Gabriel Ready for NFL Draft Now

The NFL Draft is this coming weekend, but Greg Gabriel, Director of College Scouting for the Bears, is ready to go right now. Although the team only has seven picks at its disposal, he is actively grading a "hot list" of about 120 draft-eligible prospects this year. Gabriel spent some one-on-one time with Editor in Chief John Crist on Tuesday at Halas Hall.

John Crist – Editor in Chief, Some experts think this is a deep draft, and then some experts think this is a not-so-deep draft. Deep at wide receiver, thin at tight end, average at linebacker ... does any of that really make a difference to you?

Greg Gabriel – Director of College Scouting, Chicago Bears: If you do your homework, you're going to find players that you like. That's what we've been doing the last few weeks with the scouts. We had the meeting with Jerry [Angelo] and Lovie [Smith] and the coaches before the scouts came in. We rank the players how we like them. We like this guy in this round, this guy in that round or whatever, and hopefully it falls the way we like. In most cases, it has.

JC: With new NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell coming down so hard on Adam 'Pacman' Jones and Chris Henry for running afoul of the law, is your team studying the character issues of potential draft picks more than ever?

GG: The primary onus we put on our scouts is to know the character, and then we make a decision if we're going to pull the trigger on a guy with the final decision being Jerry's. It gets down to that. As long as we know everything about the guy, and our scouts do a great job in doing that – telling us what the good [and] what the bad is. I'm talking from the character standpoint and what their football character is. As long as we know that, then we decide whether we want to pull the trigger on a guy. And I would say those decisions have already been made.

JC: If you have two prospects at the same position who end up with an identical grade in terms of what you feel their NFL potential is, what factors do you use to break the tie and choose one over another?

GG: It could be a couple things. How is he going to fit in our system? You could have a great player that is not a fit for what we do, and I would say that's more defensively than offensively, but it works on both sides. We have a profile for each position. You get guys with equal talent but Player A fits what we do better than Player B, then that makes the decision easy. Now if you say they both can play equally in your scheme, then character will come into play.

JC: Take me back to the selection of Mark Anderson in the fifth round a year ago, which was obviously a coup. Why do you think he was still available, and why did you ultimately draft him?

GG: I think he was the classic case of a `tweener. But a `tweener for what? He wasn't a `tweener for us. He was a perfect fit in our system. As we draw up the right end position – defensive end position – that's what we're looking for. Size is not as important as speed, athleticism, [and] quickness at that position for us. Now in different schemes, you have different defensive schemes where he might not have been a fit in those schemes because he wasn't a big guy. They want a 275-, 285-pound guy. He's never going to be that guy, but he was a fit for us.

JC: Level with me. You got a little lucky. It's OK to say it.

GG: Luck entered into it. We liked the guy. And then when he was still there in Round 5, we pulled the trigger. We always liked the guy.

JC: The draft just continues to get bigger and bigger each and every year. Do you think that teams can over-evaluate players and make this process more difficult than it has to be?

GG: This is my 24th draft. I would say sometimes that could have been the case. I'm not going to say that's the case while we've been here because of the system we've set up on how we do things. I don't think there's a case of over-analysis. We either think the guy can play, or he can't.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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