even in the second round), and Manti Te'o in favor of Long.
As I said earlier, pre-draft I considered guard to be the Bears' biggest positional need, and if they think Long's the answer there (which they clearly do), consider me very much on board with the pick. Long's athleticism should be a great fit for Marc Trestman's offense, and Long's versatility is obviously something that shouldn't be overlooked.
Right now, I'd predict Long's starting at right or left guard in 2013 (and Emery has said as much himself), with Matt Slauson playing the other guard spot... and Gabe Carimi on the bench. Carimi's future is now looking pretty bleak in Chicago. And remember, he was a draft selection under Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith, so Emery and Trestman will handle that situation as they wish, without giving Carimi chance after chance to prove himself as may have been the case with the previous regime.
Long is still very raw with only a year of legitimate college football under his belt, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if he becomes a very, very good offensive lineman down the road (and potentially at tackle), as the Bears certainly think he will be. It's hard to get too excited about this pick as a fan just yet given Long's limited amount of high-level football experience, but the upside is certainly there, and at a position the Bears greatly needed to address.
Let's go to the links for more on the Long selection...
Bears choose Kyle Long with first-round pick- The official ChicagoBears.Com write-up on the Long pick. It includes good quotes from Phil Emery, including Emery making comments about how Long graded on the Bears' "athletic index score", a system they've used for the last 12 years to grade players:
"He's the No. 1 guard in the last 12 draft classes, and that's as far back as we go. He rates as rare. That's his rating. In our scale, nine is rare and he rates as rare."
Some other notable quotes from Emery in the article:
"Obviously he's got to earn his way, just like all players do. But we see a player that's going to contribute right away. Despite his limited time at Oregon, he was a starter at the end of the season. He did very well. His Senior Bowl was excellent. I thought he was the best offensive lineman on the field at the Senior Bowl, so we expect him to contribute right away."
"That's part of the reason we're extremely excited about having him here is his versatility. He's going to start out at guard. We feel like he can be a starting right tackle. We feel like that he can be a good left tackle in this league. So that's part of what attracted us to Kyle."
"We had some people call us, but nothing that would take us off that pick. Kyle was the player that we targeted. We've targeted him for the last couple of weeks. He had to be gone for us to move back. We were not going to move off that spot if Kyle Long was still there."
"We want to win championships. We felt like this was the best player. Like I said the other day, draft with urgency of a player that we see can come in the quickest, contribute the fastest to helping us win, and that's where the urgency is. At the end of the day, what matters is our team; how we see him fitting for us and do we have the type of dynamic athlete and leader that we need that can help us win championships, and that's this guy."
So, clearly, Emery and the Bears really, really wanted Long. (ChicagoBears.Com)
Kyle Long elated to be drafted by Bears- Read many Kyle Long quotes on how excited he is to be a Chicago Bear, and how he was surprised to be drafted so early. (ChicagoBears.Com)
Bears may have hit a home run by going Long- David Kaplan's take on the Kyle Long pick. Here's an excerpt from the post: It will take time to evaluate this pick but while many are criticizing the selection I like the pick as it gives the Bears a chance at an elite athlete on their offensive line for many years to come. Patience will be needed as Long learns the NFL game and both the guard and tackle spots. If he is as talented as some experts believe then Emery may have hit a home run in the first-round. (CSN Chicago)
Like it or not, Bears did what was necessary in selecting Long- Adam Oestmann with a great post defending the Bears' decision to take Long. Here's an excerpt:
For years, fans have clamored that “it all starts up front” and that that the offensive line is the “number one priority.” So why last night did I hear some of those same fans calling Phil Emery clueless? Your leader up at Halas Hall has taken pains, it would seem, to rebuild the Bears’ front in a single offseason, signing Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson, and now drafting Kyle Long.
Make sure to click over and give the whole post a read. (Chicago Bears Huddle)
Three reasons Da Bears Blog loves the Kyle Long pick- Jeff Hughes at Da Bears Blog with a great look at why he loves Phil Emery's decision to take Long at No. 20. (Da Bears Blog)
Phil Emery does it again with Long shot pick- Adam Hoge writes about Emery making a risky, highly questioned pick in the first round for the second year in a row. (670 The Score)
Veteran O-Line Coach: Guys like Kyle Long don't come along very often- Veteran offensive line coach (including six years with the Bears in the 90s) Tony Wise joined 670 The Score to talk about the Long pick. He even believes that Long has the same ability that Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, the top two picks in the drafts, do:
“I don’t want to insult anybody, but guards are a dime-a-dozen. Guys with Kyle’s height and his reach and his ability to change directions and run, those guys don’t come along very often. I’ve seen film on some of these guys, and people are going to call me crazy, but I’d stack him up against (Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan). The only thing they did, is they played left tackle their entire career.”
You can hear audio of the interview by clicking over. (670 The Score)
Long, Emery put top pick's character issues in past- Phil Emery:
“I am not concerned. All of us have fallen in life at one point or another and the important thing is do we get up and do we move forward? Do we try to get ourselves better and not only get ourselves better but get those around us better. That is what this young man has done." (Chicago Tribune)
Kyle Long made most of his chances- (ESPN Chicago)
Howie Long ecstatic his song landed with Bears- (Chicago Tribune)
Kyle Long Video Highlights:
Stay tuned for our grades, video highlights, and links in regards to the Bears' second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh round draft picks from the 2013 NFL Draft.
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