As I noted on Twitter, I dealt with some pretty big storms on Sunday that prevented me from getting to this sooner. The power wasn’t out for long at all, but the Internet was giving me all sorts of problems. Very regrettable, but at a certain point it was time for Mother’s Day dinner with my mom, and I had to give up on it for the day.
So, belatedly, how was Chicago’s draft? I’d describe it as solid, with a chance to be special if a few players fulfill their promise. The NFL Draft is all about finding an intersection between value and need, and I’d always tend to favor the value side of that equation.The dream scenario is that when your team is on the clock, one of the best players available is at a position of need; I think it’s safe to say that the Bears hit that scenario Thursday night with their selection of Kyle Fuller. He was rated by many as the best corner in the draft, and he should be able to step in and contribute immediately in the nickel package. (Which is essentially the base defense in the modern game, and nickel corner is a very important position.)
As for the draft as a whole, how well did the Bears do in terms of addressing needs? If we use my pre-draft positional need rankings (found here and here), I think it’s safe to say they did very well. They drafted a corner (#6 ranked need), two defensive tackles (#4), running back (#9), safety (#1), quarterback (#14), punter (#3), and offensive tackle (#5).
If you’re counting at home, that fulfills my top-6 needs with the exception of my #2 position, linebacker; I think that stems from the Bears having a higher opinion of their current group of linebackers. But they did sign Florida State linebacker Christian Jones as one of nine undrafted free agents; Jones was ranked as a mid-round prospect (#111 overalNFL.com’s Nolan Nawrockl) by ESPN’s Scouts Inc, (Insider-only) and he was projected as a second or third round pick by NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki, for whatever that’s worth. (I’m never sure what to make of Nolan’s stuff. He obviously breaks things down and studies everyone, but he has a problematic history with some, shall we say, provocative reports.)
Taking Jones into account, the Bears addressed what I viewed as their six biggest needs. We can also throw in Ka’Deem Carey as the likely backup running back, and David Fales as a potential backup quarterback; two positions that are important to fill through the draft and not through free agency. Those are real needs filled, and based on the array of reports I’ve read from smart people, the Bears managed to get decent-to-great value while addressing those needs. That’s all you can really ask for from a draft, and I’m excited to see how the 53-man roster shakes out; this team has the potential to be very deep.
A few stray thoughts:
- Phil Emery put up a smokescreen of sorts in the days leading up to the draft, talking about how taking a developmental quarterback prospect in the later rounds is generally a bad idea, the Bears ended up drafting San Jose State’s David Fales in the sixth round. Emery is traditionally not one to mislead with public remarks, or indeed be anything other than completely transparent, so how does this make sense? I think it works because of the prospect involved; Fales is seemingly viewed as a lower-ceiling/higher-floor player, and despite the presence of Jordan Palmer, he could be an option as a backup going forward. As I mentioned, filling the #2 quarterback spot with a late-round pick makes sense if the right player is available, while Emery’s press conference answer was seemingly with regards to finding a potential franchise starter late in the draft.
- Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch signed as an undrafted free agent; while that’d be interesting in itself, what makes it even more interesting is that the Heisman finalist signed as a running back. Running was obviously a big part of Lynch’s college ability, and despite after Matt Forte and new draftee Ka’Deem Carey, the running back position is somewhat thin. When you factor in Lynch’s intangibles, athleticism, local hero status, and perhaps a potential for Antwaan Randle El-esque gadget plays, I can see him being a training camp fan favorite.
- The Bears have actually already signed Brock Vereen and David Fales, according to the team’s Twitter account. Chicago likes to get things moving quickly, and with the new CBA essentially locking in draft slot values, it makes sense that signings could happen fast. But these are the first signings made by any team, so even relative to the league the Bears are quick movers.
- Along with the undrafted signings, the Bears have invited a few players to rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis. Two of those players: safety Greg Heban and kicker Mitch Ewald, both from Indiana. As many of you might know, I’m from Indiana, and I follow IU football. Their defense was very, very bad, but Heban was the lone bright spot, and I really liked watching him play while he was on the team. He seemed like an above-average athlete, and he was often the only player who had any idea where he should be all the time. He made too many saving tackles to count on defense and special teams. I’m not a scout at all, and I’m not saying I expect him to make it any further than the upcoming mini-camp. But from what I’ve seen, and from what the Bears have at the position, I’m glad he gets a look at this level. (This entire paragraph is insurance in case he does make it, of course. If that happens, I’ll be taking credit left and right.)
- Finally, Alshon Jeffery is in the Madden Cover Vote! He has a tough draw against Richard Sherman, but you can vote for him here. I’m using this as an excuse to post this Alshon GIF. Not that I needed an excuse.
I’ll have a post tomorrow concerning my thoughts on how the defensive rebuild has gone so far.