Former head of college scouting for the Bears Greg Gabriel looks at second year players to watch out for this season. He highlights Bears defensive end Corey Wootton:
“Wootton was the Bears fourth-round pick a year ago. Going into his senior season he had a very high combine grade, but he was hurt (right knee ACL) in his team’s bowl game at the end of his junior season and did not look like the same player. He lacked the explosiveness that he showed as a junior. This carried over to his workouts before the draft and thus he slipped to the fourth round. With the Bears having a lot of depth in their defensive line it wasn’t until the last part of the season that he began to get playing time. In his limited role he showed flashes of his former self and this year he could play a big role in the defensive line rotation. The Bears like to rotate 6 to 7 players on the defensive line, so it could mean playing as much as 50 percent of a game. This is a tall, athletic guy with edge pass rush ability.”
I certainly hope Gabriel’s right. But you’ll forgive me if I have my doubts. I can understand “lack of explosiveness” for the first year after surgery (his senior year at Northwestern). It usually takes about that long to fully recover. But it seems to me like Wootton should have been showing us more last year even if he was just a rookie. There wasn’t much special about his play and other than knocking Brett Favre out of his final game, there weren’t many highlights.
The Bears certainly do need Wootton to step up (along with defensive tackle Henry Melton). But I’m not holding my breath.