With Ted Phillips emphasizing "talent evaluation" as the reason for Jerry Angelo's firing, other writers have talked about the big-round busts of the GM's tenure. Another way of doing it? Look at the talent that was available when JA was making his top picks.
No human being is going to make perfect choices all the time, but look at what the 2011 Bears starting lineup might have looked like had Angelo chosen more wisely.
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers. In real life, Angelo and Lovie Smith were still trying to develop Rex Grossman in 2005, and after failing to trade down from the No. 4 slot, Angelo selected head case Cedric Benson, despite having Thomas Jones on his roster. Rodgers fell to the Packers at 24. Do-over, please?
Running Back: Chris Johnson. Angelo drafted LT Chris Williams, bad back and all, 14th overall in 2008. CJ2K was still available at No. 24.
Wide Receiver: Mike Wallace. The Steelers star is the best deep threat in today's game, and they picked him in the 3rd round with the 84th pick overall in 2009. For those of you keeping score at home, that was 16 picks after Angelo picked YouTube pool boy Jarron Gilbert.
Wide Receiver: Greg Jennings. I remember thinking that 2006 selection Danieal Manning was a headscratcher in the 2nd round with pick 42. Manning never found a comfortable role on the Bears, but I'll bet the Packers' choice at No 52 would have fit in nicely as the Bears No. 1 receiver.
Tight End: Jimmy Graham. Major Wright, the Bears' first pick in 2010 at No. 75, may never be a legit NFL starter. Jimmy Graham is already one of two elite players at his position. He lasted to pick 95
Tight End: Matt Spaeth, free agent, 2011.
Left Tackle: J'Marcus Webb, 7th round, 2010.
Left Guard: Edwin Williams, free agent 2010.
Center, Andre Gurode. A freakish injury convinced the Bears to part ways with 2002 29th overall draft pick Marc Columbo, who went on to a decent career with the Cowboys. But the Cowboy's pick at No. 37 that year, Gurode, quickly became a dominant center, earning multiple Pro Bowl invites and two All Pro mentions. He plays guard for the Ravens now.
Right Guard: Roberto Garza, free agent 2005.
Right Tackle: Gabe Carimi, 1st round 2011.
Defensive End: Julius Peppers, free agent, 2010.
Defensive Tackle: Henry Melton, 4th round, 2009.
Defensive Tackle: Vince Wilfork. Bad knees caused the tremendously talented Tommie Harris to fall to the Bears at No. 14 in 2004, but scouts were divided over which of these stud defensive tackles would have the best professional career. Harris hasn't been a factor on anyone's roster since 2006, but the enormous Wilfork (drafted 21st overall by the Patriots) continues to be a dominant force in the interior line. A tough call to be sure, but by no means was it a slam dunk.
Defensive End: Israel Indonije, free agent, 2006.
Outside Linebacker: Lance Briggs, 3rd round, 2003.
Middle Linebacker: Brian Urlacher, 1st round, 2000.
Outside Linebacker: LaMarr Woodley. OK, quick question. Would you rather have talented but underachieving tight end Greg Olsen (31st overall, 2007) or this Pro Bowl linebacker (2nd round, 46th overall) who forced the fumble that sealed the Steelers's Super Bowl win over the Cardinals? That's what I thought.
Cornerback: Nnamdi Asomugha. Angelo traded down from the No. 4 pick in 2003 to acquire two first round picks, using the 22nd overall to select future Super Bowl victim Rex Grossman. The best cornerback in the league was still on the board at pick No. 31.
Cornerback: Charles "Peanut" Tillman, 2nd round, 2003.
Strong Safety: Troy Polamalu. The third Steeler on this list (gee, I wonder why they keep winning Super Bowls?) slipped past the Bears in 2003 when -- in an act that looks even dumber every time I think about it -- Angelo picked Penn State space cadet Michael Haynes with the 14th pick. Despite a pathetic lack of edge rushers, Haynes never really made it as a starter with the Bears. Polamalu, who went to the Steelers two picks later, has been the greatest safety of the decade.Should. Have. Been. A. Bear.
Free Safety: Chris Conte, 3rd round, 2011.
Long Snapper: Patrick Mannelly, 6th round, 1998.
Punter: Adam Podlesh, free agent, 2011.
Kicker: Robbie Gould, free agent, 2005.
Return Specialist: Devin Hester, 2nd round, 2006.
In some of these drafts you have to really dig a bit for a top flight player that Angelo whiffed on, but in others there are so many to choose from that you seriously wonder how the Bears got things so incredibly wrong.
But passing up Polamalu for Haynes? That alone warrants firing.