With high end draft picks not always panning out for the Chicago Bears, they've gone a different route in recent years and traded away high draft picks for known NFL talent. The verdict on this approach is still out, but looks promising for now.
Coming into the 2010 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears were pretty much set as to what positions need to be filled; free safety, offensive guard and defensive backs all came to mind. With the Bears not having a pick until the third round, finding immediate impact players at need positions is tough, not impossible, but tough. So the Bears filled what they could, and in my opinion, drafted the best player available each time their number was called.
It’s pretty much a given that free safety was the Bears biggest hole to fill. Thus with the 75th overall pick, the Bears chose the best player at the free safety position available, Major Wright. The 5’11" 206 lb. Wright should challenge for a starting job as soon as training camp begins.
After free safety, the biggest position need varies a little bit. Though many would agree that a less than stellar offensive line needs to be re-tooled, some would argue that more pass rush and secondary help would serve this team better. Bears brass must have agreed with the latter.
Even though the Bears lost three defensive ends this off season (A. Brown, A. Ogunleye & G. Adams), they did gain maybe the best defensive end in the game, Julius Peppers. Still, losing three and gaining only one did not make end a position of need in Chicago. Youngsters Henry Melton and Jarron Gilbert are projected to pick up the pass rush slack, along with versatile veteran Israel Idonije and former starter Mark Anderson.
Nevertheless, when Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootton dropped all the way to the fourth round, the Bears felt that they could not pass on the pass rush specialist. A serious knee injury at the end of the 2008 season caused Wootton to have a sub-par ’09 season, hence his draft status dropped dramatically; otherwise the 6’6 versatile play maker was projected to go in the early rounds on this year’s draft.
If Wootton fully recovers from the ’08 knee injury, he could be one of the major steals in this draft. With rumors of Henry Melton falling out of favor in Chicago, and the guessing game that is Mark Anderson, maybe the Bears addressed a need while also taking the best player available.
The rest of the Bears 2010 draft looks similar; select the best player still on the board. With pick #141 the Bears chose who they felt was the best defensive back still available, Kansas St.’s Joshua Moore. Moore’s aggressiveness and ball hawking skills make him a perfect fit for the Bears Cover 2 scheme. His impact should be felt on special teams immediately.
The Bears picking quarterback Dan LeFevour in the 6th round should prove the point that they were picking best player available. We all know that Jay Cutler is not going anywhere and should be the Bears starting play caller for the next 8-10 years. However, there is no clear cut back up to Cutler, and the way he took hits last year a dependable backup is a must. LeFevour was rated very highly by some draft experts and just like Wootton, it was a surprise to the Bears that he was still on the board when their selection came around. There is even talk surfacing that LeFevour could be worked in at wide receiver. With his talents as a quarterback, I think this is somewhat of a stretch.
So with four picks gone and only one left, the Bears finally addressed their offensive line by picking tackle J’Marcus Webb. Now, if picking a small school project in the seventh round is supposed to fix our offensive line issues, we are in trouble. Webb is big, 6’8" 328lbs, but lacks strength for his size. Even if he develops over the next couple of years under Bears o-line coach Mike Tice, he is still projected as a backup. If Webb can develop into a serviceable backup/special teams contributor, the Bears may have found a last round gem.
So with all five picks used up, the Bears still do not have a new offensive guard. They must like the development of last year’s seventh round pick Lance Louis or unproven Johan Asiata. There is always the dependable Josh Beekman or the possibility of signing recently released former Pro Bowler Alan Faneca. In a pinch, there is always the multifaceted Frank Omiyale who recently was penciled in at right tackle, but did start 12 games for the Bears at guard last season.
Not having any draft picks in the first two rounds the last two years, has made the Bears reach on some players. Besides receiver Johnny Knox, we are still waiting to see what our crop of late round picks from last year have to offer.
Jay Cutler and Julius Peppers' impact in Chicago will forever be judged against the Bears 2009 and 2010 drafts; my money and hopes are on Cutler and Peppers.