It’s quite ironic that one of the most notoriously physical divisions in the NFL, the NFC North, has moved away from the black and blue of yesterday to the air raid type offenses.
Only the Bears ranked in the top ten in rushing attempts per game, and their off season moves are leaning to dropping that ranking even further.
Then the draft started and the only positions they really addressed on offense were again, for the passing game.
What does that mean for their draft? Well let’s take a look at my 2012 Chicago Bears Draft Grade.
Sometimes versatility gets overlooked for flash and I really believe that is the case for Shea McClellin. McClellin lined up all over the field for an above average Boise St defense this year, splitting time between defensive end, OLB, and ILB.
It’s that type of Swiss Army knife play that had to have made the Bears jump on him.
McClellin has a strong looking upper body which allows him to fend off blockers with his arms while find the ball and then shed the blocker and attack the ball carrier.
He is explosive at the snap of the ball, showing great get off, and it doesn’t matter if he is playing with his hand on the ground or lining up outside or inside.
What’s even more impressive about Shea is what Mike Singletary said at the Senior Bowl, and I have to think this played into the Bears thinking:
Mike Singletary (Coaching the North LB’s)
“He’s a guy that right now is about 255 pounds. He can pick up and go to 275 and go back to D-line or he can stay where he’s at. He’s got a lot of good stuff ahead of him because he’s also a worker. You find a guy like him with his versatility and intangibles — he’s also a smart kid — and he’s going to be just fine at the next level.”
That basically is saying what most of us are thinking. The Bears will use McClellin wherever they feel he will have the biggest impact, because he has the ability to play in so many different places.
Then you have the sort of forgotten man of the NFL Draft, Alshon Jeffery.
He has a very nice burst off the line which allows him to get an early advantage on his defender, and allows him to use his massive body to maintain that separation to create space.
His large frame makes him great at going up and battling for the ball in traffic, and his strong hands allow him to snatch the ball out of the air in a crowd.
He is a dynamic route runner, running crisp routes on every level of the route tree, and really excels on intermediate routes, comeback routes where he can use his body as a shield against a defender.
Once he catches the ball he can make defenders miss, but is physical enough to run over them as well.
Does not have elite top end speed to run away from a defender, relying more on his strong frame to create space against smaller CB’s.
Should be the perfect complement to the dynamic Brandon Marshall, if he can keep his weight under control.
The Bears stayed defensive with their third round selection of Brandon Hardin, the safety who missed the entire season with a shoulder injury, but has a ton of upside.
Hardin is a special kind of athlete; he ran in the 4.4 range at his pro day and did 24 reps of 225 on the bench press.
He will be transitioning from his cornerback position in college to the safety position with the Bears, but has the high end upside you look for. He loves to hit, makes good reads in coverage and is a solid leader.
He is stiff in his movements when he diagnosis plays but that should be able to be worked out early on in his development.
In the fourth round you had a head scratcher of a pick in potential H-Back Evan Rodriguez.
Everyone seems to be look for their Aaron Hernandez, and that is what Rodriguez will be for the Bears.
He is a phenomenal athlete out of the backfield and in his routes. He has good hands and can make plays after he catches the ball. Is more of a wall off/shield type blocker instead of a head on player.
He is a finesse player, who needs to get stronger, but the most important thing is he needs to learn how to be a NFL player. He has had some off the field things and I am assuming Urlacher and co. will not stand for that.
The Bears went defensive back with their last two selections, taking zone oriented corner Isaiah Frey in round six and undersized special teamer Greg McCoy.
Frey is a clutch and grab cornerback who needs to be put into space and allowed to use his excellent feel for the game as opposed to being manned up in coverage.
He is a good tackler, and likes to hit, so that will give him a good chance of not only making the team, but finding playing time with the Bears.
McCoy should have a chance to make the Bears because he can play all four special team units and has return man potential.
Overall: I was a bigger fan than most of the McClellin selection simply because he is so flexible in that Bears defense.
Jeffery adds a good number two WR prospect with big upside and Hardin can become a good safety in this league if given time to learn the position.
The problem with this draft, and what kept it out of the Great draft category, is that after their first two selections, I wasn’t a fan of WHERE they drafted Hardin and Rodriguez.
Both players would most likely been available at least a round later, and I am all for identifying your guy and getting him at all cost, but there was better value on the board in my opinion. Which is why I don’t grade drafts, Hardin and Rodriguez may be steals where they were drafted in a year, two or three, but right now, they picked too early and for that the Bears just had a Good Draft.