In 2012, the NFL saw six rookies (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Russel Wilson, Doug Martin and Blair Walsh) make the Pro Bowl while countless others made big impacts on their team's season.
The Draft has become a cost-efficient method of building a franchise given the adjustments made to the rookie wage scale in recent years. Teams are no longer bogged down with excessive first-round contracts with guaranteed money and are able to better distribute through Free Agency.
Throughout former general manager Jerry Angelo's tenure in Chicago he struggled to hit on players in the first round, selecting busts like Marc Colombo, Rex Grossman, Michael Haynes, Cedric Benson and Chris Williams, but he did find some moderate success in the later rounds with guys like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs.
Because of his poor drafting ability, coupled with the coaching staff's inability to develop players, Angelo was fired before the 2012 season and replaced by Phil Emery.
It is always hard to assess a draft class after one season, and while the Bears’ top two picks in 2012, Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffery, both had some positive moments, there were also plenty of struggles. Both suffered through injuries at times during the 2012 season, and while both showed flashes of what makes them special, the ultimately seemed to struggle with the speed of the game.
The Bears hold just five picks in the 2013 Draft, having traded away this year's third-round pick in the Brandon Marshall trade and a seventh-round pick that went to Tampa Bay for Brian Price, who was cut prior to the start of the 2012 season.
Having the 20th overall pick in the upcoming Draft, it is too hard to determine which players may or may not be available when the Bears are on the clock. The team has glaring needs at many positions, opening up the possibility for a variety of players to be selected with that pick.
Offensive line is clearly the team's most glaring need but if none of the top-tier tackles are available, is it worth it to make a bit of a reach and draft lesser graded guard or center? Or should the organization take the best player available, regardless of the position that player plays?
I have always been in the belief that you draft the best available player that will be able to help you immediately. Other than quarterback or running back, the Bears could benefit at every other position from a player who has the ability to step on the field from day one and make an impact.
The Bears have some money to spend this offseason (projected to be around $14 million under the salary cap) but will have to figure out whether to re-sign, franchise tag, or let go of Henry Melton, all while trying to bring in upgrades at a variety of positions. That $14 million will likely go quickly, meaning the Draft will become that much more vital in trying to find contributors for the upcoming season.
Whether it is an offensive lineman, a tight end, a linebacker, or even a cornerback selected with the Bears’ first pick, it is time to finally knock one out of the park with their first-rounder.
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Filed under: Draft