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Bears Mon May 12 2014
Rounds 2-7 of the NFL draft on Friday and Saturday saw the Bears make selections that made a ton of sense, along with a couple surprises sprinkled in. Here's a full breakdown on the players they picked, and what the team has in store for them.
Ego Ferguson (DT, LSU; RD 2, Pick 19)
This pick was immediately billed as a reach by the Bears, as the talking heads on ESPN had him rated as a fourth or fifth round pick. Then when you remember that the Bears gave up 29,000 yards on the ground last season (that number might be a slight exaggeration, but it felt like that many), it's probably a good idea to add a 300 pound nose tackle that can stuff the run. That's exactly what this pick was about.
Ferguson is inconsistent and won't overtake anyone's spot on the defensive line at the start. He doesn't add much in the pass rush department, so he'll most likely make his name playing on first and second downs when teams are more likely to run in between the tackles. He talked with Bears defensive line Paul Pasqualoni a lot about playing a 2-technique position, which eludes to the Bears plan of doing a lot of different things defensively this season. We'll see where he eventually lines up come training camp. Stephen Paea will have major competition this summer.
Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State; Round 3, Pick 18)
If the Bears would've picked Sutton in the second round, and Ferguson in the third, I bet they'd be receiving a lot more praise for the Ferguson selection. Regardless, they got themselves a very nice 3-technique defensive linemen with the 82nd overall pick.
Sutton was the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year in both 2012 and 2013, but was far better in the former. Going into his senior season, he took some advice that he should add weight so he'd be better suited for the NFL. Not a terrible idea in thought, but his execution was awful. He added more than 20 pounds, but not in a good way -- slowing him down and robbing him of the excellent pass rushing skills that put him on the map. He was a top-50 talent coming into his senior season, but didn't perform to the same level. On a conference call with the media, he said that he's back down to the weight he played at his junior year, which is welcoming news for the Bears and their fans. If he plays like he did two years ago, he could be a force getting to the quarterback from the interior line, and a massive steal in the third round.
Ka'Deem Carey (RB, Arizona; Round 4, Pick 18)
The bad news first: he's not going to run by people. His 4.70 40-time at the combine was sixth worst among listed running backs. The good news is that you don't need to run a 4.50 40-time to be a good running back. Carey was a consensus All-American in both 2012 and 2013, running for 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns with a 5.84 yards per carry average.
He's had off-the-field problems in the past. He was arrested in 2012 for misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct after an incident with his pregnant girlfriend, but the charges were eventually dropped. He was also kicked out of an Arizona basketball game after a verbal altercation with stadium staff, which led to a one-game suspension to begin last season.
Despite being undersized, he's a downhill runner that fights for yards and cuts it upfield any chance he gets. He's good at catching the ball out of the backfield, which is a must in the Marc Trestman offense for a running back. The backup job is basically his after the Bears cut ties with Michael Bush. He'll be used in short yardage situations, and hopefully will get some run to spell Matt Forte when he needs a rest. The Bears leaned heavily on the Pro Bowl runner last season, and with Michael Ford not looking like an every down back, the Bears needed someone they felt comfortable with if Forte went down for an extended period. So long as he keeps his head on straight, Carey is that guy.
Brock Vereen (S, Minnesota; Round 4, Pick 31)
This is a classic Phil Emery selection. The Bears had to jump back into the fourth round to grab a guy that can compete for a job at the safety position, and it cost them both their fifth rounder this year and next year to Denver (the Bears got the Broncos seventh rounder this year as well). Unlike the previous three picks, Vereen was a monster at the combine. He was the second fastest safety in the 40-yard, 3-cone drill, and the shuttle, along with throwing up 25 bench press reps -- best among his position group.
He's got the height to play safety, but his short arms and small hands worried evaluators because it matches up with his weaknesses of making strong tackles and intercepting passes (just four picks in his college career). He did play corner quite a bit at Minnesota (including last season), and could play some in sub-packages if called upon. He'll definitely be given an opportunity to win a starting job among the lackluster safety group on the Bears roster, but there's no guarantee he snags one. He is, however, a high football IQ player (his dad played, and his brother Shane plays, professionally), and he's a very involved special teams player. He'll make the roster and contribute for sure, but don't expect a guy like Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
David Fales (QB, San Jose State; Round 6, Pick 7)
Fulfilling the trade that sent Gabe Carimi to Tampa Bay, the Bears surprisingly took a quarterback late in the draft, no more than two weeks after Emery made a spectacle of the fact that late round QBs haven't found success in recent years.
Sure, the Bears needed a young quarterback at some point in time, but after Emery railed on quarterbacks taken after the third round, he went out and picked one himself. Smoke screen delight? Maybe. But It's incredibly hard to see Fales becoming the backup despite the fact that he's started just as many NFL games as current backup Jordan Palmer (who worked with Fales a bit during the pre-draft process).
It's unlikely the Bears carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster unless Cutler gets hurt, so Fales is likely being brought in for camp, development, and likely a spot on the practice squad. Drafting him gives the Bears exclusive rights, and if they eventually put him on the practice squad, the only way another team would be able to grab him is if they put him on their active roster -- which is unlikely at the quarterback position because even teams in need of one late in camp or early in the season want a known quantity that's familiar with their system.
Fales has some talent. Despite being a bit undersized and lacking in Cutler-like arm strength, he's quite accurate with the football. Fales is another draftee that was better as a junior than a senior, but part of that can be chalked up to San Jose State playing a bunch of freshman around him last season. Other than Derek Carr, he was the only QB to throw for 4,000-plus yards in both 2012 and 2013. Don't count on this guy supplanting the starter if you're one of the Cutler-haters out there, and I wouldn't expect him to beat out Palmer either.
Pat O'Donnell (P, Miami, FL; Round 6, Pick 15)
Emery had never picked a punter in any of the drafts he's been a part of before, but the Bears need one badly. O'Donnell will join Tress Way and Drew Butler in a competition for the punting job. He was third in the nation with a 47.1 average last season, and had a kick over 49 yards in every game during his final season in college.
He punted for four years at Cincinnati, but transferred for a final season so he could be closer to his father who was fighting cancer at the time (it's now in remission). He averaged over 42 yards a kick during his time in Ohio, so he should be familiar with the adverse weather conditions he'll likely see in the NFL. He's the kind of athlete that Emery salivates over, as he ran a faster 40-time (4.64) than the RB they drafted in the fourth round, and threw up more bench press reps than number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. He's not a guarantee to make the roster, but he's got the inside track.
Charles Leno (OT, Boise State; Round 7, Pick 31)
A durable offensive linemen is a worthy pick this late in the draft, and that's exactly what Leno is. He's not going to blow you away with his film (otherwise he would've been drafted higher), and will be competing for a roster spot in camp. If he can prove he has versatility on either both sides of the line or playing both tackle and guard, he has an outside shot at making the roster.
The player that might affect Leno's chances the most is actually tight end Fendi Onobun, who has loads of ability but has issues catching the ball consistently. If he has a good training camp, I see the Bears carrying three tight ends, and that means they'll only carry one backup tackle on the active roster (Brian De La Puente or James Brown will be backing up inside). Eben Britton did a really nice job for the Bears as a swing tackle and jumbo set tight end last season, and is back on a league minimum contract with the inside track to keep his job.
The Bears start rookie training camp in a few weeks, and these guys will all get their first looks in uniform along with the team's undrafted free agents (including NIU QB Jordan Lynch) at that time. Their performances won't be under major scrutiny until full training camp later this summer, but it'll be fun to see the football being slung around in a time where the NFL is now a year-round draw.