Day 2 Diary: Lovie Smith

The Bears entered the 2007 NFL Draft with seven picks, but they exited with nine solid selections and an additional third-rounder next season. Head coach Lovie Smith appears happy, although he always seems that way. Smith addressed the Chicago media again today and discussed Greg Olsen's role in the offense, the production of Dan Bazuin, and Garrett Wolfe's reputation as a hometown hero.

Head coach Lovie Smith
Opening statement:
"Going into the draft, we wanted to add some athletic ability. We wanted to add some speed. We try to do that each draft. We really feel like we were able to get some of those things accomplished. Of course, starting off with Greg [Olsen]. We're excited about him getting into town today [and] getting a chance to meet you all tomorrow. He should do a lot for our ballclub. We talked a lot about the tight end position and trying to get more speed. He will be able to do that.

"The rest of our draft, getting a big defensive end [and] getting a good running back. Following up today, we were about to get a good lineman in Josh Beekman. We really liked him. We liked him early in the draft. Kevin Payne, you can't have too many good safeties especially the way we play them. We feel like he has good size [and] good ability. He knows what to do with the football once he gets it being a running back earlier in his career. And finishing up with some of the defensive backs of course, Corey Graham brings a lot of versatility to the position, not only as a cornerback but as a returner also. Trumaine McBride we liked also. Quickness, tough player, plays hard every down. And finishing up getting a good lineman like Aaron [Brant] helps quite a bit, too.

"We like our class a lot. As to how much the players will contribute, I'll just say that we have a track record for playing young players. We think the guys that we drafted will make us a better ballclub. We will play them. We are excited about some of these players being able to contribute and contribute soon. That is where we are. Again, with the draft, we feel like most teams do at this time. We can't wait to get them in here for the mini camp we will have this coming weekend and really see exactly what we have."

On Garrett Wolfe being a hometown guy:
"That is important, too, to finally get some players from the Chicago area, but we wanted to get a back that we thought would compliment Adrian [Peterson] and Cedric [Benson]. I'm talking about a speed back, quickness, of course. He's a small, tight running back [and] has good hands. We think he's a change-up player from what we have from the other running backs."

On the failure to draft a play-making wide receiver:
"Well, if you talk to the offensive coordinator, he will probably say that (the team is looking to draft a play-making wide receiver) for the next three or four years, too. We always try to get playmakers. We like the wide receivers we have right now. You always would like to add another good player to the mix, but again, we like our wide receivers that we have and we will go from there."

On second-round pick Dan Bazuin:
"It's his production. Over 35 sacks, the tackles for losses. He played at a high level, the tempo with the motor, all of those things. We would always like to keep that a strength of ours. What I'm talking about is our defense. Most of the time, we will get the defensive benefit of the doubt. That's how it has been in the past. We'll try to keep it that way. But at the same time, still adding the pieces that you need on the offensive side, and that is what [Greg] Olsen can give."

On drafting a player from the same program (i.e. Chris Harris and Kevin Payne):
"Well, not so much the same program. You obviously know the type of player that comes out of that program. We evaluated [Kevin Payne] on his own. We like the skills that he brought. Big guy, physical player. I like the running back part of him earlier in his career, getting an athlete with that type of ability. We are just trying to add good players that can do things to score. We talk on the defensive side as much about scoring as we do on the offensive side. This is a guy who, if he gets his hands on the football, l think can do that."

Are the Bears a better team now after the draft? How?
"I would surely hope so. We have added nine good players to the mix. We have basically the same team coming back, so I would definitely hope that we are better. Of course, everyone is saying that right now. I'm anxious to see the players on the field. If you just think about what we are adding to the mix, we should be a better ballclub."

On the length of the draft:
"Normally with the first pick he's signed up already, so it takes a couple seconds for him. It started off longer with the first pick [this year]. From there, I guess there were a lot of tough decisions that teams had to make in the early rounds. I feel that's the reason why."

On whether the draftees will be able to contribute with the return of so many veterans:
"At the very worst, I guess you can say that we added depth. We go into it expecting to get good football players that can help us win right away. You are trying to improve. Nothing stays the same. I look at our division. I would say that our division got better. I thought they all had good drafts. [The] same thing needs to happen for us. Some of these players need to contribute and make us a better ballclub, and I think they will."

On Greg Olsen sharing time with Desmond Clark:
"As I talk about how much I like the rookie class coming in, they all start from the bottom. As far as them sharing time [and] getting time, they will start that process this weekend. In the end, if they are better players, they will get time. I like the ability of some of them coming in. Again, we are going to put them in the mix and let them compete, and they will tell us who should play, who should start and all those things."

On using a second round pick on a pass-rushing end, does it signify unhappiness with the performance of the defensive ends towards the end of last season?
"We didn't finish the job as a team. The last taste you have in your mouth is with us losing. I need to do a better job than I did at the end. I'm going to say that about every position. It was no more than we saw a good football player there that we thought would make us better. You jump on those players always, no matter how good you are. If you can make yourself better, you do that. Especially on the defensive line, it all starts up front on both sides of the ball. We will always have that basic philosophy."

On whether the problems that were evident in the Super Bowl impacted the draft strategy:
"We look at the whole. We evaluate the entire season. We are constantly evaluating players throughout. You don't base anything on just one game. You look at the entire season as a whole, and that's what we were able to do."

On how the draft with impact special teams:
"With all our skill positions, we look to see if they have played special teams in the past. We are always looking at our special teams. We put as much emphasis on that as any team in the league. As far as picking other players, we have very few players that don't play on special teams. So we put a big premium on that throughout. As you look at our draft picks coming in right now, most of them have played or we think they can play special teams."

On whether any more player movement is expected:
"We are tying to improve our ballclub. We will try to improve our ballclub from now until the last game of the season. You are constantly trying to improve your ballclub. This is just one of the big steps you take to add a big boost to your ballclub. We always keep options open. Again, we are trying to constantly improve our ballclub."

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

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