Our writer plays Phil Emery and makes Bears’ draft pick
BY MARK POTASH Twitter: @MarkPotash April 24, 2013 12:37PM
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery talks about the upcoming NFL draft before the Bears first mini-camp at Halas Hall on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, in Lake Forest, Ill. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
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Updated: April 24, 2013 10:29PM
I put myself in Phil Emery’s shoes during a mock draft of NFL beat writers Tuesday and they weren’t that comfortable. I’ll stick with my day job.
But the experience still provided an interesting insight into what could be a big decision for Emery in the draft on Thursday — whether to keep the No. 20 overall pick or trade it.
I ended up trading the pick and I’m sure Bears fans and the press will hammer me unmercifully for making a rotten deal. But it makes sense in principle. And there’s a deal to be had.I’ll leave it up to Emery to get a better one than I did. Here’s how I ended up acquiring two additional picks and still stayed in the first round:
As the one-round draft unfolded, I had four players targeted at No. 20 — Alabama guard Chance Warmack, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. If any of those players slips down to No. 20, it would be difficult to pass. It would take a pretty good deal to entice me to trade the pick.
As it turned out, all four were off the board at No. 20 — with Cooper going to Cowboys at No. 18 and Ogletree to the Giants at No. 19. Now it was time to deal.
While trading in the NFL draft is often easier said than done, there’s an obvious trade partner for every NFL team in this draft, particularly the Bears. The 49ers have 13 picks in this draft, including five in the first three rounds (Nos. 31, 34, 61, 74 and 93). The 49ers have a stocked roster already. If they’re not looking to package quantity for quality, they’re not as smart as they appear to be.
The Bears have the fewest picks in the draft. The 49ers have the most. Somehow, I don’t think Emery’s reference to No. 34 as a point where he would trade down to was as ‘‘arbitrary’’ as he said it was at last week’s pre-draft press conference. That’s a 49ers pick. And if it wasn’t one of the calls he acknowledged making, it should have been.
With Eifert, Warmack, Cooper and Ogletree off the board, I called the 49ers (beat writer Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee), and as expected, there was genuine interest in the 20th pick.
I offered No. 20 in exchange for No. 31, No. 61 and No. 74. The counter-offer was No. 31, No. 61 and No. 93. As the clock kept ticking, I started sweating. Was I getting the best deal? Should I drive a hard bargain? Were the 49ers trying to snooker me into a bad deal? Would the fans torch me for getting too little? Would the press hammer me for asking for too much?
That’s when I made my big mistake.
With my inexperience getting the best of me and the clock ticking, I mentioned the draft value chart that NFL teams use to guage value of draft picks. Matt looked it up and found that the value difference between Nos. 20 and 31 was 250 points. The 61st pick alone was worth 292 points. I should have kept my mouth shut. Acquiring 31, 61 and 93 would have been a bargain, on paper.
We settled on No. 31 (the second-to-last pick of the first round), No. 74 (the 12th pick of the third round) and No. 180 (the 12th pick of the sixth round). Not the best deal. As it turned out, I should have asked to flip late-round picks — the 49ers’ No. 157 for the Bears’ No. 188 — which would have been a virtual even deal by the value chart. Live and learn.
But here’s the kicker: You know how team’s always say, ‘‘We got the guy we wanted’’ when they trade down — and we think it’s a bunch of malarkey? Well, I ended up getting the guy I would have taken at No. 20: Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker — swear to god! (two other candidates, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, were off the board between 20 and 31).
So I traded No. 20 for Nos. 31, 74 and 180.
‘‘Garbage,’’ one well-respected NFL source told me.
What was I thinking? I did what’s best for the Chicago Bears. I took the best player available. I ended up with the player I wanted all along. The market dictated the price. I did my due diligence. I trusted my scouts. I took the player I feel can help the Bears win a championship. They’re a better team today than they were yesterday. This is a process. All I know is I got the player I would have taken at 20 at 31and added two picks. Any further questions?
There’s no telling how this scenario will play out in reality on Thursday night. Emery might have no interest in Alec Ogletree or Tyler Eifert at No. 20 or D.J. Fluker at No. 31 or at all. Last year he picked a player in the first round — Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin — that nobody predicted.
But I do know this: It’s possible, perhaps likely, the Bears will get better value trading the No. 20 pick than keeping it. And the 49ers, with five picks in the first three rounds, are a too-obvious trade partner. It’s up to Phil Emery to make the best deal. Better in his hands than mine.