The NFL Draft this year was a whirlwind; it took forever to get here, especially with being pushed back two weeks and then it was over in three days.
Now that it's over, there isn't much to look forward to in the immediate future for football fans. Rookie minicamps and OTAs are just workouts in shorts and not real football stuff, and training camp and the preseason are still eons away.
But finally the mock drafts are put onto the back burner, and now everyone's sights are set squarely on 2014. Without real football to fill the time, what are we to do expect speculate?
So let's rundown the Bears draft class once more to see where each rookie fits into the grand scheme of the roster and what, if any, impact they could have as a rookie.
The Bears' rookies are:
First round pick Kyle Fuller, CB
Second round pick Ego Ferguson, DT
Third round pick Will Sutton, DT
Fourth round pick Ka'Deem Carey, RB
Fourth round pick Brock Vereen, S
Sixth round pick David Fales, QB
Sixth round pick Pat O'Donnell, P
Seventh round pick Charles Leno Jr., OT
A solid haul by most accounts, and it addressed all of the team's biggest remaining holes. The early picks on the defensive side will go a long way in rebuilding a unit that was dreadful, and the day three picks will hopefully develop into quality depth.
I'm going to look at each rookie and figure out how, if they even make the roster, they could impact the team as a rookie. I will attach a percentage to each player to show his chance of making an impact and contribution as a rookie.
Fuller: First round picks nearly always make the final roster so there's no doubt he will be there, but how much playing time will he see? I see him slotting in as a nickel corner on day one and holding that spot down and developing. Even if he comes on slow and Kelvin Hayden is able to hold him off, he will see in the field in dime situations as the fourth CB. 95%
Ferguson: A developmental prospect as a pass-rusher, Ferguson's day one impact will be as a run stuffer. After watching the Bears have far-and-away the worst rush defense in the league, there's no doubt he can make a difference there. Will he see the field as much as fans want a second round pick to? Maybe not, but he should be able to get on the field and do some dirty work in the trenches. 85%
Sutton: Sutton is the pass-rushing specialist at the DT position that fans and the team has been looking for. Sutton slipped because of poor production his senior year when he played heavier. He is allegedly down to a weight that the Bears want him to be at. He could be very dangerous and has the chance to make a huge impact right away. There are reps to be had in the Bears DL rotation. 90%
Carey: As Steven and I discussed on our stream yesterday, Carey's impact all comes down to how many carries he gets. Taking the ball out of Matt Forte's hands seems, on the one hand, crazy because of how good he is but, on the other, seems logical because he's getting up there in terms of NFL running back mileage. Carey should have as good a shot as any at beating out Michael Ford and getting some carries as a rookie. How many carries that is though, is anyone's guess. 65%
Vereen: Safety was the one position nearly everyone clamored for at some point during the three day draft. Most observers wanted Emery to address the position earlier than in round four and on a player who hasn't played all over the place. But alas, competition is competition and anyone who has a chance to unseat a player who was as dumped upon as Chris Conte will be a welcome sight for Bears fans. He will face Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings as well as Conte for playing time though and, as a rookie making the jump, it could be difficult for him to see the field other than on special teams. 55%
Fales: I hate to break it all of the "Jayders" (Jay Cutler haters) out there but Fales won't unseat Smokin' Jay any time soon. The man who will most likely be feeling the breath on his neck is Jordan Palmer. The Bears have generally only carried two QBs on their final roster so his chance of making the team could be slim but, by being a draft pick and with a chance to flash some ability, maybe the Bears decide to carry three. I have a hard time believing that the Bears would feel secure enough in Fales to let only him and Cutler be the guys, but stranger things have happened. Either way, I doubt Fales makes an impact that's felt this year. 5%
O'Donnell: Of course Emery would draft the most athletic punter available. Argue all you want but punter was a need. I have a hard time believing they would spend a pick, even a mid-sixth rounder, on a specialist and not let him get first crack at the job. That said though, I am sure it will be an open competition between him, Tress Way and Drew Butler. I think O'Donnell comes away with the job, but you never know. 75%
Leno: This is tough, Leno was a tackle in college but projects as a guard in the NFL. The Bears have a solid offensive line but not necessarily a ton of depth. Maybe Leno ends up on the practice squad or even being cut outright, but a quick look at the roster shows he only needs to beat out other depth pieces Rogers Gaines, Joe Long and James Brown for a back up spot. Certainly possible he makes the roster but slight chance of him making an impact. 15%
The Bears also added nine Undrafted Free Agents. Usually UDFAs don't make much of an impact in year one but seeing as there were a couple notable names among them, I thought I would address them too.
Christian Jones was seen as a day two prospect by some and is a good coverage LB. Maybe he pushes a guy like Jerry Franklin or Lawrence Wilson for a practice squad spot, or maybe he makes enough impact to land a ST spot. 15%
Jordan Lynch was a high-profile QB but doesn't have the makings of a pro-QB. The Bears listed him as a RB in their official release and should be pretty familiar with him since they worked him out, seemingly showing interest in him throughout the evaluation process. He has a long road ahead of him in order to make the final 53, and an even longer shot of making an impact in a backfield with Forte, Ford, Carey and Tony Fiammetta. 5%
The rest, defensive tackles Brandon Dunn, Louisville and Lee Pegues, East Carolina, guards Ryan Groy, Wisconsin and James Dunbar, TCU, tight end Cody Booth, Temple, and linebackers Tana Patrick, Alabama, and Devekeyan Lattimore, South Florida, appear to be the usual camp body/practice squad candidates. I'd peg each of these guys around 3%.
All in all maybe I am feeling a little too optimistic about the draft class, but it's early May and it's time for a little optimism. As the summer progresses and we get through OTAs, minicamps and then training camp these percentages will certainly flux and change and could be revisited. This is just where I think they are today.
Which rookies do you think will make an impact? How do you rank their percentages?