Chris Williams-T-Vanderbilt-Round 1 2008:In fairness, entering 2012 Williams is still a starter for the Bears, unlike many of Jerry Angelo’s top draft picks. He has not been a complete bust, but with the 14th overall selection in a draft, general managers are held accountable for strong results. The Bears needed a left tackle in this draft badly following a bad drop in the line’s production in 2007. Right tackle Fred Miller in particular had regressed. And in the ’08 draft there was quality and quantity at the position. In retrospect, being that he was in the market for a tackle, Angelo might have done whatever it took to trade up two spots for perennial All-Pro tackle Ryan Clady instead of letting the Denver Broncos take him. (Although this most certainly would have required the Bears second-round pick and more, so no drafting Matt Forte.) As far as projected left tackles went, in terms of skills, Williams was the next best available prospect after Clady and top overall pick Jake Long. Pittsburgh’s Jeff Otah was thought to be a better prospect, but completely projected on the right side of the line. Virgina’s Branden Albert was another top prospect who projected on the left side or as a guard. The true gem of the first round other than Clady ended up being the final tackle selected: Virginia Tech’s Duane Brown.
Problem with Williams was, it was later revealed that Williams was off many teams’ draft boards altogether due to concerns with recurring back injuries. Angelo made Williams the pick, and on the first day of training camp Williams injured his back. This put him down for most of his rookie season, forcing veteran John Tait to move to the right side and journeyman John St. Clair to man the left side throughout the season. Williams would start through the 2009 season and early in 2010 at left tackle, before being moved to guard. Midway through the 2011 season Williams injured his hand and was lost for the year. The jury is still out on Williams, who is set to become a free agent following the 2012 season. Again when GM’s are expected to score with players in the top half of the first round, Angelo did in our opinion strike out here. Had the Bears drafted for the best overall player, they may have been better off selecting Albert or Brown.