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Phil Emery gets ringing endorsement for Bears' GM position

Kansas City Chiefs v New EnglPatriots

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots

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Updated: May 9, 2012 10:12AM

MOBILE, Ala. — Scott Pioli, who helped build the New England Patriots’ dynasty with coach Bill Belichick, takes a low-key approach as the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs.

But when asked Tuesday to talk about Chiefs college scouting director Phil Emery, Pioli gladly agreed to an interview at the Senior Bowl — with one condition.

He wanted time to think about his answers because of his respect for Emery.

“The things that stand out are his work ethic, his work habits, how detailed he is, how meticulous he is,” Pioli told the Sun-Times. “He’s a very good teacher, and he’s a very good listener.

“I think those things are valuable in that position. I also feel that he’s a good evaluator of talent.”

With the Patriots playing in Super Bowl XLVI, their staff has been slow to arrive in Mobile. In addition, the Patriots rely on Belichick as their primary spokesperson.

Emery and Jason Licht of the Patriots are the two finalists for the Bears’ general-manager position. They’ll go through a second interview later this week or early next week.

But in Mobile, where NFL scouts, coaches and personnel executives have descended to evaluate college players, the reputations of Licht and Emery are strong among their peers.

Licht is known for his affable personality, his ability to assess players and his versatility, given his experience as both a college and pro scout.

Emery was described by several sources as “a grinder” because of his unrelenting passion to find players, as well as for his resourcefulness.

Both have New England connections.

Licht has worked twice with the Patriots, first under Pioli as a college scout, then returning in 2009 as director of pro personnel under Belichick. And Emery, who started his scouting career with the Bears, worked under former Patriots college scouting director Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta and now works for Pioli.

In Kansas City, Pioli said Emery runs all of the Chiefs’ draft meetings, and he’s a key voice on draft days in their draft room.

Asked if Emery is ready to be a GM, Pioli said, “You only find out if you’re ready when you get into it.

“But, yes, I do believe he’s ready. He’s a strong decision-maker.”

Given the team approach the Chiefs employ, Pioli declined to name a specific player Emery pushed who has developed into a good player over the last three seasons.

But among the notable selections are safety Eric Berry (first round, 2010), tight end Tony Moeaki (third round, 2010), linebacker Justin Houston (third round, 2011), cornerback/returner Javier Arenas (second round, 2010) and kicker Ryan Succop (seventh round, 2009).

“It’s very much a team-oriented thing,” Pioli said of the Chiefs’ approach. “But he’s an incredible teammate. Even if there were a situation like that [taking credit], he’d shy away from that.

“When something goes well, it’s about everyone else. When it goes wrong, he points the finger at himself.”

Meanwhile, it’s an awkward time for the Bears’ scouts.

Interim general manager Tim Ruskell is under contract at least through the 2012 season, but he was one of three GM candidates eliminated from contention Monday.

He’s at the mercy of Licht or Emery.

But the other nine pro and college scouts have contracts that expire after the draft. And while some have worked with Emery, several of them have strong reputations and could be hired elsewhere, breaking up the continuity of a well-respected group.

That continuity, in fact, has prevented chaos in Mobile while the Bears’ GM search goes on.

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