The 2011 NFL Draft has come and went and the Bears did alright for themselves in my opinion. Gabe Carimi was the #4 ranked in my last WCG Draft board for offensive lineman, but I only ranked him there because of the performances of his peers leading up to the draft. Based off tape and highlights I was convinced that he was the best tackle in the draft. Stephen Paea was also a favorite as I mocked him in my last Draft board for Defensive Tackles. Despite the controversy over the trade that was suppose to go down with the Ravens; I was overall satisfied with the Chicago Bears draft.
Although I was satisfied with the Bears draft there's some picks I had to scratch my head at and even after 3 days of the draft ending I'm still a little confused. Here's my analysis of the 5 new Chicago Bears.
1st round Gabe Carimi OT
When Gabe Carimi fell to #29, it felt like Christmas. I've always felt that Carimi was the best tackle in the draft based off his style of play. He's a mauling offensive tackle and that's something this Bears offensive line has been missing for quite a while now. He's technically sound at the position with good lateral movement and has the ability to get to the second level and punish linebackers. As he mentioned in various post draft interviews, he's experience at RT as he use to practice every day at both LT and RT. The other thing I liked about Carimi is that he made all the line calls for the Badgers in a pro style offense which should translate well for him at the next level. I would have wanted Jonathan Baldwin with the #29 pick if the Chiefs ended up selected Carimi, but I'm extremely happy with this pick and glad Angelo made the right choice. I see Tice moving Webb at LT and inserting Carimi at RT, even though many fans including myself believe Carimi is capable of playing LT. At RT, the Bears have a legit answer for Packers Outside Rush Linebacker Clay Matthews.
2nd round Stephen Paea DT
Luckily Angelo didn't give in to Ravens demands of giving up that 4th rounder because after Marvin Austin went off the board, Paea wasn't going to last all the way up to the Bears pick. Paea was the right choice considering the Bears have a big question mark at the under tackle position. I like the Stephen Paea pick as the Bears quite possibly have two immediate starters with the lines with their first two picks. This pick is interesting because I felt they could have gotten Terrell McClain at #62, but maybe the work ethic and low motor concerns about McClain was legit. Paea is the opposite as he's well known for his great work ethic, and very high motor. He's a stout run defender that can clog run lanes, making the RB flow to the DE's and LB's. He also can make plays himself when in pursuit of the RB. The knock on him is that he relies too much on strength in the passing game and needs to develop some pass rush moves, but Mike Mayock feels he's a natural 3 technique. It's a solid pick for the Bears and he should work himself in the rotation with Henry Melton at the under tackle position while also get some looks at the NT position.
3rd round Chris Conte FS
One of the most controversial and most criticized picks Jerry Angelo has ever made considering he took a FS the previous year. Jerry Angelo labeled Conte as a pure FS and even name drop former Giants CB Jason Sehorn when talking about Conte. I didn't like pick when it was made and I don't like the pick now even though I tried my hardest to like it. Conte is a decent prospect, but Safety I felt was not the position in the secondary that needed addressing. The Bears have a question mark at the #2 CB starter position, and Charles Tillman is 30 years old so you need a future starter behind him. Texas CB Curtis Brown and New Mexico Devon House was still on the board. These was two guys that I felt would have challenge for that #2 starter spot or at the very least develop as Tillman eventual replacement in a couple years.
5th round Nathan Enderlee QB
I didn't understand this pick at all because if you going to develop anything it should be an offensive lineman specifically Center. This was a pure Martz pick, and pretty much told fans that he's not as high on Caleb Hanie as a developmental project as Management is. Enderlee is simply the typical Air Coryell pocket passer; great arm strength, good accuracy on intermediate throws which is what you want out your QB in a Martz offensive scheme. He's nothing like Jay Cutler, which made me look at Todd McShay kind of funny when he called him "A poor man's Jay Cutler". He's not the type of QB that's going to make throws outside the pocket and that's Cutler trademark. Overall I like him as a player, but I don't like the pick by the Bears. This pick should have been spent on a developmental center that can learn under Kreutz before he takes over in a couple years.
6th round J.T. Thomas OLB
I really like this pick by the Bears as I think Thomas is an underrated talent that can give the Bears a future starter at either Weak side Linebacker or Strong Side Linebacker. I think he will contribute on special teams earlier in his career until he improves on his instincts and zone coverage play, but Bears fans should feel good about this pick.
Overall it was a good draft for Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell. They got two immediate starters in my opinion in OT Gabe Carimi and DT Stephen Paea. They finally got a pure FS in Chris Conte who could be challenging for a job in 2012 when Chris Harris contract is up. They also got promising young players in QB Nathan Enderlee and OLB J.T. Thomas. I'm sure the Bears have a plan in Free Agency to shore up the rest of that offensive line and to find Jay Cutler a big target that gives him and Martz another element in the passing game. Solid draft for the Bears, but they need to finish strong in Free Agency.