Okay Bears fans the 2011 draft is finally over for us, so now its time to grade and comment on the draft as a whole, while contemplating on what our plans are currantly for FA and who we want the Bears to sign to fill in the remaining needs. So, without futher due, lets begin.
First, the draft itself:
1st round- Gabe Carimi / O-lineman, Winsconsin
This was perhaps the best first round pick Jerry Angelo has ever made, especially when considering that this is an O-Lineman that will not only be an immediate starter at either Tackle position, but he has a chance to be great. He fits the bill perfectly, as he is large (6-7 320 pounds), mobile, has played very well in a pro style offense, intelligent, and above all one mean SOB. Plus, what I really like is his attitude! Very confident as well as someone who demanded to be a Bear. A+++++ on an absolute steal in the first round.
2nd round- Stephen Paea / DT, Oregon State
If Gabe Carimi was Jerry's best career early round pick, then Stephen Paea along with Matt Forte are close seconds. First and foremost he is a BEAST! I mean he may be currantly listed at 6'2 311 pounds but he set a record on bench press with 49 reps. He also ran a 4.8 40, which is pretty fast for a DT of any size. What I like best about him besides his raw power and speed is his versatility. He played in a 4-3 system at Oregon State, and he would be a great fit as either a 3 tech or as a Nose. Personally I feel he can become a 3 down starter at either DT position as he is absolutely explosive off the ball and commands double teams. I say he could be at 3 tech during running situations, then slide over at Nose and kick Henry Melton at 3 tech on a passing situation. A+ as he was valued as a 1st rounder by a good number of teams.
3rd round- Chris Conte / Safety, California
At first (along with the next pick) I absolutely hated this pick. But, as time settled in and I began to ponder just why he was taken so damn high, then it came to me. Daniel Manning may be gone in FA, Creig Steltz and Bullocks are gonners, which leaves us with 2 safeties under contract; Chris Harris and Major Wright. He has good size and intangibles for a developing safety, and whats better is that he doesn't have to start any time soon. As Lester pointed out he could be a decent guy to pair with Major Wright in the distant future, and he will be a good player on Special Teams. But whats really intriguing is that he has the frame to bulk up into a Tampa 2 style LB. It has worked before ( Brian Urlacher being a prime example) and its worth a shot. Considering the possiblilties combined with the fact our top targets as WRs were taken just moments before we drafted, I will give this a B-.
5th round- Nathan Enderle / QB, Idaho
Now this was a really questionable pick. Considering that I was both expecting and demanding that a talented plus-sized WR would be selected; I was furious when I saw a QB drafted. Yet, he does have some positives as he could be a decent QB after a few years of intensive coaching as he fits the mold of a "poor man's Jay Cutler".He will be the 3rd string QB behind Jay Cutler as the starter (duh!) and Caleb Hanie as the #2 (bigger duh!). I thought about giving this pick a D, BUT when I found out that he will effectively eliminate Todd Collins I immediately changed my mind and give this pick an A-!
6th round (and final pick)- J.T. Thomas / OLB, West Virginia
Not too many starters/superstars that come from the 6th round become immediate impacts, yet I feel this guy could be a great fit as a Sam LB, an underated need for our Defense as we only have 2 LBs under contract- Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Plus, neither Pisa Tinoisamoa nor Nick Roach are hands down starters with Pisa getting injured a little too often and Nick Roach still in those developmental stages which would leave the door to someone like J.T.to step in and stake a claim for significant playing time. J.T. Thomas is a little larger than either player with frame to grow, and he is very fast to go with it. He does have some issues making his reads; however if Lovie Smith has done something well its been coaching up LBs. At worst J.T. Thomas could be a special teams standout, and at best he could be that sleeper starter at Sam. I give this pick a solid B.
Overall I give this draft an A as a whole, because our top 2 needs were both effectively filled with great players who will be day 1 starters with his first 2 picks, and he built some solid depth for minor needs heading into FA.
