To describe the Bears draft class as a whole, the word “projects” is probably too strong. But it’s clear that the Bears top draft picks are going to need a great deal of work.
Let’s start with first round receiver, Kevin White. White has great size and physical ability but when you look at him on video, the thing that stands out is how raw he is. The West Virginia game versus Maryland, below, give you a good idea of what I’m talking about:
White uses his big frame well to get physical with corners and get open. And he uses it to block well, too. But you have to ask yourself how far this will take him against the better athletes in the NFL. White’s route running needs work and at times its down right atrocious, looking like you or I playing catch in the back yard.
White had only two seasons of division I football and he really only produced in one (last year). He needs to work on all of the little things that other receivers like Amari Cooper are well on their way to mastering – footwork, getting off the line of scrimmage and, especially, working on all of the routes in the vertical tree and making them all look the same.
Second round defensive tackle Eddie Goldman is better but its a similar story. He’s a true junior who just turned 21 in January. He hasn’t played as much football as you’d like and on occasion it shows. Note the game against Louisville below.
The great thing about this video is that it shows tremendous effort from Goldman. He’s extremely active in the middle of the line. The problem is that he’s so active that he literally takes himself out of the play on occasion. Discipline in a two gaps scheme is something Goldman is going to have to learn. The good news is that he may already be well on his way to doing that. Note this game against Florida a month later.
Goldman is much more disciplined here, holding the middle consistently agains double teams on almost every snap. As general manager Ryan Pace noted in his Friday press conference, Goldman plays with great pad level and leverage and it’s especially evident in this video. His pass rush took a step back in this game, though.
Note that Goldman has a reputation for taking plays off but I certainly didn’t see it in these games. The worst I can say is that he got tire late and it showed. Conditioning may be an issue but he may find himself rotating out more often in the pros, at least initially.
Finally, there’s the Bears third round pick, Hroniss Grasu. Grasu is different from Goldman and White in that he’s a four year starter for Oregon. He’s a bit under-sized but takes advantage of good technique to move larger defensive linemen out of the way (by reputation – I couldn’t find video online of Grassu to confirm this myself). Grassu’s problem is that he’s a center and, therefore by the nature of the position, unlikely to contribute right away in that role. The odds are that he’ll need a year of development and work in the weight room, possibly as a guard, before replacing Will Montgomery as center as the heir apparent.
These prospects, along with true sixth round developmental project, offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje, are all promising. But Bears fans are going to have to wait to see it they attain their true potential – possibly more than one year. In the mean time, the Bears coaching staff is going to have to earn their money with these guys.
I think Bears fans can give the team the thumbs up for drafting good athletes with potential. For now.