Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Chicago Bears

The Bears won the Jay Cutler sweepstakes, sending a rich package of picks and players to Denver in exchange for the young QB. Chicago now has their best QB since, well, possibly ever. The team was surprisingly competitive in 2008 despite shortcomings along the o-line and depth at WR and on 'D'. Adding Cutler, plus some other key offseason additions, will have Chicago right in the thick of things in the North. A strong draft class could ensure that they stay there for the foreseeable future.

The Bears appear to be somewhat of a lucky team in 2008. They went 9-7 but were ranked 21st or lower in five of the eight main statistical categories. They were 14th in points scored per game despite having a below average unit. Defensively the Bears were Jekyll and Hyde. They could run stop with the best of them, giving up just 93.5 yards per game good for 5th in The League last year. However their pass defense was abysmal, allowing 241.2 yards per game. That ranked 30th in the NFL. Because of the big plays allowed through the air Chicago allowed 21.9 points per game, 16th in The League. Based on these stats the Bears may need to improve just to maintain last year's record.

Lovie Smith is entering his sixth season on the job. He took the team to a Super Bowl, was named Coach of the Year once, and has won two Division Titles thus far. However, with Cutler now in the fold the expectations to win and win annually are at 100%. Chicago must at least make the playoffs this season or Smith could be in trouble. Many people have tabbed Chicago a team capable of making the Super Bowl. The Bears have many shortcomings that need to be addressed before that happens. Fortunately a lot of them can be answered through the draft. Were they able to do just that in 2009?

3/4/68 - Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State
3/35/99 - Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
4/5/105 - Henry Melton, DE, Texas
4/19/119 - D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
5/4/140 - Johnny Knox, WR, Abilene Christian
5/18/154- Marcus Freeman, LB, Ohio State
6/17/190 - Al Afalava, FS, Oregon State
7/37/246 - Lance Louis, OG, San Diego State

- Derek Kinder, WR, Pittsburgh

  • WR - Check!
  • DL - Check!
  • S - Check!
  • CB - Check!
Well they filled all of their need positions with young talent. They got three WRs, two DEs (one that can play DT), a safety, and a CB. Mission accomplished. I don't have much to say about the overall draft. Filling needs they did wonderful. Let's see how they did value-wise.

GRADE: 100/100

Pick 1 - Despite trading their #1 for a QB and dropping out of round two, the Bears still got a grand player. Gilbert is capable of playing end or tackle and that versatility alone makes this a strong pick. Chicago needed help along the DL and this pick almost takes care of it itself.Gilbert was one of my favorite players in the draft, one who would have been an ideal 3-4 DE. The Bears are getting a great player in the third round. Grade: 10

Pick 2 - The Bears needed targets for Cutler and get great value in Oklahoma's Iglesias later in round three. The big target is a nice complement to Hester's speed. Of course WR is possibly the toughest position to learn for a rookie and Iglesias may be brought along slowly. Grade: 9

Pick 3 - More help for the d-line. However, this may not have been the wisest choice. DEs such as Kyle Moore, Brandon Williams, and Lawrence Sidbury were all on the board at the time of this selection. They certainly needed d-line depth and young talent but these other three men are more polished and ready top contribute than Melton. A for effort, F for execution. Grade: 5

Pick 4 - Good teams rebound after a mistake. Mission accomplished. The Bears get an absolute steal in Moore, who, at one time, was considered a possible first round pick. He isn't stout at the point of attack in the run game but is adequate in that area. He lacks ideal height but his production in college was top notch. At worst he's a nickel back but could very well become a great #2 in a year or so. Grade: 10

Pick 5 - Another good pick by Chicago. Finding talent in the later rounds is difficult but they arguably got the best WR left. Knox is a burner that displayed all the traits your looking for in a deep threat. He won't be a superstar, #1-type of receiver but is definitely a great complementary piece to the taller Iglesias. Grade: 9

Pick 6 - Pure gold. Freeman in the fifth? Once considered a late second/early third round pick Chicago gets the productive but overshadowed Buckeye LB. Freeman will be an OLB in Chicago's scheme and should fight with Hunter Hillenmeyer for the job opposite Lance Briggs. This is just another great mid round selection. Grade: 9

Pick 7 - The Bears missed by one pick on getting Kevin Ellison and instead settle for Afalava. This pick was more in line with the Melton selection than the last two. Afalava was considered more of 7th round or UDFA player. He was selected in front of Curtis Taylor, Troy Nolan, Courtney Greene, and even Jamarca Sanford. Taylor and Greene would have been wiser choices. This was a bit of reach based on what was still available. Grade: 5

Pick 8 - Why did teams shy away from Trevor Canfield? He was supposed to be a third round pick and instead fell into the seventh. And the Bears passed over him for Lance Louis? Another swing and a miss. With the Bears lack of depth at the position however, he, as well as the two undrafted OGs they signed, have a very good chance of making the roster. There's also the possibility one could move to center as there isn't a viable backup behind Olin Kreutz. Still, Canfield! Grade: 4

Pick 9 - Quan Cosby. Kevin Ogletree. Andrew Means. Darius Passmore. Aaron Kelly. Jeremy Childs. They all were rated higher than Kinder, the third WR drafted by the Bears. I like the overkill at the position because of the lack of playmakers the Bears had. But it normally takes a WR at least two to three years to adjust to the NFL. It's doubtful Kinder is anything more than camp fodder at this point and is destined for the practice squad. Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and Rashied Davis will start with rookies Iglesias and Knox being #4 and #5. That leaves Kinder and four other WRs on the roster as camp meat. Grade: 4

GRADE: 65/90


This class, despite a few low grades in the mid and late rounds, shapes up as one of the best in 2009. We'll see how this class stacks up in 10 days when all the grades are finished. And in three years when we can truly evaluate the class. They filled all of their needs with at least one solid player and a developmental guy. If you consider Cutler a part of this class (I don't) it;s even better. Great job Bears.


WHY: All needs filled. All needs filled with a good player. All needs filled and a few with an extra body (or two). Mega draft day values. All in all a very good class, one that could propel the Bears to a few more division titles and another Super Bowl appearance.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Moore
Worst Pick: Melton
Sleeper: Afalava
Instant Impact: Gilbert
Developmental: Knox

CBS Sports (Prisco): A
CBS Sports (Rang): B
ESPN (Kiper): B (Brooks): B (Fan's): B
Walter: A+



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