Part 1 Of 3: 21 Questions From Site Editor Russ Loede To Columnists Eric Cook & Ron Norman
1. Site Editor Russ Loede: Convince Bears fans Chris Williams was the right choice. Personally, I am not sold on Williams, I wanted to trade down and select either Rashard Mendenhall or Branden Albert. Is Williams better than both of these players? We had a chance to trade down – why didn’t we? Any concerns with the rumors and reports eluding to Williams’ lingering spinal issue?
Columnist Ron Norman: I also wanted the local product Rashard Mendenhall but deep down I was uneasy about drafting a RB in the first round because I knew how big of a drop it would be from a first round left tackle to a second rounder. There are two reasons why Williams was an excellent choice… First and foremost, [we don’t have to worry about Rex getting stripped from the blind side. Second, he instantly “ups” our athleticism and flexibility; for instance, we can move John Tait back to the right side (where he was an All-Pro) and let Metcalf and Beekman battle for the left guard position.
Columnist Eric Cook: Let me answer the injury concerns first: I have heard numerous reports from many sources that the Bears knew about Williams’ injury situation, as they had their doctors check it out and ultimately they were comfortable it would not be a major problem/factor. He missed no time due to this injury in College, so I think that’s the most important item of interest. Why Chris Williams?
1) He is a Technician
2) Extremely Smart/Instinctive
3) Eliminates Mental Breakdowns
4) 2 Sacks in 2 Years Allowed Against The Nation’s Best Conference – SEC
5) I know I have heard the whole strength issue, last time I checked we had one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the NFL (Rusty Jones). You can build strength, you can provide motivation and attitude. What you cannot do ( and should not have to do) at this level is teach “Brains & Technique”. I heard all this stuff about Clady, Otah, and Albert… they have upside, talent, or about how they are still new to the game – you know what that says to me? They aren’t there yet, we have not seen the fruit, finished product or fulfilled potential. has a lot of talent and upside also, yet he’s wildly erratic. Chris Williams is “there”. His technique is there, mentally he is there, he doesn’t make many errors, breaking down in pass protection, and he has the proper technique necessary along with the focus to become a franchise LT for years to come, maybe even a decade. He’ll obtain/amass plenty of strength come ’08 Regular Season Kickoff against Dwight Freeney & Indy. Hands down best pick for the Bears at this spot. I was not sold on Mendenhall, I didn’t think he would be an every down back, and I didn’t think he would’ve fit the Bears plan of having a power running attack. In essence, yes – Chris Williams is a better pick than Mendenhall.
2. Russ Loede: Let’s take a shot with an “early inside look” at trying to project the Bears 53-man Roster… Name three players that you want to see released. Name three on the bubble that you want to keep.
Ron Norman: I can give you a solid three – the same three players are my bubble players. 1. Ricky Manning – got burned all last year and cannot man up in one-on-one coverage anymore like he used to. We can fill that 3rd corner spot with Trumaine McBride or Zack Bowman. 2. Adam Archuletta – missed too many tackles and can’t cover tight ends or receivers. Two words: Craig Steltz. I know this is not going to be a popular pick, but my final player on the bubble is: 3. although he is adequate, when I go back and watch footage of game film he seems to miss more tackles than he makes. I feel we can get by with Jamar Williams or try first year guy Michael Okwo, who was a mean hitter at .
Eric Cook: Cuts: 1. Adam Archuletta 2. Brandon Rideau 3. Tyler Reed. On The Bubble/Spot: Matt Toeaina, Garrett Wolfe, Mike Hass
3. Russ Loede: Best Day 2 Pick?
Ron Norman: This is a toss up between Craig Steltz (LSU) and Marcus Harrison (Arkansas) – so I will have to go with with the safety, as Steltz will become an eventual starter, stabilizing our backline sometime during the middle part of the ’08 season.
Eric Cook: This is hard – So I have to say it is a toss up between two Razorbacks/Hogs DT Marcus Harrison and WR Marcus Monk. If Monk plays like I think he can (ie. Marques Colston), he will be the steal of the draft.
4. Russ Loede: Worst Draft Selection?
Ron Norman: Too Easy – LB Joey Larocque – Who Is He?
Eric Cook: I’ll have to side with Ron – Joey Larocque!
5. Russ Loede: Matt Forte – Over/Under 850 Rushing Yards
Ron Norman: I predict Matt Forte will become the starting RB by the 3rd game of the season, while eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark rather easily…
Eric Cook: Under – Only because he pushes Benson to play better this year and Peterson gets more time because of his pass catching/blocking skills. In 2009, it’s a whole different story.
6. Russ Loede: Fill in the blank: Bears leading WR/TE in receiving yards & in TD’s. Name the ’08 Bears Starting Pair of WR’s?
Ron Norman: Breakout year – Mark Bradley (Receiving Yards) and Greg Olsen (TD’s). Starting Pair of WR’s: Marty Booker/Mark Bradley.
Eric Cook: Receiving yards – I will go out on a limb here – Marty Booker and TD’s – “Windy City Flyer” Devin Hester. Starting Pair of WR’s: Booker/Bradley (First Half) & Booker/Bennett-Monk (Second Half).
7. Russ Loede: Why Earl Bennett over the likes of… LSU’s Early Doucet, Michigan’s Mario Manningham, and Mizzou’s Will Franklin? Bennett is not the deep threat the team is looking for to suite Rex’s arm strength nor is he as talented as the aforementioned. Bennett’s being compared toAll-Pro tough guy WR – do you see any similiarities? Is he/comparison legit? Can Bennett become a starter right away or in that case, eventually in ’08?
Ron Norman: Earl Bennett got the nod over the other receivers because he has the fewest negatives/weaknesses (safest pick). He has a long track record of stability and production. I don’t see him starting in 2008 but see him as a valuable possession receiver and third down option in key situations.
Eric Cook: Well, Earl Bennett is the SEC’s All-Time leading receiver. He is the first ever SEC wideout to record 75 receptions in three different seasons. He did this while being double teamed most of the time. I guess you can’t argue with this kind of high level production. He regularly and consistently makes tough catches in tight spots and is a sure handed target. With
throwing him the ball this is a good thing. As you know I liked Mario Manningham, I am not sure why the Bears chose him over these two guys, but the more I learn about Bennett, the more I like Him!