By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) Before his current roster took the practice field for voluntary mini-camp Tuesday afternoon, Bears general manager Phil Emery held his pre-draft press conference and provided some guidelines as to how he’ll add to the team next Thursday when the NFL Draft starts.
You have to absorb every word an NFL general manager tells you before a draft carefully, but Emery did mention a number of things to keep in mind before the Bears make their selection.
The Draft Board
Emery said the Bears have three categories of players for each pick. First, there are the “players we would trade up for at that pick.” He said usually this consists of two or three players.
“Those are players we would not pass up,” he said.
Then there are the players “in and around that pick that we feel will be available through our research.” With the 20th overall pick, Emery said there would be five or six players in this category.
Finally, there are the players you feel you can get even after trading back. There are typically four or five guys in this category.
“If the list is too small when it comes time to trade back and you don’t feel comfortable, then you have some tough decisions to make,” Emery said. “You may have to move even further back to an area of value or you may have to take the best available player there if you don’t find a trade.”
What are the chances the Bears trade back? Emery said he’s already had a couple teams approach the Bears about trading back and he also approached a couple of teams at the owners meetings, but “it doesn’t get serious until you get close to the pick.”
He said you’ll get a two or three nibbles a few spots before the pick and more when the pick comes around.
“It gets real serious when you’re on the clock,” he added.
Don’t expect the Bears trade up, however, like they did a year ago to get Alshon Jeffery in the second round. With only five picks total right now, Emery said it’s “less likely” they do that again this year.
While general managers will rarely comment on specific players before a draft, Emery did admit that he met with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
“I found Manti to be a very good person, a very squared away guy and I certainly enjoyed the meeting,” he said.
However, Emery would not comment on the off-the-field issues of Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, another player the Bears could be interested in with their first pick.
Meanwhile, Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill was in the Halas Hall lobby as the press conference concluded, and he could be available to the Bears in the fourth or fifth rounds.
40-Time Vs Play Speed
How much stock does Emery put into 40-times? Well, enough, but it’s certainly not the only thing that matters.
He said it’s important for players to be “in a range of times that you’d find acceptable for the position” but he also said play speed is more important. Emery tells his scouts to look at the tape and put down their own speed in terms of play speed.
He also tells his scouts that they are 50 percent investigators and 50 percent talent scouts.
Type Of Player He’s Looking For
Last year Emery surprised many people by taking defensive end Shea McClellin from Boise State with the 19th overall selection. After making the pick, he repeatedly praised McClellin’s athleticism and versatility and that appears to be something he’ll continue to value going forward.
“(We want) players that are high-end dynamic athletes that can do a lot of things,” the general manager said.
We’ll see if his actions back up his words, but keep that thought in mind when the draft comes around.
Draft A QB?
With Jay Cutler entering the final year of his contract, there’s some thought that the Bears might use a later pick on a quarterback.
“Jay’s contract status doesn’t impact it. I’d like to draft a quarterback every year,” Emery said.
– Emery refused to completely close the door on a possible Brian Urlacher return, but did say the team wants to move on.
– He is pleased with “the spirit in this building” following Urlacher’s departure. He said he would have been “shocked if there wasn’t sadness” about Urlacher being gone, but guys like Lance Briggs and Tim Jennings have stepped up in a good way.
– The GM is obviously not happy with fullback Evan Rodriguez’s offseason arrest in Miami and said “he’s been re-educated on our expectations.”
– Don’t expect Roberto Garza to move to guard if the Bears draft a center. Emery said there is no chance of that happening at this time. It’s still possible the Bears take a center, however, as Garza is in the final year of his current contract.
– Emery said the strongest positions in this year’s draft are cornerback, safety, offensive line and defensive line.
– Emery admitted that defensive end Israel Idonije is one of several players he is still looking at to sign to the roster.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHoge and read more of his columns here.