That Kansas City Chiefs director of college scouting Phil Emery secured a second interview for the Bears general manager job should hardly come as shock, given Emery's past employment with the Bears as an area scout from 1998-2004, not to mention his excellent reputation in the NFL scouting community.
As we've written before, Emery is considered an extremely hard worker who has been well received by his peers during his various stints with Chicago, Atlanta and Kansas City.
But fellow finalist Jason Licht, the New England Patriots’ director of pro personnel, also possesses certain traits that no doubt stood out during his first interview last Monday with Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips.
When Licht was in Philadelphia from 2003-07, first as the assistant director of player personnel then later vice president of player personnel, Eagles employees who were privy to Licht's personnel reports called them "concise" and "convicted". Licht was heavily involved with Tom Hecket (now the current general manager of the Cleveland Browns) and Ryan Grigson (now the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts) in the Eagles’ draft preparations, and was considered one of several rising stars in the organization.
However, for reasons not completely clear, Licht was let go by Philadelphia in 2008, in a move that eventually paved the way for Howie Roseman (the current Eagles general manager) to rise through the ranks. Eagles scouts were said to have been baffled by the decision to fire Licht, but understood Roseman, the vice president of football administration with a salary cap background before Licht was pushed out, had considerable pull with Eagles president Joe Banner.
But Licht landed on his feet and joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, the year Arizona went to the Super Bowl. He left Arizona after one season, a move that raises eyebrows for some, but for whatever reason the Cardinals did not make Licht sign a contract, so he was able to jump to New England the following year after interviewing with Bill Belichick at the 2009 NFL Combine.
Licht previously worked for the Patriots as a college scout, national scout and assistant director of player personnel from 1999-2002 before heading to Philadelphia.
Those who understand the power structure in New England are adamant that Licht is a valued member of the front office who is involved in New England's personnel decisions, to an extent. That's because it's widely known Belichick has final say in all matters, and on draft day, only wants a select few bodies in the war room to limit distractions. Besides, according to sources, Licht's input on the draft is given before the event actually begins, so his actual presence in the Patriots’ war room during the draft isn't required by Belichick, who again, makes all the calls in New England.
Emery is no doubt qualified and would be a comfortable choice for the Bears to make because of his past history and understanding of how the McCaskey family operates the franchise. Licht, however, has spent the majority of his NFL career working alongside some of the most talented personnel evaluators in the game.
Licht wouldn't be an easy choice. But he wouldn't be a bad one, either.