Obtaining assets more important than reaching for needs

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Chicago Tribune columnist Dan Pompei wrote a piece this weekend about how the Bears might not be in the best position at the end of the first round and trading down to acquire more picks might be a better option than reaching for a player at a position of need.

While I don’t always agree with Pompei’s positions, this is one in which I agree with him.

The position, of course, was met with criticism, frustration and disappointment from Bears fans who commented on the article. Some ridiculed Angelo’s draft history and called it a typical move for Angelo to settle on lesser players. Others aimed their vitriol at the McCaskeys, calling them cheap and saying trading down is just a cost-cutting move that results in inferior players.

Nevermind that the McCaskeys shelled out over $100 million last off-season and signed Julius Peppers to a record contract. And to speak of saving money on first-round salaries in a negative tone is to misunderstand the value of a late-round draft pick.

It’s fair to criticize Angelo for his track record in selecting rookies, and, in fact, I’d be among the first line line at the consumer complaint department pounding on the counter and asking for a new voice running the show on draft day. However, despite finishing one game away from the Super Bowl in 2010, the Bears have a lot of holes to fill that one pick at the end of the first round can hardly satisfy.

When you throw in the amount of free agents the Bears have to consider re-signing along with the high bust rate for first-round draft picks, you can see why I agree with Pompei that trading down out of the first round might make more sense.

Trading down should not be cause for criticism. The New England Patriots have done it well over the years and have stockpiled picks nearly every draft. The difference is that they have better personnel evaluators than Angelo and his staff, and the Bears’ evaluation is what should earn fans’ scorn.

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