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Bears should study college scouts for GM vacancy

Thomas Dimitroff successfully slid inGM role with Falcons after serving as Patriots’ college scouting director. | KevC. Cox~Getty Images

Thomas Dimitroff successfully slid into the GM role with the Falcons after serving as the Patriots’ college scouting director. | Kevin C. Cox~Getty Images

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AP All-Pro

I’m one of the 50 voters selected by the Associated Press to determine the prestigious All-Pro team. After consulting more than 16 scouts and coaches, here’s my ballot:


WR (2) – Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions; Wes Welker, New England Patriots

TE (1) – Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

T (2) – Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles; Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns

G (2) – Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens; Logan Mankins, Patriots

C (1) – Chris Myers, Houston Texans

QB (1) – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

RB (2) – Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars; Ray Rice, Ravens

FB (1) – Vonta Leach, Ravens

Place-kicker (1) – Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders

Kick returner (1) – Devin Hester, Bears


DE (2) – Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings; Jason Babin, Eagles

DT (2) – Haloti Ngata, Ravens; Justin Smith, San Francisco 49ers

OLB (2) – DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys; Terrell Suggs, Ravens

ILB (2) – Patrick Willis, 49ers; Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs

CB (2) – Darrelle Revis, New York Jets; Carlos Rogers, 49ers

S (2) – Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers; Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks

Punter (1) – Shane Lechler, Raiders

Updated: February 10, 2012 8:36AM

As they search for a replacement for Jerry Angelo, the Bears must determine the style in which they want their general manager to operate.

Because in the NFL, there’s more than just the traditional approach.

There’s the owner/general manager (Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys), and there are the general managers who have salary cap/contract-negotiation backgrounds, such as Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles and Mike Reinfeldt of the Tennessee Titans.

But given their recent challenges in the NFL draft, the Bears may want to consider a candidate whose strength is in college scouting.

NFL teams hardly go that route, although Thomas Dimitroff transitioned from the college scouting director of the New England Patriots into a two-time Sporting News executive of the year as the general manager of the Atlanta Falcons.

There’s also an infamous cautionary tale, that of Phil Savage.

A longtime college scouting director for the Baltimore Ravens, Savage was hired to be the Cleveland Browns’ general manager in 2005. He had a strong staff, but he couldn’t escape his college scouting inclination, wanting to be on the road and seeing the nation’s next NFL stars.

That’s one of the concerns about those rooted in college scouting. They’re usually dispatched all over the country, scouting all sorts of college players — the well-known, the unknown and everyone in between. But while they’re on the road, the pro scouts are at the team headquarters dealing with the waiver wire, attending meetings and keeping a pulse on all matters related to the NFL.

Savage struggled with that.

Dimitroff did not.

While he was based in Colorado for several years, Dimitroff did relocate closer to the Patriots’ headquarters in Foxboro, Mass., to immerse himself in NFL culture.

There are a handful of GM candidates with a strong college background. Two are currently college scouting directors: John Dorsey of the Green Bay Packers and Marc Ross of the New York Giants.

Dorsey, though, is old-school in his approach, disappearing from Green Bay for long stretches to study college players. Numerous sources also question whether he truly wants to be a general manager, reveling in his role and embracing the Packers. Dorsey reportedly turned down an opportunity to interview for the Indianapolis Colts vacancy, and two sources suggested he would not leave for an NFC North rival such as the Bears because of his loyalty to the Packers.

Ross is new-school. According to sources, he does plenty of traveling, but he works out of the Giants’ headquarters in East Rutherford, N.J., and he attends the team’s games and meetings.

Others who have different titles now have deep college backgrounds. They include Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan Grigson of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jimmy Raye of the San Diego Chargers, Jason Licht of the Patriots and Sheldon White of the Detroit Lions.

Then there are current GM candidates whose roots are mostly on the pro side: Les Snead of the Atlanta Falcons, George Paton of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Telesco of the Colts and Brian Gaine of the Miami Dolphins.

One option for the Bears could be to hire someone with a strong college background as the general manager, then count on him to hire a director with a strong pro background.

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