After a disappointing first day of the NFL Draft, I stumbled from my bed onto my couch. Sleep deprived and depressed, I was hoping that Jerry Angelo could put a smile on my face with one of his nine picks.
But I expected little if anything from the Bears on draft day and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, for the Bears had already had their draft and their number one pick was Jay Cutler. Yet as Roger Goodel announced the names of solid players for the Bears countless times on Sunday I realized that the draft was not only another step towards the Super Bowl for the Bears, it was a giant leap.
When the Bears selected Jarron Gilbert with their first pick in the draft I was still angry about them trading their second round pick to the Seattle Seahawks. But after watching numerous highlights of the defensive lineman from San Jose State, I saw a player who could strongly contribute to the Bears in the near future. He's a great mismatch from wherever he plays on the line; if the Bears line him up at tackle, he has the speed that most interior offensive linemen can't handle and if you put him at Defensive End, Gilbert can bull rush with his exceptional lower body strength. This was a great pick for Jerry Angelo and the Chicago Bear's staff.
As happy as I was with the Bears first pick, the nagging voice in the back of my mind still pestered me with the incisive scream of "Wide Receiver" after each pick passed by like a blur, and I knew that was a position that the Bears needed to resolve swiftly in the draft.
I was happily shocked when Angelo once again filled a major need on the roster by picking Jauquin Iglesias. Iglesias lacks the blazing speed that most teams love to see in the NFL, but he has great hands and matches up with the skills of Devin Hester and Earl Bennet exceptionally well. Some critics say that Iglesias was only successful in Oklahoma because of the outstanding quarterback play of Sam Bradford and in many aspects I agree. But the difference with the Bears now is that I can expect the same type of quarterback play from our own quarterback, Jay Cutler. I believe that Iglesias will fight for a starting position for the Bears and will easily win, only to become one of Jay Cutler's go to guy's for years to come.
Henry Melton was the next player the Bear's drafted and I was a little shocked and disappointed by this pick. The Bear's had already filled the hole at the defensive end position. But as I pondered this pick by the Bear's I grasped the concept that the Bear's need depth throughout their defensive line. With an injury to Tommie Harris or Marcus Hamilton the Bear's would then have to push Gilbert inside which would leave a glaring hole at defensive end. Although Melton would not be a permanent starter at the position, he provides depth to a position that I believe is now one of the Bear's strong suites.
With there other 4th round pick the Bears drafted DJ Moore a Corner back from Vanderbilt. Moore is easily a 1st round talent but lacks the size that most corners need to play with most reciever's in the NFL. But as Jerry Angelo stressed in a recent interview on Waddle and Silvy (a Chicago based radio show on ESPN 1000) Moore plays bigger than he actually he is. He can jump very high to deflect a ball and he is a "Ball Hawk" that frequently comes away with the clutch interception right when you need it. I think this was a great pick for the Bears and one of my favorites of the day.
With their 5th round picks the Bear's selected Johnny Knox and Marcus Freeman. Knox was an outstanding player at the small school of Abeline Christian. He caught 30 touchdowns in only 25 games and was a consistent deep threat throughout his collegiate career. Unlike Iglesias, Knox's strength is his blazing speed as he wowed the league with a 4.3 40 time at the combine. He may not make an immediate impact but has the potential to be a number 1 receiver in the future for the Bears. Marcus Freeman the linebacker out of Ohio State who became a starter in his sophomore year. Freeman who was regarded as one of the most versatile linebackers in the country. He was a huge piece of the great defense at Ohio State and could one day fill the shoes of Hunter Hillenmyer or Lance Briggs.
The Bear's only had one 6th round choice in the draft and they elected to use it on Al Afalava the hard hitting safety from Oregon State. Although Afalava is used to playing as a strong safety his former coaches at Oregon State stressed that he could play free safety as well. I don't expect Afalava to start at free safety this year, but he could definitely make an impact on special teams and he will be another player Dave Toub will enjoy for years to come.
With their last 2 picks in the draft the Bears selected Lance Louis and Derek Kinder. Louis suffered injuries throughout his career at San Diego State and can play either tight end or guard. He was one of the top ten tight end prospects coming out of High School before going to San Diego State. Derek Kinder a receiver from Pittsburgh was a great player in 2006. He caught 57 passes for 847 yards and was a runner up for the Biletnikoff Award for the best wide receiver in the country. In 2007 how ever he had an injury to his right ACL and missed the whole season. Although in 2008 he came back to catch 36 passes for 422 yards. Although both these players have exceptional talent they will have to fight for a roster spot in 2009.
So as the draft came to an end I realized that this off season the Bears have improved drastically;they now have a franchise quarterback, a revamped offensive line, and an improved roster on both sides of the ball. The NFC better look out because I believe the Monsters of the Midway will maul themselves into the playoffs and look down as 31 other teams gaze upon the Lombardi Trophy as it is once again hoisted towards the sky by the Chicago Bears.