Ranking The Bears Draft Picks

Will Sutton

After three days the NFL Draft has finally concluded, and the Bears made eight picks. With them, the Bears hope to fill some obvious needs and ensure a team that finished 8-8 last season has enough talent to make a Super Bowl run.

That’s all well and good, but none of it matters nearly as much as ranking the Bears draft picks against one another. That’s right, the Bears Draft Pick Power Rankings you’ve been demanding are now officially here!

We’ll start with the least powerful pick and move our way to the top.

8. Patrick O’Donnell, P, Miami, 6th round (#191)

Listen, based on everything I’ve read about O’Donnell since this pick was made, there’s a lot to like about him. We’ll start with the fact that he’s somewhat of a physical freak, benching nearly as much as Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton did at the combine. Also, his coach at Miami, Al Golden, called him “Drago.” These are all wonderful things, but they don’t change one very important fact.

Patrick O’Donnell may be able to beat me up, but he’s still a punter. And when you’re ranking draft picks, it’s hard to rank a punter higher than any of the other picks.

Though, on the bright side, at least the Bears didn’t take him in the second round like they did Todd Sauerbrun all those years ago.

7. Charles Leno, OT, Boise State 7th round (#246)

Leno was the only draft selection I didn’t give a write-up to, both because I wanted to write this post and also, because I just don’t know a lot about him. So here’s what Derek Stephens said about him in CBSSports.com’s draft grades.

Leno Jr. has prototypical length and natural athletic ability to play tackle in the NFL, but is extremely raw and needs quite a bit of coaching up. Could be a nice developmental piece to stash on the practice squad, with upside to compete for significant playing time down the road.

Sounds great, and the truth is you can never have too much depth on your offensive line. I also saw that Leno said he can play both tackle and guard, which, if true, is certainly a plus.

6. Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota, 4th round (#131)

Vereen played at both safety and cornerback for the Gophers last season, which probably lets you know why Phil Emery liked him. I don’t like him nearly as much, but he does fill a need.

My problem with this pick is that I feel there were better options available to the Bears, and of all the needs the Bears had heading into the draft, safety was the one that needed immediate attention. They addressed the defensive line in free agency, and they have two starting corners in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.

Yet they addressed both the defensive line (twice) and the cornerback position before finally taking a safety. I’m not sold on the fact that Vereen can come in and beat out any safety already on the Bears roster. So while I’m not writing him off, I’m just not very excited about this Vereen pick.

To me it feels like every other safety the Bears have taken in the last decade. They’ll just be looking to draft another one next spring.

5. Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU, 2nd round (#51)

I don’t hate this pick. I was surprised by it but don’t hate it. Ferguson will be presented as a project, but the truth is he’s somewhat of a finished product who just needs work. It’s just since Phil Emery has experimented with projects, and nobody expected this pick to be made, people will give Ferguson that label.

But here’s what he’s ready to do right away: Ferguson will work his way into the defensive tackle rotation, and he already has the strength and lateral movement to be effective against the run.

Where he needs a lot of work is as a pass-rusher, which means he could prove to be a one-dimensional player for the Bears. And I don’t like the idea of taking a guy who could be one-dimensional this early in the draft. That’s why I have Ferguson ranked fourth.

4. David Fales, QB, San Jose State, 6th round (#183)

I know that the most pressing needs the Bears had coming in to the draft were on the defensive side of the ball, but I really wanted them to take a quarterback. I just wasn’t comfortable heading into 2014 with Jordan Palmer only a play away from becoming the team’s starter. Now, that may still be the case, but I believe Fales is the kind of quarterback who could take over the backup role in a hurry.

He really is a great fit for what Marc Trestman likes to do. He’s a prototypical West Coast offense quarterback. The arm strength is not there, at least, not the kind of arm strength we see in Jay Cutler. Fales can make the throws he’s asked to, though, and that’s part of the upside.

