By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
As Chicago hosted the NFL Draft for the second year in a row, it provided the opportunity for some of the best NFL analysts to comment on the local team, the Bears. With the 11th pick in the first round at the Crusader deadline, everyone was guessing who the Bears would pick. For a team that has dire needs on defense and still needs to replace Matt Forte at running back, the options for the Bears are many in this year’s draft.
Former Chicago Bear Curtis Conway, who now works as an analyst for the NFL Network, told the Crusader what it would be like for any player in terms of their emotions and state of mind the eve before the draft. Speaking at the Gino’s East Pizzeria in River North, Conway said when he was drafted by the Bears things were different.
“Back then it was only about two weeks of teams testing and evaluating you. Now it is a two-month process,” said Conway, who is married to former boxing champ Laila Ali and played seven seasons in Chicago. “These guys are probably going to sleep very well the night before the draft because they are worn out physically and emotionally and just want to get the suspense over with.”
Conway said the Bears need a lot of help on defense and it needs to start with the front seven. He said Bears need a pass rush specialist in the early rounds and can then look to upgrade other defensive positions. He said while they are not bad at any position, they are very mediocre and can improve many positions on the field.
Conway also gave some hope to Bears fans. He said this season they will actually get to see two first round picks on the field because last year’s top pick Kevin White never played a snap due to injury. He said he is expecting big things out of White.
“I didn’t do that well my rookie year, but he had a year to sit and observe and learn and I think it’s going to benefit him tremendously. He wants to make an impact on the team and feel worthy of being drafted so high,” Conway said.
Having the NFL draft in Chicago was a big coup for the city and the politically damaged Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Tourists are flocking to the downtown area and the hotel and restaurant industry will be booming all weekend. But not everyone is happy. Community activists, including Rev. Anthony Williams believes the NFL should be doing more for Black communities. Williams said it is a multi-billion dollar industry that benefits from African Americans primarily playing their sport. During the luncheon he passed out flyers asking people to boycott the upcoming NFL season.
In the meantime NFL fans this year are expected to flock to Millennium Park to take part in a wide-range of football festivities. Draft Town will include this year’s draft prospects leading local youth in clinic drills. There is a large NFL fan store on site and there will also be a family football clinic. All of the events are free. Draft town will close on Saturday April 30th at 6 p.m.