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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Gleaning insight from Bears' drafts under Lovie Smith

We'll preface this by saying that Lovie Smith isn't the Bucs general manager, just as he wasn't when he was head coach in Chicago, but he certainly had a level of influence, as he does now. With that in mind, we looked back over the nine drafts the Bears had with Lovie Smith as head coach (from 2004-12) to get a sense for what his personal history is with draft picks and priorities. A few notes ...

-- Smith has rarely picked as high as the Bucs will at No. 7 overall. Chicago only had six first-round picks in his nine years -- Bears traded out of the first round in '06, getting a third-rounder to slide down 16 spots, and traded away their '09 and '10 first-rounders (and more) to get Jay Cutler from Denver. So of those six first-round picks, only one -- running back Cedric Benson, who went fourth overall in 2005 -- was higher than 14th overall. 

-- How'd those first-rounders turn out? Benson was unremarkable in three seasons with the Bears, only got to 1,000 yards later with Bengals. DT Tommie Harris (2004, 14th) was a starter for Smith's first seven seasons in Chicago, and OT Chris Williams (2008, 14th) was limited by injuries, started at guard and tackle and eventually cut in 2012. You know Gabe Carimi (29th, 2011) as the guy the Bucs gave up a sixth-rounder for last year and then cut after using him primarly as a sixth lineman. Tight end Greg Olsen (31st, 2007) had 20 touchdowns in four years with the Bears, averaging just under 50 catches a year, and that leaves DE/LB Shea McClellan, the 19th pick in 2012 -- started 10 games last year, has 6.5 sacks in two seasons.

-- So four of his six first-round picks were used on offense, but overall, 38 of his 68 draft picks were on the defensive side, as well as 14 of his 25 picks in the top three rounds. You'd expect a defensive lean from a coach with Smith's background, but you can also pick up some positional trends ...

-- Highest a Lovie-coached team has ever drafted a quarterback? That would be 106th -- mid-4th round -- which is where they drafted Kyle Orton in 2005. When you talk about how great QBs can be found late in the draft, I'll counter with the other three passers Smith has on his record: Nate Enderle, Dan LeFevour and Craig Krenzel, all taken in the fifth or sixth rounds.

-- Offensive line? We mentioned Williams and Carimi, neither particularly successful, and it's worth noting that of the nine offensive linemen drafted under Lovie in Chicago, five of them -- more than half -- were seventh-rounders. Williams and Carimi were the only o-linemen taken in the first three rounds in his nine years, so he'll transition easily to the Bucs, who haven't drafted any offensive linemen since 2009.

-- All that talk about landing a receiver in the second or third round? That's right up Smith's alley -- Bears took five receivers in the second or third rounds while he was in Chicago. That includes Alshon Jeffery, who now looks like a stellar pick, but the rest is a mixed bag. You had Earl Bennett (12 TDs in six years) and Bernard Berrian (11 TDs in 2006-07), but also Mark Bradley (4 starts, 4 TDs in 4 seasons) and ... Juaquin Iglesias, who as many career catches as Julio Iglesias ... zero.

-- Defensive tackle? No position consistently goes higher in the draft for Lovie teams -- Harris was a first-rounder, and there were two second-rounders and three third-rounders in his nine drafts. Again, we're not saying they drafted well -- Tank Johnson (2004) had nine sacks in three years, and Stephen Paea (2011) has started the last two years, but ... there's also Jarron Gilbert (2009), who might remember for being able to jump out of a swimming pool, but also had one tackle in his only season in Chicago. Dusty Dvoracek (2006) had one tackle in his first two seasons, Marcus Harrison (2008) had three sacks in three years. Still, what stands out is the commitment to taking DTs early in the draft ...

-- Position drafted the most in the Lovie years in Chicago? By sheer picks, definitely the defensive secondary -- 10 corners and eight safeties. Still, only one of the corners was in the first three rounds -- and that's a corner in name only, Devin Hester, a phenomenal returner who eventually moved to offense. Safety? He used a third-rounder on a safety in each of his last three years, including new Bucs safety Major Wright ...

-- Linebackers? Remember that Lovie had Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs his whole run in Chicago, so that took away much of the need for a linebacker, but the highest the Bears took a linebacker in those nine years was the third round -- Michael Okwo, who never played a down for Chicago, spending his only season on injured reserve.

-- We'll try to do the same research on Jason Licht's background, at least his recent years in Arizona -- he's had varying levels of influence in his front-office roles with several teams, but it's his history, so it's relevant as we anticipate his first draft as a GM. He's been in NFL war rooms since 2001, so you'd think he's been shaped by the good and bad picks he's witnessed firsthand over 13 drafts before this one ...

[Last modified: Friday, May 2, 2014 12:56pm]

    

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