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Chicago Bears Draftwatch: “The Irregulars”

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The NFL Draft version of "The Island of Misfit Toys"

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Plenty of analysts are talking about the "best" players in the draft right now. A WCG reader posed an interesting idea to me over the weekend: why not go the opposite way? He challenged me to put together a list of the worst fits for the Bears, instead of the best. It got me thinking and I combined it with another idea that I'd been kicking around: players who I am less excited about than the rest of the draft media seem to be. That combination of inspirations led to the creation of this list.

NOTE: Inclusion on this list does not mean I think the player is flat-out bad or cannot play. It can either mean they are not a great fit for the Bears or that I do not have as much faith in them as the draft community at large seems to have. I will pick 2 players from each position; 1 expected to be picked in the top half of the draft (rounds 1-4) and one expected to be picked in the bottom half of the draft (rounds 4-7). On with the show.

Quarterback

Up High: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State - Hack looks broken. He's been through a lot, seems to have some blame issues based on that and has taken a ton of shots in the pocket over the past 2 years. He's shell shocked and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up and that could take a while. There is also no guarantee he'll make it back.

Down Low: Cody Kessler, USC - I heard the following quote this week and it applies to Kessler:

He just doesn't bring much else to the table. I feel like you could find 3 street free agents who were just as good if not better.

Running Back

Up High: Jordan Howard, Indiana - I thought I'd like Howard more. He's got skills but he's not very dynamic. He plows ahead and runs really hard, but needs cutback lanes to have any major gains. His cuts aren't very sharp and he doesn't really show that sharp plant and drive ability that so many NFL backs thrive on.

Down Low: Brandon Ross, Maryland - I only saw one game (Rutgers) and it was not great. The announcers couldn't stop talking about the week before. From their description it sounded like he rolled over the previous opponent for a ton of yards but against the Scarlet Knights he just did not get very much done. He's heavy-footed but good when he can build up a head of steam.

Wide Receiver

Up High: Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh - From early season descriptions Boyd was a top-5 WR in this class. From his tape there is simply no way that is even close to true. He's decent at a lot of things but not really great at anything. Worked a ton of short routes in college.

Down Low: Roger Lewis, Bowling Green State - One word about why Lewis is on scouts radars: speed. He's pretty limited in his route choice but he can streak by defenders for the big play. He's kind of a "9-route-or-nothing" WR. One word about why he won't play for the Bears (or many other NFL teams): rape. Was charged with 2 counts of rape in high school. One was dismissed and he plead down to a lesser charge in the other. The NFL cares very much about how they are perceived in cases with players who have histories of violence against women now (it's about time), so Lewis may not make the league at all.

Tight End

Up High: Austin Hooper, Stanford - This TE class is nothing to write home (or articles) about. Hooper is athletic but he doesn't have a signature skill that makes me think adding him to the Bears TE mix would be good choice.

Down Low: Bryce Williams, East Carolina - Bryce is big, and quite frankly bad. He's not a very good football player on tape and those who defend him almost always resort to blaming the teammates or program around Williams for his lack of success. Never a good sign.

Offensive Tackle

Up High: Shon Coleman, Auburn - Coleman hops. Everywhere. It's weird and unsettling. It's like he gave up taking steps for religious reasons or something. He's a huge powerful guy, but he's one of the last tackles I'd take from the top of this class.

Down Low: Alex Lewis, Nebraska - Got whupped up on at the Shrine Game in one-on-ones and didn't handle it well (at all) when the coaches called him out on it. Serious. Red. Flag.

Interior Offensive Line

Up High: Vadal Alexander, LSU - Vadal was considered one of the top guards at the beginning of the season but the pre-draft process has not been kind to him. Every time I look up his name in the rankings he's slipped further down. An 8.04 second 3-cone time is enough to make me stay away for an extra couple of rounds.

Down Low: Jack Allen, Michigan State - I like Allen's grit and technical skills, but he's short (just over 6'), light (294 pounds) and will be overmatched against mammoth defensive tackles at the next level. Allowing middle pressure on an offense is a sure way to make sure plays do not go off as planned.

Defensive Tackle

Up High: Jarran Reed, Alabama - If the Bears want a great run-stopping backup for Eddie Goldman, and they can get Reed in the 3rd round or later, I am OK with it. Reed is a flat-out beast against the run (quite possibly the best NT in the class at crushing rushing plays), but that is it. He offers no pass rush and doesn't look to have the capacity to improve that facet of his game moving forward. So unless the Bears want to plunk him as an immovable force at NT, and kick Goldman outside, it would be a very limited draft choice.

