I’m quickly reviewing some of the things that I’ll be looking at on Thursday with the Bears as they suit up against the Broncos in the first pre-season game. Next up, a couple of the more interesting rookies.
As most regular readers know, I was critical of the Bears approach to the last draft. Basically its my contention that the Bears took unnecessary risks during the offseason culminating in their selection of too many small school prospects making the draft, something which by its very nature is a crap shoot, into a series of all-or-nothing bets on long shots. One small school guy is OK. Four is insane.
Or so I thought.
I’m usually pretty skeptical of anything that comes out of training camp in terms of media reports. There’s no percentage in trashing a player in July. If you are ever going to be optimistic about your team, this is the time of year for it and no one sees any reason to squish that too soon.
But I have to admit that the almost daily reports about two of the newly drafted small school rookies have worn on me and now I’m intrigued. Article after article has touted how tight end Adam Shaheen (Ashland) and running back Tarik Cohen (North Carolina A&T) have been stringing good practices together and flashing potential. Both men are (apparently) showing a great deal of athleticism. Both have the potential to be a matchup nightmare for defenses, Shaheen because of his size and Cohen because of his quickness and elusiveness.
I’m still skeptical. But I’m anxious to see how these men will perform. Small school prospects have a habit of disappearing once the big boys take the field and I can’t help but believe that Shaheen’s inexperience is likely to show. Cohen is a diminutive 185 pounds and players of that size have a bad habit of being overwhelmed by bigger men with more athleticism than they are used to seeing. Up until now neither has been challenged by players approaching their own level of ability.
With no help coming from first round quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (if the Bears get their way) the Bears need their other picks from this draft to hit along with a few from previous drafts – but we’ll get to them later. The farther we get along, the more we will be able to believe that these guys are the real deal. Their performances at this stage will be crucial steps in their evaluation.