LAKE FOREST – Bears president Ted Phillips was not in the mood to bash Jerry Angelo several hours after he decided to fire his longtime colleague as general manager.
Instead, Phillips glossed over the reasons for Angelo’s dismissal.
“There’s a lot of factors,” Phillips said. “A lot of factors that I really don’t want to get into out of respect for Jerry because he’s brought a lot to this team.”
Although Phillips wasn’t willing to go into detail, it was easy to pinpoint Angelo’s greatest flaw during his 11-year tenure in charge of the Bears’ personnel moves. A series of ill-advised draft picks created shortcomings on the depth chart and led to his departure.
Phillips indicated as much when he said that he preferred for Angelo’s replacement to have a background in player talent evaluation.
“Obviously, we want to do better in the early parts of the draft,” Phillips said.
In Angelo’s time on the lakefront, the Bears made nine first-round draft selections in 11 years. Only two of those players remain: offensive linemen Chris Williams and Gabe Carimi.
Meanwhile, Angelo’s other first-round picks are out of the NFL or playing for other teams. They include David Terrell (2001), Marc Colombo (2002), Michael Haynes (2003), Rex Grossman (2003), Tommie Harris (2004), Cedric Benson (2005) and Greg Olsen (2007).
Angelo also missed badly on draft selections in the upper rounds, including second-round picks such as receiver Mark Bradley and defensive end Dan Bazuin, and third-round picks such as defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, running back Garrett Wolfe, defensive end Jarron Gilbert and receiver Juaquin Iglesias.
Phillips said the Bears did not have a timeline to name Angelo’s replacement. In the meantime, player personnel director Tim Ruskell will lead the team’s scouting operations.
With every day the Bears search for a new general manager, the team could fall behind in preparations for the 2012 NFL draft. The Bears have the No. 19 overall pick in the first round and are scheduled to have four picks in the first three rounds.
In recent seasons, teams with the No. 19 draft pick have selected high-quality starters. The New York Giants selected cornerback Prince Amukamara in 2011, while other players who have been taken in the draft slot include Jeremy Maclin (2009), Jeff Otah (2008), Michael Griffin (2007) and Antonio Cromartie (2006).
This year’s draft could be the first step toward fixing the holes on the Bears’ roster.
“We’ve always been a philosophically draft-driven team,” Phillips said. “I think it’s been shown that that’s been successful at a lot of places. I’d like to be able to keep that philosophy intact if we can.”
Swing and a miss
Here’s an unofficial, chronological look at Jerry Angelo’s 10 worst draft picks during his tenure as Bears general manager:
Marc Colombo, OT (first round, 2002): Now with Miami, Columbo started seven games in parts of four seasons with the Bears.
Michael Haynes, DT (first round, 2003): The No. 14 overall pick started four games in three seasons and never played again in the NFL.
Tank Johnson, DT (second round, 2004): Earned most of his headlines for off-the-field problems. He last played for Cincinnati in 2010.
Mark Bradley, WR (second round, 2005): Tallied 38 catches for 583 receiving yards in parts of four seasons with the Bears.
Dusty Dvoracek, DT (third round, 2006): The Bears had high hopes for him, but injuries limited him to 13 games in parts of two seasons.
Dan Bazuin, DE (second round, 2007): Spent the 2007 season on injured reserve, and was released during the 2008 preseason.
Garrett Wolfe, RB (third round, 2007): Drafted ahead of other running backs such as Michael Bush, Le’Ron McClain and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Michael Okwo, LB (third round, 2007): Never appeared in a game for the Bears. Three rounds later, Green Bay picked linebacker Desmond Bishop.
Jarron Gilbert, DE (third round, 2009): Became a YouTube sensation for jumping out of a pool, but he was on the field for all of four games.
Juaquin Iglesias, WR (third round, 2009): Career with the Bears included one game played. He spent 2011 on Houston’s practice squad.