Chicago Bears 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling
Not surprisingly, the Bears used four of their first five picks on upgrading that side of the football.
Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton and Brock Vereen give the Bears a severely needed infusion of youth and talent. Along the way, Chicago also filled in some offensive needs and took a potential answer at punter.
In the following slides, we'll analyze the good, the bad and the baffling from the Bears' 2014 draft.
List of 2014 Draft Selections
The full list of Chicago's 2014 draft picks:
The best of the Bears draft...
1.14: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
When Aaron Donald went off the board at No. 13, Fuller became a slam-dunk pick for the Bears at No. 14. Donald would have filled an immediate hole at the 3-technique, but Fuller adds youth, length and talent to a cornerback group in Chicago that needed all three. He was my top cornerback in this class, complete with anticipation and reaction skills, and a physicality and aggressive streak that consistently showed up against the run. Pop in his tape against Alabama and you'll see everything Fuller brings to the next level. The Bears got a good one—and at a position of need, no less—in the first round.
3.82: DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
Hard to fault a team so in need of defensive tackles for rolling the dice on a player many considered a first-round talent as recently as a year ago. Sutton put on too much weight as a senior and his production and draft stock took a big hit. But if the Bears can get him down into the 290 to 295 range, they'll have a potentially disruptive 3-technique on their hands to help replace Henry Melton.
Remember, Sutton posted 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses as a slimmed down junior. He still finished his collegiate career with 20 sacks, an impressive number for a defensive tackle. At No. 82, Sutton was well worth the investment as a low-risk, high-reward kind of addition.
4.117: RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
He's short (5'9"), lacks top-end speed (4.7-second 40) and he had a few off-field incidents. That's the bad news. However, Carey was one of the most productive college running backs in recent memory, finding the end zone 42 times and totaling nearly 4,000 rushing yards over the last two seasons. He also caught 77 passes. You worry he's taken too much collegiate punishment, but Carey is a talented runner who could flourish behind Matt Forte in Marc Trestman's offense.
4.131: S Brock Vereen, Minnesota
The Bears needed more help at safety. In Vereen, they get a converted cornerback who lit up the combine with impressive numbers across the board. His athleticism and range give him a chance to be a productive free safety at the next level. There's worry about his ability to support against the run, and he didn't generate many takeaways at Minnesota. But in the fourth round, can you expect much more in a safety than a smart and athletic player like Vereen? If he develops, the Bears have a future starter.
6.183: QB David Fales, San Jose State
Phil Emery bluffed against his interest in taking a quarterback late, and then did it anyway in the sixth round. Why not? Emery is giving his head coach a coachable passer, and given how well Marc Trestman did in advancing the skill sets of Jay Cutler and Josh McCown in just one season, it's a good bet Fales will at least turn into a strong backup in Chicago. Fales isn't big or fast, but he can read defenses and provide professional-level accuracy throwing the football.
The questionable of the Bears draft...
2.51: DT Ego Ferguson, LSU
Ferguson finds himself in the "bad" category for no other reason than his selection at No. 51 overall feels a little bit like a reach. He has great size at 6'3" and 315 pounds, and he'll help beef up a run defense that was shredded into tiny pieces last season. But this is still a defender who made only 12 collegiate starts, and he finished last season with just 3.5 tackles for losses. He never really was a disruptive force at LSU. The Bears are getting a raw product with good upside, but you wonder if they went a little high for a player who might only be a block-eater at the next level.
6.191: P Pat O'Donnell, Miami (Fl.)
O'Donnell is a good athlete for the position, with a pro-ready leg in terms of kicking distance. The Bears lost 2013 punter Adam Podlesh, so there was a need to find a replacement. He'll compete with Drew Butler to be Chicago's option in 2014, with the draft pick obviously having the early leg up (no pun intended). But was O'Donnell worth a sixth-round pick? He'll need to earn the job and have a nice career in Chicago to justify the selection. He was the first punter off the board.
The worst of the Bears draft...
Emery's Smoke Screen?
The Bears didn't really have a pick so questionable or curious to be called "baffling." But the drafting of quarterback David Fales in the sixth round was surprising, given how adamant general manager Phil Emery was in saying that taking a developmental quarterback late in a draft doesn't work.
Here's what Emery said a week ago, per Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago:
I just did a little study. It's very interesting. That developmental theory doesn't hold a whole lot of water. There's entire classes of quarterbacks, since '06, I went back and looked at from Jay's on—when people say developmental quarterbacks, OK, so who has gotten developed? There isn't a single quarterback after the third round since 2006 that has been a long-term starter. So you're either developing thirds, and most of them have been wiped out of the league. So to get a quality quarterback, you've got to draft them high. That 2012 class is a blip on the radar that's unusual, highly unusual.
Many took his words as confirmation that the Bears wouldn't take a quarterback late in this draft.
It could be that we simply misinterpreted his words.
Yes, the Bears took Fales, a player Marc Trestman will now groom behind Jay Cutler. He could make a strong backup option for many years. But maybe Emery was simply talking about developing Cutler's replacement, which would likely require a top pick.
Fales, for all his qualities, is probably not Cutler's eventual successor.
Or maybe Emery is a master smokescreener, and he didn't want anyone to take a player Trestman liked later in the draft. Either way, it was a sequence as close to "baffling" as the Bears provided in this draft.