Down Low: Adolphus Washington, Ohio State - Washington looks tremendous as a DT but just doesn't play that way. He's not great at holding the point of attack, folds against double teams and is not a pass rushing force. He pursues down the line pretty well but that is not nearly enough. Add in his off field trouble and deep D-line class and you get a player in freefall.

Defensive End

Up High: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State - Great testing numbers and hints of all kinds of potential... but limited tape and average production. Not someone I am going to go to the wall for early on. The later it gets in the draft, the more the value proposition improves.

Down Low: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State - Impressive specimen who works hard and has a ton of experience and leadership traits.  Shilique seems to be a guy that analysts want to like because he's a good guy, but his film runs very hot and cold.  He could have a long career as a backup and contributor (for the reasons stated above) but I do not see him as a difference-maker at the next level.

EDGE/Outside Linebacker

Up High: Kyler Fackrell, Utah State - Tall and somewhat stiff in his movements, Fackrell's film leaves a lot of the same taste in my mouth as players like Anthony Chickillo, Chris Smith and Bjoern Werner. No thanks.

Down Low: Eric Striker, Oklahoma - Another player that many people have said is amazing but I just don't see it when I turn on the film. He's on the small side, somewhat slow, lacks significant power and analysts have no idea where he would play in the pros. That's not a recipe for success at the NFL level.

OFF-BALL Linebacker

Up High: Deion Jones, LSU - Deion is fast as all get out (reportedly ran a 4.42 second 40 yard dash at his pro-day), and his speed does show up on film. My problem is that so does his lack of bulk (222 pounds). When engaged by an O-lineman or even a decently sized TE he rarely wins. He's best in wide open spaces but with generally bigger bodies and much faster players around him those will be harder to come by. I think he can find a role in the league, but I am not sure his game is nearly as well-rounded as someone like Telvin Smith. If it is, Jones will make me eat crow. If it isn't, a team will have had to spend a valuable pick on a limited player.

Down Low: (3-WAY TIE): Tyler Matakevich, Temple/Antonio Morrison, Florida/Josh Forrest, Kentucky - All of these guys have been talked up in the process at one point or another. Matakevich is likeable as a player but is maxed out and too small/slow to have a consistent impact against the better athletes he'll face weekly in the NFL. Morrison looks like a monster on one play and then gets lost for 2-3 more in a row, allowing big gains. That's way too Jon Bostic-esque for my taste. Forrest is just not a great player. I had trouble finding any positives to include on my report about him.

Cornerback

Up High: (2-WAY TIE): Artie Burns, Miami/Xavien Howard, Baylor - 2 CB's that are being hyped for being big much more so than for being good at their jobs. Howard will at least look terrific at times to give you some hope. But he'll follow that up by gambling, being burned or just plain old dropped in coverage. Burns is stiff in his movements and has tremendous trouble locating the ball, leading him to use his frame to pummel receivers. Play like that in the pass-happy NFL will draw a ton of flags. If either of these guys gets picked early they'll have a ton of pressure to produce quickly that could end up derailing their development for good.

Down Low: Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech - Kyle is better than his little brother. Period. Add in Kendall's injury history and I'll conclude that I like the Fuller the Bears have, and we can just leave it at that.

Safety

Up High: Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah - Many folks have been singing Killebrew's praises since early on the the draft season. He hit like a hammer but his coverage skills are not developed and his overall physical skills/testing results are not enough to make up for that. If he does find a niche in the league it will be through bulking up a bit and becoming an LB like Shaq Thompson.

Down Low: Jayron Kearse, Clemson - The circle comes to a close. Jayron was one of the first players I wrote about in Draftwatch last fall. His blend of physical prowess, NFL lineage and starting role on an ACC powerhouse made it look like there was no way he could fail. However, the remainder of the season and the scrutiny of the draft process revealed that Kearse is possibly not even the best safety on his own team (TJ Green has taken that billing from Kearse over the last few months). Kearse is a good athlete but he'll have to find a love for heavy contact as a special teams performer to earn himself a spot on a regular defense. Based on his tape I am not sure he has that in him. Time will tell.