Chicago Bears Insider: Grades for 2011 NFL Draft Picks, Part I

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IMay 2, 2011

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Defensive tackle Stephen Paea #54 of the Oregon State Beavers during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Beavers defeated the Wildcats 29-27.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After much speculation and discussion as well as many mock drafts the 2011 NFL draft has finally come to an end and it’s now time to sit back and start evaluating the picks that each team made.  The Bears went into the draft with some specific needs especially on the offensive line and walked out filling two of those needs very well but left some questions with the remaining picks in the later rounds of the draft.

Chicago went into the draft with six picks and walked out with five draft choices and a controversy making it one of the most interesting drafts in Chicago Bears history. 

The following is the first of two parts looking at the five draft picks that the Bears had in the 2011 NFL Draft.  The first part will cover the first three picks of the Bears draft last week.

Round 1, Pick 29: Gabe Carimi-OT-Wisconsin-The Bears went into this draft with clear needs on their offensive line and they filled part of that need by taking Carimi.  The selection of Carimi leaves the Bears with an interesting problem at both tackle positions.  Coming into the draft, many experts and scouts had felt that Carimi would be a much better right tackle than he would a left tackle and the Bears needed the help at the left tackle position much more than they do at the right tackle position.

Will the Bears try Carimi out at the left tackle position?  That will remain to be seen but that is a likely scenario.  The other scenario that could see current starter (at the right tackle position) J’Marcus Webb slide over to the left side with Carimi taking over on the right side but this wouldn’t be the ideal scenario for the Bears.

Carimi is a good athlete and has the skill to play the position but will need some coaching to help get him fully prepared for the transition he is about to face.  This was a wise pick by the Bears, made at the right time and will pay dividends for them in the future.

Grade: A minus

Round 2, Pick 53-Stephen Paea-DT-Oregon State- For a player that many experts felt would go in the first round, the Bears got a big steal here with Paea.  Paea fits their defense perfectly thanks to his size and speed and he has the strength that the Bears like in their defensive lineman.  Chicago works their defensive tackles into games in a rotation and with Tommie Harris no longer part of the team Paea will fit in nicely.

With the acquisition of Paea there is a question about what to do with Anthony Adams.  Adams is a free agent right now but some feel that now that the Bears have Paea he is expendable.  Those people must keep in mind that Paea basically replaces Harris and that Adams is still needed unless the Bears get another defensive tackle from the undrafted free agent pool or find out that a guy like Tank Tyler can do it for them.

This pick has to be considered a steal and was a good move by Jerry Angelo and the Bears.

Grade: A+

Round 3, Pick93-Chris Conte-S-California-Now we get to the head scratchers.  The Bears have picked a safety early in almost every draft and unfortunately not too many of them have worked out.  Have the Bears taken another safety that could be gone in a season or two?  The problem with Conte is that he doesn’t come in with a ton of experience having only started one year in college and with that he needs a lot of work.  He can play the run well and can tackle but isn’t going to hit anyone hard and has trouble getting back into coverage. 

So why would the Bears go out and get someone that probably doesn’t play the position as well as anyone else on the team currently including their free agents?  Perhaps they saw something in him that we don’t see but picking Conte does leave a big question mark on the Bears draft.

Grade: D+

Stay tuned for Part II featuring information on the Bears' last two picks and some insight into the Bears first-round draft gaffe on Thursday night.