Another draft has come and gone. Everyone seems to have their opinion, and while there is no way to judge a draft for a couple of years, let alone a couple of hours after the closing bell, here is how I see it.
Draft grades for each player are based on talent, value at where they were picked, and team need.
Jarron Gilbert DT/DE (Third round 68th overall)
I might have gone another direction, but we do need help on the defensive line. Gilbert is extremely strong and athletic. He plays defensive end and tackle, and considering three of our defensive linemen are hitting free agency at the end of the season, we could use some options.
Many people had this guy graded higher, but he suddenly developed a reputation for taking plays off. I really think this was just certain people’s way around admitting they didn’t properly scout a small school.
Everyone who has been around this guy or seen him has loved him. Oh and he led the nation in tackles for loss. Not too bad.
I really just think the Bears weren’t too high on most of the safeties. It was considered a weak class for that position. As for receivers at that spot, Massaquoi was the only one close to being worth the pick, and his stock rose in the past week or so.
Many will tell you that the board you have three weeks out is the most accurate, and we all remember what happened when we let David Terrell’s last minute hype sway us. Like Terrell, Massaquoi had one of the better quarterbacks in college throwing to him, which may be what pushed him ahead of guys like Iglesias and co.
For these reasons, I like the pick.
Draft grade: B
Juaquin Iglesia WR (Third round 99th overall)
I like the pick. We need a receiver to complement Hester and he fits that mold. A possession receiver, he lacks top end speed but has quickness and toughness.
He will make the first guy miss and break a tackle or two. He has good separation skills and although he won’t get too many 40-yard touchdowns, he will move the chains.
Draft grade: B+
Henry Melton DE (Fourth round 105th overall)
I do not understand this pick. There were almost a dozen defensive ends ranked higher than him on the board at the time. Even if Angelo really liked him, they could have gotten him later.
I think the situation in the second round made this decision. The Raiders grabbed a safety at 47 that most people hadn’t even seen tape on and was projected to be a late round/UDFA. A huge reach; oh and the Bears had just called him and said they were taking him at 49.
I don’t know that I would have liked that pick, but it essentially made the Bears reach even more on Melton out of fear of losing him.
Melton plays fast for his size and strength, but he lacks technique, as illustrated in the Texas Tech game when TTU’s left tackle owned him all game.
Melton can benefit from good defensive linemen around him that require extra attention, but don’t expect him to produce on his own, at least not right away.
The bottom line is that Melton isn’t going to see subpar left tackles at the pro level, if Marinelli can’t find a way to coach him up he will be a special teams player at best.
Draft Grade C-
DJ Moore CB (Fourth round 119th pick)
Another bad pick. We have depth at cornerback; depth that is signed for several years.
They passed on Johnson at free safety because they didn’t like his size; well Johnson has more than four inches and 25 lbs on Moore.
Moore measures in at a little under 5’9’’, and weighed in at 182 lbs at the combine, but he played around 175 lbs. He ran a 4.58 which is just god awful at that size giving him an adjusted 40 time of 82.7.
I just don’t know where this kid is going to play. To be fair he suffered an ankle injury in the Music City Bowl, but returned to the game. It is hard to say if residual problems from that contributed to his poor 40 times.
He does have some versatility playing multiple positions on offense and defense in college. He will contribute on special teams, but I don’t see drafting a guy this high for special teams or to see if you can get him to play at another position. He simply isn’t that special.
Draft grade: C-
Johnny Knox WR (Fifth round 140th overall)
I love this pick. I think Knox represents great value where the Bears took him.
Knox is as fast as the day is long. He officially clocked a 4.34 40 at the combine, but as many scouts don’t like the electronic timing they still use the stopwatch. Of those who clocked him manually (Mike Mayock was one of them) he ran between 4.25 and 4.28.
Knox comes out of Abilene Christian University which plays in the small Lone Star Conference. The LSC produces a surprising number of players for a small conference.
ACU is one of the better producers of talent from small schools. Granted this has a lot to do with multiple NCAA violations involving recruiting and providing housing and scholarships, but D-II schools get screwed in that area anyway and I for one won’t care when Knox is running go routes on Sunday.
