As teams get ever so close to training camp, I continue my look at the potential impacts of rookies for each team in the National Football League. The team up next is the Chicago Bears. Under coach Marc Trestman the Bears offense worked some serious magic last year but their once proud defense became a shadow of its former self. Trestman and company knew they needed to beef up their defense top to bottom to stay competitive in the difficult NFC North. Each pick of the class will be graded on a scale of one to ten, one being little to no impact this season and ten being an immediate high impact player. The Bears made eight selections in the 2014 NFL draft.
Kyle Fuller (Cornerback) – 1st round (Pick 14)
Fuller has an NFL bloodline with two brothers who have been in the league and one on his way shortly. Kyle has incredible instincts at the cornerback position and was arguably the most pro ready corner in the draft. He isn’t a top flight athlete but he will more than make up for that with his intelligent and physical play. Fuller will be a starting member of the secondary week one likely at the nickel corner position. It will only be a matter of time until Fuller is the Bears top defensive back.
Impact Projection: 7 out of 10
Ego Ferguson (Defensive Tackle) – 2nd round (Pick 51)
A slight reach in the second round, the Bears added some depth up front with Ego. He is the perfect mold of an ideal nose tackle made to eat up defenders and command double teams. However, Ego’s technique and drive is still raw. He doesn’t use his hands well enough to take up defenders and collapse the line. Word from camp is that he has been a fast learner. He will need to work on his skills but he will likely see a good amount of playing time spelling starter Jeremiah Ratliff, even possibly playing at the same time as him on the line due to the lack of overall depth of front. Ferguson has a great chance to make an impact this season with the playing time he is likely to receive.
Impact Projection: 5 out of 10
Will Sutton (Defensive Tackle) – 3rd round (Pick 82)
The Bears doubled down on the tackles taking Sutton in round three, again a bit of a reach. However it gives the Bears a pair of lane stuffing nose tackles they desperately needed. Sutton is a great athlete for his size and has good mechanics as an interior pass rusher and lane clogging tackle. However his competitive desire and work ethic have come into question on numerous occasions. Sutton will likely fight for reps against Ego but not as a starting member of the defense. His impact will likely come more so on known passing downs, and he will have to prove he can stay consistent on the field.
Impact projection: 4 out of 10
Ka’Deem Carey (Running back) – 4th round (Pick 117)
Carey was one of the hottest names in the draft process coming out of last season until he hit the combine and didn’t perform well. The Bears were able to grab a punishing, highly competitive back who’s able to do everything pretty well. He doesn’t have elite speed, preferring to run through his defenders and fight for every yard. With star back Matt Forte running the rock Carey’s role will likely be as a short yardage and goal line back to keep Forte relatively fresh. Don’t expect him to garner a lot of attention or carries right away this season.
Impact Projection: 4 out of 10
Brock Vereen (Free Safety) – 4th round (Pick 131)
Vereen has an NFL bloodline (his brother Shane Vereen plays for the New England Patriots, and his father Henry played in the U.S. and Canada) and he has all the right tools to develop into a starting safety. He is very quick on his feet and plays well in man coverage. Vereen is also highly intelligent on and off the field, and does a great job of being where he needs to be to make the big play. He is a well-rounded safety with ideal power and athleticism and the ability to go toe to toe with most pass catchers. If Brock has a strong preseason and out plays Chris Conte or Adrian Wilson, don’t be surprised to see him starting this year at safety for the Bears.
Impact Projection:5 out of 10
David Fales (Quarterback) – 6th round (Pick 183)
Fales is a sneaky good prospect who needs time to grow and learn before becoming truly valuable. Coming from San Jose State University, Fales did play against some weaker competition but he absolutely mauled them. He lacks ideal arm strength and size and struggles with the deep ball. He does however have great short-range accuracy and has a pretty solid release. His intelligence and mental drive should keep him around as a backup. Overall, Fales is a work in progress for the Bears down the line or just an asset they hope to hype up and trade away later on.
Impact Projection: 1 out of 10
Pat O’Donnell (Punter) – 6th round (Pick 191)
This pick doesn’t require much breakdown. The Bears did take a punter in the draft, and O’Donnell will compete with Tress Way for the job. For Pat, it’s all about the preseason performance. He must get good hang time on his kicks and limit the return ability of the opposing team. If he makes the cut he will be your starter. If he doesn’t, most fans won’t even remember him.
Impact Projection: 2 out of 10
Charles Leno Jr. (Offensive Tackle) – 7th round (Pick 246)
Leno is listed as a tackle, but could very easily be slid into the guard position. He has great arm length for a lineman (34 and 3/8 inches) but he often gets himself knocked out of position. He is a little fleshy and could stand to bulk up in the weight room and get some additional strength and burst. Leno is likely to serve a versatile backup this year until he can prove he wouldn’t be a liability up front.
Impact Projection: 2 out of 10
The Chicago Bears were clearly focused on defense heading into the 2014 NFL Draft, as four of the first five picks were spent on that side of the ball. Adding the high impact Fuller added with the potential that Vereen has it is certain the Bears immediately upgraded their secondary. The additions of tackles Sutton and Ferguson also give the Bears the beefy front line they desperately needed last season. Overall the Bears didn’t grab many immediate high impact players but they did supply themselves with pivotal depth and players with high ceilings with room to grow. The Chicago Bears 2014 rookie class will have plenty of chances to shine come September.
Look forward to the Cincinnati Bengals projections soon! JoeKleine is also co-host of thefinsradio.com show The Direct Snap, alongside fellowPhinPhanatic and Rant Sports writer Tyler McMullen. Please check out ourfacebook at www.facebook.com/theofficialdirectsnap or check us out on Twitter at the handle, @Direct_Snap. Our free to listen show about the NFL is on blogtalkradio.com/finsradio is coming back July 26th, live 8:30 PM Eastern time, be sure to give us a shout!