Its that time of year again. Mel Kiper Jr. gives himself heart palpitations while revising his big board for the 300th time. All of the gold-diggers wait outside of Radio City Music Hall keeping their eyes peeled for a first-rounder to leach on. And NFL teams from Indianapolis and Washington hope their prized 1st round picK will be the next Peyton Manning...Or 6th round pick the next Tom Brady. For the Chicago Bears, the history of their first round picks have ranged from legendary, to "turrable" as Charles Barkley would say. The most notable successes were Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, and Dan Hampton. The most worthless? Take your pick: Cade McNown, David Terrell, Curtis Enis, or Rashaan Salaam. After a 2011 year full of injuries and management changes, the Bears need good draft picks just as much as The Bachelor needs to forever cancel. We have now made it through 3 rounds of picks and the Bears have selected (1) Shea McClellin (2) Alshon Jeffery (3) Brandon Hardin. Lets take a closer look at each pick and his value:
It would be cool if I could tell you that Shea McClellin is a fourth generation Irishman raised in Hyde Park who played his football at Notre Dame, but I'm afraid that is not the case. McClellin is an impure OLB who played at Boise State for four years. This pick was a shock to almost every NFL analyst, with the exception of Michael Lombardi, who apparently was the only analyst to project McClellin being picked by the Bears. It also was a head-scratcher for most Bears fans. At least those who weren't in hibernation during the first round. So other than the fact that McClellin was raised on a farm and he is a "hard worker", why would GM Jerry Ang....AHEM.....Phil Emery go after this guy? (1) He is not a true defensive end (2) He is more of a 3-4 guy (3) He doesn't have a true position (4) There were other better defensive options. There are a few speculative reasons why the Bears may like a guy like McClellin (again, VERY speculative). (1) He is versatile (2) He is a good pass rusher (3) He likes to eat Polish Sausage. I'm still very confused about this pick. The only thing I can take from this choice is that Phil Emery obviously knows something about McClellin that none of us know (and by "us" I mean the Chicago Bears players, scouts, fans, media representatives, draft experts, Mel Kiper Jr., and Todd McKiperWannabe). We'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Jeffery comes into the draft as a WR from South Carolina. Prior to his last season as a Gamecock, he would have been projected as a top 10 pick, but unfortunately for him, he put on the pounds and his catch production was cut in half from his sophomore to junior year. Was this yet another WR move that would become a bust for the Bears? I asked myself this question, until I thought about how awful the WR corps for the Bears was last year. With Roy Williams and Devin Hester at the top of the depth chart, they produced for a combined 3 TD and 900 receiving yards. Sure, they didn't have Cutler for most of the season, but the Colts didn't have Manning, and Reggie Wayne still managed 4 TDs and almost 1,000 yards receiving, which was better than the top 2 for the Bears. My point? Marshall/Jeffery will be much more dangerous than Williams/Hester. You have two taller than average WRs who will cause significant trouble to most NFL defenses. I like this pick, and I think the Bears made the right call here. Besides, Alshon is such a cool name.
Hardin is a safety from Oregon State who is 6'3 and 222lbs. Here is another big-sized pick for the Bears, and in predictable fashion, another third round safety. Yawn. The big IF here are his health prospects. That, and is he a Cubs or a Sox fan? He has had one too many injuries during his time at OSU. A broken wrist here, a major shoulder surgery there. Pretty much if someone blew towards him, he would crumple to the ground in pain. The good news for the Bears is that he is a very strong pick for the safety position, is tall, fast, versatile, and if healthy, could be a force to be reckoned with in the 2012 season. I give this pick a B grade, primarily because of his frequent injuries. If he were perfectly healthy in the past, he would've received an A, but then again, he probably would've been drafted before the third round.
A need that has still been unaddressed is the offensive line (please, please just pick someone....ANYONE who is fat, strong, and quick!) I'd like to see Cutler get more than .2 seconds before he is shoved into the degenerative Soldier Field turf. The verdict on the Bears top 3 picks is still undecided. This year's draft will be crucial for Phil Emery and will reveal him as either a genius or a dummy.
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