Chat with Michael Wright
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Join us on Thursday for a pre-draft Chicago Bears chat with Michael Wright.
Wright covers the Bears for both and ESPN Radio 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.
Send your questions now and join the chat Thursday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Michael (12:59 PM)
Been a long time, folks. Glad to be back to have a chance to talk Bears with the most die-hard fans I've encountered in 13 years of journalism. Let's get it folks.
Michael-long time no talk-Any chance the bears grab a big-physical receiver this year? I know we have more pressing needs, however it would be nice to provide Cutler with a big target.
Michael (1:00 PM)
Dan, I can almost promise you the Bears won't be moving up to grab a receiver. The only chance of that happening is if say one of the big guns like Georgia's A.J. Green falls close to where the Bears are picking. Fat chance of that happening.
TJ (St. Joseph, MI)
left tackle at 29? If so who do you like?
Michael (1:02 PM)
I won't say left tackle, but I see an OL capable of playing both guard and tackle if the Bears decide to stay at No. 29. In my last mock draft, I have Boston College -- and Lake Zurich native -- Anthony Castonzo falling to the Bears there. I know it seems way out there, but there's a chance it could happen. Much of it depends on how this expected quarterback run shakes out.
Jason k (boulder)
do you think the bears have a chance at getting AJ Green?
Michael (1:03 PM)
I seriously doubt it. Seriously, seriously, seriously doubt it.
Do we really have to give the NFL attention? Guarantee me a season and I'll get invested. Until then, I think the NFL can B.I.G. (beat it, geek)
Michael (1:04 PM)
Err, I'm not sure I have an answer for this. But I liked the post.
What in the Bears biggest need?
Michael (1:04 PM)
Offensive line, offensive line, and offensive line. After that, I'd say defensive line, linebacker and receiver.
So what's the buzz Michael, do you think we will go more with the highest rated OT/Guard, or trade back?
Michael (1:05 PM)
Dave, they're gonna try like crazy to trade back unless someone they absolutely love is sitting there at No. 29. If they stay, I'd say they go with the best OT/OG. But they could also go with defensive line there. Remember, the defensive line class this year is exceptionally deep.
James (South Florida)
The recent mocks show the bears passing on Sherrod for Watkins? Am I the only one that thinks this is crazy??? I mean if one of the top tackles on still on the board how could we pass?
Michael (1:06 PM)
No, James. I'm in total agreement with you. I'm not as concerned as everyone else about Watkins' age (26). But I just don't think he's nasty enough to fit what Mike Tice wants out of his linemen. Too soft to me.
Jeff (Elk Grove, IL)
Two questions. First, what are the chances of the Bears resigning Daniel Manning? Seems they feel confident in Major Wright but I'd like to see him get more experience before becoming the full-time starter.Second, what are they doing with Chris Williams? Keep reading we should take a tackle, which would make me believe he keeps playing guard. I do not think he's strong enough to play guard. I don't think he's bad and I'd hate to see a 1st-round "bust" without him really getting a chance.
Michael (1:08 PM)
Jeff, remember that Danieal Manning is a restricted free agent as of today. If the rules don't change, he's gonna be back. But I will tell you that a high-ranking team official told me that if Manning is back, he's gonna be rotating and Major Wright will getting a lot more reps. I'm also told by the same high-ranking official that the Bears aren't gonna budge on the contractual demands. That three-year, $6 million deal they offered in December is about as high as they're gonna go. As for Williams, the plan is to find him a permanent spot along the offensive line and keep him there. At the owners meetings, Lovie Smith said that's the offseason project for Williams.
Dan (Schaumburg, IL)
What direction do you think the Bears will go with their first pick? I really like Brooks Reed even though we have more pressing needs.
Michael (1:09 PM)
Funny you say that about Brooks Reed. I don't think he's a good fit in the Bears' system, and a lot of scouts I know have him graded as low as the fourth round. He would be an intriguing pick if the Bears made that move for sure.
Will the Bears take a wide receiver anytime in the draft?