Knox played only two years for ACU since he was a JUCO transfer, but in those two years he set a conference and school record with 30 touchdown receptions.
Knox has already drawn comparisons to Airese Currie. The problem is that all Currie had going for him was speed. He wasn’t a good route runner and didn’t have good hands.
To top that off Currie ran at the combine on a broken foot, making it worse. The Bears drafted him anyway and Currie continued to run before he was healed and repeatedly re-injured himself. Currie couldn’t even get on the practice field let alone develop into a contributor.
I am not saying Knox will be a HOF player, but he has a lot of upside for relatively low risk.
Draft grade: A
Marcus Freeman LB (Fifth round 154th overall)
Freeman played well at OSU before injuring his knee in 2005. A staph infection kept Freeman from returning to action that year.
In his senior year he played all 13 games, but was hampered by an ankle injury. Many had dropped him down because they grade on last season played, however he had a great showing at the senior bowl, proving he was healthy in many people’s minds.
Freeman was projected as a second round player by many based on previous performance and with the understanding that he would be healthy.
Many teams are not willing to look past the injury plagued performance of his senior year, but if he returns to form (if the senior bowl is an indication he will) he is a steal at 154th overall.
Freeman is a weak side linebacker and that is how the Bears see him, but he has the skill to play strong side and he may have to do so if he plans on starting for any reason other than injury to Lance Briggs.
This could actually be a big pick. Freeman is a Lance Brigs type player, but he played some SSLB in college and has the potential to move there.
Currently the Bears have Hillenmeyer and Roach at SSLB. Hillenmeyer is a stronger guy that eats up blockers to free up the other linebackers in certain situations while Roach does a better job of covering the tight end in passing situations.
Freeman has the potential to do both, making our defense more versatile and freeing up Hillenmeyer and Roach to contribute more on special teams, which is of underrated importance.
Freeman is three inches shorter than Hillenmeyer and the same height as Roach, but he has more bulk than either of them. Don’t let that fool you though, he is fast enough to cover and he can rush the quarterback, which both Roach and Hillenmeyer have trouble doing.
Freeman’s biggest challenge will be proving he has returned to form and proving he can grasp the complexities of a pro defense.
Draft grade: B
Al Afalava S (Sixth round 190th overall)
Afalava played strong safety in college, but the Bears will eventually try to move him to free safety.
The Bears tried to make up for not drafting a safety earlier and ended up filling a position we are heavy at and not getting an actual free safety. This position would have been better served being filled in the fourth round instead of drafting Melton.
The Bears consistently do this and fail. Afalava is the same height and ten pounds heavier than Rashad Johnson, whom they deemed too small. Afalava doesn’t have the speed or cover skills of a free safety like Johnson and is known for his many questionable hits.
The Bears have made a pattern of falling in love with safeties who are hitters and not tacklers, and then trying to get them to play free safety. This usually leads to them making many illegal hits when trying to recover from playing out of position.
The Bears have failed to develop guys like this in recent years. I t remains to be seen if new defensive backs coach Jon Hoke can do a better job.
Draft grade: D+
Lance Louis TE (Seventh round 246th overall)
Louis is listed as a tight end, but really is an offensive lineman. He missed his entire 2006 season with an injury and hasn’t played tight end since.
At 6’2’’ 303lbs he is surprisingly athletic and he may follow in the footsteps of other offensive lineman who are converted tight ends (Jason Peters, Ryan Clady).
He has experience at guard and may develop into a contributor, but expect to see a lot of special teams out of him if he makes the roster.
Draft grade: C
Derek Kinder WR (Seventh round 251st overall)
Kinder is a former first team All-Big East player and was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award.
He tore his ACL in the summer of 2007 and missed the entire year. He returned in 2008, but did not have the same production.
ACL injuries often take two years to recover from and Kinder should benefit from a professional training staff. If Kinder can return to form, this will be a huge pick.
Kinder is also a terrific blocker and special teams player, as many remember from the 2006 WVU game during Revis’ punt return.
Relatively low risk with huge upside, Kinder in the late seventh round could pay dividends.
Draft grade: A
Overall grade: B-/C+