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.
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.