The story of Devin Hester is set in stone these days. An undersized kid from Miami who had no fixed position coming out of college. He was nonetheless drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2nd round because he had a rare case of speed and was special when it came to returning kicks and punts. Everybody knows what happened after that. Hester went on to become the greatest returner in NFL history, setting all the records.
What some people might assume is the Bears were unanimous in their decision to draft Hester at the time. This couldn’t be further from the truth as it turns out. According to Dan Pompei of The Athletic, the draft rooms was split right down the middle on the ideal. If not for an impassioned speech by team scout Mark Sadowski (now Bears college scouting director), it’s likely they would’ve gone in a different direction.
“Devin is not as refined a cornerback as ‘Shives’ is making out Youboty to be,” he says. “But he has some upside. Here’s the bottom line. The one thing this dude can do that the other guy can’t is score touchdowns. He is the fastest I’ve ever seen with the ball in his hands.”
Angelo, Smith and college scouting director Greg Gabriel walk across the hallway into Angelo’s office and talk it over. When they return to the draft room, Angelo makes the pick.
“If Mark weren’t in the room, Devin would not have been a Bear,” Angelo says. “If one guy had his fingerprints on Devin, it was him.”
Devin Hester is proof how vital scouts are in a draft
This is another reminder that GMs aren’t exclusively responsible for the success of drafts. Yes, Angelo made the final decision and it was the correct one. However, if not for his trust in Sadowski he never reaches that conclusion and Hester winds up setting his records with a different team. That’s something one just doesn’t want to think about.
It gives one a sense of security that Sadowski remains in that draft room to this day. Pompei also revealed he was a major proponent behind the acquisitions of Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, and Bilal Nichols. All standout contributors for the Bears who were found in the later rounds of the draft. One could argue that if Ryan Pace fails to survive this upcoming season, they might already have their next GM in the building.