"Matt Forte Will Be the Next Great Running Back for the Chicago Bears"

Kyle BuntonCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2008

I've said from the day the Chicago Bears drafted Matt Forte that he was going to be the starting running back for the Chicago Bears, even when Cedric Benson was still with the team.

Now that Cedric is gone, the door is wide open for Matt Forte to earn the starting running back spot.  I've never doubted this draft choice, even when people said I was stupid.

Now I know there were some other picks that could've been made, but let's say the Chicago Bears didn't draft Matt Forte.  Who would we be stuck with at running back—Garrett Wolfe and Adrian Peterson (the OK running back from Chicago, ha ha).

The Bears drafted Earl Bennett to help the receiving core, and if Brandon Lloyd lives to up to his potential, he'll do fine.  Losing Bernard Berrian lost us our best receiver, but he wasn't going to be a star.

The draft choice of Matt Forte was probably the best of all the picks they made, besides the Chris Williams pick.  He didn't get a lot of attention because he went to the University of Tulane, but that doesn't mean he didn't put up great numbers.

Here are his stats from college:

Forte's Career Rushing Stats



Forte's Career Receiving Stats



Now those are what I call some great statistics.  He is only the 11th player in NCAA history to top the 2,000-yard plateau.  He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the combine.

He does run a little too upright at times, but they said that about Adrian Peterson (the GREAT running back from Minnesota), and look at what he did last season.

He was second in rushing yards per game last year with 177.3, second only to Kevin Smith from UCF (drafted by the Detroit Lions).  He was also second in scoring with 11.67 points per game.  He was fourth in all-purpose yards with 201.7 per game.

His five 200-yard games tied the single-season NCAA record held by three players (Marcus Allen of Southern California in 1981, Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State in 1988, and Jamario Thomas of North Texas State in 2004).

The kid is 6'2'' and 223 lbs.  He has drawn comparisons to the Arizona Cardinal/ex-Indianapolis Colt, Edgerrin James.  He can run inside and outside, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield, which has been lacking in the Chicago Bears offense for quite some time now.

He is better than anybody in free-agency.  The only reason I see the Chicago Bears picking up someone like Shaun Alexander is for depth, not a starting job.

Now I'm not saying he's the next Gale Sayers or Walter Payton, but he'll do great things for the Chicago Bears.

He can get to that second level of the defense and make people miss for those long runs.  He hits the holes hard and can get to the outside quickly.  He can even throw a little bit, which might actually help the Bears.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the NEXT BIG THING in Chicago—his name is Matt Forte.