Michael (1:10 PM)
Zack, I believe they will. The question is when. I know the Bears spent a lot of time studying Pittsburgh receiver Jon Baldwin. The guy is 6-4, 220 pounds and runs like a deer (he's a little immature, I'm told). If he's there in the second round (which is highly doubtful), the Bears pounce. I could see them trying to move up to get him, too, but in the second round.
Kevin B (Chicago)
Are the Bears still looking into drafting a QB in the later rounds? Who would then be an interesting prospect?
Michael (1:12 PM)
I think they are, Kevin. Jerry Angelo pretty much said they'd like to find someone they can develop at some point. I'd say Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien could be a possibility in the late rounds. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz was pretty high on Tolzien after Wisconsin's pro day. Plus, I'm sure the Bears know quite a bit about him considering Mike Tice's son played there, too.
Tom D. (San Diego)
What's the best case scenario for the Bears today? Obviously there's huge needs on the offensive and defensive lines, but could the Bears draft a WR like Baldwin if he's available?
Michael (1:13 PM)
He'll be available in the first round, Tony. But I'd say that's too rich for Baldwin. At the same time, if they like him (they've studied him a ton), I don't see any problem with the team pulling the trigger. The team will be criticized if he doesn't pan out, but praised as geniuses if he does. Regardless of whom they pick that would be the case, right?
Cole B (Cedar Falls, Iowa)
I've read how the front office doesn't want to make a "reach" pick at 29 but the inability to protect our franchise QB cost us a shot at the Super Bowl this year! Why haven't we heard talk of trading up for a o-lineman if we're insecure about having talent to choose from at 29?
Michael (1:17 PM)
The reason is that this year's class of offensive linemen isn't very strong. If you read between the lines of what Jerry Angelo has been saying all offseason, you get the sense he's saying there are no sure-fire difference makers for years to come among this years class; just a bunch of above-average players. I believe Angelo said that outside of the top two, "there are no bell cows" among the offensive linemen, and that's really what they need to protect Cutler. I know as a fan you don't want to hear that, but really, that's why they're afraid of the reach factor in the first round.
Whoa whoa whoa, Michael. Watkins isn't nasty enough? Too soft? Have you watched any film of the guy? Granted, I am a Baylor fan, so I'm biased, but Watkins is one of the nastiest linemen in this, or any other recent draft. He ticked me off at times because he was so overly aggressive that he would get unnecessary roughness calls on him all the time. Dude was a hockey enforcer prior to playing football. Surely you didn't mean that?
Michael (1:19 PM)
I did mean that, Jamie. In addition to that, he's raw, and lacks instincts. I agree that he's physical. But I don't see that pop in his pads that I think Tice covets in run blocking. He did look good at the Senior Bowl, I'm told.
Kyle (Elmwood Park)
Plaxico Burress is getting out of jail soon, any chance the Bears take a chance on him as a FA?
Michael (1:21 PM)
Kyle, think about that for a minute. As good a receiver as Plaxico is, do you see him fitting in Mike Martz's offense? People keep clamoring for the Bears to sign these big receivers. But big receivers don't really fit the scheme. Jerry Angelo said that Martz's offense requires point-guard types to run that complicated route tree. I agree with Angelo there.
I keep reading we have a need on DL but I thought they were servicable last year and not because of the now departed Tommie Harris. Can't we draft OL in first round then take best available WR/S/CB/LB. I'm worried about the years and mileage on Urlacher. It would benefit the Bears to draft his replacement while the mentor is still playing.
Michael (1:23 PM)
But Mike, is "serviceable" what you really want? The Bears are gonna draft a defensive tackle, or bring one in as a free agent, according to a high-ranking team official. Now that defensive tackle may not be Tommie's replacement, but the Bears need the extra body to add to the DT rotation. I think the Bears can grab a good offensive lineman, and possibly Urlacher's future replacement. The good thing the Bears have going for them in the linebacker department is the fact they play a 4-3, while everyone else has pretty much moved on to a 30 front.
Hey Mike, do you think the bears will pick DaQuan Bowers if he is available at 29? i would love to see him with the bears. With him and peppers on both ends, they will create HAVOC!!!!!!!!!!!
