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Bears Mon Nov 04 2013

Monday Night Spotlight: The 2013 NFL Draft

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngIn a perfect world, every draft pick would take the place of departed or ineffective veterans and have an instant, positive impact. But a utopian arena is also a fictitious one, especially in the NFL.

In tonight's tilt against Green Bay, the Bears will start their top four picks from April's 2013 draft class. Kyle Long (RG, first round), Jon Bostic (MLB, second round), Khaseem Greene (WLB, fourth round), and Jordan Mills (RT, fifth round) will be largely responsible for the team's success or failure against one of the toughest teams to scheme against in the NFL.

We've seen Long and Mills from the start of the season, but Bostic and Greene are seeing expanded roles due to injuries to starters. Here's how they've performed to this point and what to watch for from the Bears rookies tonight.

Kyle Long

According to Pro Football Focus, Long has ranked as the Bears fourth best linemen so far this season. I'd agree, as Matt Slauson has been excellent, Roberto Garza has been solid, and Jermon Bushrod has held his own against some fantastic defensive lines. Long has struggled in the passing game a bit, not from a physical standpoint, but from miscommunications between himself and the players surrounding him. He doesn't get overpowered very often, but struggles with hand placement in pass rushing. He's made up for it with his run blocking though. He's opened up some gaping holes for Matt Forte to run through, and is often leading the way on goal-line carries because of his size and speed. If the Bears are to win, they'll need the best performance of the season from all their rookies. Long will need to lead the way to a 100-yard game for Forte.

Jon Bostic

Bostic's career has basically been defined by the hit he laid on Mike Willie in the preseason. It showed everything the Bears loved about him coming out the draft. He read it perfectly, exploded to the ball, and dropped the hammer on the receiver. Sadly, that kind of play has been few and far between. He's ranked negatively the past two weeks when playing in lieu of DJ Williams, and most of his issues have been in the running game. He's filled the wrong gaps and has been neutralized by blockers getting to the second level. Hopefully with extended practice time during the bye week, he was able to get a better feel for where he should be and when. He can finish the plays if he's in the right position. The Bears gave James Anderson the play calling duties with Lance Briggs out, so that should alleviate Bostic having to think too much pre-play. He's an instinctive player, and the team needs him to be.

Khaseem Greene

He's played exactly one defensive snap, and was penalized on the play. Blake Costanzo was playing after Briggs left with an injury against Washington, but it's Green's job until 55 can get back on the field. The Bears got him in the fourth round despite a number of analysts ranking him as a possible second round pick. He struggled in the preseason, but the coaches say he's been practicing fantastically the past week. I wouldn't read into that hardly at all considering the Packers are the best play-pass team in the NFL, so reading his keys will be incredibly important. The Bears are hoping he can secure a long-term job with his play over the next few weeks.

Jordan Mills

Mills received a ton of praise in the preseason and early on for his solid play, including from me. Unfortunately, after his Week 1 domination of Cincinnati, he's played pretty terribly. He's been OK on running plays, but has been getting demolished by speed rushers in the passing game. Why haven't you heard about it? Because he's only allowed one sack (and that was against Washington) and two penalties. So how has he struggled then? 30 hurries in the past six weeks. Out of the 60 qualifying offensive tackles, he's ranked second to last in pass blocking efficiency. He's been given some assistance by Eben Britton on a package of plays the Bears have used about 15 times a game. Mills has also been assisted by the quicker throws Jay Cutler and Josh McCown have drawn up for them by Marc Trestman. Look for more of the same against Green Bay tonight.

 
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