There was an underlying theme that was hard to miss with each of Phil Emery's post-draft pick press conferences over the weekend. Certain buzzwords continually showed up in Emery's talks.
Here he is on the Kyle Long pick:
"He is the type of athlete and player that we have targeted; a fast, tough, dynamic athlete, a productive athlete."
"That's part of the reason we're extremely excited about having him here is his versatility,"
This is what Emery said about Jon Bostic:
"One is intelligence -- he’s a guy that can line up others," Emery said. "We brought him in for a visit and felt very good about his football aptitude and his ability to line everybody else up on the field. (The second reason is that) he’s fast. He’s one of the fastest linebackers in the class. Three was his positional flexibility, and I’ll go four -- special teams.
On fourth-round pick Khaseem Greene:
Look at the things you can't deny: athleticism, production, leadership, ability to change positions and still be productive.
And on fifth-round pick Jordan Mills:
...Big part of the reason we drafted him was his versatility.
Emery had this to say about Cornelius Washington:
"What did we see on tape? An explosive athlete. We saw a guy that’s close a lot but hasn’t closed."
The words that keep coming up: versatility, athletic and fast. These are clearly three of the biggest traits Emery is looking for and especially how that translates into the production of each of these players.
Now drafting all the athletes you want is great, but they have to know proper technique in order to get the most out of their ability. That's where Emery has set his mark with his coaching staff.
Emery said this about newly-hired Marc Trestman's staff at the scouting combine back in February:
"They are an excellent group of teachers...There are a number of very intelligent, skilled teachers of the game of football."
Even Trestman himself has used the teacher label:
I think we’ve done a fantastic job collectively and organizationally putting together a group of men who are not only great teachers but guys with great people skills.
With the completion of the draft and everything, I believe that what we are seeing is the start of the new era of Chicago Bears football. Emery and Trestman want to bring in fast, athletic players that can be molded into productive football players.
This is a risky proposition of course, and perhaps why so many fans seemed to react negatively to each and every pick the team made, because the last regime failed so miserably at player development. A large part of that is why neither Lovie Smith or Jerry Angelo are calling the shots any more.
It will be interesting to see how players in year two, like Shea McClellin, Evan Rodriguez and Alshon Jeffery, develop and progress. The former two were seen as athletic but raw and in need of coaching, the latter was seen as a dynamic player with work ethic concerns. If Emery and Trestman can prove with these players that they can make solid football players out of "versatile, athletic" rookies, then those words won't be so dirty to Bears fans and won't be met with such cynicism.
If McClellin can work into the starting rotation and Jeffery becomes an every down starting receiver, then maybe we can believe that Kyle Long wasn't a reach, that Jonathan Bostic isn't a good-not-great linebacker prospect and that Cornelius Washington isn't Mark Anderson 2.0, or worse, Jarron Gilbert II.
Emery emphasizes certain attributes and clearly he is trusting Trestman and his staff to polish these players into stars. That isn't a bad thing...so long as it works.
Do you think Emery and Trestman will be better at player development?