An Open Letter to Phil Emery on the Eve of the NFL Draft

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Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long (75) dives for a fumble after the quarterback was sacked by the Minnesota Vikings in overtime at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Bears recover the fumble and the Vikings win 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Sometime the obvious choice is the best choice

You’ve been known to make the unorthodox pick in your first couple of drafts, leaving many of us saying “huh?” in front of our TV’s.   You don’t have to pick some obscure punter from Mother Mary’s School of the Blind to prove your chops.  You’ve got a couple of Pro Bowlers on your resume, so we get that you know how to assess talent.  If you’re presented with Aaron Donald in the first round, take him.  Don’t pass on Chandler Jones and take Shea McClellin again.

Avoid Projects!

Aug 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Chicago Bears safety Brandon Hardin (35) against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Your track record with projects has not been great.  When you drafted Shea McClellin, who most believed was best suited to play rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, a lot of us were skeptical.  After a couple of seasons, he’s dropping weight to compete as a Sam linebacker, abandoning the idea of playing with his hand on a ground as a DE.  Brandon Hardin was another project, trying to move from cornerback to safety.  That didn’t pan out too well either.  Even last season, you drafted Jon Bostic in the second round and then went on to talk about how he might not be best suited to play middle linebacker.

Get impact players who are ready to contribute immediately

Easier said than done, right?  The team you’ve built is ready to win NOW.  We don’t need a guy who will spend a season or two on the practice squad or to just be a special teams contributor.  In the first two rounds, the Bears need impact players on defense.   A playmaking safety or cornerback and a defensive tackle are musts.  The defense needs to catch up with the offense and do so quickly, so invest heavily to get impact guys and playmakers.

Don’t be blinded by the numbers

We know that your background as a strength and conditioning coach can make you a little metrics-obsessed.  If we’ve learned anything from your first couple of drafts, it’s that you can get a little too focused on the numbers.  Look beyond how fast a guy ran or how many reps he put up in the bench press.  Those things are important, but they can’t tell the full story.  Get FOOTBALL players.  On defense, sometimes it’s more about the attitude than the stopwatch.

Thanks for all your hard work.  Get some rest and have a great draft.  And most importantly…