The Chicago Bears announced on its Web site yesterday the team has received permission to interview four candidates for the vacant general manager position. Club president Ted Phillips fired former GM Jerry Angelo last Tuesday, after 11 seasons with the organization.
Phillips said the main criteria for selecting the new GM is talent evaluation.
"Talent evaluation is going to be key," said Phillips, after firing Angelo. "Talent evaluation may be one of the top attributes that we need in a general manager, to be successful [in the draft]. Obviously we want to do better in the early parts of the draft."
Angelo struggled in the first three rounds of the draft. So it's no surprise that all four candidates announced yesterday are guys with experience scouting college players. Let's take a closer look at the qualifications of each potential Bears GM.
Phil Emery, director of college scouting, Kansas City Chiefs
Emery served as an area scout for the Bears from 1998-2004, before becoming director of college scouting for the Atlanta Falcons, a post he held for five seasons (2004-2008). He then moved on to his current position with the Chiefs.
Emery's first pick for Atlanta in 2004 was CB DeAngelo Hall, a three-time Pro Bowler. His third pick was current Texans QB Matt Schaub, another Pro Bowler. Other notable picks by Emery: WR Roddy White (1st round, 2005); Jonathan Babineaux (2nd, 2005); G Justin Blalock (2nd, 2007); CB Chris Houston (3rd, 2007); WR Laurent Robinson (4th, 2007); and QB Matt Ryan (1st, 2008).
With the Chiefs, he selected S Eric Berry in the first round of 2010. Berry became just the first Kansas City rookie to make the Pro Bowl since Derrick Thomas in 1989.
Yet Emery is not without his mistakes as well – he drafted Frank Omiyale in the fifth round, 2005.
Within the Bears organization, Emery is highly respected and considered a consummate professional. His familiarity within the walls of Halas Hall gives him added leverage over the other candidates.
Before coming to the NFL, Emery was director of strength and conditioning services and as an associate professor at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1991-1998.
Jason Licht, director of pro personnel, New England Patriots
Licht (pronounced LIGHT) has 16 years experience in NFL personnel and scouting departments. He is in his second stint with the Patriots, after previously serving as a scout and then assistant director of player personnel (1998-2001). He's also worked in various capacities for the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.
The 40-year-old has plenty of experience in the talent-evaluation department. When he served as VP of player personnel for the Eagles (2006-2007), the team did well in the top rounds, selecting DT Broderick Bunkley (1st, 2006), QB Kevin Kolb (2nd, 2007) and LB Stewart Bradley (3rd, 2007), as well as TE Brent Celek (5th, 2007).
The negatives on Licht are that he's bounced around a lot in the league and has never been "in charge" of a draft with any of the organizations for which he's worked.
Jimmy Raye III, director of player personnel, San Diego Chargers
Raye is the son of former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye II. Raye played briefly for the L.A. Rams in 1991 as a wide receiver. He oversees the Chargers' professional and college scouting departments and assists on player personnel matters. He joined the team in 1996 and spent four years (1996-1999) as a scout and eight (2000-2007) as director of college scouting.
Raye contributed in the drafting of RB LaDainian Tomlinson (1st, 2001), QB Drew Brees (2nd, 2001), CB Quentin Jammer (1st, 2002), LB Ben Leber (3rd, 2002), DE Shaun Phillips (4th, 2004), RB Michael Turner (5th, 2004), LB Shawne Merriman (1st, 2005), DE Luis Castillo (1st, 2005), WR Vincent Jackson (2nd, 2005), RB Darren Sproles (4th, 2005), CB Antonio Cromartie (1st, 2006), T Marcus McNeill (2nd, 2006), and S Eric Weddle (2nd, 2007).
It's that type of draft pedigree, particularly in the first few rounds, the Bears desperately need.
Marc Ross, director of college scouting, New York Giants
Ross, an All-Ivy League wide receiver at Princeton in 1993 and 1994, is a 17-year veteran as an executive in the NFL. In 2000, at age 27, he was promoted by the Philadelphia Eagles and became the NFL's youngest college scouting director.
During his tenure in Philadelphia, Ross was responsible for drafting DT Corey Simon (1st, 2000), DE Derrick Burgess (3rd, 2001), CB Lito Sheppard (1st, 2002) and RB Brian Westbrook (3rd, 2002).
He then served as a national college scout for the Buffalo Bills from 2004-2006 before taking over his current post. Ross is in charge of the Giants' college scouting department and the team's draft. He ran his first draft for New York in 2008.
THE FRONT RUNNERS
Word from Halas Hall is that Raye and Ross are the two candidates the Bears covet most. Which is no surprise, as both have a glowing track record of drafting quality talent, particularly in the upper rounds. Ross has been an up-and-comer in the NFL for a while now and is highly regarded around the league. If he interviews well, he could be in line for the position.
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.