Bears ‘100 percent yes’ for lineman Kyle Long
April 25, 2013 11:26PM
Updated: April 26, 2013 11:26AM
The Bears did it. They took somebody you’ve never heard of, never watched, have no opinion about. That is, unless you view a lot of Pac-12 teams and you focus on in-close offensive line play. Which you don’t.
OK, maybe you remember Oregon guard Kyle Long as a 23rd-round draft choice of the White Sox back in 2008, when he was 19. Of course, he never played for the Sox, enrolling at Florida State instead, and then quickly left school for academic reasons. And a DUI.
It’s possible you follow the family matters of former Oakland Raider Howie Long, a Hall of Famer, who happens to be Kyle’s dad. That’s also doubtful. The fact Kyle Long is also lineman Chris Long’s brother — Chris being the former No. 2 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2008 — may help. But again, how many people know anything about West Coast collegiate line play?
The Bears need O-line help, and we’ll assume the younger Long is a nice fit for the essential protection of quarterback Jay Cutler. He is a guard, 6-6, 313 pounds, with 11-inch hands, if you’re into that.
What general manager Phil Emery said at Halas Hall was this: ‘‘Kyle was the player we wanted. It was 100 percent yes.’’
Meaning the war room. All the coaches, all the scouts — everybody — in agreement.
Nor was there any doubt with Emery that Long will be a terrific Bear, if for no other reason than the guy is an outstanding athlete — a left-handed pitcher who once played quarterback.
‘‘He was the No. 1 [athlete] in the last 12 guard classes,’’ Emery said. ‘‘And that’s as far as we go.’’
What sticks out most with this pick is that Long was not projected as a first-rounder and some analysts say he’s still a project, having only played one season at Oregon and starting a total of five D-I college games. Plus, he’ll be 25 this year.
That’s some bang for your on-field buck, huh?
‘‘I thing it’s a good thing and a bad thing,’’ Long himself said on the phone of his limited experience. ‘‘I feel I can get a lot better.’’
A strange night it was, no matter how you cut it.
The nutcases in the Radio City Music Hall stands started booing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell even as he walked to the rostrum to begin.
Maybe they were expecting the Rockettes?
Yet these are nutcases who want desperately to see their teams draft just the right guy who will launch their team into the Super Bowl and the player himself into the Hall of Fame. The odds are against that.
The odds are against everything, actually. As USA Today wrote pre-draft, joining almost every sports media outlet everywhere, ‘‘The consensus is the Kansas City Chiefs [with the first pick] will select Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel.’’
So as the clock ticked closer to the Bears’ pick at No. 20 and the world of offensive linemen got sweeter (four taken in the first seven picks, six in the first 11), there was no clue as to whom Emery and his group would take. No quarterbacks were taken early. No running backs. No tight ends. Eleven offensive or defensive linemen were taken in the first 19 picks. Then 12 in 20 picks, after the Bears chose.
Mothers everywhere, if they were watching the draft, had to be thinking, ‘‘I will feed my biggest son even more junk food, and someday it will make him — and me — rich!’’
One thing that came to mind as the event moved on was that with a new coach and many new assistant coaches and new free-agent signings, the Bears are almost set as a team.
If there were no draft at all, they might not be in bad shape. Yet they are yet a mystery because new leader Marc Trestman has never been a head coach in the United States.
Did they take Long because they want to protect Cutler at all costs?
‘‘We took him because we want to win,’’ said Emery. ‘‘Championships.’’