Michael (1:24 PM)
Man, Chris, that might be that scenario I'm talking about where the Bears could go totally against what we're all thinking. If Bowers is there, and they're comfortable with that knee, I'd say they need to jump all over him. A fully healthy Bowers paired opposite Pep would be nasty. I like your thinking.
With Peanut Tillman approaching 85 years old, the departure of Manning, and the other corners looking inexperienced and raw, don't you think the secondary is a lot more pressing concern than WR for the Bears?
Michael (1:26 PM)
Well, you just said the corners are "inexperienced and raw". What would a rookie be? Privately, the Bears are still really high on Zack Bowman and believe he has the chops to be a high-level corner in this league. You also need to remember that Josh Moore will be back. Moore was considered one of the top cover corners in the draft last year, but his stock fell because of off-field issues and questions about his strength (benched 225 twice at the combine).
Carl (Kenosha, WI)
Hey Mike, if they Bears don't draft a OL in the first round, do you see them bringing a big name free agent in that department? Or maybe trading for one? Possibly trading future draft picks, but not our 1st rounders.
Michael (1:28 PM)
Carl, no need to trade away picks. Jerry Angelo said the team is done going that route. I can tell you that they've got their eye on a few of the potential free-agent offensive linemen out there. In fact, I know that they met with a few agents for some of them prior to the combine. Also, with the recent movement in the lockout department, it appears the Bears will be able to start making some moves pretty soon. Be on the lookout.
Kelly L (PHX)
On espn.com i recently read that Steve Smith from the Panthers basically made it clear he is done there and seeking to be traded. Do you think the Bears would go after him? Provided obviously this whole cba mess is cleared up
Michael (1:30 PM)
I could see that happening, and I think he'd be a great mentor to the team's younger receivers. I think it all would depend on what Smith is looking for in a contract. The Bears don't want to overspend for a guy that they may only get one to two good seasons out of. So I'm sure that's something they'd have to weigh.
dan (wicker park)
michael, why did you put linebacker ahead of cornerback? i agree LB is a need, but i think CB is the 4th most pressing need (OT, DT, OG, CB), as tillman is aging, jennings is average, and we have jennings & megatron twice a year.
Michael (1:32 PM)
I disagree, Dan. Remember, the Bears are missing a starter to line up with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Nick Roach is the only linebacker with any starting experience currently under contract. Do you want to just hand him the job without any competition? Also, what if one of the starters gets hurt? So numbers are extremely low there, and the position needs to be addressed more than corner.
Aaron (Indianapolis, IN)
Hey Mike, I haven't been paying a lot of attention to what the experts have been saying about this draft class, but as a lifelong Bears fan, I do believe I'm qualified to say that Angelo is an average at best judge of talent. I'm not sure he would know a "bell cow" if it fell on his lap.
Michael (1:32 PM)
any chance we go after steve smith of the panthers??
Michael (1:33 PM)
Dustin, I could definitely see that happening.
Bob (Evergreen Park)
Hey Mike, great work for ESPN Chicago. Do you see the Bears maybe going after a big name FA. A few questions ago a guy talked about Steve Smith, he is hurt all the time and is over his prime. What about going after Ocho cinco? He says he wants out of there and the Bears could have what it takes to get someone like him. Or what about Bradon Marshall? There have been reports that the Dolphins might cut him
Michael (1:34 PM)
Bob, thanks for the kind words. But you know the Bears don't do drama, which is exactly what they'd get with Ochocinco and Brandon Marshall. Smith would be safer, as well as someone like Mike Sim-Walker.
Kelly L (PHX)
If Costanza (BC) and Carimi (Wisconsin) are both available at the 29th pick who would you draft? And why?
Michael (1:37 PM)
Good question, Kelly. I'd go with Castonzo. First, he's a local guy, which would be great for the fanbase. But more importantly, he's a better player. Carimi projects as a guard or right tackle because of his lack of strength and athleticism. Castonzo, meanwhile, is a left tackle that you could plug into the lineup as a starter from the giddy-up, and keep there for the next 8 to 10 years.
What are your thoughts on CB Ras-I Dowling from Virginia? I think he would look great in a Bears uni.
