I would argue that the Bears had the best draft class out of all 32 teams.
I believe the Bears' draft selections will not only help them compete in 2012, but will ultimately help contend for the Super Bowl.
Before the draft, most of Bears nation was in support of grabbing an offensive lineman in the first round because the unit gave up 49 total sacks in 2011. The other glaring needs Chicago had before the draft were a secondary receiver to pair opposite Brandon Marshall and a defensive end to book end Julius Peppers.
All three of these needed to be met in the draft or throughout the offseason to help prepare the Bears for the 2012 season.
When the Bears selected Shea McClellin, I remember letting out a gasp. I was shocked and displeased simultaneously, dreading another busted draft by another general manager that Chicago had high hopes with. I had been scouting the draft for about nine months and did not expect the Bears to go with what I perceived to be a prototypical 3-4 based outside linebacker.
In the second round, the Bears shocked me again by trading up five spots, relieving themselves of a fifth-round pick and their second-round pick to grab Alshon Jeffrey, who I thought was the most talented wide receiver in the draft. I was ecstatic the Bears finally grabbed a genuine playmaker who would excite Jay Cutler on offense.
The draft moved on to the third round, and it was used on Brandon Hardin: a converted corner to safety with an an injury history that would scare any casual fan. It made me instantly remember the bad luck the Bears organization had with Mike Brown.
Disappointed from that pick, I was holding my breath throughout the fourth round. I was hoping they would be looking for another dynamic offensive talent. When Chicago announced it would use its fourth-round selection to select Evan Rodriguez, a FB/TE hybrid, I was elated because of my previous knowledge of watching him play during the 2011 collegiate season. I like to compare him to James Casey of the Houston Texans.
The sixth- and seventh-round picks were used to grab Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy—two cornerbacks that are familiar with the zone coverage Lovie Smith will be running on defense. They will come in to compete with the veterans and can immediately contribute to special teams.
After the draft, I took the time to collect my thoughts and graded Phil Emery’s debut as the new general manager. I watched his first press conference and listened to his strategy soundly; he stated he wanted to grab playmaking, versatile athletes who can contribute to a championship caliber team.
This philosophy was carried out all throughout the draft, finding pieces that will contribute to all three phases of the game: offensive, defensive, and special teams players.
Each player selected is capable of playing both offense and special teams, or defense and special teams. It brought me back to an interview Emery had with the Chicago Sun-Times where he stated that he believes he follows the same schematic lay-out of the Patriots.
Shea McClellin, who played four seasons at Boise State, played in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes and is capable of rushing out of a two-point stance or putting his hand in the dirt and rushing from a three-point stance.
How did the Bears do in the draft?
Alshon Jeffrey has big play capability, but is also used to run blocking as he came from a run-first oriented offense that featured running back Marcus Lattimore. His hands, body control, and big frame make him an easy target in the red zone for Jay Cutler.
Brandon Hardin’s versatility is well documented. He is a converted cornerback to safety, which gives him experience at both positions. He will be used to help cover the big tight ends in the division. Hardin will also be used to stop the run as he plays his best inside the box.
Evan Rodriguez was drafted as a FB/TE hybrid which will serve the Bears well on offense. He was featured at Temple as an H-back that ran routes out of the backfield. He has a good set of hands and is well-trained in blocking. He will also be used in two tight end sets opposite Kellen Davis to help stretch the seam and open up the outer edges for Jeffrey and Marshall.
Greg McCoy and Isaiah Frey are well-trained in cover two schemes and are also decent tacklers to add to the depth of the DBs and to help on special teams. Both can improve their press coverage abilities, but overall are very capable and easy to coach. McCoy is also capable of becoming a punt returner and kick returner.
These six draft picks are tremendous reasons for Bears fans to be ecstatic with this 2012’s draft. Emery had a plan and stuck to it, and Chicago will reap the benefits from now into the future.
These players will make an immediate impact during the 2012 season and will contribute to the Bears making a Super Bowl run, validating Phil Emery’s genuineness to why this class was the best among all others in last weekend's draft.