2014 Bears Draft Recap, and Other Thoughts

Pic via @ChicagoBears

Pic via @ChicagoBears

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.

AlshonCatch

I’ll have a post tomorrow concerning my thoughts on how the defensive rebuild has gone so far.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

15 responses to “2014 Bears Draft Recap, and Other Thoughts”

  1. Myles

    Good recap.

    I’m interested in your thoughts on Vereen. I don’t know where he plays in the NFL, honestly, as he seems like he’s too small to play safety. Any team with a big TE is going to blow him up (Eric Ebron, anyone?). He’s almost a CB/SS tweener type, and I don’t want another Shea McClellin.

    1. mdavis

      I’m not Jay, but I actually think Vereen slots in well at FS. He has a ton of experience at all 4 DB spots which is excellent. He’s a solid kid, 6’0″ 200 lbs. People wanted Jimmie Ward, and he’s only 5’10” 185. So I think Vereen will slot in fine at the free and could be a day 1 starter. He’s also very strong (25 reps at the combine) so I think he’ll be able to hold his own if he comes down to jam a TE or bigger WR in the slot. This could actually end being one of Emery’s better picks this draft.

  2. beerhelps

    That catch……. I still can’t believe he did that…..just amazing.

    Should be some interesting competition along the d-line this season. Between new free agents, this year’s draft picks and even Washington from last year’s draft, I have no idea how the line will finally shake out. I will say that Paea should be worried.

    BTW love the selection of a punter late in the draft. Dude could be your punter for the next 10 years. At the very least you have a cost effective punter for the next 4.

  3. cubbiekoolaid2015

    This draft has a chance to be very special from the start. It’s rare that a whole draft class has the chance to contribute in year one. Obviously Fuller is going to be a difference maker from the get go. Ego and Sutton will both get a chance to start while also seeing a whole lot of snaps regardless if they’re starting or not. Carey will most likely be the backup running back this year taking over for Forte full time in a few years. Fales could possibly beat out Palmer for the backup QB spot(I don’t expect that but it’s possible) The punter could step in right away and be a HUGE upgrade to Podlesh last year. I can’t tell you how sick I got of yelling “SHANKAPOTIMUS!!” last year. Leno could be added depth on the O-line which is always nice to have. All in all, very solid draft.

    1. cubbiekoolaid2015

      … I also forgot about Vereen. I actually really like this kid and think he should be able to beat out Conte for the other safety spot opposite Ryan Mundy.(at least that’s what I’m hoping)

      1. mdavis

        I agree, i think they got some good value, and addressed needs. Fuller is going to step in the nickel right away, basically be a starter. Ferguson will rotate in at that 2 tech, while Sutton i think has a better chance to start this year at the 3. Vereen I’m very high on, brings experience all over the field, will hit ya, and has good cover skills. I look for him to be a starter, or at the very least crack the sub-packages. Carey will take some wear and tear of Forte, probably in some short yardage situations, but don’t count out Ford either. Has potential. I don’t see Fales beating out Palmer this year, but I’m actually pretty high on the kid. I already threw out my brief non-professional scouting report on him in a different thread so i won’t repeat, but he’ll be the #3 this year, with a chance to take that 2 spot next. The punter, hey, sure. Needed one. And Leno can provide some depth for them and make the roster.

        UDFA: I like Lynch, I don’t think he’s an active roster guy, but if he can play STm show enough as an RB he may make the roster as a #4 back, or they could try to sneak him on the P-Squad. I like Jones a lot, great size, raw, but comes from a real good defensive program. I think he has a good chance to make the roster.

  4. Austin

    I wrote this is the last draft thread. Just some extra on the draft.

    Jay will probably have an article with a draft breakdown later but I figured I’d give it a go and do a real short breakdown for each pick. (Disclaimer: I am no expert, far from it, but I do have a good amount of knowledge of football enough that I think I can give a semi decent breakdown. Also I’m bored so it gives me something to do.

    Round: 1 Pick: 14 Kyle Fuller CB 6’0 190:
    Kyle Fuller will be a great CB in the NFL IMO. After watching his highlight film he isn’t afraid to play near the line of scrimmage in the box and go after the hits that other CB’s tend to shy away from. From what I saw he played off the line a lot when in man on man situations and was able to keep most guys in front of him. I didn’t see many plays where he was up on the line and played tight on the WR to bump it at the line so that will be something to watch. He will be a great special teamer right away and could play on 4 of the units in punt return, punt, kickoff, and field goal D. Projection year 1: He will be starting Nickel right away.

    Round: 2 Pick:51 Ego Ferguson DT 6’3 315:
    Some are low but I really like this pick. Ego is a run stuffing machine and can play either the 3-Tech or NT which bring versatility that Emery loves. He has a great first step but at the same time he stands straight up A LOT. While I don’t think Ego will ever be a Pro Bowler I believe he will become a good starter in the NFL who will anchor the Run D for years to come. Projection year 1: A rotational guy that will probably play more on 1st and 2nd downs and goal line situations.

    Round: 3 Pick: 82 Will Sutton DT 6’0 300 (Maybe 290):
    I believe Sutton can become a Pro Bowl DT and he can become that very quickly IF he regains his 2012 form. In 2012 he was explosive and as disruptive of any DT that year. In 2013 he decided to go from 285 to almost 320 and his production dropped. In 2012 Sutton had a great first step and had a power punch that got G’s and C’s off balance and then he used his speed to blow by them. He is the perfect fit for a 3-Tech when at his lower weight. Hopefully with going back down he will regain some of the explosiveness he showed in 2012 that made him such a tough person to block. Projection in year 1: 1st man out for the 3-Tech rotation that by the end of the year will be starting. I have the highest expectations for Sutton out of this draft.

