When the Bears' third round pick was spent on Chris Conte, there was some mixed reaction. Trust me, I went back and looked. Our general consensus was that he was a depth, special teams, high-upside pick.
But the National Football Post's Greg Gabriel went a bit higher on the effusive praise. He took a look at a few mid-to-late round draft picks he thinks might have an impact this season, and includes our very own Chris Conte among them. Follow me past the jump for his synopsis...
"I wrote after the draft that I didn't know much about Conte when the Bears drafted him. I sent a text to a scouting director asking him to tell me about Conte. He told me that he felt Conte might be the best safety in the draft. I trust this man's opinion very much, but still I decided to look at tape to form my own thoughts. All I can say is that he was right. Conte plays fast, has excellent instincts and is a hitter. He was a corner his first three years at Cal and because of that he has better man to man coverage skills than many safeties. With the Bears having the possibility of losing Danieal Manning, Conte may be in position to start soon." (Bold emphasis mine)
I doubt Conte comes starting out of the gate; even if Manning goes, he's still behind Chris Harris and Major Wright. And with that said, I'm not so sure about him being the best safety in the draft, especially since he's only had one collegiate year as a safety. There's definitely hope for the kid, he has time to develop further as a safety, and it'd be great if we could look back on the draft and say "Yep, he was the best safety in the draft," but to say that now?
If Conte can come out at the start of the year, play solid special teams and perform in rotational safety duties, I'll be satisfied with him this year.