Even though I always vote in those "Grade the Draft" polls, there is no way anyone can predict how an entire draft will pan out. Not after less than 24 hours, not even after a year. You want to really grade a teams draft haul, wait two or three years. Some rookies need a year just to get accustomed to the NFL speed. And In the Bears case, some rookies will take a red shirt year. Even speculating on a player this early in the game is nothing more than playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey. But... I was always good at that game...1st round - Gabe Carimi will start somewhere in the 2011 season, tackle or guard, line coach Mike Tice will have him on the field. Playing in a pro style offense at Wisconsin will lessen his learning curve. In fact, Carimi made all the line calls in college. He's a four year starter at left tackle, but he has the intelligence to flip over to the right side, and he played some guard at a post season all star game. He has the type of size Tice likes for his linemen.
Personally I'd like to see him get a shot on the left side. He has the mentality of a left tackle. He's confident, he has a mean streak, he moves his feet well, he has a good hand punch, he plays with leverage, and he's media savvy (always a plus). Bottom line he's a good offensive lineman. If Bears fans have any lingering doubts in their head due to the last first round offensive line draft pick, it's safe to wash those away. This kid is will be good.
2nd round - Stephen Paea makes it 2 for 2 in picking up starters in the draft for Jerry Angelo. Paea will start at the 3 technique DT previously manned by Tommie Harris. He doesn't have the same kind of run you down speed that Harris used to, but Paea has a quick get off and bull like strength. He will collapse the pocket, and make it hard for quarterbacks to step up. The Bears defensive ends will enjoy that.
The Bears were prepared to draft Paea at 29, but Carimi slipped and their plans changed. Angelo showed an aggressive side not seen before when he traded up to get Paea. It looked like they had Paea and Marvin Austin with similar grades, because as soon as Austin came off the board, JA sprung into action and traded up for his guy. Some of the few pessimistic comments in our threads thought that the Bears gave up too much to trade up, so I went to the handy Draft Trade Chart to see for myself. The Bears 2nd rounder was worth 284 points and the pick they traded into was worth 370 points. The 4th rounder that it cost Chicago to move up was worth 45 points. I'll let you do the math, but it looks to me like the Bears did OK.
3rd round - Chris Conte will add depth to a position that needs it. It's not as sexy a pick as those first two, but after reflecting on it, and actually researching the kid, and listening to the suits give their take on the pick, I think it was a decent selection. Mike Mayock on NFL Network said the kid was getting a 4th through 6th round grade by some scouts, but as soon as the coaches got a chance to see the kid play they gave him a 3rd round grade. He's basically a one year wonder which kept him under the radar, but his senior year at Cal was pretty damn good.
Twelve starts at free safety, 1st Team All Pac-10, and his 72 tackles was third on his team. He has good size for a DB at 6'2" 197, but any talk about him bulking up to play linebacker is a reach. Never gonna happen. I think Mayock misspoke when he mentioned Conte was a LB early in his college career. He played corner his first three seasons at Cal. The early word from Angelo is that Conte will learn free safety.
5th round - Nathan Enderle was a head scratching pick. I understand it. I don't necessarily like it. I feel like a broken record with the domino effect I'm about to spew again. Had Calab Hanie stayed healthy last preseason, the Bears never would have signed Todd Collins, and they never would have had to expose Dan LeFevour to the waiver wire. The Bears drafted their developmental QB last year, they just couldn't hang onto him. It's all Hanie's fault.
Enderle didn't have very good overall numbers at Idaho, his best season was his Junior year (61.5 Comp % 22 TD 9 INT) which was also the only winning record Idaho had his 4 years. He's a four year starter and he has some of the intangibles that Mike Martz likes in a QB. He's a big kid (6'4" 240) that stands tall in the pocket, even when he's about to get hit. He's a very smart kid with a good work ethic. His arm strength is good enough. He didn't play in a gimmick offense, Idaho is closer to a pro style. He knows how to drop back and throw, although his footwork could use some work. Angelo has already stated that the Bears will not be pursuing a free agent veteran QB, so it's Jay Cutler, Hanie #2, and Enderle will have a chance to win the 3rd spot.
6th Round - James (J.T.) Thomas had 39 starts at weakside linebacker for West Virginia and was named 1st Team All Big East. He has the speed, athleticism, intelligence, and work ethic to play all 3 linebacker spots for the Bears, and as a reserve that could be what will be asked of him. Thomas is a classic high motor player that will give 100% effort at all times. In college he won multiple awards from his team and was a team leader.
Many of the negatives I've read in his scouting report can be coached up. If Bears linebacker coach Bob Babich can get his technique on par with his effort, he could be a surprise performer. As it is, he should be a core special teamer in the mold of a Tim Shaw.
I think this was a solid draft; it's not the direction I would have gone in the later rounds, but anytime you can find two immediate starters with your first two picks, you're way ahead of the game. Safety and linebacker are both positions that needed some depth. Conte and Thomas are both hard workers that want to be coached and they'll both put in the time to maximize their potential. Enderle is a project. According to Angelo he was picked at that time because he was a value pick so he must have been high on their board.
The last part of the draft tells me that the Bears must have some money allocated for free agency. Another offensive lineman and a corner would be a great start. A receiver would be nice. And as soon as the labor mess is resolved the Bears will be able to pursue some undrafted rookie free agents