    Round: 4 Pick: 117 Ka’Deem Carey RB 5’9 207:
    Carey is a pick that I loved when it happened. He was probably a 3rd round prospect maybe even a 2nd round guy but a slow 40 and some off field issues pushed him down and the Bears got a great value pick here. While the 40 time was slow he plays faster on film and his game is more between the tackles than running it to the outside. He will compliment Forte well and over time I believe he will be Forte’s replacement. He won’t down on first contact and when you give him the ball he will get you 3-4 yards at a minimum. He has great balance and is a little deceptively agile. Projection for year 1: Short yardage guy and will give Forte rest every once in awhile. Baring an injury he will probably see similar carries that Bush received last year.

  5. Austin

    Part 2

    Austin May 10, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink | Reply
    Round: 4 Pick: 131 Brock Vereen CB/S 6’0 199:
    Vereen will be in the competition for starting FS from day one. He has pretty good ball skills and isn’t afraid to come up and hit someone but at his size that pop isn’t much. He has pretty good instincts but they need to improve if he wants to be a mainstay at FS for the Bears. His film is mainly CB as that is where he played this year so it is tough to get a real gauge on just how good he could be but I believe he will most likely be a stop gap Safety for the Bears but a guy that won’t be a black hole like Conte has been. I like the pick as a solid contributor but I wouldn’t expect much. Projection for 1st year: Starting FS but will be just Average.

    Round: 6 Pick: 183 David Fales QB 6’2 212:
    Fales while not one of the big strong arm QB’s in this draft he does have great accuracy but he won’t get the ball in any tight areas like Cutler. He will follow through on his progressions and won’t force many passes. This pick was a pure developmental pick for Trestman to try and work his magic and try and get something out of him. I don’t see a full time starter out of him but he might be able to be a fill in guy here and there in case of injuries but the Bears do not have Cutlers replacement in Foles that I’m positive. Projection for year 1: He will compete with Jarrod Johnson for #3 QB and will probably beat him out. Not much more than that.

    Round 6 Pick: 191 Pat O’Donnell P 6’4 220
    O’Donnell is a huge Punter and probably the best one of this years class. He has a big leg that will help switch the field but he doesn’t have the pinpoint accuracy that Brad Maynard blessed the Bears with for so long. Projection for year 1: I believe he will beat out the two punters on the team currently and will perform adequately.

    Round: 7 Pick: 246 Charles Leno Jr OT/OG 6’4 303
    Leno is a great project pick for Kromer to work with. He is raw but has some great athletic abilities. He has great feet that is hard to come by and can bring a punch that will set anyone off. He is a little inconsistent but if he gets in the weight room and takes to Kromer’s teaching he could become a great RT or either G. He is probably gonna be better inside but with the feet and athleticism he possess it would be hard to not try him outside first. Projection for year 1: Barring multiple injuries he won’t play much if at all. He just isn’t ready but over time he has the potential to be a pretty good OL. He just needs time.

    This was a lot longer than I thought it would be but I think this gives a basis on what to expect from the point of view of a non-expert. Many might disagree with some things I said and thats alright. I’m excited for this draft it has a mix of high potential guys that need time and guys that can step in day 1 and contribute. Time will tell like always but of Emery’s three drafts so far I would put this one on top. Overall Draft Grade: B

  6. Patrick W.

    I could watch that .gif for hours.

  7. Toby

    Bears signed two UDFAs that have a chance to make the team in LB Christian Jones and G Ryan Groy. The only backup Gs on the roster is Britton and James Brown so Groy has a very good chance to stick on the roster. The kid is big at 6’5 and 320 lbs.

    1. mdavis

      agree with Jones, I think he makes the roster for sure. Groy strikes me more as a P-squad player. typically only dress 7-8 lineman on gameday, which will more than likely be De la Puente, Britton, and one of James or Leno. But we’ll see, competition breeds success.

      and for those into the #s/roster thing, draft picks have been assigned numbers:

      Fales #12
      O’Donnell #16
      Fuller #23
      Carey #25
      Vereen #45
      Leno #72
      Sutton #93
      Ferguson #95

  8. On The Farm

    I agree on giving last years LB group another year to see what you have. I think for one they probably needed a little more time to figure out the league, but injuries thrusted Greene in to the lineup. I also think that D-Line was so bad that they never really had a chance. Now that money has been invested in making that Line better, the LBs will look better too, because they don’t have to do as much.

    1. mdavis

      i agree. Bostic and Greene needed a year to learn, but injuries forced them into action, adn that D-Line didnt help em at all. Lot of depth up front now, should def help them. DJ, you’d like to be healhty for a a year, Bostic I think will win the sam spot, and obviously Briggs. I wouldn’t of hated if they had drafted a MLB prospect, but I’m alos not going to fault them for not hitting the panic button a year after drafting 2 linebackers.

  9. DrReiCow

    Given the Madden cover jinx, I think we should all go and vote for Richard Sherman!

    Moo.

    1. King Jeff

      Good call, definitely voting Sherman, unless I can vote for Aaron Rodgers.

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