Michael (1:39 PM)
Dito, I like him alot, and he just might be there for the Bears in the third or fourth round. He's big (almost 6-2, 200 pounds), a former basketball player and former track start. And guess what else: He's practically a perfect fit as a Cover 2 corner.
Do the bears trade up to get pouncey?
Michael (1:39 PM)
Doubt it, Chet.
Rich (Destin, FL)
Servicable veteran linebackers can be picked up to cover SLB. All the SLB does in a Cover 2 system is eat blockers. Why spend a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round pick on a LB? Q: Has a Cover 2 SLB EVER made a Pro Bowl?A: No.
Michael (1:40 PM)
Rich, they won't have to go that high for a Sam. That's the great thing about the Bears playing 4-3; a lot of teams will pass on some of the better linebackers because they don't fit their schemes. Jerry Angelo said he thinks there's a good chance they can pick up a starting-caliber linebacker in the late rounds and maybe even rookie free agency.
Did you hear that the ring Cutler gave his fiancee is less than one carat? But we already knew he's only good for a half...
Michael (1:41 PM)
I didn't hear that, B.J. But I had to post your remark because it was funny.
Eric (Crystal Lake)
If the Bears take are still looking to take a QB late, what about Colin Kapernick? Might give them help at reciever right away while certainly being a prospect to develop.
Michael (1:43 PM)
Mr. Kaepernick won't be on the board late. Trust me.
Christopher (Mesa, AZ)
I was wondering about John Moffitt from Wisconsin and his fit with the Bears. I know Tice loves thoses big tough brawlers. Can he be there for the Bears in the 2nd or 3rd rounds?
Michael (1:45 PM)
Christopher, the Bears say they're not looking for OG/C types. Instead they want bigger tackles who can also kick inside to guard. But I think Moffitt would be an exception considering he's 6-2, 319 pounds. That certainly fits the big-guy mold Mike Tice covets. Moffitt is a versatile guy that Tice could mold into a contributor. I think Moffitt will actually be on the board in the third or fourth round.
The Ditka (Parts Unknown)
Spend everything to trade up and draft AJ Green.
Michael (1:46 PM)
Sort of a Ricky Williams-type trade, huh? We all know how that worked out for the Saints.
If Mark Ingram falls to the Bears in the late first round would they consider drafting him instead of trading down.
Michael (1:47 PM)
Great question, Ken. I think they'll consider it if he's there because that's quite a bit of value falling dangerously low. Ultimately, though, I think need will outweigh the value for the Bears. Jerry Angelo is quick to admit that although they like to say they want to take the best available player, need ALWAYS factors into making picks for the Bears.
Rick (Urbana, IL)
Maynard's getting old! Any chance of the Bears grabbing a punter late and having the king of leg tutor the young chap?
Michael (1:49 PM)
Rick, they brought in Richmond McGee already and remember, Maynard is a free agent. I think they'll look to bring in at least one more player to compete at camp.
scott (grayslake, IL)
All the talk centers around OL, DL, and WR, which I completely agree those are the first priorities; however, I don't hear much chatter about LB. Do you think the bears will address LB in the draft or are there some decent free agents?
Michael (1:50 PM)
Scott, the thing is the Bears need multiple linebackers. I could see them drafting one, and bringing in a couple others as rookie free agents. There's also the possibility of bringing Pisa Tinoisamoa back. It'll all depend on how he checks out medically. I know Lovie Smith is high on Pisa.
Rick (Urbana, IL)
Will the Bears waste another pick on a quarterback or will they show a little backup faith in Hanie?
Michael (1:52 PM)
Rick, I hope they give Hanie some love. He certainly earned it with his performance in the NFC Championship game. It wasn't pretty. But Hanie showed that he could come in and perform when the stakes were highest and the lights brightest.
Kameron (Idaho Falls)
MW, what is your prediction of how the next week pans out? I mean, will we have reports from Halas Hall of players working out, OTAs, will the Bears have signed a FA, made a player trade, etc? This has been the hardest offseason to deal with ever.
