I’ve had a day to digest the Chicago Bears draft and reached a couple of conclusions: 1) they didn’t draft a single Day 1 Starter and 2) I think I’m OK with it. What Phil Emery did was add depth and competition to a Bears roster in dire need of it. Emery set himself up to take best available and some high upside guys with diligent work in Free Agency. Let’s take a quick look at the draft picks and where they might fit in:
1. Kyle Fuller (CB)
Fuller’s biggest impact will most likely be at nickelback and providing depth behind aging cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. Tillman is in the last year of his deal and this could be his farewell tour.
Outlook: Fuller will play the nickel and be groomed and step in and as a starter in 2015.
2. Ego Ferguson (DT)
This was Emery’s “reach” pick of the draft. He’s stout against the run and has high upside, but is inconsistent and raw. Paul Padqualoni will be counted on to help with that development. It’s unlikely that he’ll unseat either Jeremiah Ratliff or Stephen Paea from the get-go, but figures to work into the rotation.
Outlook: Rotation player
3. Will Sutton (DT)
The more polished of the Day 2 defensive tackles drafted, Sutton earned a lot of hardware for his trophy case while at ASU. Sutton was a world-beater a year ago, but put on some weight last season. A season with the Bears conditioning coaches and time in the Bears cafeteria ought to cure those issues.
Outlook: Rotation player and future starter
4. Ka’Deem Carey (RB)
A much needed backup to Matt Forte isn’t going to be a grossly overpaid, washed up free agent. Carey wasn’t timed as the fastest, but many think he runs faster when he’s being chased. He may not be a starter, but he’ll be a contributor. We’ve talked about the tread on Matt Forte’s tires getting a little worn down, so it’s good to start grooming some depth behind him.
Outlook: Backup running back and key contributor
5. Brock Vereen (S)
If anyone in this draft class has a chance to start, it’s Vereen. He’s an intriguing prospect who played all over the defensive backfield. If he gets on the field, it will be sort of a tallest midget award. There are a handful of one-year deal guys in the secondary, so Vereen adds a valuable piece to the DB’s.
Outlook: Special team stalwart and borderline starter in ’14. Future starter in 2015.
6. David Fales (QB)
Phil Emery told us that drafting quarterbacks in the late rounds is a waste of time then went on to draft a quarterback in the 6th round. Fales was ranked as highly as the 5th quarterback depending on whose pre-draft reviews profiles you read. Jay Cutler hasn’t played a full 16 game slate since 2009, so it’s a good bet Fales will be pressed into action, assuming he beats out journeyman Jordan Palmer. A project for Marc Trestman could turn into an asset down the road.
Outlook: Backup but may have to contribute.
7. Pat O’Donnell (P)
OK, I lied again. O’Donnell is a shoe-in to be the #1 punter. You don’t draft one unless you expect him to step in and contribute right away. But you can’t really call a punter a starter, can you?
Outlook: #1 punter
8. Charles Leno (OT)
Emery said he expects the versatile offensive lineman to compete as a backup left tackle, enough said.
Outlook: Practice squad
We learned last season that depth is crucial in today’s NFL. When the Bears lost a couple of starting defensive tackles, the run defense went to hell. Losing Peanut Tillman and Lance Briggs put the rest of the defense at a big disadvantage. The Bears may not have added Day 1 starters, but they added plenty of depth at key positions. They even added some interesting prospects in their undrafted free agent class including Florida State linebacker Christian Jones.
This draft may not be known for bringing in a bunch of first year starters, but it looks toward the future. It puts the Bears in a position to start grooming replacements and building their team for the future.
What do you think? Do you think there are some 2014 starters in this group?