Grading the 2012 Chicago Bears Rookie Class

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Grading the 2012 Chicago Bears Rookie Class
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Apparently, it's Chicago Bears day here at the NFC North blog as we take a look at how the selections from the 2012 NFL Draft performed this past season and what might be expected of them in the future.

 

1.19—Shea McCLellin, DE—Grade: C

McClellin had an up and down rookie season, sometimes flashing the speed and skill which made him look like a promising prospect at Boise state, but far too often disappearing for stretches while he was on the field.

Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Which made him not be on the field all that much. According to Football Outsiders, McClellin was on the field for just 35 percent of the defensive snaps. While adjusting from linebacker to defensive end can account for some of his struggles, that's a really poor return for a first-round rookie.

Reader Grade: Shea McClellin

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He cracked the overall defensive line rotation, but couldn't consistently make an impact.

McClellin will need to step it up this year and find a way to contribute with more of the consistency he was lacking. We can give him some leeway for his rookie season, but that ends as of right now.

Israel Idonije is a free agent and while I expect him back, the Bears might decide to spend their money elsewhere. Even if Idonije does come back, how much longer does Julius Peppers have?

McClellin was supposed to be the future at the position, and now he needs to step up.

 

2.13—Alshon Jeffery, WR—Grade B

I was tempted to give Jeffery and incomplete because he was hurt so much and then I actually came close to knocking him down to a B-/C+ but decided that when I saw him, most of the times I really liked what I saw.

Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Jeffery only played in 10 games, so his targets were not surprisingly limited. Even his receiving percentage—50 percent—is hard to read into because 48 targets scattered across 10 games isn't much use in determining whether he caught enough of the passes thrown his way.

Reader Grade: Alshon Jeffery

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Of course, the transition from college to pro receiver often kills rookies in the NFL, so that played into it as well.

We saw some things that were very good out of Jeffery—his ability to make tough catches, some speed and good hands were among the highlights for him.

We also saw some immaturity, such as allowing himself to be baited into foolish mistakes by Packers defensive back Sam Shields in Week 15.

All in all though, Jeffery looks like he will live up to his billing and worth the second-round pick the Bears used on him. Over the next few years he should become a very reliable target opposite Brandon Marshall and as a result, will put up some very good numbers.

Expect him to slowly become a big part of this offense in the next two years.

 

Reader Grades: Brandon Hardin

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3.16—Brandon Hardin, FS—Grade Incomplete

Hardin went down with a neck injury in preseason and was placed on season-ending injured reserve in August. The Bears hope he'll be back this year and 100 percent healthy, as the athletic, 6'2" looked like he could be a force in the secondary.

He did battle with injuries at Oregon State, so now he needs to shake that label in the NFL as well.

 

4.16—Evan Rodriguez, FB—Grade B-

Rodriguez stepped in as an h-back type from time to time, but was more often relegated to blocking.

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That's off course when he was on the field at all, which wasn't very often. Just 20 percent of the offensive snaps according to Football Outsiders.

Reader Grades: Evan Rodriguez

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He did also contribute on special teams, which is what you want from your mid-to-late round draft picks.

With a new head coach and offensive coordinator in the building, it's hard to say what will come next for Rodriguez. I've been intrigued by his size and athleticism, but he is still very raw.

He might block for Matt Forte, or step in more frequently at tight end.

Or he might just remain a solid blocker.

 

6.14—Isiah Frey, DB—Grade C

As much as you want every pick to contribute right away, it doesn't tend to happen that way.

Reader Grades: Isiah Frey

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Frey had a decent Training Camp and preseason, capping off his efforts with an interception of a pass by New York Giants quarterback David Carr, but was waived on Aug. 31, then signed to the practice squad.

His skills translate as more of a rotational player, someone who can supplement the starters in certain packages but is unlikely to crack the starting lineup himself.

If he wants a shot at that role, he needs to stand out on special teams so he can earn his keep while that develops.

Frey is quick and athletic, but there are lots of quick and athletic corners in the league. He needs to put forth that extra effort to stand out.

 

7.13—Greg McCoy, DB—Grade: D-

I don't give out many F grades in these things unless you're Vernon Gholston. I certainly don't give them out to guys who were drafted in late rounds.

Reader Grades: Greg McCoy

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However, you do hope that they will contribute in some way, even if it's on the practice squad.

Once McCoy was cut, it was the better part of a month before someone signed him to their practice squad. It was the Arizona Cardinals, not the Bears.

He was eventually signed by the Minnesota Vikings when they had some injury issues.

Overall, while he was a relative disappointment, that's mitigated by the fact that he's a seventh round/day three pick rather than a first or second day (aka first, second or third-round) selection.

The allowable margin for error on a seventh rounder is pretty big.

 

Overall —B-/C+

Reader Grades: Overall

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Grading a class after one year only carries so much weight—very few players are home runs instantly. Where I was disappointed at the end of the day was in the play of McClellin and how often Jeffery was hurt.

I expected some bumps with McClellin, but also more impact, and Jeffery can improve his training regimen, though that won't stop the broken arms.

It wasn't a big class, it wasn't a deep class but I still feel they got two future starters out of it, and if Hardin comes back, another consistent player.

 

 

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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.

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