LAKE FOREST, Ill.— For the second straight year, it will be a slow start for the Chicago Bears in the NFL draft.
LAKE FOREST, Ill.— For the second straight year, it will be a slow start for the Chicago Bears in the NFL draft. The Bears are looking for help at safety, cornerback and the offensive and defensive lines, but they won’t get a chance until the 75th pick in the third round on Friday night. The Bears don’t have a first-round pick after last year’s trade to land quarterback Jay Cutler from the Broncos. And they don’t have a second-rounder because they traded that for defensive end Gaines Adams, who died in the offseason. "Naturally when you don’t have the first two picks, it’s very difficult to put a stamp on a player and say that we feel very strongly that he’s going to come in and potentially start," general manager Jerry Angelo said Wednesday. The Bears’ greatest need is a free safety. Angelo believes six to eight safeties in the draft are talented enough that they would help immediately, even at pick No. 75. Angelo wouldn’t rule out trading up to take a safety, but doubted he has the trade ammo to go up very far. "If we feel like that’s what we have to do, given maybe he’s the last player at the position, it’s not something that we wouldn’t entertain," Angelo said. At this point, the Bears have Craig Steltz, Josh Bullocks and a handful of strong safety types who could man the safety spot. They have resisted signing a veteran. "We had a chance to make a move on a veteran player a couple weeks ago, we just chose not to do it," Angelo said. The Bears have missed the playoffs for three straight years and struggled to a 7-9 finish last season, their first with Jay Cutler at quarterback. The team kept Lovie Smith as head coach, but fired offensive coordinator Ron Turner and five other coaches on that side of the ball. Overall, Smith has a 52-44 record since replacing Jauron before the 2004 season. The Bears went 13-3 in 2006 and made the Super Bowl. Since then, they are 23-25 and have finished below .500 twice. The Bears have ruled out trading away next year’s picks for picks this year like they did last year in the Cutler deal. "We’re out of that business," Angelo said. "I don’t want to get cute and keep borrowing in the future with picks, because the one thing you know is it’s very difficult to guarantee the present." The need for a guard exists because coaches have moved left guard Frank Omiyale to right tackle; Angelo said Omiyale could slide back if a talented enough tackle falls in the draft to the Bears. One of the bigger mysteries surrounding the draft for the Bears is whether tight end Greg Olsen will be traded. Angelo said he has fielded a few calls about trades but wouldn’t specifically mention Olsen as the subject matter. Olsen might be available because he is known more as a receiver who lacks great blocking skills. In new coordinator Mike Martz’s offense, a tight end needs to be a blocker. "He needs to get grounded in blocking; we told him that," Martz said. "It’s hard to run the ball, guys, if you don’t have a tight end that’s going to be on the edge over there." Neither Martz nor Angelo would discount Olsen proving he can play the spot in this offense. "You know even if he were a square peg in a round hole, he’s still a quality football player," Angelo said. The Bears also have the 109th pick overall as well as Nos. 141, 181 and 218. The draft starts Thursday night and wraps up with four rounds on Saturday. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.