The 2014 NFL Draft is in the books, and as the smoke is clearing in the aftermath, we can dissect how things turned out for our beloved Bears.
With eight picks in the draft, the Bears addressed a variety of needs, four on defense, three on offense and one on special teams. While no draft pick can be properly analyzed or assessed for at least two years, maybe three, the Bears at least appear to have addressed some key needs.
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – Round 1
With their first pick of this year’s draft, the Bears got younger at a position where they’ve been strong in recent years. Although they re-signed their Pro Bowl cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, Tillman is on a one-year contract and both are getting up there in age. Plus, with the increase in passing attacks in the NFL, you can never have too many cornerbacks. Fuller is a guy the Bears highly targeted and were thrilled when he was available to them at Pick 14. He comes from good pedigree — his brothers have played in the NFL — and has good versatility and instincts. He could line up at safety if the Bears wanted him to, but they have said they’ll stick with him at corner.
Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU – Round 2
Although they addressed the defensive line via free agency, the Bears didn’t stop there. With their second pick, the Bears targeted LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, a raw product but one with extreme upside. Ferguson is a beefy player who has good foot speed and range for his size. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock called Ferguson “the perfect replacement for when [Jeremiah Ratliff] retires.” Most of his negatives can be offset with NFL coaching.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State – Round 3
The Bears stayed on the defensive line with their third round pick and selected Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton. Sutton’s skill set is a little more honed than Ferguson’s. He’s a great athlete and he plays the three technique. Meaning, if all went well for the Bears, Sutton and Ferguson would line up next to one another in the future and for some time to come. Says Mayock: “Sutton, when effective, is a 303-pound three-technique. First and foremost, [the Bears] have to stop the run this year.”
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – Round 4
The Bears went offense with their fourth selection of the draft by adding to their running back depth chart with Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, a pick that surely made veteran Lance Briggs swell with pride for his alma mater. In a draft where the first running back selected wasn’t until the 54th overall pick — a new NFL draft record — I feel the Bears got good value with Carey. He’s the ideal running back to have in goal line situations, something that has been a great source of frustration for the Bears over the last several years. One of Carey’s great strengths is how relentless he is and how difficult it is to bring him down. He grinds out yards after contact.
Brock Vereen, FS, Minnesota – Round 4
With the 131st overall pick, the Bears finally selected that elusive safety for which fans were clamoring all weekend — and since last year. The team drafted Minnesota free safety Brock Vereen, the brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. Brock is a player with more strengths than weaknesses, in my mind. Much like their first-round pick, Fuller, Vereen is a student of the game who has leadership potential. NFL.com’s draft bio says Vereen has “outstanding work ethic” and has “good zone awareness and route recognition.” Although he’s a fourth-round pick, I don’t think this is a guy to take lightly. He’ll come in to compete.
David Fales, QB, San Jose St. – Round 6
The Bears selected a quarterback with the first of two sixth-round picks in San Jose St. signal caller, David Fales. He’s a disciplined player, plays with confidence and brings a certain toughness to the position. But the reason he was a sixth-round pick was because he doesn’t quite have “the stuff” you’d want out of an NFL quarterback, such as ideal arm strength and downfield accuracy. With head coach Marc Trestman, perhaps Fales can develop those skills. What’s more important, though, is that Fales has the mental intangibles and the toughness, because those cannot be taught.
Pat O’Donnell, P, Miami – Round 6
One of the biggest problems the Bears have faced in the past couple seasons is the ability to change field position with a punt. When the offense got backed into the red zone, they’ve had problems changing field position due to poor punting by Adam Podlesh, and that can completely throw off a game plan. The Bears worked to address that by selecting Miami punter Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round. NFL analyst Charles Davis says Fales “can change field position.” He’ll be brought in to compete with the other two punters the Bears currently have on the roster.
Charles Leno Jr., OT, Boise St. – Round 7
In the final round of the draft, the Bears switched back to offense and selected offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. He’s got good arm length, but needs a lot of work on his technique if he’s going to make it in the NFL. Says analyst Gil Brandt: “Leno is described as a high-cut guy with a short torso and long legs. His best NFL position is probably guard rather than tackle.”