Chicago Bears Full Offseason Recap Part 3: NFL Draft

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Drafting a player with high potential is a lot like owning a pet tiger. Let me explain.

Part 1: Coaching Staff

Part 2: Free Agency

NFL Draft

Grade: B+

If you buy a tiger, there are two distinct courses of action that follow. One option is successfully training your tiger to be obedient, therefore creating an undying bond of love and respect between you and the tiger that will last a lifetime.

Though it will probably be a hard thing to do, as I’m not sure there’s a “Train Your Tiger for Dummies” book available, the ends justify the means. Your tiger will instantly draw the attention of everybody in your neighborhood, and the tiger would strike fear into anyone looking to cause you harm.

On the other hand, you may decide to neglect your tiger and let him grow up on the mean streets all by his lonesome. You may just mess up in training it, which is understandable. Like I said, tiger training probably isn’t too common of an art these days.

Or, you just might have picked a less-than-desirable tiger. It happens.

In this scenario, you can end up coming home from work petrified every day because you have an angry tiger roaming around your house.

It still seems pretty badass in the eyes of someone who’s looking at the situation from the outside. After all, you still own a tiger. But from the inside you feel like you’re trapped in an endless relationship with nothing to gain and a whole lot to lose.

If worst comes to worse in this scenario, one false move can cause the tiger to eat you whole without a second thought. This would display for the world your shoddy decision making process and the fact that you never had it in you to handle a tiger in the first place.

Over the years, the Bears have taken a lot of these high-potential tigers in the draft, only to get eaten by the vast majority of them. Gabe Carimi is just the latest tiger who has come back to bite the Bears.

The hope for Bears fans is that Phil Emery has a better eye for the right kind of tigers than former GM Jerry Angelo. Since Emery hasn’t made a misstep in my eyes since day one, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The draft doesn’t grade out as high as the coaching changes or this year’s crop of free agent talent simply because of the Bears track record in the draft. I’d list names, but there simply isn’t enough time in the day.

There’s also the distinct lack of ability on my part to be able to look into the future and assess how these draftees will impact the team. I’m still working on that.

I view this draft class much more favorably than most. In a draft without a single marquee name, the Bears walked away with four of their top needs addressed.

Once again, most of the rookies seem to be high risk, high reward type guys. But there seems to be some favorable buzz words associated with this year’s draft class: versatility and athleticism.

Kyle Long may be inexperienced compared to some of his counterparts in the draft, but his… wait for it… athleticism and versatility are what set him apart in the eyes of the Bears front office.

After participating in a three-day minicamp for rookies, Long won’t be able to rejoin the Bears for any other training activities since he will be taking classes at Oregon University until June 14th.

In his incredibly short stint, Long has impressed the coaching staff with the reps he took at the guard and tackle positions. Yes, positive reports from minicamps and OTAs are a dime a dozen. But it’s far better than a headline that reads “Rookie Struggles in First Appearance”, isn’t it?

Patience is the key with Long, who checks in at 6’6”, 313 lbs. But as he displayed in Oregon’s incredibly complex offense, he can pick up and execute an offensive game plan very efficiently. He’ll also have time to develop behind some of the new free agents and current vets while under the watchful eye of line coach Aaron Kromer.

In the second and fourth rounds, the Bears went with versatile and athletic (there’re those words again) linebackers Jonathan Bostic from Florida and Khaseem Greene from Rutgers.

As with Long, neither is expected to step right in to a staring role. Their transition to the NFL will be decidedly easier without the moniker of “Brian Urlacher’s Replacement” hanging around their necks.

Bostic is a physical freak who lives for game-breaking hits. He’s built like a true enforcer at 6’1”, 245 lbs. For his size, he’s incredibly mobile and can contribute in pass coverage just like Urlacher could.

Bostic occasionally takes plays “off” and acts as more of a finesse player from time to time, meaning his size advantage goes unutilized. When going for big hits, sometimes he fails to wrap up. He also has trouble getting off blocks, but that is a skill that can be developed over time (see: Urlacher).

His raw skills gain him the projection of a starter in the near future, much like Khaseem Greene. Both rookies are impressing defensive coordinator Mel Tucker at OTAs.

As a former safety, Greene has a leg up on other linebackers in defending the passing game. While at Rutgers, he set an NCAA record by recording 15 forced fumbles during his career.

Like Bostic, his mix of big-play ability and raw athleticism are what stuck out to the Bears. Both figure to make an impact on special teams and as backups, and they may find themselves in the starting lineup by season’s end.

Mel Tucker said it best, “Both guys can play multiple positions. That’s what we look for in our linebackers here.”

The Bears bolstered the offensive line once again with their fifth round selection of Jordan Mills from Louisiana Tech.

He played against lesser competition in college, but he serves as another big bodied, project-type player. His combination of a 6’5”, 316 lb frame and an undying motor give him staying power with the team.

In the 6th and 7th rounds, the Bears had two highly touted players fall into their laps. Many projected defensive end Cornelius Washington to go as early as the 3rd round, and wide receiver Marques Wilson could’ve gone as early as round two according to some scouts.

At 6’4”, 246 lbs, Washington tested with the linebackers in the combine before being selected as a defensive end. His speed and mobility for his size is a rarity.

Some off the field issues, such as a DUI and a hamstring injury late in his career at Georgia, may have been the reason he dropped so far. The same can be said for Wilson, who had a spat with the coaching staff at Washington State before he left the team in November.

At 6’3”, speed isn’t Wilson’s forte. He’s a big body who can cause matchup problems in the slot. While character issues and some concentration issues during games threw his senior season for a loop, he still managed to lead the Cougars in receiving with 813 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games.

All six picks can be seen as prototypical tigers. I’m willing to bet the new and improved coaching staff I detailed in part one will give them all a great chance to earn their stripes.

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