DE, G, WR, CB, DT, SLB, OT
G, CB, DT, OT, DE (veteran), WR (veteran)
The Bears, coming off a disappointing 8-8 performance in 2011, came into this year’s NFL Draft with a lot of needs from both sides of the ball.
They addressed the need at defensive end with first-round pick Shea McClellin. He’ll play with his hand down this season, but could be moved around because of his positional flexibility. McClellin was moved around quite a bit in college. But it’s worth noting that many teams had him pegged to play in a 3-4 scheme at outside linebacker, not in a 4-3 like the Bears use. Even with McClellin in the fold, the Bears probably need to add a veteran end for depth purposes at some point.
The Bears addressed another big need in the second round with the selection of WR Alshon Jeffrey. The team certainly has two projected tall starting receivers in Brandon Marshall and Jeffrey, but both of them they lack ideal downfield speed. Seventh-year WR Devin Hester, who has been very inconsistent to say the least in recent seasons, will have to provide the speed element to the passing game.
The Bears addressed depth at safety with the selection of Brandon Hardin in the third round. However, he played cornerback exclusively at Oregon St. Hardin, because of his unique coverage skills for the position, could get on the field earlier than expected. The key for him is to prove he can hit.
The fourth-round selection of Evan Rodriquez came to a surprise to many since he’s a bit short for a tight end (under 6’1” ½). And the expectation was that he would go off the board at least a round later. However, because of his very solid athleticism, look for Rodriquez to be a “move” tight end, meaning he’ll be used in a variety of ways (FB, H-back, TE) to create matchups. “Move” tight ends aren’t looked upon as stationary inline blockers like traditional tight ends.
The selection of Isaiah Frey in the sixth round addresses a depth issue at cornerback. And he’s more of a developmental player than anything else, which is actually what the Bears need at the position. The team signed journeymen Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite for depth, but both are on one-year contracts. Frey is known in scouting circles for his aggressiveness, and Cover-2 cornerbacks play in a press position.
Like Frey, seventh-round pick CB Greg McCoy was not invited to February’s NFL Combine. However, he received late-round attention from teams because of his outstanding kickoff return ability (over 30 yards per return last season). McCoy figures to be a practice squad candidate this season, but he has an outside shot to make the roster coming out of the preseason because of his versatility.
Overall, the Bears addressed some obvious needs early in the draft, but depth issues and positional upgrades are still needed from both sides of the ball. And with only six selections to work with, they couldn’t address all of them.