I'll give Bears fans more credit than I usually do. After an initial panicked reaction by many on the actual night of the first round, the general consensus seems to be a calm, rational "let's see how this plays out" regarding Kyle Long. However, the few people who are still desperately clinging to the idea that this was a wasted first round pick, be they fans or media talking heads (lookin' at you, Kiper and Steve Rosendouche), seem to be basing their complaints less on any perceived shortcomings of Long's and more on the opportunity cost in terms of a player the Bears passed on, namely one Tyler Eifert.
If this description applies to you, well, I warn you, if you read my following reasons as to why you're a moron, they will probably break you. Don't worry, though, I will rebuild you into something better, smarter, and more knowledgeable in the ways of the football, like me.
Without further ado, here's why Phil Emery wasn't wrong to pass on Tyler Eifert:
A #2 Tight End was absolutely nowhere near this team's biggest need:
Quick, write a list of the top three reasons why Jay Cutler has struggled at times as a Bear. I'll wait.
Got it? Okay, if your list had "he really needs a great pass-catching #2 Tight End!" anywhere ahead of: 1. Absolutely shitty offensive line play, 2. Inconsistent and sometimes clueless coaching, or 3. His tendency to fire fastballs to opposing defensive backs when he's frustrated, I'd really like you to go drink a nice, tall glass of battery acid.
I hope that hurt. The Bears have plenty of targets. They have Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, and two very good pass-catching runningbacks, among others. They hope they've address the coaching problem by hiring Trestman. In order to fix #3, they need to fix #'s 1 and 2, and they're hoping to do that by drafting Kyle Long. Literally none of the above problems are solved with a backup tight end.
Yes, I said backup tight end:
He's also a damn good tight end. According to Pro Football Focus he's been one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL since he entered the league, and last year, in his first year free from the shadow of Tony Romo's favorite target Jason Witten, he racked up 626 yards receiving and 5 TDs by catching over 61% of the balls thrown his way. He's your starter, and that's a good thing, so you're lobbying for a backup with your first round pick.
"But, but, the Patriots!":
Oh, right, the Patriots have had so much success with Aaron Hernandez and the Gronk. It's the way of the future! EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE TWO SUPER AWESOME TIGHT ENDS!
Well, last time I checked the Patriots had the highest scoring offense in history before they had either of those two on the roster. It turns out that Tom Brady, with time behind a great offensive line (and that's key here, folks), can make any assortment of pass-catchers, regardless of position, into a damn good offense. Doesn't mean that's the only way to fly.
Also, the Bears had two pretty decent pass-catching tight ends with Cutler once, in 2009, and he couldn't hit Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen with his face in the turf.
If the Bears DO want two pass-catching tight ends, well, there's always Evan Rodriguez, the big hulking guy who runs a 4.5 forty and drew comparisons to Aaron Hernandez coming out of college for his great hands, good speed, supposedly questionable blocking ability, and because of the unwritten scouting law that you can only compare prospects to someone of the same ethnicity. It turns out Rodriguez actually blocks really well, and he led all Bears tight ends with 3 catches for 49 yards in the preseason, and Mike Tice's natural response to this surprising upside was to make a fast, versatile athlete into a blocking-only fullback while Kellen Davis kicked all of our hopes and dreams in the testicles. Trestman is on record as saying he sees a lot of potential for Rodriguez in the passing game, provided he can avoid further incidents with the law.
Hey, what if Tyler Eifert's not really any good?
I know, I know, it's unthinkable a highly-touted prospect from Notre Dame could be overrated. Such things have never happened before in the history of football. Interestingly enough, Eifert drew a lot of comparisons throughout his career to Stanford's Coby Fleener, the top tight end in last year's draft who ended up with a whopping 281 yards receiving last year and a spot on the depth chart behind the Other tight end his team drafted. It's also hard to find a single scouting report of Eifer that doesn't criticize his blocking abilities to some extent, so excuse Phil Emery for not falling all over himself to draft the next Greg Olsen (who, by the way, finally surpassed 612 yards receiving for the first time in his career on the sixth try, and we're all super proud, Greg). I mean, if Eifert ends up as just another tight end who is little more than a big wide receiver, that would seem to be of less value to a team that really, really needs blockers than, say, a really talented guard.
We get it, you just really like Notre Dame:
Seriously, just, like, shut up already.