Well, once the draft is over, we head into the quiet period of the NFL. Apart from some workouts and team meetings, there won't be too much going on. So, I thought, what better time to start exploring some of the Chicago Bear's unsung heroes. Players who might not be household names, but contribute a lot to the team, with their efforts at times going unnoticed. So, without further ado, let;s take a look at Bears safety Craig Steltz.
Drafted by the Bears four years ago, Steltz played his college football at LSU. After a couple of quiet seasons, he became a regular member of the team in 2007, and finished the year as a first team All-American.
Chicago used their fourth round pick to select Steltz in 2008's NFL draft, and for the large part of his time in the windy city, he has mainly contributed on special teams. Last season, after injuries to Major Wright and Chris Conte, Steltz began to feature more prominently on defense, ending the year with 42 solo tackles, and also adding 12 special teams tackles.
Back in March, Steltz and the Bears agreed to a contract extension which will see Steltz remaining with Chicago for another two years.
How much playing time Steltz receives this coming season is still up in the air, but we have seen Major Wright face some injury issues, and I am sure Steltz is ready to show Lovie Smith that he's ready to step in and contribute to the defense.
Smith, however, seems content with the pairing of Wright and Conte, saying:
"I think I'm on record on how I feel about Major Wright, he's a good football player; a great football player that hasn't had an off season with us yet truly. I'm just as excited about Chris Conte. We made moves of getting rid of... going a different direction on a couple of players last year because of Chris Conte."
So, what does Craig Steltz bring to the party?
At 6'1 and 210 lbs, he is well sized to play the safety position. He also has decent strength and above average athleticism.
With Corey Graham (my favorite) and Zach Bowman now no longer in Chicago, perhaps the coaches will fell that Steltz will be of more value on special teams. And he has every chance to shine there. He has good pursuit speed and can get down the field and make the solid tackle. But just like Corey Graham, who went on to sign with the Baltimore Ravens, I am sure Steltz will be looking to be more than just a special teams player.
So, do we feel that the hard hitting Craig Steltz has a chance of getting some regular playing time this season, or will he remain primarily on special teams?
Let us know what you think.