One of the problems Trestman will always have with Jay is Jay is going to take chances simply because he has an arm that allows him to. Fales doesn’t have that arm. Fales is going to stay within the offense and not try to force things. I’m not saying Fales is going to take the starting job from Cutler this year, or even next year. But Fales is going to get a chance to play at some point because Cutler will get hurt.

And, like McCown before him, he may play well enough to make the Bears wonder if they just might be better off with him. Or, failing that, he’ll play well enough to make himself a valuable trade asset.

Simply put, even if Fales fails, this was still a great draft pick. The Bears used a late pick on a player that can pay huge dividends down the road, and if he doesn’t, it’s not real loss.

3. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech, 1st round (#14)

I think there was a bit of confusion on how I feel about the Kyle Fuller pick based on what I wrote Thursday night. I was surprised by the pick, and there were certainly other players I’d have preferred the Bears had taken, but it’s not a reflection of how I feel about Kyle Fuller as a football player.

He’s a good football player, but like I said when talking about Brock Vereen, I just don’t feel this was the pick the Bears needed to make in the first round.

I do think Fuller can come into camp this summer and push both Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman for their jobs. It’s just I think it’s far more likely that he’ll be used in the nickel package, and that certainly has value as defenses seem to be in nickel personnel a lot more often than base packages these days.

And while I wouldn’t call Fuller a ballhawk, and I think he needs some work on his coverage technique — he got away with a lot of things in college that will be called pass interference in the NFL — I have full confidence that he’s going to be a productive NFL cornerback. One that could ultimately replace Charles Tillman as the best corner the Bears have.

I just don’t think Kyle Fuller is going to be an amazing NFL player, and if the Bears were going to go the cornerback route in the first round, I’d have preferred they’d gotten one that could be. That player wasn’t available, which is why I’d have much preferred Calvin Pryor once Aaron Donald was taken by the Rams.

2. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona, 4th round (#117)

I’ll be blunt here. Every year in the NFL you see a once great running back lose whatever it was that once made him great. Whether it’s a half-step in speed, or an injury, running backs wear out fast in the NFL. So it’s nice to have a backup plan, particularly when the RB you currently have has an average cap hit of $8.35 million the next two years.

Matt Forte will be a free agent after the 2015 season and I can guarantee you that he won’t be a Chicago Bear in 2016. Will Ka’Deem Carey replace him? I don’t know for sure, but I definitely think he has the ability to.

Carey is a lot like the player Forte was when the Bears drafted him out of Tulane. Though I’d say Forte had better speed out of college, he wasn’t as strong as Carey is, and it’s not like Carey is slow. He plays fast, and though he’s not going to run away from a lot of defenders, he’s going to run over his fair share.

He’s also a weapon in the passing game, which we know Trestman loves. Let’s not forget that Matt Forte finished third on the team with 74 receptions last season. Carey will bring that same kind of ability on screens, and also allow the Bears to give Forte more plays off, as he’s 28 and has had 655 touches in the last two seasons.

He could use a break from time to time.

1. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State,

It is rare that I follow a player in college religiously, hoping to see him one day drafted by the Bears, and it actually happens. Will Sutton is that rarity. It’s as though the Bears have rewarded me for nearly 30 years of not winning a Super Bowl with this pick, and I appreciate the thought.

I love everything about Will Sutton. His stock dropped in 2013 because his production numbers fell, but what those numbers didn’t show were the constant double-teams he faced as he was Priority One, Two and Three for offensive lines heading into the game. He also put on weight, and while I don’t know if it was purposefully or just a college kid eating too much, it’s something that’s easily correctable. He can find the happy balance.

And when he does, watch out.

He reminds me of a slightly smaller version of Tommie Harris, and he has for years. When I first saw him at Arizona State that’s who I thought of: Tommie Harris at Oklahoma. Well, we all saw how that pick worked out for the Bears, and I truly feel Sutton has the same talent and ability.

I think that a decade from now, when we look back on the 2014 Bears draft, Will Sutton will be the player we all talk about. The one that we remember.

And that’s why I’m ranking him here.

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