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« NFL Draft 2011: The Anti-Preview A Forceful Start »

Bears Fri Apr 29 2011

Bears Go Big With First-Round Draft Pick

carimi bears small.PNGThe Cubs and White Sox continued their slides and the Bulls learned their second-round opponent, but the big news around these parts last night -- you know, besides saying goodbye to Michael Scott -- was the Bears selecting Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi with the No. 29 pick in the NFL Draft.

It's a move sure to please Big Ten fans who watched the Outland Trophy winner in the trenches the past four years -- or really, anyone who watched the Bears offensive line last season. That group allowed a league-high 56 sacks, ranking 29th among 32 NFL teams in adjusted sack rate, and produced only 3.9 yards per carry, which ranked 23rd in the league.

Carimi (6-7, 314) should help immediately. The smart money has him taking over for journeyman Frank Omiyale in a starting tandem with J'Marcus Webb. Left tackle? Right tackle? We will have to see, though Aaron Schatz had a good take on it last night at FootballOutsiders.com:

I wonder if the Bears will play Carimi at LT. Most people think he's a natural RT, but they've got an old guy at LT and the seventh-rounder from last year, Webb, at RT. ... Wait, Mike Mayock thinks that the Bears will put last year's seventh-rounder at LT? Really? He was a seventh-rounder for a reason.

ChicagoBears.com promises they're not just pleased with the pick, but flat-out "ecstatic." Windy City Gridiron called it "the steal of the first round." Carimi isn't a finished product just yet, but he should step in nicely at the NFL level.

From the team release:

Carimi performed well in Big Ten action against three defensive ends who were also selected in the first-round Thursday night: Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Ohio State's Cameron Heyward. In addition, Carimi honed his skills in practice versus another first-round pick, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt.

"I think the kid is a plug-and-play right tackle," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock wrote before the draft. "Throw him in there and he's a starter on Day 1. And he's a starter for the next 10 years. He's got a little attitude and there's something tough about him. He's a good football player."

Angelo said that the Bears did a lot of work on Carimi and "we feel we know as much as you can know about this player." Veteran offensive line coach Mike Tice, whose son Nate also plays at Wisconsin, has been very high on Carimi throughout the draft process.

"Mike has spent a lot of time up there at Wisconsin talking to their coaches," Angelo said. "We've had their offensive line coach visit us and really we've had their staff visit us. So we really feel like we know this player very well and he really does fit the profile that we were looking for."

Just be glad the Bears got the pick in on time.

The annual exercise in televised bureaucracy -- seriously, this is hours of corporate hiring decisions -- resumes tonight at 5 CT with the second and third rounds and concludes tomorrow with all the guys whose contributions, failing some Brady-like rise to stardom, will go largely unnoticed by most NFL fans.

 
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