(MCT) CHICAGO — Twelve months of labor will produce the Bears' decision with the 20th pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
It's a long, winding process of evaluating players in many areas, including film study, off-field character studies and medical reports. Media and fans speculate with mock drafts without the benefit of medical information and sometimes keen insight into off-field pluses or minuses. Teams create mock draft boards to assess how the first round could fall and what will be available when their turn arrives.
In the Bears' case, they have the final pick of the 20 teams that didn't reach the playoffs based on their 10-6 finish in 2012. That means they have a substantial wait to select who they hope soon will be a core player.
Some of it involves luck. The Bears selected Tommie Harris with the 14th pick in 2004 as the first defensive lineman to come off the board. They thought Harris could fall to them because of knee issues at Oklahoma that ultimately curtailed his NFL career after three Pro Bowl selections, but it wasn't a sure thing. Four wide receivers were drafted ahead of him. In the last seven drafts, 26 defensive linemen have been selected in the top 14 picks, so landing Harris as the first lineman that far down in the round was an anomaly.
General manager Phil Emery has three scenarios when the team goes on the clock sometime around 9 p.m. If a player the Bears have coveted is available there, they likely will make the pick without considering offers to trade down. If the Bears don't see such a player, Emery probably will work to move near the bottom of the first round and add depth to a draft that right now is without third- and seventh-round picks. If he can't find a suitable player or trade, the Bears will have to use the pick on someone they deem brings the most value.
"That whole grouping at 20, really you may end up having five, six players that you really feel comfortable (with)," Emery said. "You'll have two or three out in front that have a chance to come to you and then you'll include at least another four or five on the back end of that that you'll have in ranked order in case you trade back.
"... If the list is too small when it comes time to trade back and you don't feel comfortable, you have some tough decisions to make. You may have to move even further back into an area of value or you may have to take the best available player there if you don't find a trade."
Many evaluators believe a draft that lacks star quarterback power and a defined No. 1 pick, let alone a top five, has plenty of depth because there is a substantial group with solid second-round grades. The Bears select at No. 50 overall in Round 2 and a trade-down scenario could involve an extra pick in that round.
The key will be what is available at No. 20. The Giants pick at No. 19 and one scout for another team said he believes the franchises both could be eyeing Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert or a linebacker, a need for both defenses. Eifert could generate interest for teams seeking to trade up. Defensive line, cornerback and offensive line are also positions to watch for the Bears.
"You have to have some flexibility," Emery said. "But the planning process is far more important than the days of the draft."