OK, so my mock draft did not go as planned. The unpredictability of the NFL Draft is what makes the draft great, and it’s what makes each season special. Seeing these players fit to their teams and turn into key players is amazing to watch, especially if they help you win. Let’s take a look at how the Bears fared in this year’s draft.
Grading the Chicago Bears’ picks
CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: A
While I would have liked to see the Bears go with one of the top safeties in the draft (Calvin Pryor, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Jimmie Ward, Deonne Bucannon), I understand the need to add depth at the cornerback position. Charles Tillman is 30 years old and there are questions about his ability to rebound from the injury he sustained last year, so Emery and the front office needed to add a possible replacement for him. They got their guy in Fuller, a 6’0″, 194-pound versatile corner. At Virginia Tech, Fuller had experience all around the field. He was used as a nickelback (the fifth defensive back on the field) , strongside cornerback, linebacker, and on special teams so he can play wherever the Bears need him.
He said after being drafted he could play safety if they wanted him to play there, but the Bears have no immediate plans switching Fuller. He is seen in many eyes as playing as early as Week One, either at nickel corner or strong-side linebacker. In 2011, he led the DBs across the nation with 14.5 sacks behind the line of scrimmage, so wherever he plays, the Bears are getting a bruiser.
His long arms should be an asset to him in interrupting passing lanes, and picking off his fair share of footballs. He’s a hard-nosed, experienced player with great upside. His biggest downside is his size; Emery said in his post-Round 1 draft presser that he would like to see Fuller put on some weight before the season begins.
DT Ego Ferguson, LSU- B-
A defensive line that was decimated by injuries is sure to see some improvement with the offseason acquisitions the Bears made this offseason, and the addition of Ferguson will only help improve this defense that was dead last defending the rush. However, while he fits what the Bears need at the position –an imposing figure who is quick and has great footwork — he left school after one year with just one career sack and five tackles for loss. While there’s no doubting his size (6’3″, 315) and skill, there are some major doubts as to whether or not he can play. Ferguson comes in to an already-huge defensive line (Jeremiah Ratliff: 6’4″, 303 pounds, Lamarr Houston: 6’3″ 300 pounds, Stephen Paea: 6’1″, 300 pounds, Nate Collins: 6’2″, 296 pounds, Jared Allen: 6’6″, 270 pounds and Willie Young: 6’4″, 251 pounds), so hopefully defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni can get a handle on that size and fine-tune him to be an all-around defensive tackle everybody, including Ferguson, knows he can be.
DT Will Sutton, Arizona State- A-
A two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013, Sutton will definitely help out in the pass rush, which is where he feels most comfortable. His stats back that up; during his junior season, he had 23.5 TFLs and 13 sacks. His senior year, however, he only managed to amass 13.5 TFLs and four sacks.The difference in numbers is due to a weight gain, and he was asked to play a different technique his senior year, so you know right there he is committed to his craft and doing anything to make the team better. Emery said he wants Sutton to be around 285-295 pounds (he’s currently 290), so if he can get to that weight and maintain, watch out.
RB Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona- B+
The 5’10”, 207-pound running back certainly fits as a possible back-up to Matt Forte. The Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2013 racked up 42 touchdowns and 3,814 yards in his final two seasons with the Wildcats, and has toughness and great footwork to make up for his lack of elite speed. His character issues in college will be something to watch for in the professional ranks, as the Bears have a zero-tolerance policy regarding anything detrimental to their program.
FS Brock Vereen, University of Minnesota- A- (from Broncos)
The Bears traded their fifth round pick in both this draft and in 2015 to the Denver Broncos to grab Vereen, who is the younger brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. They received this pick along with a pick in the seventh round, and Emery certainly did not waste this particular pick. With safety being a position of need, the Bears are getting a player who fits the bill and then some. While with the Gophers, Vereen played all over the field at outside corner, slot corner, safety, and he was an integral part of their special teams unit. He finished with 22 passes broken up, and four interceptions. While four interceptions is a bit low, look for the 6-foot, 199-pounder to compete for a starting spot with Chris Conte recovering from shoulder surgery and a confidence-shaking 2013 campaign.
QB David Fales, San Jose State University- B
Expect Fales to compete with Jordan Palmer and Jerrod Johnson for the backup quarterback spot right out of the gate. The scouts and coaches love what he did he SJSU, throwing for a combined total of 8,382 yards and 66 touchdowns in his two years there. He has the toughness and quick decision-making ability that is required in a quarterback, and will contribute in some capacity either down the road or sooner rather than later if Cutler were to get hurt.
P Pat O’Donnell, Miami University- B
This pick proves punters are people too, as O’Donnell was the only punter selected in the draft. The Bears struggled in this area last year, with multiple blunders from former punter Adam Podlesh leading to points against the team. With the Hurricanes, O’Donnell proved he has a strong leg by setting a school-record for gross average at 47.1 yards. He also has strength and size rarely seen at this position, as he stands at 6’4″ and weighs 220 pounds.
Round 7 (from Broncos)
OL Charles Leno Jr., Boise State University- A
Protecting the quarterback is an area at which the Bears have improved, and the Bears continued to bolster that with this pick. Weighing in at 303 pounds and standing tall at 6’4″, Leno Jr. started at both right tackle and left tackle in 2011, and from 2012-2013, respectively, so he has the experience necessary to compete for a backup position.
Overall, the Bears had a very productive draft, addressing needs and providing depth at certain positions as well.
Draft grade: A-
With the announcement early Sunday that the Bears signed multiple undrafted free agents, including NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch and FSU linebacker Christian Jones, they are certainly looking to get back into the playoff picture and compete for a Super Bowl.
For more news, analysis and opinion, check out our Chicago Bears page