The 2010 Draft is in the books, and already the "experts" are coming out with their draft grades. I like seeing their takes on what Chicago did (I really do), but the best time to grade a draft class isn't as soon as it's made, it's a few years down the road. Who would have thought Johnny Knox would be a productive player last season? Had they known, maybe their grade of the Bears class of 2009 would have been higher. I won't give a letter grade, instead I'll just give my take on each player and look at an alternative direction Jerry Angelo could have taken with some of his picks.
The Bears stood pat with all their selections and came away with at least one rookie that has a legit shot at starting this year. Not bad considering they didn't have a first or second rounder, but in time if these players all reach their full potential I could see the at least three of the rookies logging some starts. They even appeared to take the highest rated player on their board a couple times, something Angelo is often criticized for not doing. I'm sure now he'll take heat for going away from his team needs. I believe a team needs to weigh needs vs. best player available and ultimately do what's best for the team.
Overall, considering some of the undrafted free agents they picked up, I'm OK with the weekends work. I'll grade them with a solid ... just kidding...
THIRD ROUND - Taking free safety Major Wright from Florida was obvious pick #1 for the Bears. I profiled the possibility of taking him here, even going as far as saying he's a JA type pick. I do like this selection, and think he'll immediately be in the mix to start at free safety. I don't get some scouts thinking he's more a strong safety type, because the free safety he played at Florida was a lot of Cover 1. Just him back there covering a lot of ground. He has the straight line speed (4.48 40) to be a good Cover 2 safety, and the physicality to be strong in run support. Initially I was disappointed the Bears were stuck with Wright, but then I had a chance to think about it.
On second thought... After those dastardly Packers moved in front of the Bears in the third round I just knew they were doing so to pluck Morgan Burnett away from Chicago. And yes, I was ticked off. But after going back through some of my research, and looking at what the scouts were saying, I came around. If it wasn't for the 4.45 40 he ran at his pro day, he would have been rated lower than Wright and still pegged as a strong safety. Green Bay may even use him at SS. Here's an example of a good pro day trumping all the tape on a player. I try not to fall in love with the measureables, but this was a case where his times clouded my initial judgement on him as a player. There's no question Bears fans will be closely monitoring the pro careers of both Wright and Burnett, and hoping Wright can get the better of him.
FOURTH ROUND - As the draft was unfolding, and Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootton was still on the board, I knew if he was sitting there in the fourth it would be obvious he'd become a Bear. I broached the subject of him slipping in the draft here, and getting picked up by Chicago. I like this pick too. Here was JA taking the best player available, and lucky for him it was at a position he just loves picking. Wootten was about to declare early for the draft after his Junior year (getting a top 40 grade), but then he blow out his knee in his bowl game. He easily could have sat out his Senior year and have his stellar Junior year tape be the freshest thing in the scouts mind, but he wanted to show his toughness and determination by playing last year. He ended the year much stronger than he started it, and he was given the all clear from doctors during the evaluation process.
On second thought... Had Jerry not gone with best player available he could have reached for an offensive line prospect, as quite a few were on the board still. And I don't think anyone would have had a problem with that. I also liked a couple of corners still on the board, Oklahoma's Dominique Franks who ended up going in the 5th, and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah of Indiana (PA) who went later in the 4th.
FIFTH ROUND - After passing on O-Line last round I assumed that would be the target here. I was surprised with the pick of Joshua Moore of Kansas State, but not surprised with them taking a corner. He was rated in the fifth by many scouts, so he went about where he should have. He's an aggressive tackler even though he's on the weak and smallish side. I think his aggressiveness will lead to him being a contributor on special teams early in his career, and after some weight room work he could work his way into some defensive snaps.
On second thought... Mitch Petrus? Offensive Guard? I know guards have a tendency to slip, and with Petrus on the board I thought he'd be a Bear. I knew he'd be a Bear. This was done as far as I was concerned. But no, he's a Giant. I know I'll be keeping a close eye on Petrus in New York to see how he develops.
SIXTH ROUND - Number one, I like Dan LeFevour. I had a chance to see quite a few of his games and he's a playmaker. I like him, I didn't like the pick. Once again JA seemed to go with highest player on his board, something many fans clamor for him to do, but in this instance, the pick pissed me off. I agree getting him in the 6th is tremendous value, but after struggling with finding a QB for years, not drafting a QB since Kyle Orton, trading for Jay Cutler and reworking his deal to assure him he's the franchise QB, then... then you decide to draft a project at QB. And for the record I don't see any Wildcat type offense being in the cards with this selection.
On second thought... Two picks after the Bears took LeFevour Notre Dame center Eric Olsen was picked by the Broncos. Would that have not made perfect sense for Chicago to draft the center? Look, I think LeFeuour will eventually be a good pro, but I think he'll do so somewhere else. If Mike Martz can turn the Bears offense around, if he can get Cutler's career back on track, and if he can do both while being a well adjusted member of the coaching staff, he'll no doubt find himself back in some head coaching discussions. I just can't help thinking the Bears drafted LeFevour to be Martz's QB project, for when he leaves Chicago.
SEVENTH ROUND - I can't really get too worked up with taking a long term project with a 7th round pick, and Bears O-Line coach Mike Tice was high on tackle J'Marcus Webb of West Texas A& M. He played as a true freshman at Texas, but transferred for personal reasons. He has a high ceiling for sure, but the question is does he have the work ethic and football IQ to get there?
On second thought... Taking a high ceiling player in the 7th makes sense, but with safer high floor prospects like tackle Selvish Capers who went later in the round and undrafted guard Ciron Black still available, it has me questioning the direction they went.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS - TheMan1 has a full list of rookie free agents up as a Fanshot. So far they have brought in 13 players, and before the rookie mini camp they'll no doubt sign a few more.
I like the upside of Northern Iowa safety Quentin Scott, so much so that I looked at him last week. He's so athletically gifted I bet the Bears find a way to keep in him the fold. I see a hangnail in the kids future.
Wide out Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green fits the mold of a Martz receiver. Not a speed guy, but a crisp route runner with good hands, and he looks the part at 6' 212. They're bringing in 4 undrafted FA WR's to compete.
Jimmy Saddler-McQueen is a 3 Technique DT that played in the Texas vs. The Nation all star game, a game the Bears put a lot of stock in.
Center Tim Walter of Colorado State is a good prospect to stick around some how, either the practice squad or on I.R. Center is an undervalued position in the NFL and players fall in the draft all the time.
On second thought... The Bears did bring in a couple undrafted offensive lineman with the aforementioned Tim Walter and OT Levi Horn of Montana, but isn't guard a more pressing need. I wonder if Brandon Carter or Ciron Black were approached? And did the Bears reach out to controversial Tony Washington, a highly rated prospect from Chicago favorite Abilene Christian?