Is Ruskell's Hiring All but Inevitable?

The Chicago Bears have said "adios" to some big figures in the front office, first pro personnel man Bobby DePaul and then college scouting director Greg Gabriel. Is Tim Ruskell on his way?

The Bears on Tuesday afternoon made official what has been expected for months: director of college scouting Greg Gabriel will not be rehired. That clears the way for general manager Jerry Angelo to hire long-time buddy Tim Ruskell as his second in command in the team's personnel department.

The Bears have said nothing official regarding the hiring of Ruskell, but it is expected to happen soon. Ruskell is expected to be named director of player personnel, overseeing both the college and pro personnel departments.

Angelo was asked about Ruskell last week but said: "When there's something that needs to be announced, we'll announce it. I said that we are going to do some restructuring. I said that at the end of the season. I have some thoughts. I have some scenarios that I have in my mind, but my focus is that we have been very busy in free agency, [and we have been] very busy in the draft."

When Bears director of pro personnel Bobby DePaul was fired Feb. 15, it fueled speculation that Ruskell would eventually come aboard in some capacity. He resigned his post as the Seattle Seahawks' president of football operations and general manager last December when it became clear he would not be rehired when his contract expired at the end of the season.

Ruskell had an up-and-down track record as the Seahawks' decision maker on draft day. In his first year, second-round middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu and third-round outside linebacker Leroy Hill helped the Seahawks to the first and only Super Bowl berth in franchise history. But center Chris Spencer, that year's first-round pick, has been a mediocre starter. Cornerback Kelly Jennings, the Seahawks' No. 1 in 2006, has been a bust. He has one career interception.

The '06 and '07 drafts did not bring Seattle anything close to an impact player. From the '08 draft, first-round defensive end Lawrence Jackson has been OK, second-round tight end John Carlson has been excellent and seventh-round running back Justin Forsett could be a steal. The '09 draft brought first-round linebacker Aaron Curry and second-round offensive lineman Max Unger, who were both solid starters as rookies.

Tim Ruskell
AP Images: Ted S. Warren

Ruskell and Angelo worked together with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 14 years. Angelo was the Bucs' director of player personnel from 1987-2000, during which time Ruskell was a regional scout (1987-91) and then director of college scouting (1992-2000). He then succeeded Angelo as the Bucs' director of player personnel when Angelo took the Bears' job as general manager in May of 2001.

DePaul and Gabriel were both hired by Angelo on June 19, 2001. Gabriel came to the Bears after serving as an area scout and then director of player development for the New York Giants.

In Gabriel's nine years coordinating the team's college scouting operation, the Bears drafted five players who combined for 12 Pro Bowl selections: linebacker Lance Briggs (five), defensive tackle Tommie Harris (three), return specialists Devin Hester (two) and Johnny Knox (one) and cornerback Nathan Vasher (one).

Had Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootton not torn his knee up in the 2008 Alamo Bowl, he likely would have entered the draft a year ago and been a late first- or early second-round choice according to the NFL's Advisory Committee.

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Wootton rehabbed so diligently that he returned to the playing field for the start of the 2009 season, several months ahead of the normal schedule after, he tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee. But he wasn't the same player as in 2008, and his draft stock plummeted, which enabled the Bears to get what may be one of the steals of the 2010 draft in the fourth round.

The knee is no longer an issue, at least for the Bears.

"He's healed," Angelo said. "He needs to continue to get stronger, particularly in his quad area. But we think in these next couple of months he is going to get a lot stronger. Hopefully, he goes to camp at 100 percent." ...

Kansas State cornerback Joshua Moore isn't expected to push Charles Tillman or Zack Bowman for their starting jobs, but he's something a little different for the Bears: a corner who's better in man-to-man than zone coverage.

Moore started all 24 games the past two seasons, making 140 tackles with 23 pass break-ups and five interceptions. While his 4.07 time in the 20-yard shuttle at the Scouting Combine was impressive, the 5-11, 188-pound Moore bench-pressed 225 pounds just twice and he lacks strength as a tackler in run support.

"There will be a transition period, but he has the skill set for cornerback," said Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke. "He played well on big stages and has very good man-to-man instincts."

However, Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki said Moore is "lazy, immature and [his] character needs to be evaluated." ...

It seems like Dan LeFevour has been overlooked for most of his football career, which is odd considering the 6-3, 230-pound quarterback is athletic enough to have run for over 1,000 in a single season at Central Michigan, he's tough, smart and works hard.

In four years as the starter at CMU, LeFevour became the only player in NCAA history with 12,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards. Still, he plummeted to the sixth round of the draft, where the Bears stopped his free fall with the 181st overall pick.

LeFevour was downgraded by scouts because of mediocre arm strength and questionable mechanics. Another negative is that he played in a shotgun offense and will need numerous reps to master taking the snap from under center and reading defenses while he drops back.

"It's a little bit aggravating at times, and it tries your patience a little bit," said LeFevour, who had been projected as high as the second round. "But you've got to realize that it's all going to work out. Someone's giving me a chance to play at the next level because they like the way I play. It might not have happened in the round that I liked, but it's definitely to the right team and I'm very excited to be here."

LeFevour played high school ball at Benet Academy in Lisle, a suburb about 25 miles west of Chicago. Benet ran the double-wing offense, and LeFevour threw "about five or 10 times a game," he said. The only D-I schools that recruited him beside CMU were Eastern Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Ball State.

"Who would not consider Alan Faneca if you had a need at the offensive line?" – General manager Jerry Angelo, before the nine-time Pro Bowler signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals.

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