Chicago Bears Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida – Round 3
The Bears have been reworking their defensive line since John Fox took over as head coach, and Bullard is the second second-day draft pick to be added up front. Many had Bullard projected to go a lot higher than the third round, so Bullard was a good value pick for Chicago. Sources from other teams said they had a second-round grade on Bullard. He had great tape from his senior year, but size concerns that caused teams to view the 6-foot-3, 285-pounder as a tweener really hurt him in the 2016 NFL Draft.

In the pass rush, Bullard has the ability to fire his gap. He can use his strength to shed blocks and is able to close quickly on the quarterback. Bullard can line up over the outside shoulder of the guard and is good at getting penetration into the pocket. Bullard also can beat right tackles with speed around the edge. He is equally dangerous to fire upfield and disrupt runs in the backfield. Bullard really improved his run defense as a senior. He has an excellent motor and makes some plays based off a second effort.

The Bears can play Bullard at defensive end on run downs and have him move inside to rush over the guard in passing situations. Bullard is a dangerous defensive lineman who I think will overcome his size concerns. He and Eddie Goldman could give Chicago two good young defensive linemen to grow together. I think Bullard will become a solid starter.

Most Likely To Bust

Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State – Round 2
There was some talk about Whitehair going in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, so many believed the Bears got a good value with him in Round 2. However, I knew multiple teams that did not share the early round opinion of Whitehair, and some had him much lower. In speaking with a general manger of a playoff team, he said they had Whitehair with late third-, early fourth-round grade. Other teams had him as a late second- or early third-round pick and rated behind other guards.

While Whitehair is a developed and technically sound blocker, he is short on his skill set for the NFL. Whitehair is undersized for guard and tackle. He really is the size of a starting center. Both against quality opponents and at the Senior Bowl, Whitehair was overpowered. At an even 300 pounds, he clearly needs to add strength for the NFL. Whitehair also doesn’t have the quickness or athleticism to play tackle as a pro. Add in his extremely short arms, and he has to play guard.

At 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, I think Whitehair is going to get overpowered in the NFL by a lot of defensive tackles. I also believe that he could struggle with elite speed rushers. Many teams move ends to tackle in passing situations, so I think he could get exposed there. Whitehair was a good college player, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t translate to the NFL.

Potential Boom Pick

Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia – Round 1
Long before a lot of the media caught on, I had Floyd as a top-10 pick because I knew teams that loved his skill set. Sources from a number of teams said they loved the natural ability that Floyd possesses and felt he could be a dynamic pass-rusher. The Bears were apparently sold on that, moving up two spots in order to land Floyd.

Perhaps the trait that stands out as the most rare from Floyd is his tremendous ability to bend. Even though he has a tall, lanky frame, his ability to sink his hips and bend around the corner is ridiculous. When you add that to being extremely fast, it is easy to see why Floyd is a natural pass-rusher. He has a quick first-step and can be a lightning bolt to get upfield. Floyd has some variety in pass-rushing moves and excellent feel for putting heat on the quarterback. Sources also have told me that Floyd loves football and is a hard worker.

The Bears needed more edge-rushing talent as Pernell McPhee and Willie Young each had six sacks last year to lead the team. Floyd could be a Aldon Smith-type pass-rusher for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. In the passing-driven NFL, I think Floyd could be a pass-rushing force with his speed and ability to bend around the corner. He has the potential to truly impact games for Chicago.

Future Depth Player

Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, West Virginia – Round 4
If Kwiatkoski had been drafted by a different team, he would be my selection for solid starter. Kwiatkoski (6-2, 243) was an underrated defender who did well against the pass while being a good run stuffer. He has good instincts and athleticism to be a three-down defender in the NFL. However, the Bears spent a lot of money on Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman this offseason. With those veterans in house as Chicago’s starting inside linebackers, Kwiatkoski is headed to be a backup in the short term, at the very least. Still, Kwiatkoski should be excellent depth on defense and contribute on special teams. From there, he could grow into a bigger role.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

9. Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia B- Grade
The Bears felt the need to leap the Giants for Leoanrd Floyd, and rightly so. The Giants were going to take Floyd, and the Buccaneers had interest in him as well, but they obviously must have liked the trade better.

This pick makes sense. Floyd is arguably the best 3-4 edge rusher in this class – yes, above Joey Bosa, who was a 4-3 player – and he fills a position of weakness for Chicago. I can’t really say anything is wrong with this pick, as it would’ve been a “B” without the trade.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

56. Cody Whitehair, G/OT/C, Kansas State A+ Grade
Wow, what a great pick. An A+ for the Bears, for sure. First of all, Cody Whitehair was projected by some to be chosen at the end of the first round, so they’re getting great value at this spot. Second, Whitehair fills a big need; Chicago’s offensive line had its issues heading into the draft, and Whitehair can pretty much play every single position up front (though he’s best as a guard). And third, Chicago obtained him after trading down twice! This is excellent drafting by the Bears.

72. Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT, Florida A+ Grade
Holy crap, I forgot Jonathan Bullard was still available. Maybe other teams did as well. The Bears are absolutely killing it in the draft, especially on Friday. Bullard could’ve easily been chosen in the first round, based on his talent level. I had him slotted in the second frame, so this is still a steal. Bullard also fills a huge need.

113. Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, West Virginia C+ Grade
The Bears surrendered a sixth-rounder to move up four spots to select Nick Kwiatkoski. I’m not sure if that was necessary, as there are plenty of solid fourth-round linebackers available. Kwiatkoski doesn’t even fill an obvious need, though depth is needed at inside linebacker. Kwiatkoski will play exclusively special teams in the near future.

124. Deon Bush, RB, Miami B Grade
Deon Bush makes sense as a fourth-rounder. He was productive at Miami, but tested poorly at the Combine. Still, he should be able to be a solid reserve safety – something Chicago needed – and a quality special-teams player.

127. Deiondre’ Hall, CB/S, Northern Iowa B+ Grade
This is another quality pick by the Bears, though it’s unclear where they view Deiondre’ Hall. It’s possible that Hall could play safety, though cornerback makes sense as well. Hall is a tall, long defensive back, and if he does play corner, he’ll be filling a huge need. Hall could’ve been chosen about 30 or so selections earlier than this, so this pick provides some nice value.

150. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana A- Grade
I’m loving these day-three running back picks. I don’t know why they fell like this, but the Bears will be happy with Jordan Howard. At least during the first two downs. Howard struggles in the passing game, so he’ll always be a two-down player, in all likelihood, but that’s fine, as Chicago needed to find a runner to complement Jeremy Langford.

185. DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William & Mary A- Grade
I wonder how high DeAndre Houston-Carson would’ve gone had he not struggled at the Combine. He tested poorly, so he fell to the sixth round, when his production said that he probably belonged in the third or fourth frame. With that in mind, I have to praise the Bears for making this pick despite it not filling a big need. Houston-Carson will eventually contribute on defense and will play special teams in the meantime.

230. Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan A- Grade
Daniel Braverman is a small (5-10) receiver who endured a miserable Pro Day, running a 4.53 40, which is awful for his size. However, Braverman seems like one of those players where measureables don’t tell the whole story. He was a very successful receiver in Western Michigan’s offense, and he projects as a potentially semi-productive slot receiver in the NFL.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: B . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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