1. Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech
2. Ego Ferguson, DT LSU
3. Will Sutton, DT Arizona State
4. Ka’Deem Carey, RB Arizona
4. Brock Vereen, S Minnesota
6. David Fales, QB San Jose State
6. Pat O’Donnell, P Miami(FL)
7. Charles Leno, OT Boise State
The Chicago Bears managed to evolve into one of the more potent offenses last season. Coming into the 2014 NFL Draft, they turned their attention to the defensive side of the ball in what has been an ongoing process over the past couple seasons to replace aging players with younger talent. This year, they used four of their top five picks on that side of the ball and gave their defensive line and secondary an infusion of talent. Overall, the Bears were able to add some talented players and the value worked itself out in the end.
The Bears were expected to go with a defender early, but many expected them to go with the defensive line. Instead, they added a talented corner in Kyle Fuller. Fuller was an extremely well rounded corner that could do everything but missed a ton of time with injuries. He was a late riser in the process when he was healthy and able to work out for teams in addition to great tape from while he was healthy.
Fuller can play in man or zone coverage with the ability to play tight coverage while also being a physical defender. He had a breakout game against Alabama the first game of the season when he was able to not only play extremely well but able to showcase all of what he can bring to the Bears.
Charles Tillman has been outstanding even in his early 30’s but at 33, the amount of production he is going to be reliably able to bring is sketchy. On the other side, Tim Jennings is 30 and they have been one of the better, unsung group of corners in the league for a few years, they can see what they can get out of them while developing Fuller. And with where they took Fuller, he is likely to kick someone inside to nickel. They have a solid trio of corners and one player they should be able to count on when Tillman and Jennings are gone.
In the second round, the Bears took a confusing route with their pick in Ego Ferguson. The Bears wanted to address nose guard and get someone athletic enough to demand multiple blockers while being able to help with the pass rush. Ferguson has some tools that could allow him to be successful, but taking him as high as they did was definitely a surprise.
They also took a player that was eerily similar to the one they are trying to replace in Stephen Paea. Ferguson is a big, strong player that needs to get better with technique and leverage to be consistent. Paea was a more productive version of what Ferguson was in college. The combination of these two could give them the ability to collapse the pocket and soak up blockers, which is what they want, but they need the development out of Ferguson that so far has not shown up with Paea.
As baffling as the Ferguson pick was, they made up all of that value and more, in my opinion, when they selected Will Sutton in round three. Sutton is a terrific 3-technique and a great fit in the Bears’ scheme. He is incredibly quick off the ball, uses great technique and is a total film rat.
After receiving a fifth round grade from the NFL advisory board despite one of the more dominant college seasons in recent history, Sutton put on a great deal of weight; 25 pounds in all, going from 280lbs to 315lbs. He was stronger, but not as quick or as balanced in how he was able to play. His production went down, but he was still the best player in their defense.
This past offseason, Sutton worked himself to get in the right balance, getting himself in the best shape of his life. Now, in the 290lb range, Sutton can bring every bit of quickness and speed he brought that allowed him to be a down the line defender and an impactful defensive tackle. Sutton is also stronger and more prepared to take on NFL caliber offensive linemen; all of that in addition to the fact that Sutton is still a tireless film rat.
Sutton comes into an ideal situation with Jay Ratliff slated to be their starting 3-tech. Sutton can continue to work on his body while being able to help the Bears in obvious passing situations. He and Ratliff can both attack up the field in obvious passing situations and put pressure on the quarterback while also creating opportunities for their outside rushers like newly signed Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and end turned outside linebacker Shea McClellin.
His third round drafting should not fool anyone. I think Sutton can come in and have an immediate impact and I would be surprised if he does not really impress in training camp as well as preseason. He could end up being a huge part of their defensive line rotation and eventually start for them. I think Sutton warranted a second round pick, so had they taken him in the second and gotten Ferguson in the third, all would have been right in the world from a value standpoint. I believe Sutton could be the best pick in the Bears draft down the road.
The Bears added running back depth in the first of their fourth round picks with Ka’Deem Carey. Off field issues and a lot of technique on it raised big questions as to where Carey could go in the draft. Nevertheless, the results at Arizona were impressive. Despite missing the first game of the season due to suspension, in terms of on field production, he was the best back in the country at running back and was the engine that drove the Wildcat offense.
Carey is there to provide a change of pace to Matt Forte and has skills that could be a nice complement, but there are questions. He needs to get better at sinking his hips and getting behind his pads to take on contact. His quickness is a little overrated and he has some bad habits that hurt his ability to maximize his ability. The fact he is behind Forte could help him improve as a blocker (though he should not learn from Forte in this respect) and be a receiving threat. This pick can be effective because of the system fit, but he does have a lot to prove in order to avoid being a college superstar turned mediocre back in the NFL.
The other fourth round pick came with better value in my opinion with Brock Vereen. There were more than a few people that loved Vereen at Minnesota; some extremely passionate fans that liked him better than Ra’Shede Hageman. In Fuller, the Bears got a corner that plays with the toughness of a safety. In Vereen, they are getting a safety that has some cover skills like a corner and experience playing there as well.
Vereen could end up playing both safety and corner for the Bears and his best chance to impact the team immediately might be in nickel or dime, giving them more toughness than a traditional corner might. In Vereen, they have a rangy coverage safety that is smart, but small.
Vereen has done a little of everything in his career, playing corner, safety, and on special teams as well as being a leader. For a team that has such a veteran influence as well as an influx of young players, Vereen could be a player that becomes gains the respect of veterans and is able to take the lead of the younger players early and evolve into a captain. The Bears have gotten some really questionable safety play in recent years, so Vereen could be an outside chance to start early, because of his intelligence, instincts and work ethic.
Phil Emery talked about how useless it was to take a quarterback on day three of the draft only to take David Fales in round 6. Whether this was an attempt to intentionally mislead teams and cash in on a value play or if they simply felt Fales was too good to pass up is unclear. This pick is a little confusing given Fales’ limitations but considering the coaching staff there, Fales could be a nice long term developmental project.
Marc Trestman has had a great track record with developing quarterbacks and despite relatively average tools, Josh McCown had success in Jay Cutler’s absence due to injury. Fales has a relatively average arm and that could be problematic in the NFC North and especially in Chicago, but he is also the best chemistry quarterback in the class. When he has time to develop chemistry with his receivers, Fales is able to put the ball on the money where his guys like it and often times get it there before the defenders know what’s coming. That could enable Fales to succeed in any environment and getting to work with Trestman could be a great situation.
Fales could conceivably be the longterm answer after Cutler, but given his limitations, he might be a player the end up flipping for resources at some point. Trestman believes in his ability to develop quarterbacks and in a year or few, a team might want a coached up quarterback just like the Buccaneers did with McCown.
With their final two picks, the Bears brought in a punter and a developmental offensive tackle in Charles Leno. Leno may end up moving inside in the NFL, but the Bears have put a significant emphasis on building a successful offensive line and could use some young talent to develop to either upgrade or help in case of injury. If Leno is unable to crack the final 53, he is a good candidate to make their practice squad.
Overall, the Bears did a solid job of attacking the draft, getting a couple of defensive backs and interior defensive linemen in the first four rounds. The pick of Ferguson in the second round was definitely a surprise, but the value of players like Sutton and Fales more than makes up for it. The Bears could get an early impact from their top five picks in the draft in addition to the punter they selected. This draft could go a long way in catching up and improving the talent on defense to do enough to let their offense carry the load.