So we are now down to it. There won't be much more in the way of hard news, unless Miami manages to sign somebody. It will all be speculation and unabashed rumor. So in the next 2-3 days I am presenting you with 5 different scenarios for the Bears draft and would like you to select the one that best fits what you'd like to see the Bears do. Each draft is through the first 3 rounds and put together by a WCG reader or favorite. I plan to have them all posted within 2-3 days, then I'll throw up a recap post and a poll.
The first scenario is the running back in the first round plan. This one is submitted by Chad.
tomScenario 1: Running back first
Round 1: Rashard Mendenhall, Running Back, University of Illinois
The Chicago Bears are known for two things, defense and running backs. The Bears have a long history of great running backs dating back to the early 1900’s when the NFL’s first superstar Red Grange scampered from Champaign to Chicago. The tradition carried on to the electric Gayle Sayers who mystified opposing defenses and thrilled fans. Then of course there was a man know as Sweetness. Walter Payton, while never having blazing speed, dominated the league with an incredible combination of power and moves. He would give opposing equipment managers fits because of the all the cleats that were left in the turf from hapless linebackers who where juked out of their shoes. He was also and gentleman and the face of the Chicago Bears.
But once Payton retired, the Bears haven’t found their franchise back. Neal Anderson, who took over for Payton did a nice job but was never a superstar. Nor could he come close to comparing to #34 in the hearts and minds of Bear fans. And it only went down from there. NFL busts Rashaan Slaam to Curtis Enis to Anthony Thomas to finally, our current scourge, Cedric Benson have haunted, no wait taunted, Bears fans who dream of one day getting that one guy who is deserving to play for the team of Grange, Sayers and Payton. And that day is here…
Rashard Mendenall didn’t exactly come out of nowhere but it sure seems like it. Coming out of Niles West high school he was a 5 star recruit and one of the top running back prospects in the country. For some reason (and thank God he did!) he decided to sign with Illinois and new head coach Ron Zook.
He didn’t start off with a strong freshman campaign, carrying the ball only 48 times for 218 yards. His sophomore year, he split time with current New Orleans Saint, Pierre Thomas. There he carried 78 time for 640 yards and 5 tds. But it was his junior season where he busted out. He tallied 1681 yards rushing and 17 tds. His impressive performance in the Rose Bowl was the only bright spot in an otherwise dreary game. He stood out so much that USC coach Pete Carroll said that he was the best running back that they had seen all year. And that included Jonathon Stewart, one of the top regarded running backs in all of college football.
Mendenhall used the national stage of the Rose Bowl for his coming out party but it wasn’t’ until he got to the NFL scouting combine where his draft status when from second round to second running back overall. He dazzled with his speed (4.45) and strength (26 reps).
Mendenhall has all the makings of a real franchise back and the Bears know it. And, unlike Cedric Benson, Mendenhall has carried the ball relatively much fewer times, leading people to believe that it could mean less risk of injury.
Round 2: Duane Brown OT Virginia Tech