As is the norm, we’re looking at each and every pick the Bears made during these years and giving them a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Let’s take a look at how the Bears drafted.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
If they had then they wouldn’t have needed to trade for Jay Cutler.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Matt Forte, RB (44th overall pick in 2008): After playing hurt in 2009, Forte bounced back with two seasons that showed him to be one of the best backs in the entire league. A true every down back, Forte can run between the tackles, make defenders miss in space, and take blitzers head on. One of the standard-bearers at the RB spot in the NFL.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Not from these draft classes.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Earl Bennett, WR (70th overall pick in 2008): Bennett may never be a top receiver in the league, but when he works from the slot he’s extremely productive and has a good rapport with Jay Cutler. You feel that having better receivers around him will see Chicago get even more out of him.
Craig Steltz, S (120th overall pick in 2008): A reliable back up safety and strong special teams player, Steltz is coming off a year where he saw more of the field than ever before (419 snaps) and responded with a fine year (+4.8 overall grade). He’s done enough to warrant a bigger role and has proven good value for the Bears through his four year career.
Kellen Davis, TE (158th overall pick in 2008): Another player that finally broke into the starting lineup in 2011, Davis may never establish himself as a No. 1 tight end, but his versatility makes him at the very least a solid No. 2.
Henry Melton, DT (105th overall pick in 2009): It took the Bears some time to figure out how to make full use of Melton, but when they did, he really started to show up. A real penetrative force in the middle of the Bears defensive line, the former fourth round pick finished 2011 with 39 combined sacks, hits, and hurries. The next step is proving whether or not Melton can ever be anything more than a situational player for the Bears.
D.J. Moore, CB (119th overall pick in 2009): If you could settle for picking a cornerback in the fourth and having him develop into a solid slot cornerback you’d probably take it. Moore has become that guy, not threatening those corners outside him, but making the slot position his own with a series of reliable displays.
Johnny Knox, WR (140th overall pick in 2009): While not always the most consistent of receivers, Knox has had an impact in that regard, while being a real playmaker returning kicks. Whether the Bears get any more value from Knox after his season ending injury last season remains to be seen.
0.0: It could have been worse
Zackary Bowman, CB (142nd overall pick in 2008): Chicago wanted Bowman to be a starting cornerback in this league, but when opportunity presented itself he just wasn’t up to the task. A year and a bit of sub-par starts saw him benched, and while he briefly got his spot back in 2011, it was never going to last.
Ervin Baldwin, DE (208th overall pick in 2008): Didn’t manage a single snap for the Bears on defense after being promoted from their practice squad. Was gone within a year.
Joey LaRocque, LB (243rd overall pick in 2008): Released after spending a year on the practice squad.
Kirk Barton, T (247th overall pick in 2008): Possibly could have landed on the Bears’ practice squad, but was claimed off waivers by the Dolphins.
Marcus Monk, WR (248th overall pick in 2008): Another one of the Bears five seventh-rounders who never got on the field. Monk was waived and picked up by the Giants before he could hit the Bears practice squad.
Al Afalava, S (190th overall pick in 2009): Started in 2009 as a rookie, but his below average performances convinced the Bears to move on by cutting him a year later.
Lance Louis, G (246th overall pick in 2009): After a decent series of performances in 2010, it would have been interesting to see how Louis fared at right guard before injuries forced him to play at tackle. It did not go well.
Major Wright, S (75th overall pick in 2010): It’s going to be a big 2012 for Wright, with the former third round pick yet to really stand out. Got his chance to start in 2011, but responded with some below average performances and will need to better these if he’s going to maintain his starting gig.
Corey Wootton, DE (109th overall pick in 2010): It’s far too early to give up on Wootton, but it will concern the Bears that he’s missed so much time with injuries so far given that was a big reason why he dropped in the draft. Looked very underwhelming in his 272 snaps.
Joshua Moore, CB (141st overall pick in 2010): Lasted a year before the Bears cut the former fifth-rounder.
Dan LeFevour, QB (181st overall pick in 2010): Waived as a rookie, he was likely heading to the Bears practice squad before the Bengals picked him up.
J’Marcus Webb, T (218th overall pick in 2010): Webb looks like a seventh round pick nearly every time he steps on the field no matter how much confidence the Bears coaches show in him. In two years he has managed to pick up a quite astounding -70.0 grade, though, if there’s any consolation, he was only half as bad in 2011.
Harvey Unga, RB (Seventh round pick in 2010 supplemental draft): Unga spent his debut year on injured reserve and didn’t see the field in year two as he was given a roster exemption to miss the year due to a personal matter. Like most Bears seventh round picks, yet to see the field.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Marcus Harrison, DT (90th overall pick in 2008): A -18.7 grade over 1,124 snaps should let you know just how Harrison performed for Chicago. Unable to get any up field penetration, Harrison offered very little at the defensive tackle spot. The Bears got better when they moved on from him.
Chester Adams, G (222nd overall pick in 2008): Sprained his MCL and while injured reserve was an option, the Bears had seen enough to know that as bad as their offensive line was, he couldn’t help them.
Marcus Freeman, LB (154th overall pick in 2009): Once a highly regarded college prospect, Freeman dropped all the way to the fifth, and couldn’t even make the Bears active roster (or practice squad) as a rookie.
Derek Kinder, WR (251st overall pick in 2009): The late seventh rounder wasn’t even a candidate for the practice squad after being cut months after being drafted.
-1.0: What a waste!
Jarron Gilbert, DE (68th overall pick in 2009): The man who could jump out of swimming pools, he wasn’t quite as handy as making a splash on the NFL field. 35 career snaps (where he earned a -3.5 grade for his troubles) were all the Bears got to see if an athlete who just wasn’t all that good at football.
Juaquin Iglesias, WR (99th overall pick in 2009): Expected to compete for a starting spot, Iglesias got on the field for just two snaps in his Bears career before he was picked up by the practice squad in his sophomore season. Not what you expect of a third round pick and a major disappointment.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Chris Williams, T (14th overall pick in 2008): Drafted to be the team’s franchise left tackle, Williams missed most of his rookie year before looking out of place at right tackle a year later. Still, he ended the year at left tackle and looked pretty decent for a quarter of the season. Unfortunately, an opening game of the season roasting from Kyle Vanden Bosch in 2010 paved the way for a move to left guard, where he has played ever since. Badly. Williams has struggled wherever he lined up and been a monumental disappointment when you assess whether he has become the player the Bears thought they drafted.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in this draft.
You understand why the Bears made some moves in their front office when you break down how badly they’ve drafted. They get some leeway due to the trade that landed them Jay Cutler, but if you ignore the pickup of Matt Forte and selection of Henry Melton, then what do you have? Their late round picking is especially disappointing, with their five seventh round selections in 2008 (none of whom who ever saw the field on offense or defense) highlighting this. Phil Emery won’t have to do much to offer improvement on what came before him.