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Bears Mon Apr 30 2012

Bears Add Depth in NFL Draft

Chicago BearsBreaking news: NFL Draft grades are in! And the Bears draft was... good? Bad? Just okay?

The grades ran the gamut of possibilities. At one end of the spectrum, The Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer gave Chicago an A-, citing key selections like defensive end Shea McClellin, wide reciever Alshon Jeffery, and tight end Evan Rodriguez. Iyer simply wrote for the Bears that "these are the kind of complementary players to their veteran stars who can push them back into the postseason."

At the other end, Jim Czarnecki of Fox Sports gave the Bears a C-, writing that Chicago "really didn't address their offensive line needs." Other grades included a B+ from NBC Sports, a C+ from ESPN.com, and a C from SI.com.

I would give my grade on the Bears' draft, but since none of these prospects have even taken the field as a pro yet, how are we to know how they will perform in the NFL? No one knows anything, certainly at this point in these young men's careers.

But here's what we do know about the Bears' 2012 NFL Draft selections, not counting Shea McClellin, who we already profiled on Friday:

- WR Alshon Jeffery was taken in the second round, and he has a chance to work along side other Bears' wideouts like Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett. The Bears gave their fifth round pick to St. Louis to move up five spots to take Jeffery in the second round, so GM Phil Emery must be a fan of the 6'3" receiver from South Carolina. Emery has raved about Jeffery's hands, and Jeffery has an array of receiver skills. Jeffery can even list loyalty as an asset: He chose South Carolina over his dream school, USC, for wanting to stay close to home and build something with that program.

- In the third round, the Bears went with Oregon State safety Brandon Hardin. Hardin missed the 2011 season because of a broken shoulder, but reports say that he has recovered and is good to go. Hardin is big (6'2", 222 lbs.), physical, and versatile; he can play both cornerback and safety. Hardin grew up in Hawaii, and admitted a few years ago that if he had to choose a favorite NFL team, he would choose the Seahawks.

- The Bears landed TE Evan Rodriguez in the fourth round. Rodriguez models his game after Patriots' TE Aaron Hernandez, and can be a mismatch due to his size (6'1", 225 lbs.) and pass catching and route running skills. A red flag with the pick: Rodriguez began his football career with West Virginia in 2007, but transferred to Temple after he reportedly had a felony assault charge reduced to a misdemeanor disturbance. Both the Bears and Rodriguez believe he has matured, however. You're not going to believe this, but his nickname is E-Rod.

- A pair of cornerbacks were picked by the Bears in the sixth and seventh round - Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy. Frey was the 453rd best prospect and didn't get a combine invite, but he does have solid size and speed, standing 5'10" and running a 4.46 second 40-yard dash. McCoy, meanwhile, is known for his return game.

As you can see, the Bears did not draft any offensive linemen over the weekend. Since their line has been shoddy over the last few years, you would expect Chicago to address that, right? Not exactly. Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams will be returning from injury for 2012, and Emery will continue to tweak the roster going forward. Chicago signed Troy's James Brown on Sunday, and Brown is the highest-rated undrafted offensive lineman.

We will see which draft choices actually make the team, and how they will contribute to the Bears this upcoming season.

 
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