What impact will rookies have on 2012 Bears?

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What impact will rookies have on 2012 Bears?

The Chicago Bears rookie minicamp is just around the corner. 2012 Rookies and normally new free agents will be introduced to the Bears playbook and learn how to practice like pros May 11-13th.

How will Draft selections fit and what impact will they realistically provide the Bears in 2012?

Before examining 2012 draft pick expectation for the Bears, lets preface normal rookie impact across the NFL landscape.

Many NFL general managers and coaches will tell you 90-95 percent of rookies are not ready to play. They will also tell you most draft picks contribute. 2011 was an anomaly because of the lockout. Most schemes were scaled back, leading to some outstanding performances from rookies like QB Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) and LB Von Miller (Denver Broncos) to name a few.

Historically, there will be about 20 to 25 draft picks that are actually penciled in as starters opening day across the league.

Expectation:

RD 1 (19th) Shea McClellin 6-3, 260 Boise State DEOLB - Whether McClellin can prove to be an every down DE -- which is what Lovie wants McClellin to be -- is a big question mark. McClellin was targeted for OLB in a 3-4 scheme. What McClellin may provide the Bears is the ability to kick DEDT Israel Idonije down to DT, putting three pass rushers (Peppers, McClellin, & Idonije) on the field in passing situations. The Bears were ranked 28th in the NFL versus the pass and 19th with only 33 sacks in '11. Three pass rushers should provide more pressure on opposing QBs, but this is a wait-and-see approach.

RD 2 (45th) Alshon Jeffery 6-4, 220 South Carolina WR - Jeffery could provide the biggest impact for the Bears in 2012. I imagine him backing up Brandon Marshall at the Weak side (X) position to start. Jeffery can watch how it is done from one of the best. It will be easier for the veteran to learn both X & Z (Flanker) positions than to overload Jeffery. All rookies learn at a different rate and this has been a problem area for the Bears in the past due to Martz system, but maybe no longer with new OC Mike Tices simplified approach moving forward.

The Bears' two best offensive personnel groupings will be: Regular (X, Y, Z & 2 backs) which equates to Jeffery, Davis, Marshall, Klutz and Forte or Bush all on the field and the other grouping is 3 WRs (X, Y, Z, W & 1back) which would be Jeffery, Davis, Marshall, Bennett and Forte or Bush all on the field. Either grouping is a monster lineup that would be difficult to defend. It also coincides with what Tice did while coaching the Vikings.

Sorry Hester fans, Devin will have a role, but more of the package type.

RD 3 (79th) Brandon Hardin 6-3, 217 Oregon State SCB - Missed all last year with a broken shoulder. The Bears felt comfortable with their medical due diligence and research to select Hardin. Safety has been a revolving door for the Bears and history suggests Hardin may have to contribute at some point in 2012. Any impact will more likely be on special teams or if the Bears utilize Big Nickel, which is three safeties on the field to combat Heavy personnel on offense. Hardin will start out as the third or fourth safety on the Bears depth chart.

RD 4 (111th) Evan Rodriguez 6-4 FBH back Temple - Rodriguez could potentially carve out a nice role and playing time if he can pick up the offense quickly and of course will contribute on special teams.

No GuaranteesPractice Squad

RD 6 (184th) Isaiah Frey 5-11, 188 CB Nevada RD 7 (220th) selection Greg McCoy 5-10, 180 TCU - There are no guarantees for Frey or McCoy. The additions of free agents CB Kelvin Hayden and CB Jonathan Wilhite will provide some great battles in training camp to make the team. These two better strap up their special teams hat to scrap like crazy to make the squad. Both may potentially be practice squad material.

Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs have so much going for them, all this blue-chip talent, a clubhouse mix of young players and grizzled veterans, arguably the best manager in the game, an impactful coaching staff and a front office that blends scouting and analytics as well as anyone.

So, no, John Lackey is not at all surprised by the way this clicked into place, 101 wins and counting for the machine built with October in mind.

“Not really,” Lackey said after Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I had some pretty good offers from other people, and I chose this one for a reason. It’s all here.”

But to win the World Series — and get the jewelry Lackey talks about — you still need some luck, good health and the guts to perform in those Big Boy Games. That reality of randomness and matchups made a pregame announcement some 250 miles away from PNC Park so telling.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his MVP-caliber season. The National League East champions will lose a .307 hitter with 22-homer power from the middle of their lineup and a veteran presence for a playoff rotation that will likely be without injured ace Stephen Strasburg (right elbow) in the first round.

“That’s a tough one when you lose your catcher, a guy who’s that significant for the pitching staff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Think about the pitching staff — it’s so different when you know the guy back there is your guy and he knows what’s going on. The communication’s different. The trust factor, all that stuff is different.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get your NL Central champions gear right here]

Within that big-picture context, the Cubs survived as Lackey limited the checked-out Pirates (77-80) to one run across five innings in his fifth start since recovering from a strained right shoulder and coming off the disabled list. Maddon then used six different relievers — staying away from Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman — during a three-hour, 49-minute game that felt more like the Cactus League.

After defecting from the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals team the Cubs bounced out of last year’s playoffs, Lackey finished the regular season at 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 188 1/3 innings.

“I’m going to get to 200,” Lackey said.

Beyond wins and losses, Lackey called this season his career best in terms of “those numbers that they’ve made up in the last few years” like WHIP (1.04) and opponents’ OPS (.646) and whatever. And, no, he doesn’t know his WAR, either: “Not even close.”

Yes, the Cubs got the old-school attitude they wanted when they signed Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal before the winter meetings. For all the talk about the pitching deficit and the New York Mets after their young guns swept the Cubs out of last year’s NL Championship Series, the Cubs are getting their money’s worth with a guy who will turn 38 in October.

The amazing Mets have lost three of those frontline starters — Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (nerve damage in his right elbow) and Steven Matz (bone spur in his left elbow) — and are still holding onto the first wild-card spot, which says something about this playoff field.

This doesn’t guarantee anything in October, but the Cubs are just about as close to full strength as they could reasonably hope now. Instead of the silence that would have come with losing an irreplaceable player like Ramos, the sound system in the postgame clubhouse blasted Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. after their 101st win.

“Yeah, we lost Dexter (Fowler) for a bit,” Maddon said. “We lost (Kyle) Schwarber all year. Otherwise, when a couple pitchers got banged up, whether you’re talking about Rondon or Strop, I don’t think that our injuries have been as magnified because we’ve covered them pretty well.

“We still had our moments, like everybody else has. But when you get to right now, we’re getting well, and hopefully that trend continues. But to lose somebody of that magnitude for them, that’s got to be difficult.”