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Sunday, July 3

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Bears Fri Apr 26 2013

Withhold Your Judgement On Bears Surprise Selection

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.png"The Chicago Bears are now on the clock."

The experts and fans at home thought the draft board set up beautifully for the Bears. Tight end Tyler Eifert, linebackers Manti Te'o (though nobody in the fanbase wanted to hear his name) and Alec Ogletree, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, and corners Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes were all there to be had. All of them would fill a position of need and everyone assumed that one of those players had to top the big board at Halas Hall.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell returned to the podium and said, "With the 20th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select... Kyle Long, guard, Oregon."

Wait, what?

It's true, an unprecedented run of offensive linemen had already taken place before the Bears number came up. For the first time in history, the top two overall picks were offensive tackles, two offensive guards were taken in the top 10, and seven of the first 19 picks were taken to protect a team's biggest asset. But nobody saw this coming.

Long was the third ranked guard on most expert boards, but the drop-off between Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack down to Long was supposedly pretty severe. The immediate reaction by Hub Arkush and Matt Bowen on 670 The Score was shock and anger. They weren't alone in thinking this was a major reach.

General manager Phil Emery claimed otherwise. The Bears had been targeting Long for a few weeks, and if he was there at 20, there wouldn't be a trade down. He was the pick all along.

His athleticism and bloodlines (son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, brother of All-Pro defensive end Chris Long) are his two biggest assets. Emery said that his athletic index score (a system Bears strength coach Rusty Jones uses to rate the athleticism of their prospects) is the best they've seen in 12 years. Literally the top score of any guard in the 12 years of Jones's records. "He rates as rare," Emery said. Apparently.

Long's route to the NFL, however, can best be described as 'colorful.' It involves the White Sox, Florida State, a DWI, junior college, and 11 games at the University of Oregon. He's also 24 years old, which is incredibly old for a draft prospect.

The Bears see him as a guard now, but they say he could develop into a tackle down the road. If he starts at left guard like it sounds, it will mean Roberto Garza is the only player on the Bears line that will start 2013 at the same place where he ended 2012. It was clear the team needed to upgrade the offensive line. They unquestionably have.

The complaints that many are spewing about the Bears taking Long are silly. Experts get things wrong all the time, and fans don't watch an ounce of tape on any of the players taken in the draft. You can't judge a draft for at least three years (four to be safe), and the instant claims of ineptitude are laughable. Why didn't the Bears trade back you ask? Maybe the offers were weak, or there weren't any at all when the time came. Oh - and because the guy they wanted at that spot was available. So there's that.

Shea McClellin wasn't terrible last year, and neither was Alshon Jeffery. Sure, everyone wishes they would've been impact players from the start, but that's pretty rare for guys that are taken outside the top 15 picks in what many have considered a couple of weak drafts the past two years.

Trust the decision-makers until they prove untrustworthy. Whining about a draft pick when your knowledge is close to zilch is just a waste of everyone's time.

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