Now its time to discuss our course of action(s) in FA
Our remaining needs are from top to bottom: OG, CB, WR, and DT . LG has to be taken care of as the interior was the achillies heal of the Offensive Line, and fortunately for us even Jerry Angelo seems to notice and has announced they will be shopping for O-Lineman in FA. Most likely it will be a large LG, with Carl Nicks perhaps being the top target now that OT and DT have been taken care of with Gabe Carimi and Stephen Paea, respectively. We should sign Carl Nicks and resign Olin Kreutz, then kick Carimi at LT where he excelled in that pro-style offense at Wisconsin. Then we kick Herman Johnson at RG ( he was a beast in LSU, and has a ton of upside) while leaving J'Marcus Webb at RT to continue his development. (Best Possible) Line-up shown below:
LT- Gabe Carimi
LG- Carl Nicks
C- Olin Kreutz
RG- Herman Johnson
RT- J'Marcus Webb
Update: Carl Nicks has been tendered a 1st rounder, so we may not see him signed by us, so another decent name posted was Derrick Dockery from the Redskins. He has good size and power, simply is getting cut because he doesn't fit in Shany's system. So, with that in mind a revised O-Line may look as such:
LT- Gabe Carimi
LG- Derrick Dockery
C- Olin Kreutz
RG- Herman Johnson
RT- J'Marcus Webb
Midway and I will continue to monitor names as they come up, be free to post more names on here.
CB is an issue as well with us in need of a Corner who will not only play well adjacent of Charles Tillman , but also could eventually take over as the top defender in the secondary. Now many of us want perennial superstar Nnamdi Asomugha, problem is...so does half of the NFL, including the entire NFC East. Getting to him will result in an epic bidding war that has never been seen or heard of before. So, against my normal good judgement Im willing to take a risk on someone such as Aqib Talib. Now before ya'll jump all over me for this please consider the following: He played very well for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a #2 CB to future HOF Ronde Barber while playing in the Tampa 2 ( no duh) and he will be far less costing than Asomugha. Also, as of right now he may be aquited of all charges as the case has been described to me by a friend of mine who is a law official from Texas as a giant "he said/ she said" case with no substantial evidence. I aint here to say and/or declare that it is over, but if this does happen then Aqib Talib may be in the clear. After all, he would be a major upgrade over any of our other CBs besides Peanut. Update: the situation is very unclear with Talib as of the moment, as he may have been charged with those crimes after all. However, we don't know whats going to happen along with FA, so lets go with the whole "what if" side of the story. Also, if you have a player of any position especially that of CB you feel would be a great fit, by all means list them below and discuss their attributes. I am very open to anyone's ideas. With a big helmet tip to Midwaymonster other, far less risky options include Johnathan Joseph , Brent Grimes , Carlos Rogers , Richard Marshall , and Antonio Cromartie . Any one of those guys would be good besides my guy Aqib Talib, with my personal preferance being Carlos Rogers as he has very good coverage skills to go with a willing defender against the run.
WR may be the most complex need, as some see it as a true need to find a larger WR while others suggest its more of a want/luxury than a real need as opposed to O-Line and DT. Plus, there is a ton of uncertainty as to who will be avaliable. So most of this will be seculation until FA starts up. There are signs that perhaps either one or even both of the Jets WRs ( Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards ) will be avaliable, and there is a ton of uncertainty as to what will happen with Brandon Marshall in Miami. If all 3 become avaliable, the I would take Brandon Marshall in a heartbeat. If not, then either Jets WRs would be just fine, with more stock going into Santonio Holmes as he has the better set of hands. Another good option could be Mike Sims-Walker as well as the rather large stock of UDFA WRs such as Terrance Tolliver. Anyone of those could be a good pick up.
DT is no longer a really big need as Stephen Paea could play both Nose and 3 tech, plus Anthony Adams should return next season as a Bear. It still wont surprize me to see a beast like Cullen Jenkins signed to play here in Chicago. However when considering Stephen Paea and Henry Melton in particular, I feel those two will become one heck of a tandum as shown below:
3T- Henry Melton
NT- Stephen Paea
RE- Julius Peppers
We already have perhaps the most formidible group of 4-3 ends in the league; Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, and Corey Wooton, and now if we sign Cullen Jenkins to play at 3 tech as well then we would be set at DT for the forseable future.
There you have it, as this is my review for both the draft and a preview for FA. Who do you think should be signed, and how would you grade the NFL draft?