Good thing the Chicago Bears annual draft party wasn’t scheduled until Friday night. With the NFL draft’s first round in the books late Thursday evening, the Bears reach of Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long would have been ment with a cascade of “why’s and “oh no’s” by savvy Bears fans who expected their favorite club to take advantage of several higher rated players left on the board.
The Bears had their choice of the top-rated tight end on the board in Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Irish teammate, LB Mantei Te’o who would have filled a need, athletic DT Shariff Floyd of Florida, and highly regarded cornerbacks Desmond Trufant of Washington and Xavier Rhodes of Florida State. Instead, they bypassed all for Long, who had only five career starts at Oregon.
Despite his inexperience, the Bears expect Long to push for immediate playing time.
In fact, the choice of Long, at best a mid-second or third round pick in the eyes of most observers, rated as one of the surprises of a wild and highly unpredicatble first round that saw only one quarterback chosen and no running backs, the first time that’s occurred since 1963.
General Manager Phil Emery, who has been given generally high marks for his player personnel moves over the last year and a half, may have overthought this selection, relying more on Long’s athletic prowess than actual proven football background. Emery apparently was in the minority who had Long targeted weeks before the annual selection meeting as the Bears pick. “Kyle was the player that we targeted. We’ve targeted him for the last couple of weeks. He had to be gone for us to move back. We were not going to move off that spot if Kyle Long was still available. From what I understand it’s the first guard we’ve taken since 1960 [in the first round]. So a little bit of a change in that regards in where we took one. But, we’re very excited about him. He’s the type of athlete and player that we have targeted– fast, tough, dynamic athlete, a productive athlete. Obviously, he’s traveled down an interesting road to get to the point where he’s at in life, but we’re very excited to welcome him to the Chicago Bears.”
Emery called Long the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl, high praise for a game that also included top overal pick Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and eventual fourth choice Lane Johnson.
Other opinions vary on Long. According to The Slant…2013 NFL Draft Guide*, the scouting report read. “Even as a one-and-done contributor for the Ducks on the line, Long’s combination of size and athleticism won’t be ignored by NFL scouts, who will see his great potential as a starting guard or tackle. Big, physical and remarkably athletic, Long possesses the upside to warrant early round consideration. He is, however, quite inexperienced and therefore a significant roll of the dice. Missed most of the Senior Bowl week in Mobile, but played well in the game and has gained momentum through his work at the combine and pro day. Good bloodlines (father Howie, Hall of Famer and brother Chris a solid DE for St. Louis). Excellent mobility given his size, has no issues moving behind the line or pulling in front of plays — hitting multiple targets at times. Solid on combo blocks when maintaining his bend, and also displays the footwork to get the outside angle on run blocks, move well on zone plays, and also sustain while his man is trying to spin out of pass pro blocks. Plays with attitude, backs up his teammates on the field, cleans up piles. Has pushed himself into day two consideration, likely to be selected late second-early third.”
Barring a trade, the Bears have four remaining picks, one each in rounds two, four, five, and six.