One of the neat things about being part of SB Nation is the access we have to their various experts throughout the network. If we want more details about the Chicago Bears' next opponent, we'll talk to one of our sister sites. If we want the skinny on the NFL Draft, we'll hit up our draft editor. And if we want some insight on the latest rookie class for the Chicago Bears, we'll go straight to the site that has covered their entire collegiate career.
Recently we had the chance to talk with Jason Bartel, Manager of Arizona Desert Swarm, the SB Nation site that covers the Arizona Wildcats, about running back Ka'Deem Carey.
Windy City Gridiron - A lot was made of his slow 40 time (4.7), but none of his times were above average at the NFL Combine. What makes him such an effective runner?
Jason Bartel - He just doesn't go down. All of the long runs he put up the last two years were more of a result of the defense playing close to the line, and once he got to the second level, defensive backs weren't going to be able to take him down. The offensive line was very effective too, opening up huge holes on many occasions. I think his ability to see the field and read where the defenses are going offset what he lacks in overall speed.
Windy City Gridiron - Even though all charges were dropped, the domestic violence incident was a red flag for many teams, and it no doubt hurt his stock. Was that an isolated incident or is there a pattern of trouble with him?
Jason Bartel - Well, in addition to that incident, he was also thrown out of an Arizona Basketball game around the same time, and dropped the old "Do you know who I am?" line to the police. It's fair to say it was a pattern then, but Ka'Deem now has a 10-month old child with his girlfriend. Being around him this year, it's obvious that his kid has changed his overall outlook on life and his demeanor. I think that pattern is a thing of the past, and he has matured by leaps and bounds over the last year.
You'll notice when looking at his 2013 stats that he missed the first game of the season against Northern Arizona, as well as the first quarter of the UNLV game. That was because Rich Rodriguez suspended him for those first five quarters of the season, and I think that also gave Ka'Deem a little more perspective.
Windy City Gridiron - The Bears seem to have a need for a short yardage back this year, and some beat writers are suggesting the 5'9", 207 pound Carey could be that guy. Was he known for his ability to get the tough yard in college?
Jason Bartel - Yes, definitely. If Arizona was in a third-and-short or fourth-and-short situation this year, you knew the ball was going to Ka'Deem, and he was going to punch it up the middle to get that first down. It seems like in the NFL that would definitely be his best role as he doesn't have enough quickness to run on the edges against those guys.
Windy City Gridiron - With the Bears running a version of the West Coast Offense, how were his hands out of the backfield? Was he ever asked to line up split out like a receiver?
Jason Bartel - His pass-catching ability was definitely the biggest improvement he made from 2012 to 2013. He didn't split out wide often because the Wildcats' offense was dependent on the read-option in 2013. QB B.J. Denker was not a deep-passing threat at all, and if the offense was going to have any success, Carey needed to be in the backfield to at least give Arizona two running threats on each and every play with him and Denker. Ka'Deem did catch 26 balls for 173 yards this year and had 36 catches in 2012. 2012 was more of a passing season for the Cats with Matt Scott at quarterback, and gave Ka'Deem more chances to catch the ball.
Windy City Gridiron - One of the concerns some scouts have about Carey is his high number of carries the last two years, and the toll that being a workhorse back takes on a body. Were there any injury issues during his time in college?
Jason Bartel - No real injury issues for Ka'Deem, but I definitely agree that it's a concern that he had such a high number of carries. Like I said, the one game he missed was due to suspension, not injury. But he started and finished every game after he was put back on the field, and rushed for at least 119 yards in each of the final 16 games of his Arizona career. But he never missed a practice or a game, so there's no real history of injury there.
Thanks again to Jason Bartel of Arizona Desert Swarm!