The Aftermath: Grading the Chicago Bears' 2008 Draft

Adam RadAnalyst IApril 28, 2008

Well, the Chicago Bears' 2008 draft has come and gone. They needed a solid draft in order to shore up some holes on the team and answer some questions.

1. Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt

I know that both Branden Albert and Jeff Otah were both on the board at the time, but the Bears were more comfortable with Williams. He's a classic LT, and he is a very good pass and run-blocker. He does play with intensity; he's just smart about it. Basically, he's a day-one starter, and hopefully a eight to 10 year fixture. Grade:  A

2. Matt Forte, HB, Tulane

I was very excited about this pick because of the potential of getting possibly Sweed, Kelly, Brohm, or Henne. When I heard Gene Washington call Forte, I nearly threw my cell phone.

Don't get me wrong:  He's a tough-nosed football player who the Bears fell in love with, but he wasn't the best value. However, when I went back and read up on him, I kinda fell in love with the kid too.

He's a move-the-chains running back, and does an excellent job as a receiver and pass-blocker...maybe a bigger, not as shifty version of Thomas Jones? Either way, he has a chance to dethrone Cedric in the fall, if Cedric is even worthy. Grade:  B+

3a. Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt

A really great pick in my eyes. Bennett is an intelligent football player with good size and toughness. He's not afraid to go over the middle, and he's a good blocker. However, can he create separation in the NFL? Some people were comparing him to Hines Ward...I'll buy that. Grade:  A-

3b. Marcus Harrison, DT, Arkansas

One thing I just realized: All four of these players come from the South and three are SEC guys...typical Lovie Smith.

I really like this kid. He had a good junior year, and he has potential to be a great rotational three-technique behind Tommie Harris. Our DT depth last year was horrendous, as we had to pick up Matt Toeneia (who looked good) and Jimmy Kennedy off the streets. Grade:  B+

4. Craig Steltz, S, LSU

I love this pick. Steltz is a throwback safety who can fill the box and is very instinctive.

However, he's not great in coverage, which raises the question about the system he'll be playing with. That being said, I feel his knowledge for the game will allow him to be in perfect position to make plays, and he has a chance to contribute immediately because he is everthing that Danieal Manning isn't. Grade:  A- 

5a. Zachary Bowman, CB, Nebraska

Hmmm...a tricky pick. We seem extremely deep at the CB position, especially with the return of Corey Graham, but it appears that Ricky Manning, Jr. and his huge contract will be playing elsewhere.

Bowman has top-20 talent but has been bothered by his bad knees the past two years. If he can get healthy and close to 100 percent, he could push for some serious time in the nickel package. Grade:  B

5b. Kellen Davis, TE, Michigan State

Wow, a TE? Greg Olsen was a steal in the first last year, and Desmond Clark signed a contract extension in the off-season, so what gives?

Well, apparently, they want to use more two-TE sets so depth is key, especially after John Gilmore departed for Tampa. Davis is a monster and good athlete, but he's inconsistent and there have been some concerns over his character. Grade:  B-

7a. Ervin Baldwin, DE, Michigan State

Wow, another Spartan...and a DE? No way...not buying this pick.

Baldwin doesn't have a chance to make the roster unless someone gets hurt. He had 18.5 tackles for loss as a senior, and really popped some eyebrows when he ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at his pro day.

Honestly, I don't see him making the roster unless he wows the coaches in training camp, but could be a good situational pass rusher. Grade:  C

7b. Chester Adams, OG, Georgia

I think he has a real chance to start this year. He moves well for his size and can hold blocks.

However, he lacks the aggressiveness and mean streak that teams want on the interior. If he lines up next to Olin Kreutz, he would know exactly what toughness is. Grade:  B

7c. Joey LaRocque, OLB, Oregon State

He's a tough, instinctive, and productive linebacker who can play either the SLB or WLB. He hasn't tested well because of a hamstring injury, but he doesn't seem to really be overly athletic.

However, he'll have a chance to compete on special teams, and don't be surprised if he's the second coming of Brendan Ayanbadejo (You heard it here first!). Grade:  C

7d. Kirk Barton, OT, Ohio State

He's massive and has starter's experience, but he isn't that athletic and plays with poor technique. Is he an OG or RT? Either way, he has a chance to be a spot starter and at worst a legit back up this upcoming season; in the future, he could be a legit starter. Grade:  B

7e. Marcus Monk, WR, Arkansas

I absolutely love this pick. He is a big, physical receiver who showed he has good speed for his size when running a 4.42 at the combine. He's coming off knee surgery, so teams shied away from this one-time high second day pick and he falls right into Chicago's laps.

I think he has a great chance to be a contributor this season because of his size and willingness to compete. Grade:  A

Overall: B+

This wasn't the flashiest draft class you'll see, but there were plenty of good picks and value picks. The Bears had a plan, stuck to it, and picked up some quality young men who should help the Bears try and right this ship and bring them back to their '06 form.

Best Pick: Chris Williams

Worst Pick: Kellen Davis

Best Value: Craig Steltz

Worst Value: Ervin Baldwin

Sleeper: Marcus Monk

2008 Outlook: Well, that's hard to determine. Is Rex ready? Will Urlacher play, and will he be healthy? Will the defense be healthy? Can Mike Brown play?

Honestly, I see this team heading to the playoffs this year. They have everything in place and just need a fire under them. I think they can go 10-6, which, at the very least, will get them a Wild Card berth, and they have a shot at the NFC North.