The NFL Draft is exciting for many football fans. It's three days of picks, hype, disappointment and hope. It is the crown jewel of the NFL offseason, an event unto itself, a spectacle if you will. It's a huge reason why the NFL marketing machine is so huge. No other sport's draft comes close the NFL's.
The NBA, maybe, but it's so much shorter and honestly, other than the lottery picks, how many names do you remember who weren't picked by your team? And who even knows their team's second round pick from more than a year or two ago anyway?
The biggest bummer of the draft, to me anyway, is that once it's over, what are we left with? I get three days of non-stop football, watching college highlights of the hopefully next-great players for my favorite team and then poof, I have to wait three months before I get to even see them in meaningful practices.
So what's left? Speculating of course! Speculating a huge part of the NFL offseason, and the draft for that matter.
To illustrate this point look no further than a 2016 mock draft.
If you're not quite ready to look that far ahead, how about grading teams on their just-concluded draft using the same information that was known before the draft?
It's said every year but how much stock can you really put into grading a just-completed draft? It's an unknown how the players will actually do the NFL compared to what they're expected to do and it's easy to match the player's position with his team's needs when they picked him. Those grades: One bad one (D+) and a lot of C+s and Bs.
Today, everyone's draft looks nice. All the players should "fit right in" and "push for snaps" and "fill a huge need." That's why they got drafted.
The tougher part is that actually happening.
Back to the speculating part. Rather than go after some kind of vague grade, let's try to look at which Bears draftees will actually see the field as rookies and make an impact. Ideally the Bears will get at least three starters out of this draft, but how many could get starts right away?
I'm going to go through the Bears' entire draft class and make a prediction of how much of an impact he will make. This is merely the percentage chance I believe the player has to see the field as a rookie, not necessarily start. Then I will make a 0-16 (ex. 16/16 means he starts all 16 games, 2/16 means he starts 2) guess on how many games the player actually starts. Finally I'll offer up a little analysis of how I think the player fits in on the roster and within his position group.
First round: Kevin White, WR
Impact chance: 100 percent
White was considered raw coming into the draft and he isn't a refined route-runner. No doubt he will hit the playbook and work hard, but receiver is a historically difficult position to make the jump as a rookie. White is going to be counted on and will get plenty of chances as a rookie but I could see him worked in slowly and not getting an official start until two or three games have gone by.
Second round: Eddie Goldman, DT
Impact chance: 90 percent
Goldman is going to see time in the rotation but I knocked some off of his impact projection because he isn't a sack artist and I doubt we see his pass rushing abilities make a huge jump from college to first-year pro. That said, he will called on to make plays and should do so, especially against the run. I think like Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton last year, he won't be called upon to officially start games, but with Jeremiah Ratliff's injury history I think he ends up getting some starts. Plus he might be the best fit for nose tackle on the roster, bumping up the odds he gets more starts than would be typical.
Third round: Hroniss Grasu, C
Impact chance: 10 percent
I'm actually as excited about this pick as any that the Bears made but a look at the roster tells you that Grasu isn't likely to see the field much as a rookie. He is considered the best pure center in the draft, so sliding him to guard for a season doesn't seem likely, plus who would he unseat there, Kyle Long or Matt Slauson? Exactly. Grasu is going to get his rookie season to get acclimated to the NFL. Will Montgomery started only eight games last season but appeared in all 16 and hasn't missed a game since 2010. I think Montgomery is the starter unless Grasu is lights out in the preseason, or Montgomery gets dinged up.
Fourth round: Jeremy Langford, RB
Impact chance: 33 percent
This is the toughest one. It's difficult to know what Pace and Fox think about him. Is he meant to push Jaquizz Rodgers and Ka'Deem Carey? Is he going to be No. 2 back right away and spell Matt Forte? Is he expected to be in the rotation with some combination of Forte, Rodgers and Carey? So much to be decided but Langford does offer a speed threat the other backs don't, which is why I put his chance at 33 percent. I think he can make the rotation as a speed back and could earn more carries from there. I doubt he ends up making any starts unless he adapts quickly and can pick up NFL blocking schemes. Oh and there would have to be some injuries. Not likely.
Fifth round: Adrian Amos
Impact chance: 75 percent
Let's be honest, the Bears have a history of turning to rookie safeties. Perhaps that changes with the new regime but outside of Antrel Rolle, is there a lot of steep competition of players that makes you say "No way a rookie fifth-rounder can break that line up." Ryan Mundy and Brock Vereen are the only other two safeties of note on the roster. Unfortunately with those types of question marks I think there is a decent chance that Amos is called upon to at least get in the rotation, if not start. It could be another season of a safety carousel; Vereen/Mundy/Amos rotating starts for who can be least-terrible this week. Prove me wrong, please!
Sixth round: Tayo Fabuluje, OT
Impact chance: zero
Fabuluje strikes me as a pure development pick, much like Charles Leno Jr. last year. Hopefully he makes the practice squad and if there is a massive amount of injuries maybe he gets an active roster spot. But with much more experienced players such as Jordan Mills, Jermon Bushrod, Michael Ola and second year man Leno ahead of him, I can't see a prospect as raw as Fabuluje cracking the depth chart much.
Which picks do you see cracking the line up in year one? Am I completely underestimating White or Grasu?