Michael (1:55 PM)
Kameron, the problem for me is I haven't had ANY vacation time since last July. I'm running on fumes, man, and the lockout has made for more work. So part of me wants the break. But the football lover in me wants business to get rolling again soon. I think the league's appeal on the stay will be denied, and business will kick back into high gear in the next two weeks. You'll be reading reports about signings, workouts, perhaps even minicamps very soon. I'm almost sure of it.
Nick (Bismarck, ND)
If Jimmy Smith falls to #29, do you see the Bears overlooking his off field issues and drafting him? I think he has too much talent to pass up, but that's just me.
Michael (1:56 PM)
It's not just you, Nick. They would be nuts to pass on Jimmy Smith if he falls to them at 29. Jerry Angelo said they're not looking for "halo players." Well, Smith definitely isn't that. But he's a heck of a talent.
As a fan, I hate the Thursday-Friday-Saturday draft format. It was much more enjoyable to watch the draft under the Saturday-Sunday format, but I must be in the minority because the draft's TV ratings were higher than ever with the switch. How do the teams like the change? I can see both positives and negatives from their perspective.
Michael (1:57 PM)
John, I'm like you: I hate it. I'd rather get it all over with in two days than wait around all day/night for one pick. Then come back the next day, then again the next day. At the end of the day, it's about money I guess. And the new format has pulled in a ton of dough.
Ryan (North Carolina)
Michael,There has been some talk about Chestor Taylor not performing up to his contract expectations last year. However, I think in the situations the bears used him he got the job done. What are the Bears planning to do with Taylor considering Forte is due for a contract?
Michael (1:59 PM)
Ryan, Chester Taylor is safe. Lovie Smith told me at the owners meetings that Chester did everything the team asked, and isn't in danger of being cut. Chester still has a role for 2011. Besides that, the big money on his contract... well, they've already paid him that. So the money's gone and cutting him won't get it back.
Vance (CMN 375)
What's the best case scenario for who could fall to the Bears in the first round?
Michael (2:00 PM)
Best case: a huge run on quarterbacks pushes all the tackles down the board, allowing the Bears to pick a good one, rather than reach at 29.
Michael, how much do we REALLY know about the Bears' intentions? How straightforward is Angelo?
Michael (2:01 PM)
Angelo is a GM, so he's not gonna put his plans out there for everyone to see. He'll give you as much as he can without giving you anything. So all we REALLY know is the Bears want to trade down from the 29th spot. Angelo and Ruskell made that abundantly clear last week.
I really think your prediction of Castonzo falling to us is very optimistic, heck I think Solder falling to is is optimistic. So if you had to choose between Derek Sherrod (who I think will be available there) and CB Aaron Williams (who will more than likely be there) who would you take.
Michael (2:02 PM)
From a total value standpoint, both players are rated about the same (Williams is slightly higher). So in that scenario, you fill the need.
Kameron (Idaho Falls)
The hard work put in by you ESPNChicago guys is appreciated by those of us with a commitment to our teams. You know, we have some fine fishing vacation destinations out here in the west, by the way.
Michael (2:03 PM)
Appreciate it, and might have to get my butt out that way. I need to do some fishing for sure.
Michael-I read somewhere Ruskell just signed on with the Bears last year-is this guy any good?
Michael (2:04 PM)
Dan, depends on who you ask. Some of my colleagues in Seattle (where he last worked) aren't very high on him. But his draft record has been OK. Also, he's got history with Jerry Angelo and Rod Marinelli.
Kevin (Gurnee, IL)
Tell me how bad Todd Collins was, just let me have it
Michael (2:04 PM)
You saw it yourself. I'd never rip Collins like that. He's a good guy.
Do you see Mike Martz being around for the longterm?
Michael (2:05 PM)
Well, he recently turned down an extension. I think he still has that itch to be a head coach, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Michael (2:06 PM)
Guys, I've gone over my time (time flies). So I've got to get going to prepare for tonight's festivities at Halas Hall. Keep it tuned to ESPNChicago.com for coverage of the NFL draft. My partner Jeff Dickerson will be in the house with me tweeting, blogging and writing all the news we can for you guys. Take care. Had a blast.