Watch this video first:
JA talks about getting three future starters out of this draft. Chris Harris became a starter after being selected as a hard hitting safety in the 6th round and I believe this kid could possibly follow in those footsteps someday.
It's been a while since we've looked back at the draft but somehow, amid all the discussions of our earlier picks and the talk of our receiving crew and Jay Cutler and the other additions from Michael Gaines to Pisa Tinoisamoa and everything in between, I feel like this kid didn't get his due.
Now, with OTAs wrapping up, Afalava finally gets his chance to show us what he's got. He has missed out on lots of practice time because of the NFL's "Stay In School Program." Although I admire the program, you have to wonder if high-school prospects will, in the future, make decisions on what college to attend based on when commencement ceremonies take place. It just seems that mid/late round picks with late graduation ceremonies will be at a real disadvantage when they miss so many of the OTA's and a chance to prove themselves for a good portion of the off-season.
So how about Al Afalava? Besides being the only guy I've ever seen whose first and last name have an "a" after every other letter and besides his glorious victory in the Oregon State rock, paper, scissors championship, everything else I've read about him is positive. He didn't get all the top accolades in his conference for playing safety but that is understandable when you consider that he had Talyor Mays and Patrick Chung stealing his thunder.
Also, his senior year production was less than expected but as Bears Scout Mary Barrett pointed out here, he played through injury almost all year. His 2007 production was excellent on a great OSU defense.
He did have a strike against him for an off the field incident where he crashed his car into an empty bus shelter, walked home and waited for the police to come get him. All the discussions following his arrest for DUI and 1 game suspension lead me to believe this was an isolated incident and he was contrite and earnest in the way he addressed the mistake.
As far as his play goes, there's not a ton of footage on the kid but the stuff in print makes him sound like quite a hard worker and his coaches loved him.
His pro-day results were off the charts (look at his performance and physique in the video below-- prototype Safety size and a bad ass physique.)
Had he been invited to the combine and performed like he did at his pro day, he would have had the overall top measurements for any safety prospect. His measureables vs the top performances turned in at the combine:
1. 40: 4.47 = 3rd
2. Vert: 40" = 3rd
3. Broad jump: 10'7" = 5th
4. Bench = 25 reps (watch the vid, he did 29 but lost 4 because he didn't lock elbows I presume) = 3rd
5. 20 Yard Shutte: 4.06 = 2nd
6. 3 Cone Drill: 6.63 = 4th
7. 60 Yard: 11.05 = 2nd
Believe me, there was nobody who was consistently in the top 5 in that many different categories-- this guy is athletic!
And, we know he can hit-- really hit. Read some of the articles in the links below.
I'm not sure if he can make the adjustment to the pro free safety position right away but if he can and the D line delivers the pressure we want, I'm thinking that he and Payne could team up to deliver a 1-2 punch the likes of which we haven't seen since the Plank/Fencik era. Hell, Urlacher won't need to drop back into coverage any more because no receiver will want to go over the middle against the Bears!
I can't wait to see him in camp and in the pre-season.
Here are some other links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDOAigebulE (Pro Day Video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOpswkyrS0U (Big Hit vs. Oregon WR-- nice!)
http://www.bostonscore.tv/draft-cent.../10021821.html ( a few nice highlights from his play vs USC)
http://monstersofthemidwayillustrate...ty-al-afalava/ (Bears Blog written before the draft)
http://www.portlandtribune.com/sport...49507753008800 (good local article on what he meant to the team and coaches in college)