Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery speaks quite a bit about going after athletic players with the hopes of tapping into their potential, but he’s shown the ability to look beyond that and add pieces that just fit.
Emery isn’t the only person who thinks that way. Bill Parcells told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd that Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry told him not to draft exceptions because the “more of them you draft, the less you’re going to look like the team you want to look like.”
Fourth round running back Ka’Deem Carey and sixth-round quarterback David Fales aren’t the kind of players Emery typically drafts, but they’re also not exceptions because the Bears have specific roles in mind that they can fill.
Emery held true to what his word of “swinging on the upside of athleticism” with his first two picks. Both cornerback Kyle Fuller and defensive tackle Ego Ferguson have the potential to be great players in the NFL. Even with third-rounder Will Sutton, it can be argued that his athleticism is better than he tested out, simply because of the extra weight he was carrying.
In the fourth and sixth rounds, the Bears drafted two players who may not have the necessary athleticism to become big stars, but fit perfectly for what they’re looking for now and in the near future.
Carey doesn’t have the speed to be a star. Opponents won’t spend a lot of time game planning for him specifically, but he should be a great complement to current star running back Matt Forte.
Since 2005, no running back weighing under 220 pounds has failed to run a 40-yard dash time better than 4.65 and become a regular starter, much less a special player. What Carey can be, however, is a great compliment to Forte, like Joique Bell is to Reggie Bush in Detroit.
Carey won’t break a lot of long runs, but that’s not what the Bears are looking for from him. . It’s something offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer noted in a story on the team’s website saying: “Maybe in the long distance he might get caught by someone faster. But we’re more concerned about gaining four or five yards, or 20 yards, than we are about him busting a touchdown that you see three times a year. We feel very good about him being productive with his quickness and his physical play.”
They already have a home-run hitting back in Forte, what they need from Carey is the ability to come in, gain tough yards and do his job. It’s something they didn’t get from Michael Bush last year.
A large part of the reason the Bears picked Carey is because of his ability to stay on the field on third downs. He can catch passes, block and function in the offense in general. He should be able to help them save Forte from general wear and tear.
In the sixth round, the Bears drafted Fales just over a week after Emery spoke of drafting a developmental quarterback after the third round being useless. His reasoning is simple: Fales wasn’t drafted to become a starter, he’s going to be the backup to Jay Cutler, something Emery made very clear right after the pick.
Earlier this week, Emery spoke on 670 The Score about the traits of a backup quarterback saying “If they’re going to be quality backup quarterbacks they have to have smarts. They’ve got really smart and instinctive at that position because they’re not going to get a lot of reps. They have to have sufficient arm strength, especially here in Chicago with the wind and the weather and they have to have the trust of their teammates. They have to be good guys, they have to be guys they want to rally around.”
Emery was mostly referring to last year’s backup Josh McCown and the projected second-string quarterback this year, Jordan Palmer, but it remains true for Fales.
Like Carey, Fales is likely never going to become a franchise player or even a regular starter. However, both players have traits that will allow them to have longer, more productive careers than more physically gifted players who may flame out in a year or two.
With these two picks, the Bears didn’t draft exceptions. They’re not asking them to become stars, but rather players who can fill specific roles.
These two picks show Emery is committed to building a complete team, not compiling a group of athletes.