Chicago Bears Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
June 14, 2013

Solid Starter

Jonathan Bostic, ILB, Florida – Round 2
The Bears are one of the storied franchises in the NFL, and Chicago has been known for great middle linebackers with the likes of Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher. With Urlacher retiring, the team had a big hole at middle linebacker. The Bears may fill it in the short term with veteran D.J. Williams, but in the longer term, Bostic is the starter of the future.

Bostic had a quality 2012 season. The senior played better than his 68 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and three sacks indicate. In the physical nature of the game, Bostic was much improved over his junior season. He bulked up into the 240s and as a result was much more tougher at the point of attack. Bostic was massively improve at taking on blockers and stuffing holes. He was lighter and tried to run around blockers earlier in his college career. Bostic had 94 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks and a forced fumble in 2011.

Scouts told that Bostic’s combination of size and speed is very intriguing. He blazed a fast 40 of 4.61 seconds at the Combine, so he didn’t lose his speed as he got heavier. Some NFL coaching and development in the passing game could turn him into something valuable.

The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder has upside and his best football is ahead of him. It will help him a lot to learn from Williams and veteran Lance Briggs. I think Bostic will emerge as a solid starter for Chicago in a year or two. I don’t think he’ll be as good as the Hall of Famers, but he could be a respectable player who contributes to a good defense.

Most Likely To Bust

Kyle Long, G, Oregon – Round 1
As I stated in a previous mailbag, I think the Bears would have had a better draft if they had selected Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree in Round 1 and Kentucky guard Larry Warford in Round 2 instead of Long and Bostic. Ogletree was clearly a better linebacker than Bostic in college – it wasn’t even close- while Warford was excellent for Kentucky. He is more experienced and a safer prospect than Long.

However, Bears general manager Phil Emery went for the better athlete with more upside in Long. The 6-foot-6, 313-pounder has a lot of quickness and athleticism to go along with natural size and strength. He also only played one season of big-time college football due to off-the-field problems. Long wasn’t even a 12 game starter for Oregon in 2012, but he was impressive when he played. Long was excellent at opening running lanes for Kenjon Barner and protecting his quarterback. Clearly, Long is very strong and extremely fast for an offensive lineman.

I could easily be wrong about this and Long becomes a boom pick. He has a ton of upside to be an excellent guard and possibly move to tackle. However, Long is very green and needs a lot of development. Chicago seems to be forcing him into the starting lineup at right guard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some struggles as a rookie. It could hurt Long’s confidence and set his career off on a rough note.

The other factor to consider is the off-the-field issues. Has Long matured to be a reliable professional? Does he feel entitled? Or believe the NFL will come easy to him since his father is in the Hall of Fame and his brother is a Pro Bowler? Kyle Long’s mental makeup will have a huge impact on if he pans out.

Long was a boom-or-bust pick in the first round and a reach to fill a need. Perhaps Emery will be proven right, but this seems like a risky pick by the Bears that has the capacity to blow up in their face because Long is more of a projection based on potential.

Potential Boom Pick

Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers – Round 4
This was a tough call because the Bears took a lot of good boom-potential prospects on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft. I wasn’t a big fan of the organization’s picks in the first two rounds, but I think Emery did an awesome job on the final day of the draft. Washington State receiver Marquess Wilson, Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Jordan Mills and Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington all have the potential to be massive steals. However, the player I think Greene is the most likely to be a boom pick despite those others.

Greene was an animal for Rutgers last year. The 6-foot-1, 241-pounder amassed 136 tackles, six sacks, six forced fumbles, five passes batted, two interceptions and 12 tackles for a loss. He led the team with 141 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2011.

Greene was a fast and physical force who was all over the field in 2012. It was impossible to not notice him when watching Rutgers. He was a good run-defender and did well in pass coverage while being a weapon as a blitzer.

The Bears’ defensive scheme is a Cover 2-based system and Greene is an excellent fit as a Will (weakside) linebacker. He looks like a great understudy to Lance Briggs. The veteran Briggs turns 33 next season, so prepping his replacement is a good idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if Greene ends up becoming an impact starter for Chicago and causes many teams to regret passing on him.

Future Depth Player

Cornelius Washington, DE, Georgia – Round 6
I came close to picking fourth-rounder Jordan Mills as the future depth player. I knew the Bears loved Mills and had him mocked to Chicago in my final mock draft. However, I think Mills could end up being a starter. I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually beats out J’Marcus Webb at right tackle. On the other hand, I think Washington could become a good backup and situational player, but may never be a starter.

The Bears have some other young ends vying for playing time. Plus, I think Chicago will eventually replace Julius Peppers with a first-round pick. 2012 first-rounder Shea McClellin looks like a starter on one side, and I think Chicago will devote another high pick or big free agency dollars to find Peppers’ replacement.

However, I think Washington could be a good backup and situational rusher. The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder is fast off the edge. He flashed some pass-rush ability as a sophomore and junior. He wasn’t a good fit in Georgia’s 3-4 defense and got buried on the depth chart. Washington is a much better fit in a 4-3 defense like Chicago’s. I could see him being a good rusher to come into the games on third downs and be a role player for Chicago.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

20. Kyle Long, G, Oregon: D Grade
Well… at least this fills… a need… Umm… I’m kind of speechless right now. With Tyler Eifert and stud defenders like Desmond Trufant and Sylvester Williams available, the Bears decided to take an inexperienced second-round guard. Long may have been around for Chicago’s next selection, so this pick is extremely questionable.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

50. Jon Bostic, ILB, Florida: B Grade
The Bears hope they’ve landed their successor for Brian Urlacher. Middle linebacker was a big need, and Jon Bostic is definitely worthy of being chosen 50th overall. I would have gone with Arthur Brown, but there must be major medical concerns with him because he has first-round talent.

117. Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers: A Grade
Khaseem Greene was viewed as a second-round talent by many, but it’s not too surprising to see him fall a bit because he doesn’t fit many defenses. The Bears don’t mind though, as they fill a need with a good value selection.

163. Jordan Mills, OT, Louisiana Tech: B Grade
So, I guess the Bears wanted to focus on the offensive line and linebacker groups in the draft. Jordan Mills is a right tackle who should be able to challenge J’Marcus Webb. He fits the range, so this is a solid pick.

188. Cornelius Washington, DE, Georgia: A+ Grade
I don’t understand why Cornelius Washington fell to the middle of the sixth round. Washington is a Day 2 talent. He is raw, but that’s fine because the Bears won’t really need him until Julius Peppers moves on.

236. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State: A- Grade
Why not? Marquess Wilson was once considered a second-round prospect, but he quit on his team because he didn’t get along with head coach Mike Leach. It has to be considered that Leach is a bad guy, so Chicago is right to take a shot on Wilson.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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