The Chicago Bears, along with the other 31 teams of the NFL, went into the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft with a plan and hopefully each team came out of the round with what they wanted. The Bears ended up drafting five players and had a solid start to the draft but as most experts and even fans agree the end of the second day and all of the third day’s selections left a little something to be desired.
Let’s take a look at the five players that the Bears drafted and give the picks some grades as we take a look at what the Bears accomplished at the end of last week.
Round One, Pick 29: Gabe Carimi-OT-Wisconsin-Chicago managed to fill one of their biggest needs on the team by taking Carimi but the big question is what tackle position will he play? He has been slated to play right tackle in the NFL but the Bears needed a left tackle much more than a right tackle. So, they could have Carimi play on the left side or quite possibly move J’Marcus Webb over to the left side.
At least Chicago was able to fill a very important need on the team with a guy that should be able to be an important part of that offensive line for a long time.
Round Two, Pick 53-Stephen Paea-DT-Oregon State-This pick was one of the best picks that the Bears have had in a long time as they got a player that should have been a first round pick and has the talent to play well in the Bear’s type of defense. Paea had a very good combine workout and exhibited a lot of strength but still needs to learn some of the finer points of the game and there will be a learning curve.
Still, he makes up for what the Bears lost in Tommie Harris and more and should be able to come in and contribute right away on defense.
Round 3, Pick 93-Chris Conte-S-California-The Bears started out the middle of their draft with a little bit of confusion after picking Conte. Conte started just one season at Cal and doesn’t have the advanced skills to play the safety position well at the outset but he can and will learn and could develop into an adequate backup or fill in.
With the injury problems that the Bears have had at the safety position it’s nice to have some depth there but Conte may not be better than any of the other safeties currently on the team’s roster (including backups) and will definitely be a project player.
Round 5, Pick 160-Nathan Enderle-QB-Idaho-At first, this pick seemed a little strange especially since the Bears have both Jay Cutler and Caleb Hanie on the roster. But with an offensive coordinator like Mike Martz and his ability to develop quarterbacks getting a young future starter to develop was a good move by the Bears.
Enderle may have been a player that they could have gotten in the sixth round but the Bears didn’t want to roll the dice and let him get away. Look for the Bears to not let him get away like they did with Dan LeFevour last year and will have him develop and learn under Martz and Cutler.
Round 6, Pick 195-J.T. Thomas-LB-West Virginia-With the uncertainty that the Bears have at the outside linebacker position heading into the season (right now both Nick Roach and Pisa Tinoisamoa remain unsigned) the Bears reached and went after Thomas. Most draft experts felt that Thomas would go undrafted but the Bears defied some logic and took him with their final pick in the draft.
Chicago does need the help at the outside linebacker position but taking a guy that perhaps shouldn’t have even been drafted is a little frustrating. This is true especially since the Bears could have used some additional help on the offensive line particularly at the guard position.
Overall: The first two picks in this draft really “made” this draft. They can’t go wrong with both Carimi and Paea and those two players will have an immediate impact on the team. Their selections of Conte and Thomas may add depth but just what kind of player are they getting with both? Enderle will be a nice quarterback to develop and could see some starting time in the future either for the Bears or for another team.
Overall Grade: B