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Prospecting for Gold: Emmanuel Acho, LB

I'm going to go ahead and pretend that's Cade McNown. Yeah...that feels better.
I'm going to go ahead and pretend that's Cade McNown. Yeah...that feels better.

I will continue to take a look at prospects all over the draft board and if you have a suggestion of someone you'd like to know a little more about or think could be a fit for the Bears, then by all means let me know in the comments. Linebacker is a position that has been talked about a lot this offseason. It's a position the team has set for a couple more years with the recent extension of Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher isn't likely to get shown the door after this season either. But it's never too soon to start looking to the future. So here is a solid day three pick who could bolster special teams until he's needed to step in a couple seasons.

Emmanuel Acho is the younger brother of 2011 Arizona Cardinals 4th round pick Sam Acho. The elder Acho found his way into the starting line up for the Cards and finished the season with 40 tackles and 7 sacks. This, in some scouts opinions helps Emmanuel's projections as a pro, but we all know that isn't likely. Professional football brothers can have massive talent gaps (Matt and Tim Hasselbeck for example). Either way it's still nice to know that Acho has NFL talent in his gene pool.

As for the younger Acho, Emmanuel stands 6'1" (his Combine-measured height, many reports I see list him at 6'2") and weighs 238 pounds. Again a couple reports list him at 245 lbs, but my best guess is that that is what Texas generously listed him at in their programs at games last year.

As for his pro-prospects, here is a report from

Read & React: Intelligent player who can play mike linebacker despite his lack of size because of his instincts and ability to find the ball in traffic. Reads quarterbacks' eyes and reacts quickly to targets in zone coverage.

Run defense: Best on the edge, bends around the tackle to stop backs before they get to the hole, forces off-tackle plays inside, and uses his speed to cut off plays to the sideline. Wiggles through creases to find the ball inside, though, and can stand up backs in the hole. Often avoids lineman blocks to survive between the tackles, which gives backs running lanes, but will stiff-arm lineman to stay free on some plays.

Pass defense: Athletic enough to stay with running backs out of the backfield, though he will jump at hesitation routes. Lines up against slot receivers, needs to get a hand on them at the line to keep up down the seam. Knocks receivers running crosses off their route within five-yard area. Adept at knocking down passes with good hand-eye coordination but needs to create the turnover more often. Caught with the eyes in the backfield at times, has recovery speed to get back into plays in the flat if a step late. Drops into zones while keeping an eye on underneath routes, also aware of crossers behind him.

Tackling: Reliable open field tackler, wrapping up ballcarriers and at times throwing them to the ground with aggression. Adds himself to piles and churns his legs to push back ballcarriers from getting the extra yard. Strong backs can run through his tackle attempts, though, if he's not in position. Occasionally overruns plays due to aggressive nature.

Pass Rush/Blitz: Displays some ability here, though he's not regularly used in this capacity. Closes quickly off the edge and is reliable in wrapping up quarterbacks in the backfield. Hesitates when facing running back blocks, tries to shimmy past instead of exploding into them or moving the blocker with his hands.

The general feel I get from the scouting reports is that what Acho lacks in speed he makes up for with instincts and smarts. He has a feel for the game and solid technique. The bottom line from National Football Post:

Impression: Isn't a dynamic straight-line athlete, but plays faster because of instincts. Is a good tackler, can shed blocks and plays stronger than his frame would indicate. Has the versatility to play a number of spots in a 4-3 scheme or get some looks inside in a 34. Looks like a potential starter in the NFL either way.

I think he could serve the Bears well in the 4-6 round window. He could probably play special teams and soak up coaching and veteran advice from Bob Babich, Urlacher and Briggs and contribute in a couple years. However, with Blake Costanzo, Dom DeCicco and J.T. Thomas, plus another couple practice squad/camp body prospects, is another linebacker worth taking?