Grading Chicago Bears Draft Picks

Chris Williams (chicagobears.com)Now that all the speculation and rumors and resulted in draft picks, it’s time to evaluate the Bears draft choices.  After a lot of thought, I’m giving this draft crop a grade of B+.

The Bears did everything they were supposed to do in this draft and stuck to the game plan, with the exception of one area, which is why, much like my own grades, they missed out on an A.  The Bears currently only have two quarterbacks on the roster, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, yet they failed to even attempt to draft a quarterback.  I felt fairly certain that going into the second day of the draft the Bears would take a chance on a lower rated quarterback like USC’s John David Booty.  I was disappointed and the Bears need to start answering questions of who will be the third quarterback in training camp.

As much as we have made a big deal about the quarterback situation in Chicago, I think the Bears made the right choice skipping on a quarterback in the second round.  There is a whisper going around Chicago that is turning into an uproar that the broken leg of Cedric Benson is not healing properly.  At least one source claims the running back will never be able to plant and turn off the healing leg.  This is especially troubling since Benson was already a second too slow on changing direction on his routes.  The only way he knows how to run is straight forward and upright, a kiss of death in the NFL. 

The first round pick of Chris Williams was a no brainer.  The mock drafts showed the Bears landing Jeff Otah, but when Willaims was still on the board the Bears were happy to oblige.  Williams is a big beast of a man standing 6’6, 315 lbs and will likely be the immediate starter at left tackle.  John Tait will return to his natural position of right tackle and appears to be happy to make the change.  It’s a great pick for teh franchise and goes a long way to solidify an offensive line that had troubles controlling the line of scrimmage last season.  Even the most adamant Grossman haters have admitted the quarterback would have a better time developing if he wasn’t constantly running backwards. 

Matt Forte (chicagobears.comIn the second round the Bears took Matt Forte, a solid pick but one that will be watched and debated over the years depending on the pro careers of Brian Brohm and Chad Henne.  I worry if a running back out of a smaller school like Tulane can come into Chicago and handle the pressure of possibly being the starting running back if he has a strong training camp.  However, I have to reserve my judgment since an ex-Bear running back named Walter Payton was drafted out of a little division two college and the big lights of Chicago didn’t seem to bother him.  Forte doesn’t need to be the next Payton, but the Bears need him to be something more than Benson. 

I was predicting the Bears to take a wide receiver and guard in the third round, but I was pleasantly surprised when General Manager Jerry Angelo went back to defense.  He is very gifted at finding defensive talent in the middle rounds and you have to think he may have brought in some talented players under the radar.  Third round pick Earl Bennett from Vanderbilt is described as a slot wide receiver, something the Bears could sorely use.  With the loss of Muhsin Muhammed, the Bears are going to need a receiver to step up and establish themselves as a possession and third down receiver.  The Bears recently signed Rashied Davis, but this pick gives the Bears options and hopefully a young receiver they can rely upon in the coming years.

Earl Bennett (chicagobears.com)At this point, Jerry Angelo went off the script and drafted a big defensive tackle, Marcus Harrison out of Arkansas.  At 6’3, 310 lbs, he can be a force up the middle that will take some heat off of Tommie Harris to make plays.  The move helps take the pressure off the tackle depth chart with Dusty Dvoracek highly praised but unable to stay off the injured list.  It’s also no secret that success at defensive tackle frees up Brian Urlacher to roam to field and create chaos.

In the fourth round the Bears selected safety Craig Steltz, a kid I don’t know much about, but any kid that can start at the safety position for a highly effective LSU defense is welcome to Halas Hall.  Steltz had injury concerns that prevented him from working out at the combine and cost him draft position.  This could prove to be the surprise pick out of this year’s draft in the long run.  Year after year, LSU has one of the top defenses in college football and that’s not lost on NFL scouts.  The Bears have had troubles finding stability at the safety position and if Steltz can learn fast he may find himself on the field quickly.

Craig Steltz (chicagobears.com)The fifth round was strange because the Bears selected cornerback Zackary Bowman and tight end Kellen Davis, two positions already solidified on the roster.  The Bears have cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher locked up in long term contracts.  At tight end the Bears have top draft pick and developing star Greg Olsen along with veteran Desmond Clark.  Both positions would only open up if the Bears are hit with the injury bug like they were last year at cornerback.  However, it is very promising because it shows the Bears are actually coming around to the idea of drafting for talent instead of drafting for position.  While many teams have been employing this philosophy for years, it is new to us in Chicago, the land of over paid draft busts.

In the seventh round garbage time the Bear grabbed five players, a defensive end, offensive guard, an outside linebacker, an offensive tackle, and wide receiver.  Out of the five players, offensive guard Chester Adams has the best chance of making the team to add depth to a thin offensive line.  I thought the Bears might grab a guard sooner but this year’s class was pretty thin.  The rest will likely come to training camp and have to practice hard to earn a roster spot.

Overall, despite the absence of a quarterback, the Bears had a great draft because they finally appear willing to give up drafting for position and drafted for the talent available.  All of the first five picks will have the opportunity compete for starting jobs and make an impact.

This has been called by many Chicago fans the most important Bears draft of this generation if they are going to climb back to the top of the NFC.  The Bears responded accordingly and have brought in a crop of talent that appears to be ready to play football immediately and build a winning team.

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Tags: Arkansas Brian Brohm Brian Urlacher Cedric Benson Chad Henne Charles Tillman Chester Adams Chicago Bears Chris Williams Craig Steltz Desmond Clark Dusty Dvoracek Earl Bennett Greg Olsen Halas Hall Jeff Otah Jerry Angelo John David Booty John Tait Kellen Davis Kyle Orton LSU Marcus Harrison Matt Forte Muhsin Muhammed Nathan Vasher Rashied Davis Rex Grossman Tommie Harris Tulane USC Vanderbilt Walter Payton Zackery Bowman

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